Police arrest ex-SAS soldier over stolen Saddam Hussein buttock
Published 20/01/2012 | 07:56
A 66-YEAR-OLD man has been arrested over claims that part of a bronze statue of Saddam Hussein, a buttock, was illegally brought over from Iraq after the war.
British police held the man on suspicion of breaching the 2003 Iraq Sanctions Order, which bans the exportation of "illegally removed Iraqi cultural property", including items of archaeological, historical, cultural, or religious importance.
The 2ft piece of metal was picked up in Baghdad by a former soldier from Britain's elite SAS regiment, Nigel "Spud" Ely, after he witnessed US marines drag the statue down following the fall of the Iraqi leader.
He brought it back to Britain and put it up for auction last year, although it failed to reach its reserve price of £250,000 (€300,000).
Ely expressed shock at Thursday's arrest, which is thought to be connected to a company trying to find a buyer for the souvenir.
"This is like having a chunk of the Berlin Wall - it's part of history but it's not cultural property," the 52-year-old veteran said.
He said that US marines gave it to him at a time when Baghdad was under US control, adding: "How can it be classed as cultural property when it was put up by the biggest tyrant since Attila the Hun?"
Derbyshire Police in northern central England said the arrested man has been released on bail pending further inquiries.
In October, an English auction house failed to sell the chunk of metal buttock, said to have been chiseled from the toppled statue of the Iraqi ex-dictator.