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Since 1st March, 1999
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War Briefs

Loss of torture data feared

Washington, April 3 (Reuters): Former Iraqi athletes trying to prove that Saddam Hussein’s son Uday had sports stars tortured and killed for losing said yesterday they feared the evidence had gone up in smoke in a US air strike on the headquarters of Iraq’s National Olympic Committee.

“I’m not worried about the concrete or the furniture but I am worried about the evidence,” said Issam Thamer al-Diwan, a former volleyball player and coach who alleges 52 athletes were murdered on the orders of Uday and others in the Hussein clan.

“I want to show that to the world, to show how they used the logo of the International Olympic Committee to cover up their crimes,” Diwan said by telephone from the San Diego area of California where he has lived since fleeing Iraq in 1991. Diwan said Uday, 39, had him thrown in jail for three months in September 1990 after he refused to go with other sports officials to Kuwait to loot sports equipment following the Iraqi invasion.

Human rights

Hanoi (Reuters): Communist Vietnam today denied US accusations that it violates human rights and tartly suggested America should not be making such allegations while it leads the war against Iraq. In its annual review of human rights around the world, the US state department said on Tuesday the southeast Asian country continued to have a poor record. It practiced arbitrary detention, sometimes beat suspects and was reported to be responsible for “the disappearances of numerous persons”, the report said.

German advice

Berlin (Reuters): German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said today Iraq’s territorial integrity must remain intact after the war, and that its oil and natural resources must remain under the control of the Iraqi people. Schroeder also said the UN must play the central role in shaping post-war Iraq. He said he remained opposed to the US-led war, but hoped it would be over quickly and that the Iraqi people would be able to live in freedom from dictatorship.

Food packet

United Nations (Reuters): The UN children’s fund Unicef expressed concern yesterday that Iraqi children might mistake yellow food packets being handed out by US-led forces with small bombs with identical coloring. A Unicef statement said food packets known as “humanitarian daily rations” that were being handed out by the US and British forces in Iraq were wrapped in bright yellow plastic. Unicef called on the military to urgently change the colour of the food packets.

Embassy open

Cape Town (Reuters): South Africa said yesterday it had rejected a US request to shut down the Iraqi embassy and deport senior officials, saying it would be guided only by the UN on the issue. Last month, the US said it was expelling Iraqi diplomats and had asked other nations to close down Iraqi embassies. The South African spokesman said Washington had made the request to around 60 countries, most of whom had refused. He said the UN still considered Iraq to be a legitimate country.

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