Kampala, Aug. 16 (Reuters) - Former Ugandan President Idi Amin, one of Africa’s bloodiest despots who was blamed for killing tens of thousands of his people, was buried at a small funeral in Saudi Arabia hours after his death today.
Amin, a Muslim, was buried in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah where he had lived for much of the time since being ousted from power in 1979, one of his sons said. Amin was in his late 70s. “He is buried. The family decided and we have buried him in Jeddah,” Ali Amin said by telephone from his home in Jinja, some 80 km east of Uganda’s capital Kampala.
“The funeral was modest and the attendance was small, mostly family members,” said a Saudi media source, declining to be identified. A senior source at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Jeddah said Amin had died from complications due to multiple organ failure. He had been critically ill for weeks.
Many Ugandans accused the one-time boxing champion, who seized power in a military coup in 1971, of keeping severed heads in a fridge, feeding corpses to crocodiles and having one of his wives dismembered. Some said he practised cannibalism.
Amin, who expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler, was denounced inside and outside Africa for killing tens of thousands of people during his 1971-79 rule. Some estimates put the figure at more than 100,000. He also expelled thousands of Asians from the former British colony. Ugandans reacted with a mixture of relief at the death of a tyrant and nostalgia for a leader who many applauded for expelling Asians who had dominated economic life.
Amin was born in 1925, according to most sources, to a peasant family of the small, predominantly Muslim Kakwa tribe at Arua in Uganda’s remote West Nile district. A large and imposing figure who revelled in publicity, Amin’s eccentric behaviour created the image of a buffoon given to erratic outbursts.
He declared himself “King of Scotland”, banned hippies and miniskirts, and attended a Saudi royal funeral wearing a kilt.
In a rare interview in 1999, Amin told a Ugandan newspaper he liked to play the accordion and to recite from the Quran. He said most of his food came from Uganda. After seizing power in 1971, he became a dictator who violated every fundamental human right during a “reign of terror”, the International Commission of Jurists said.
Amin had lived quietly in exile in Jeddah with four wives on a government stipend.