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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Iraq government urged to seize assets from Saddam relatives and officials 

The National Reconciliation, Accountability and Justice Committee named dozens of relatives and cronies of the executed dictator

An unidentified man looks at the front pages of international newspapers on December 15, 2003 - two days after Saddam Hussein's capture in Iraq - in Washington, DC. Evan Vucci / AP
An unidentified man looks at the front pages of international newspapers on December 15, 2003 - two days after Saddam Hussein's capture in Iraq - in Washington, DC. Evan Vucci / AP

An Iraqi parliamentary committee on Monday urged the government to authorise the confiscation of the assets of former dictator Saddam Hussein's relatives and officials within his regime.

The National Reconciliation, Accountability and Justice Committee made the call – the first of its kind since Saddam's fall in 2003 – in a letter sent to the prime minister's office as well as to the ministries of finance, justice and agriculture.

Saddam's children, grandchildren and other relatives were included on a list of names, along with ex-regime ministers, security chiefs and Baath Party officials. Some of the people mentioned on the list are in prison or dead.

In the wake of the Saddam government's fall, many properties belonging to the former dictator and his close allies were reportedly taken by Iraq's new leaders, armed forces and militias.

Now the National Reconciliation, Accountability and Justice Committee is seeking to put an official stamp on these past confiscations, as well as the confiscation of assets not yet seized.

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On the list of names is Ali Hassan Al Majid, a cousin of Saddam better known as "Chemical Ali", who was hanged in 2010 for ordering the 1988 gassing of thousands of Kurds.

Tareq Aziz, a veteran foreign minister who held the post of deputy prime minister before Saddam was ousted in the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq, is also named in the letter.

Sentenced to death in 2013, Aziz, the only Christian in Saddam's inner circle, died two years later in prison.

His son Ziad, who lives in Jordan, condemned the letter as nothing more than "a stunt to win votes" in Iraq's upcoming general elections. He denied his family had any remaining assets, saying his father's house in Baghdad had already been seized by prominent Shiite politician Ammar Al Hakim.

In February, Iraqi authorities published the names of people wanted on suspicion of belonging to the Baath Party, ISIL and Al Qaeda.

Among those named was Saddam's daughter Raghad.

The The National Reconciliation, Accountability and Justice Committee's letter comes just two months ahead of national elections in the country, where Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi is hoping to remain in office for another term.