How Saddam's son inspired his Olympians

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The Independent Online

Tools of torture that Saddam Hussein's slain son, Uday, used to punish underperforming Iraqi athletes were displayed for the media yesterday at a Baghdad sports stadium ahead of the Olympic Games next month.

Journalists were shown medieval-style torture equipment, including an "iron maiden-like" casket with metal spikes fixed to the inside that athletes had been forced into, and chain whips with steel barbs the size of tennis balls attached to the end.

"During the old regime, Uday was looking for results and he wanted winners. He didn't like second place," said Talib Mutan, an Iraqi Olympic committee official.

"If the athletes didn't come in first, they were punished. And he would punish the people around the athletes, their managers and coaches included," he said.

Uday ran the Olympic committee while his father ruled Iraq. He was killed by US forces last July along with his elder brother, Qusay.

Mr Mutan said athletes who earned Uday's wrath were tortured in various ways, through beatings, sleep deprivation and being forced to walk barefoot over hot asphalt during Iraq's searing summer.

The official said there had been suggestions made to display the torture equipment in a museum, but no final decision had been made.

The International Olympic Committee reinstated Iraq's national Olympic board in February after it was suspended early last year, enabling Iraqi athletes to compete at the upcoming Athens Olympics.