Red Cross makes new Saddam visit

The Red Cross has paid a second humanitarian visit to Saddam Hussein to check his conditions in US custody.

US Brig Gen Mark Kimmitt said the meeting took place on Tuesday, but would not say exactly where.

Saddam Hussein has been held in an undisclosed location since his capture by US forces in December and is being interrogated by the CIA and FBI.

The visit came on the eve of the former leader's 67th birthday - which used to be a public holiday in Iraq.

'Still in Iraq'

The International Committee of the Red Cross paid its previous visit on 21 February, but does not speak publicly on what conditions it finds.

An official did tell the Reuters news agency that the meeting took place in Iraq, however. There had been speculation that Saddam Hussein might have been removed from Iraq for security reasons.

"We welcome the crucial role of the ICRC," Gen Kimmitt said.

He added the coalition was meeting its "obligations under international law" which authorises Red Cross visits and would continue to work with the ICRC.

The US hopes to hand the former Iraqi president over to an Iraqi war crimes tribunal for trial. "I don't know yet whether he passed any message to his family as he did the first time," a Red Cross spokesman told Reuters.

In February he wrote to his two daughters, who now live in Jordan.

The whereabouts of his two wives, a third adult daughter and a teenage son are not clear.

[Source: BBC News, London, 27Apr04]

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