IOC investigating Hussein#039;s son over torture methods

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 21, 2003

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- The IOC is investigating accusations that Saddam Hussein's oldest son, the head of Iraq's Olympic association, tortured and jailed athletes.

''We're received the complaint and we're dealing with it,'' IOC ethics commission official Paquerette Girard Zappelli told The Associated Press. She said she could not comment further while the inquiry was under way.

In December, Indict, a London-based human rights group, lodged a complaint demanding that the IOC expel the Iraqi National Olympic Committee. Citing witness statements by exiled Iraqi athletes and United Nations reports, Indict said the Iraqi committee was in violation of the IOC's ethics code.

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The group contended Odai Saddam Hussein once made a group of track athletes crawl on newly poured asphalt while they were beaten and ordered that some be thrown off a bridge. It also alleged he ran a special prison for athletes who offended him.

The Iraqi committee also participated in the looting of Kuwait during Saddam's 1990-1991 occupation of that country and continues to run front companies that are used to duck U.N. sanctions, Indict said.

Indict, which receives three-quarters of its funding from the U.S. Congress, was set up in 1997 to try to get Saddam and leading members of his regime brought before an international tribunal on charges of crimes against humanity.

The IOC ethics commission, whose members include track star Edwin Moses and former U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar, previously suspended Afghanistan's national committee because the country's former Taliban regime barred women from sports.

The ethics commission was set up in 1999, largely to monitor the behavior of IOC members in the wake of a bribery and corruption scandal that swept the Olympic movement.