US 'may have arrested double': Austrian Far-Right Leader Makes Claim

Gulf Daily News


US troops may have arrested a double of Saddam Hussein and DNA testing does not prove conclusively that they have captured the Iraqi leader, Austrian far-right leader Joerg Haider has said.

Calling the capture "slapstick" and a "real scam", he told national ORF television: "This may be one of his many doubles.

"The saliva tests they did mean nothing if they did not have earlier specimens to which they could compare it," the controversial former leader of Austria's far-right Freedom Party added.

Haider faced strong criticism in Austria yesterday for comparing US President George W Bush to Saddam Hussein and calling Israel a dictatorship.

He also suggested that Washington's true purpose for going to war was to gain control of Iraq's oil.

He said he felt that morally there was little difference between Saddam and Bush.

"I would be hard-pressed to choose between the two. Both have acted at odds with international law, committed human rights abuses. The one has the good luck to lead a superpower ... while the other was just a poor dictator."

Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner - whose government is in a coalition with Haider's party - said she had "absolutely no understanding" for Haider's remarks.

"Haider's comparison of a bloody dictator to democratically elected presidents and governments is to me totally absurd," Ferrero-Waldner said.

Haider visited Saddam in Baghdad in February 2002 and caused a stir on eve of the Iraq war when he said he was prepared to offer the Iraqi leader shelter.

When he visited Iraq, Haider declared that Bush was mistaken to place it alongside North Korea and Iran in the so-called "axis of evil" of states seeking nuclear arms.

It prompted US national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to complain to the then Austrian Vice-Chancellor Susanne Riess-Passer.