Iraq releases Saddam-era interior minister

Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:48am GMT

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A former interior minister who served under Saddam Hussein has been released from an Iraqi prison after completing his jail sentence, a senior Justice Ministry official said on Tuesday.

Mahmoud Thiab al-Ahmed spent eight years in prison for his part in the campaign to drain marshes in southern Iraq. He was released on Monday, Deputy Justice Minister Bosho Ibrahim told Reuters.

Saddam Hussein accused people living in the marshes of treachery during the 1980-88 war with Iran. His government changed the water flow into the marshes and drained other areas to force out rebels hiding there, ruining a delicate natural habitat.

Iraq is still struggling to restore the dried-out marshes, which are now the source of fierce sandstorms that pose serious health risks.

The marshes in Iraq's south covered 9,000 square km (3,475 square miles) in the 1970s but had shrunk to just 760 square km by 2002.

Saddam was executed in 2006 in Iraq after being ousted from power in the U.S.-led invasion of 2003. Several of his senior aides have been executed or jailed.

(Reporting by Aseel Kami; editing by Andrew Roche)

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