Iraqi authorities to take over 'Saddam's villa'

6th October 2005, Comments 0 comments

NICE, France, Oct 5 (AFP) - The Iraqi embassy in France said Wednesday that it expected Baghdad's new government would soon be the owner of a magnificent property on the Riviera which is dubbed "Saddam's villa" by locals because of its use by members of the deposed regime.

NICE, France, Oct 5 (AFP) - The Iraqi embassy in France said Wednesday that it expected Baghdad's new government would soon be the owner of a magnificent property on the Riviera which is dubbed "Saddam's villa" by locals because of its use by members of the deposed regime.

The estate -- complete with pool, several hundred square metres of land and a view across the glitzy bay of Cannes -- has been uninhabited for many months and receives only basic upkeep, in contrast to the other manicured mansions lining the same neighbourhood, known as "billionaire hill".

But an official with the Iraqi embassy in Paris, who declined to be identified, told AFP that the process of transferring ownership from a company called Logarcheo to the Iraqi state was underway, "posed no problem and is being finalised."

He added: "We don't understand all this media attention on a property whose value we estimate at EUR 12 million".

A Swiss lawyer for Logarcheo, Jacques Buchi, said the property had been bought in 1982 for EUR 10 million but was now one of the assets of the former Iraqi regime frozen by the United Nations.

Cannes locals said the transaction for the villa was carried out by a close acquaintance of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, Kalef Ebdoulahi.

But Said Aburish, the author of a biography of Saddam, said that neither the deposed dictator nor his family had ever stayed at the address.

"Unlike the Saudi princes who come, alone or with their families, to their homes here, this villa only ever lodged people close to Saddam," he said.

Nevertheless, news cameras have been trained on the property for some time. Especially when, in 2002, it emerged that the property next door was owned by the brothers of Osama bin Laden.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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