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Ex-Ugandan Dictator Idi Amin Lies in Coma

July 22, 2003

JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AP) _ As Uganda’s brutal former dictator Idi Amin lay in a coma in a Saudi hospital Tuesday, an international human rights group lamented that he was not put on trial.

``We regret that Idi Amin is dying without meeting justice for his crimes,″ Reed Brody, director of special prosecutions at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement issued by the New York-based group Tuesday.

``Amin was one of the bloodiest tyrants in a bloody century. It’s increasingly possible to prosecute dictators outside their home countries. Unfortunately, the trend didn’t catch up with Mr. Amin in time.″

Human Rights Watch said it had asked a Saudi diplomat in 1999 about the possibility of Amin’s extradition or prosecution, and was told that ``according to Bedouin hospitality, once someone was welcomed as a guest in your tent, you did not turn him out.″

A Saudi Foreign Ministry official contacted by The Associated Press on Tuesday had no comment on the issue.

Amin has been in a coma since he was admitted Friday to the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in the Saudi port city of Jiddah, where he has lived in exile for years. On Tuesday, his condition was stable, a hospital official told The Associated Press without elaboration.

Amin’s sons, who have been at his bedside in the intensive care unit, have asked for privacy, saying they do not want any details released about their father’s condition. Amin, believed to be 80, had reportedly been suffering from high blood pressure.

It is estimated that more than 200,000 Ugandans were tortured and murdered during Amin’s regime, which lasted from 1971 until 1979, when he was ousted by Ugandan exiles and the Tanzanian army.

Human rights groups say as many as 500,000 people were killed during Amin’s rule.

After his ouster, Amin, a Muslim and member of the small Kakwa tribe from northwestern Uganda, went into exile first in Libya, then Iraq before finally settling in Saudi Arabia on the condition that he stay out of politics.

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