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Kuwait Arrests Ex-Interim Leader

January 15, 2000

KUWAIT (AP) _ A Kuwaiti who was appointed by Iraq as head of an interim government shortly after it invaded the tiny Gulf nation was arrested Friday when he returned home after almost 10 years, the Kuwait News Agency said.

Alaa Hussein arrived at Kuwait International Airport, where he was taken into custody, said Mohammad Sharar, the state minister for Cabinet affairs, according to the state-run agency.

Sharar said Hussein was using a Norwegian travel document.

Hussein apparently came to Kuwait with the intention of giving himself up. He was accompanied by his four children, who were handed over to their relatives. The children’s ages were not known.

Hussein was convicted of treason after the February 1991 liberation of Kuwait and was sentenced to death in absentia. It was not immediately clear how the Kuwaiti government will deal with him now.

Hussein was an obscure lieutenant in the Kuwaiti army when Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990. He was summoned to Baghdad, promoted to colonel, and named prime minister of a nine-member ``Provisional Kuwait Free Government.″ The interim government never operated.

One week after the invasion, Hussein was seen on Iraqi television asking President Saddam Hussein to unite Kuwait with Iraq. Hours later, Baghdad announced that Iraq had annexed Kuwait and Alaa Hussein disappeared from public view.

The Al-Watan newspaper said Friday that Hussein was ``calm and smiling″ as he handed his Norwegian travel document and Kuwaiti identification paper to officers at Kuwait International Airport.

``Take your time, I’m Kuwaiti and I’m coming back home,″ the paper quoted Hussein as telling the officers. ``Arrest me, interrogate me, but let my four children go to their relatives who are waiting at the airport.″

Other Kuwaitis who were appointed ministers in the puppet Cabinet chose to return to Kuwait after U.S.-led allies liberated it from a seven-month Iraqi occupation. They were acquitted of any wrongdoing and considered victims of Iraqi oppression.

But Hussein, who had moved to Iraq, stayed in Baghdad until last year. He then went to Turkey via Jordan. Some Iraqi dissidents said he went to a European country after being given refugee status by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Turkey.

Hussein is believed to have studied management at Baghdad University and was a member of Iraq’s ruling Baath Party.

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