Australian PM worries of Saddam’s bodyguard living in Australia

Prime Minister John Howard said Monday he was concerned at reports that an alleged former elite bodyguard to Saddam Hussein now lives in the southern city of Adelaide. The Sydney Morning Herald reported Monday that Oday Adnan Al Tekriti, 38, was refused a visa when he arrived in Australia six years ago after the Immigration Department found what it called serious reasons to consider he had committed crimes against humanity.

"I'm concerned about these reports," Howard told Parliament. "I have made some inquiries of the Minister for Immigration concerning the background of the case and the further options which may be available, and when I have further advice I will be very happy to inform the House."

Tekriti did not have a listed phone number in Adelaide and could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Herald cited a 2000 Immigration Department decision stating that Tekriti had "been engaged in a series of acts that amounted to the persecution of the civilian population on political grounds."

However, an initial ruling to refuse him a visa was overturned on appeal and Tekriti, who refused to comment to the Herald, was allowed to stay in Australia and has married an Australian woman.

Howard defended the Immigration Department's role in the case, saying it denied Tekriti's original request for a visa in September 2000 after he admitted he had served in a special security service linked to the ousted Iraqi dictator.

But an appeals tribunal later ruled "that he held at no time a position within the Iraqi regime which was involved directly or indirectly in any crimes which could in any way be said to be against humanity," Howard added.

However, opposition lawmakers said the allegations were further evidence of bungling at the Immigration Department, which has been under siege this year after revelations it wrongly deported at least an Australian citizen and locked up another for months in an Outback detention center because officials believed they were illegal immigrants, reports the AP. I.L.

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