Northern Ireland

Saddam son's 'double' in fight for Irish citizenship

Latif Yahia and Dominic Cooper
Image caption Latif Yahia (l) was played by Dominic Cooper in The Devil's Double

An Iraqi exile who claims he was forced to become the body double for dictator Saddam Hussein's son has said he is in a legal limbo as he fights to become an Irish citizen.

Despite being married to an Irish woman and having an Irish child, Latif Yahia's application for citizenship has been rejected twice.

His battle is now in its 11th year.

Yahia, a former lieutenant in the Iraqi army, said he was forced to become the "fiday" - or double - of Uday Hussein in 1983.

Saddam Hussein and both his sons used decoys for important political occasions, or in situations where a bullet catcher might be needed.

Yahia, who eventually managed to escape Iraq with the help of the CIA, claims he stood in for Uday when addressing troops during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

Yahia eventually settled in Daingean, County Offaly, where he married an Irish woman.

This week, Dearbhail McDonald, the Irish Independent's Legal Editor spoke to Yahia, who is in currently in Belgium.

She told the BBC: "He said he is very hurt and upset that the Justice Minister, Alan Shatter, has so far refused to make a decision in his case.

Image caption Uday Hussein was killed by US Special Forces in 2003

"It can take up to two years for a decision to be made on citizenship. The government is trying very hard to reduce those waiting times.

"He (Yahia) is complaining that he is married to an Irish national, he has an Irish born child - it was the basis on which a lot of people were granted citizenship before that door was closed."

It is not clear what grounds his citizenship had previously been denied.

Ms McDonald said Yahia now just wants a decision on his current application and has "lost faith in western justice".

"He says if he dies tomorrow in Ireland, he will still be a foreigner buried on foreign soil," she said.

August 2011 saw the UK release of the action film, The Devil's Double, much of which is based on Yahia's autobiography, called I Was Saddam's Son.

Uday Hussein's international image was that of a playboy. But he was notorious for the abduction, rape and killing of young women and his torturing and murdering of opponents.

He even fell out of favour with Saddam after he killed the Iraqi leader's personal valet at a party.

Uday Hussein was killed by US troops in 2003 - much to the frustration of Yahia, who has previously said he had wanted his former "employer" to answer for his crimes.

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