DERBY, England, Jan. 17 (UPI) — A former British Special Air Service man who took a buttock from a toppled statue of Saddam Hussein was told by the Iraqi government to return the bronze lump.
Nigel “Spud” Ely, 52, who guarded a camera crew filming Iraqis pulling down the giant statue in Baghdad in April 2003, took the 2-foot chunk that formed the former dictator’s backside and brought it back to Britain, The Sun reported.
Now the Iraqis want it back, saying the piece is part of the country’s “cultural antiquity” and threatening possible theft charges if it isn’t returned.
Ely, from Derby, said he turned the buttock into a piece of art, which makes him the legal owner, The Sun said. Police confirmed they were investigating the matter because of the disputed ownership.
Last year, he tried unsuccessfully to auction it to raise money for injured troops.
“When I got it, it was just a piece of scrap metal,” Ely said. “I am only doing this to raise money for military charities. If the Iraqis want to split the proceeds to give some to Iraqi charities, I am happy to listen.”