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Former Iraqi Finance Minister Arrested - 2003-04-19


Iraq's former finance minister has been caught and handed over to U.S. Marines for questioning. He is the fifth member of Saddam Hussein's regime who has been captured since Baghdad fell.

The U.S. military says Hikmat al-Azzawi was captured by Iraqi police in Baghdad, and handed over to the U.S. military.

The former finance minister had been appointed deputy prime minister in 1999 to focus on reviving the country's economy, which had been battered by 10 years of U.N. economic sanctions.

His name is on a list of the U.S. government's 55 "most wanted" members of Saddam Hussein's inner circle.

Officials expect he can provide valuable information on the inner workings of Saddam's rule and where the wealth may be hidden.

U.S. forces also have two half brothers of Saddam Hussein, a former science advisor and the regional commander for Baghdad of Saddam's ruling Baath Party. The 70-year-old politician was captured by Kurds in the northern city of Mosul.

But, the question most often voiced by Iraqis here is, where are Saddam Hussein and his two sons? Many speculate that he, like those already in custody, may be hiding in Baghdad, or another Iraqi city. Others say he has fled the country. Few believe he was killed in the fighting.

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