S.17 -

frees Briton

HL Iraqis trade prisoner for bank funds

Byline: Reuters

DD 11/24/91


Edition: FINAL

Section: NEWS

Page: A9

Category: NEWS

LP --- Iraqis trade prisoner for bank funds ---

TX Iraq freed a jailed British businessman Saturday in a deal that unlocked Iraqi assets held in British banks. In a tradeoff for Ian Richter, released after six years of a life sentence for bribery, Britain pledged to unfreeze 60 million pounds ($120 million Cdn) to buy food and medicine for sanctions-battered Iraq. Britain becomes the first of the Gulf War coalition members to release Baghdad assets seized in the Kuwait invasion crisis almost 16 months ago. British Prime Minister John Major described the release as "very welcome news." "It`s wonderful to be out. It`s one of those long, dark tunnels and the light suddenly opens," the 45-year-old chemical engineer said after being freed. Richter, who always denied he tried to bribe Iraqi officials, looked lean, fit and tanned. He said he was well-treated by Iraqi authorities and toward the end turned down an offer of a three-cell suite. * His release was negotiated by Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, the United Nations envoy overseeing relief operations in the gulf, and followed appeals by King Hussein of Jordan, an Iraqi ally. Under the deal, Britain will unfreeze 60 million pounds of the 355 million ($710 million Cdn) it froze under UN sanctions to punish Iraq for its invasion of Kuwait in August 1990.

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