HL IRAQ FREES JAILED BRITISH BUSINESSMAN TO RECLAIM $125 MILLION IN LONDON
Byline: PAUL LEWIS
Credit: NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE
Notes: INFORMATION FOR THIS STORY ALSO WAS GATHERED BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS.
SO THE COURIER-JOURNAL LOUISVILLE, KY (LVL)
TX UNITED NATIONS -- Iraq freed a long-imprisoned British businessman yesterday in return for Britain"s releasing $125 million in Iraqi assets so that Baghdad can buy relief supplies. Iraq also agreed to allow the United Nations to continue its humanitarian efforts in the country for six months. * But officials said that Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, the United Nations negotiator now visiting Baghdad, had been unable to persuade Iraqi authorities to sell oil to pay for imports of badly needed food and medicine and to compensate victims of the Kuwait invasion as the Security Council had ordered at the end of the Persian Gulf war. The unfreezing of funds in Britain was apparently the first release of Iraqi assets since Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990. After the invasion, Western countries froze all Iraqi funds in major banking centers -- more than $3 billion worldwide, according to some estimates. It was not clear whether the funds released in London yesterday constituted all or part of Iraq"s deposits in British banks. But the Security Council already has said that countries may unfreeze the deposits, provided the money is used for humanitarian relief approved by the council committee on sanctions. The scale of Iraq"s medical and food needs was underscored by a report the International Committee of the Red Cross sent to the Security Council last week. The report, prepared by a team of doctors who visited Iraq last month, says Iraq has run out of many medicines and warns that humanitarian relief will never be sufficient to meet the country"s growing needs. After holding Ian Richter, a 45-year-old British chemical engineer, for 5 1/2 years, Iraq set him free yesterday as part of a deal worked out with Sadruddin under which Britain will immediately release $125 million in Iraqi funds. The money is to be spent on food and medicine. Reached by telephone in Sadruddin"s suite at Baghdad"s Al Rasheed hotel yesterday, Richter said he was "feeling quite wonderful to be free again." He said he had been treated reasonably well over the last year, while efforts were under way to obtain his release, but that conditions "were not so good before that." Richter was sentenced to life in prison after a one-hour trial in 1987 on charges of paying illegal commissions to the mayor of Baghdad. The mayor was later hanged for corruption. Richter is to return to London today. Sadruddin is expected to announce today that Iraq will extend for another six months an agreement allowing the United Nations to deploy 500 guards around the country to monitor Iraq"s treatment of Kurds and Shiite Muslims. The agreement also enables the United Nations to maintain more than 30 humanitarian relief centers.
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