A Pentagon spokesman said he was given the Prisoner of War status as he was the leader of the "old regime's military forces."
The spokesman, Major Michael Shavers, said Saddam, captured by US troops in December, was entitled to all the rights under the Geneva Conventions. The International Committee of the Red Cross had asked to visit the former Iraqi leader as soon as possible. The US spokesman did not give further details about Saddam Hussein's conditions of detention.
POW status for Saddam Hussein meant that the former Iraqi leader would be eligible to stand trial for war crimes.
Prisoners' rights under the Geneva Convention include:
- Protection against violence, intimidation, insults and public curiosity,
- Protection against pressure of any kind during interrogation,
- Provision of valid identity documents,
- Food rations and drinking water sufficient to keep prisoner in good health,
- Adequate clothing and washing facilities, and
- Adequate medical treatment.
There was controversy over TV pictures which showed Saddam Hussein undergoing a medical examination after his capture - footage regarded by some as a failure to protect him from public curiosity. A leading Vatican clergyman described the scenes as Saddam being "treated like a cow," and some sections of the Arab world were deeply offended by them. The US maintains that the pictures were shown to demonstrate to the Iraqi people that they no longer had anything to fear.
A senior British official said Saddam - who was being held at an undisclosed location and interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) - was still refusing to co-operate with his captors, but the former president's capture last month was yielding results "far greater than we expected," the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
The US-led coalition had used documents found with the ex-leader to mount operations against Saddam loyalists, the official said.
Read more about this topic: Operation Red Dawn
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