The U.S. military has released two senior members of Saddam Hussein's former regime, including a deputy prime minister, after finding they were not involved in crimes against humanity, an Iraqi official said Thursday.

Abdel Tawab Mullah Huweish, a former deputy prime minister and minister of military industrialization, and Saeed Abdul-Majid al-Faisal, former foreign ministry undersecretary, were released last month, said Justice Ministry official Busho Ibrahim Ali.

Ali, the ministry undersecretary, said the two were released Feb. 23.

Huweish, who had been in custody since May 2, 2003, was one of the 55 most-wanted members of Saddam's regime.

"They were freed because there is no proof that they committed crimes against humanity," Ali said.

It was the second time in less than a year that one of the 55 had been released.

In May, Ghazi Hammud al-Obeidi, former Baath Party regional chairman in the southern city of Kut, was the first among the group to be set free, because he was terminally ill with cancer.

In December, former Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Hamza al-Zubaidi, also one of the 55, died in a U.S. military hospital in Baghdad.