BAGHDAD – Car lovers in Iraq, tired of an endless parade of sand-colored Humvees, got a bit of a treat Monday when police discovered five fancy cars — each a tad dusty — once owned by a notorious son of former dictator Saddam Hussein.
The cars, two Rolls Royces and several vintage classics, had been stolen from Odai Hussein's palace during the looting after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, police said. For years, the cars were buried beneath the dirt of an orchard in Baghdad's Dora neighborhood.
A group planned to smuggle the cars out of the country and sell them, said a police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
Police learned of the plan after a tip-off, he said. They followed large trucks into the orchard to find the spot where the cars were buried and then arrested three people.
The cars, now in police possession, were shown to the media Monday. It was unclear what would become of them.
Odai Hussein and his younger brother, Qusai, were both killed in a gunbattle with U.S. forces in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul in 2003, a few months after the invasion of Iraq.
Saddam's sons lived lavish lifestyles during their father's time in power, notorious to Iraqis for their cruelty. Odai, in charge of Iraqi sports, was accused of punishing poor performances with torture or prison.
Despite that, many Iraqis now consider the two sons martyrs for fighting back against U.S. forces during the gunbattle that killed them.
Saddam himself was captured alive later that year. He was convicted and hanged in late 2006 for ordering the killings of more than 140 Shiite Muslims from the Iraqi city of Dujail.