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Saddam Hussein's bottom up for auction

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A former SAS soldier is auctioning off a unique memento from his army career - part of a bronze buttock from the toppled statue of Saddam Hussein.

Nigel Ely used a hammer and crowbar to remove a section of the Iraqi leader's statue after it was toppled by US troops following the invasion of Baghdad in 2003.

He then paid a special excess baggage fee to fly the two-foot-square metal chunk back to Britain.

"When we arrived in Firdos Square in the heart of Baghdad, the statue had just been toppled and the US Marines had erected a cordon of tanks to guard the square," he said. "But I wanted a piece of the statue - and when I mentioned to the marines that I was an old soldier and with the press they told me, 'No problem, buddy - help yourself.'"

"The real pain came when I flew back to London a few days later," he added. "I'd bought a large case from the local souk to put the bum in and had to pay a fortune in excess baggage. It's been with me all these years, but I decided it was time it did some good."

The unusual souvenir will go on auction later this month, with money raised going to help injured ex-servicemen in the UK and the US.

A spokesperson for Hansons Auctioneers, handling the sale, said they expected a huge amount of interest.

"It should appeal to military and art collectors alike, not to mention anyone who has an interest in the major events that have helped shape the world we live in," he said.

Saddam Hussein went into hiding following the fall of Baghdad but was later caught and executed on charges of war crimes.

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