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IN SHORT

Hussein bodyguard escapes refugee centre

A MAN claiming to be the former bodyguard of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's eldest son, and who was detained as an illegal immigrant in Slovakia last month, has disappeared from a refugee camp where he had been serving an initial quarantine period.

The Slovak daily paper Sme claimed to have been told by a senior Slovak secret service official that the Iraqi immigrant was one of Udai Hussein's former bodyguards. The man had thus become a valuable source of information for the US secret service, particularly in view of a possible US attack on Iraq.

"There aren't many people like this man in the world," said the Slovak secret service source.

Slovak officials refused to comment on the case.

Bernard Priecel, head of the country's Migration Office, said that immigrants are free to leave the asylum procedure at any time, and that his office could not "limit their personal freedom".

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