“I Want A Peaceful Life”
An Iraqi man who spent almost five years working as the body double of Saddam Hussein’s sadistic son Uday wants to settle in Ireland.
But Latif Yahia has had his application for Irish citizenship rejected.
Latif Yahia is the kind of man who attracts plenty of curious glances wherever he goes, writes Sky News reporter Enda Brady.
“Immaculately groomed and well spoken, he could be a businessman heading to a conference at the Dublin hotel where we meet.
But his incredible likeness to Saddam Hussein’s sadistic son Uday means he will always get attention.
Yahia went to the same Baghdad school as the dictator’s son and was regularly teased because he bore such a strong facial similarity to Uday.
Years later he was summoned to meet the Iraqi President and informed that a great honour was to be bestowed upon him, he was to become Uday’s double – whether he liked it or not.
To make his appearance faultless, he claims Saddam forced him to undergo plastic surgery and then have coaching in how to imitate Uday.
If he didn’t agree to it, his family would be harmed.
Yahia went on to spend four and a half years living a bizarre life of luxury, interspersed with assassination attempts by Shiite militia and occasional beatings from Uday.
He fled Iraq in 1991 after the first US-led invasion, made his way to Kurdistan and eventually ended up in Austria. For the past decade he has lived in Ireland where he has an Irish partner and three Irish-born children.
“I just want to live a peaceful life and put the past behind me, but the Irish government won’t grant me citizenship,” Yahia told Sky News.
“When I saw Uday and Qusay (Saddam’s other son) dead on the TV news in 2003 I smashed the screen I was so angry, they had cheated justice. I wanted them to pay for all they had done. Now I’m paying a price too.”
Yahia has now written a book about his experiences and while it may read like a best-selling work of fiction, he inisists it is all true.
“Writing has helped me but in some ways I don’t think I will ever be able to shake off the shadow of Uday and his family,” he said.