London, Jan 18 (ANI): A former SAS soldier has been asked by Iraq to return a metal chunk that formed the bottom of a bronze statue of late president Saddam Hussein.
Martin Ely, from Derby apparently ripped off a part of the tyrant's buttock in the aftermath of the toppling back in 2003, having initially been told to guard a camera crew who were filming the dramatic scene.
However, Iraqi leaders are now claiming that the piece is part of the country's heritage and have threatened to charge Ely with theft unless he hands back the metal, the Daily Mail reported.
Ely, 52, had planned to put up the piece for auction in order to raise funds for charity, and has even insisted that he is keen to share the proceeds with Iraqi charities.
"When I got it, it was just a piece of scrap metal. I am only doing this to raise money for military charities," he told The Sun.
"If the Iraqis want to split the proceeds to give some to Iraqi charities, I am happy to listen," he added.
Ely had arrived in the city's Firdos Square just after the statue of Saddam had been torn down.
He then helped himself to the memento after using a hammer and crowbar to prise off the piece after American soldiers overturned the monument in Baghdad.
Hansons Auctioneers were expected to watch over the sale of the piece of metal, about 2ft by 2ft with several collectors from around the world expected to bid for the war relic.
However, with police now investigating the ownership rights of the scrap, it is uncertain whether the auction will proceed as expected. (ANI)
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