No charges over Saddam statue

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Two men who run a war relic art business in Little Eaton will not face charges after claims they illegally imported a piece of a statue of Saddam Hussein.

Jim Thorpe, 67, and Nigel Ely, 52, who run Trebeletap in Alfreton Road had been questioned about plans to sell the bronze piece of buttock.

They were arrested in January following claims Mr Ely – a former SAS soldier – had breached Section 8 of the Iraqi Sanctions Order 2003.

The statue was toppled by US marines in Firdos Square, Baghdad, in March that year and it was alleged that the piece had been put up for auction in Derby, but not sold.

The claim prompted Iraqi authorities to assert that it was national cultural property and Derbyshire Police were asked to investigate.

Under the order, anyone possessing Iraqi cultural property is obliged to hand it over to the police.

However, a force spokesman said this week that the piece alleged to be from the statue had not been recovered and there was also evidence to cast doubt over the authenticity of its origin.

“As a result, the men have been released from bail and the Iraqi Embassy has been informed of this outcome,” the spokesman said.

“It is disappointing that a large amount of police time and resource has been required to investigate the claim that this item was genuine.

“If any new evidence comes to light, or if the item is traced and is shown to be genuine, further police action will be taken.”