WORLD PRESS PHOTO 2003
Jean-Marc Bouju  /  AP
World Press Photo of the year 2003 and first prize People in the News singles category by French photographer Jean-Marc Bouju of The Associated Press, showing an Iraqi man comforting his 4-year-old son at a regroupment center for POW's in Najaf, Iraq, March 31, 2003.
updated 2/13/2004 9:58:48 AM ET 2004-02-13T14:58:48

A color image of a masked Iraqi war prisoner holding his 4-year-old son at a U.S. detention camp by Associated Press Photographer Jean-Marc Bouju won the World Press Photo of the Year award Friday.

The winning photo, taken on March 31 in the holy city of Najaf, was selected from more than 63,000 images by 4,176 photographers from 124 countries.

A record 81 percent of the entries for 2003 were taken with digital cameras, as was the winning photo.

Prizes were awarded in 10 categories during 12 days of judging in the Dutch capital. Bouju will receive the award and $12,700 at a ceremony in the Netherlands on April 25.

The 61 photographers who won World Press Photo prizes came from 23 countries. The categories ranged from general news to daily life and action sports. Their work will be displayed around the world and published in book form.

Reuters photographers won the spot news singles and general news categories. Ahmed Jadallah of the Palestinian Territories took first place in the spot news singles category with a picture of a raid by Israeli forces in the Jabalya refugee camp.

Another Reuters photographer, Dutchman Jerry Lampen, won the general news category with an image of a woman mourning her dead husband in Gaza. In spot news, Noel Quidu of France won first place with a picture from Liberia for Newsweek, taken while on assignment for Gamma.

War prisoner holds distraught son
Frenchman Bouju, 42, spent nine weeks in Iraq in March and May of last year for the AP. He was embedded with the U.S. 101st Airborne Division, 3rd Brigade. An AP photographer since 1993, he won or shared Pulitzer prizes for work in Africa in 1995 and 1999.

“It’s taking me a few hours to realize it’s real. I wanted to win this prize. It’s a big one,” Bouju said in a telephone interview from his home in California.

The photo was taken during a rare moment of humanity in a war zone, Bouju said, when a father who had been taken prisoner by American troops was allowed to hold his 4-year-old son. The boy also was taken when the man was arrested.

The boy, Bouju said, was panicking and crying, so an American soldier cut the plastic handcuffs off.

“My little girl was four at the time and I couldn’t help thinking what would she have thought in the same situation,” he said. Bouju wasn’t able to get the prisoner’s name and doesn’t know where he or the child is now.

“I was in a camp in the desert somewhere in south central Iraq and they (U.S. forces) were bringing prisoners to put them in a holding area.”

On that day, Bouju was only able to transmit one image to his editors because of problems setting up a satellite link to his laptop. It was that photo which won the prestigious international award.

Among those placing in the top three in multiple categories this year was Erik Refner of Denmark, winner of the top prize two years ago. Refner came second in the category daily life stories and third in people in the news stories.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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