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Iraq bringing home Saddam's yacht: eBay next?

Image: The 82-metre (270-feet) Ocean Breeze
The "Ocean Breeze," built in 1981 for former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, had been docked in Nice, France.Lionel Cironneau / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Saddam Hussein's luxury yacht will be towed from Greece to a port in southern Iraq after the resolution of a legal dispute over its ownership, the Iraqi government said Tuesday.

The former dictator's 269-foot yacht is fitted with swimming pools, salons, a secret escape passage and a rocket-launching system.

French authorities seized the boat on Jan. 31, 2008, after it docked in Nice on the Mediterranean coast. The yacht remained there while courts settled a row over the ship's ownership.

The yacht is currently in Greece and maintenance work is about finished so the vessel can be returned to Iraq, said Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh.

The Iraqi government announced in November that it would try to sell the yacht, but al-Dabbagh said nobody has come up with the right price.

"We have received several offers from buyers, but we were not satisfied with the prices offered," al-Dabbagh said.

A yacht brokerage firm had tried to sell the boat for a reported $35 million. But Iraq argued the vessel still belonged to the country.

The Iraqi Cabinet decided Tuesday that the Transportation Ministry would have the yacht towed to Basra, al-Dabbagh said.

He also said the Finance Ministry would arrange payments for the legal fees, which were 2 percent of the yacht's unspecified value, and the expenses of the Greek company in charge of maintaining the yacht.