The bodies of Saddam Hussein's sons and a grandson have been exhumed and reburied near the ousted leader's grave in his hometown north of Baghdad, tribal officials said Wednesday.
Saddam's sons, Odai, 39, and Qusai, 37, and his 14-year-old grandson Mustafa died July 22, 2003, in gunbattle with U.S. troops in the northern city of Mosul and had been buried in the main tribal cemetery in Tikrit, 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of the capital.
But Sunni leaders of Saddam's tribe decided to move the remains Tuesday to the courtyard of the ornate building in which the ousted leader was laid to rest after he was hanged on Dec. 30 after being convicted for crimes against humanity. He was buried the next day in a grave chipped out of an interior floor of a building he had built for religious events.
"We wanted to put the bodies of Saddam's family in one place," said Thaer Ismael of Saddam's tribe.
Tribal chief Ali al-Nida and three other relatives accompanied the bodies as they were transferred Tuesday in three cars from the cemetery about two kilometers (a mile) from the building in which Saddam is buried, reports AP.
The three bodies were buried in the courtyard near the graves of Saddam's half brother and former intelligence chief Barzan Ibrahim, and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, former head of Iraq's Revolutionary Court, who also were sent to the gallows in January for the killings of 148 Shiites in the town of Dujail in 1982.
The five burial mounds were covered with Iraqi flags as people prayed next to them during the service in Ouja, near the scene of Saddam's capture by American soldiers in December 2003.