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AP • Reuters

Austria's Haider Met Saddam Lookalike--Report
Oct 6, 11:53 am ET

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austrian rightist Joerg Haider, the best-known West European politician to visit Iraq in recent years, was proudly photographed in February beside President Saddam Hussein -- or was he?

A German coroner says the man Haider met was one of at least three Saddam Hussein lookalikes, men who have undergone surgery and mimic the president's gestures and expressions perfectly.

Dr. Dieter Buhmann told the Austrian weekly Format he was certain after analyzing video footage of the real Saddam from April 1990 that Haider had met a Saddam double, in German a "Doppelgaenger."

"Despite a certain likeness (to Saddam Hussein), there are ...differences, thanks to which one can exclude the possibility that this was the real Saddam," Buhmann said.

Buhmann first aired his research in a program last week on the German television network ZDF, saying that minor details such as the size of the ears, hands and shape of the shoulders distinguished Saddam from his doubles.

Haider's visit to Baghdad sparked such fierce criticism at home and abroad that he was forced to abandon his last national party post -- a seat on the committee that sets policy for the two-party coalition government.

Last month, the far-right firebrand announced he was leaving national politics for good.

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