Dictator Idi Amin dies in Saudi Arabia

Former Ugandan ruler Idi Amin, accused of brutal crimes against his people, dies in Saudi Arabian exile

Idi Amin, the former Ugandan ruler who declared himself president for life, died in Saudi Arabia Saturday.


Amin, who was believed to be 80 years old, died of multiple organ failure at King Faisal Specialist hospital in Jiddah, where he had lived in exile for years. He had been in a coma for close to a month.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni called the death of the former dictator "good."

"His death and burial will signal the end of our bad past," his spokesperson said.

The one-time heavyweight boxing champ seized power January 26, 1971, overthrowing then-President Milton Obote while he was abroad. He promised elections, but instead declared himself president for life in the country of roughly 24 million.

Human rights groups say Amin is responsible for the deaths of as many as 300,000 people during his eight-year rule. He often had bodies dumped in the Nile River and fed to crocodiles. He reportedly kept the severed head of some political opponents in the refrigerator.

His expulsion of Uganda's Asian population left the country with no business class and in economic ruin.

Amin was known for his bizarre actions. He publicly offered to become king of Scotland, praised Adolf Hitler, challenged the president of Tanzania to a boxing match, and wrote Richard Nixon to wish him a speedy recovery from Watergate.

His iron-fisted grip on Uganda came to an end in 1979, after a failed invasion of Tanzania. Tanzanian troops counter-attacked, fighting off Amin's Arab and Soviet-equipped soldiers to reach the capital, Kampala, in April.

Amin fled to Saudi Arabia where he lived with one of his two wives and his 22 children. He lived in a luxury home in Jiddah, complete with maids, cars, drivers and cooks, courtesy of the Saudi government.