Idi Amin called himself ''a pure son of Africa,'' but his bizarre and murderous eight years as president of Uganda typified the worst of the continent's military dictatorships. He was 80.
Mr. Amin died today at King Faisal Specialist hospital, a hospital official said. He had been hospitalized on life-support systems since July 18. He was in a coma and suffering from high blood pressure when he was admitted to the hospital. Later, hospital staff said he suffered kidney failure.
A onetime heavyweight boxing champ and soldier in the British colonial army, Mr. Amin seized power on Jan. 25, 1971, overthrowing President Milton Obote while Mr. Obote was abroad.
What followed was a reign of terror laced with buffoonery and a flirtation with Palestinian terrorism that led to the daring 1976 Israeli raid to rescue hijacked hostages in his country.
Mr. Obote once called Mr. Amin ''the greatest brute an African mother has ever brought to life.'' President Jimmy Carter said events in Uganda during Mr. Amin's rule ''disgusted the entire civilised world.'
Published in the New York Times, 16 August, 2003. Article here.