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Amin ruled Uganda with fear, death

Amin was one of Africa's most notorious dictators.
Amin was one of Africa's most notorious dictators.

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 Born in Koboko, West Nile Province, Uganda, 1925
 Raised by his single mother
 President of Uganda, 1971-79
 Took office in 1971 military coup
 Ousted in 1979 military coup

(CNN) -- A former heavyweight boxer who had been a British colonial army sergeant, Idi Amin exuded power during his years in Uganda.

He served in the British colonial King's African Rifles and saw action in World War II in Burma.

After joining the Ugandan army in 1962 when the colony gained independence from Britain, he quickly rose up the ranks to commander of the armed forces in 1966.

In a military coup in 1971, Amin ousted Ugandan leader Milton Obote and seized power.

He declared himself president and began a reign seen as one of the bloodiest in African history -- earning Amin the nickname "Butcher of Uganda."

During Amin's dictatorial rule from 1971-79, Ugandans were gripped in a climate of fear as an estimated 500,000 people disappeared or were killed.

Amin garnered a fearsome reputation as a sadistic leader surrounded by death; he was even reported to be a cannibal.

His political downfall came in 1979, when Tanzanian troops and Ugandan dissidents stormed his palace in Kampala, overthrowing the government.

Amin went into exile in Saudi Arabia, where his friendship with King Faisal helped ease the way for a quiet retirement.

He has not been back to Uganda since 1979, and there is controversy over whether Amin will be allowed to return to the country to die or be buried.

Amin is in a deteriorating condition in a Saudi hospital after slipping into a coma, medical officials say.

His family has asked Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to allow Amin to return home, David Kibirige of Ugandan newspaper The Monitor told CNN.

However, the Ugandan government has said Amin would still face arrest and would have to answer for his crimes.

If Amin dies, the government is still unlikely to allow his body to return to Uganda for burial, Kibirige said, even though a family burial site is already reserved for him in his former hometown of Arua.

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