ANKARA, TURKEY, AUG. 17 -- A Turkish contractor who was captured by Iraqi troops in Kuwait and detained in a Baghdad detention center returned to Ankara this week and painted a bleak portrait of the treatment of some foreign hostages in Iraq.

"It was unbelievable," said Ali Riza Bozkurt, president of the contracting firm Birlesmis Muhendis Burosu. It was "worse than what . . . concentration camps {appear} to be in the movies. There was one working toilet for 1,000 people, with scum running over your heels when you went in."

At the time of Iraq's Aug. 2 invasion, Bozkurt and 30 of his project engineers were in Kuwait to test a housing complex for Turkish workers helping to construct the $350 million Subiyah thermal power plant. The facility was being built by the emir of Kuwait as the key installation of a projected $30 billion satellite city, in part to underline the Kuwaiti government's claim to land along the country's northern border.

While working that day, Bozkurt said in an interview after returning to Ankara on Tuesday, he spotted thousands of troops and tanks moving south.

"We didn't know who it was at first," Bozkurt said. "Then I called the undersecretary of energy {of Kuwait} who was due at the job site and explained the situation to him, and he went into shock. The Iraqis were already 150 miles inside Kuwait territory and the government had no idea."

The Turkish team holed up in their quarters, which quickly came under Iraqi military guard, he said. Iraqi troops began streaming into the area, many of them in search of water.

"They had been without water for eight hours and were crazed," Bozkurt said. "After they overran the camp, some of the Iraqis started tearing apart the sewage pipes under our villas just to moisten their lips, even with raw sewage."

Over the next few days, Bozkurt said he and his engineers were transported north toward the Iraqi city of Basra, traveling through several dozen military encampments.

"It was like a tour for a spy or something -- we saw everything. And with our own experience in the army, coupled with our training as draftsmen, we even drew comprehensive maps of the Iraqi fortifications, most of which were designed to resist attack from the sea," he said.

The Turks were forced to spend the first two nights in the desert until an Iraqi military official in Basra took control of the group. The official, according to Bozkurt, apologized for the poor treatment of the Turks and assured them that they would be released once they reached Baghdad.

A train was commandeered, Bozkurt said, and his group went aboard, along with more than 1,000 other foreigners in the custody of Iraqi troops, including workers from the Philippines, South Korea and Turkey; soldiers, policemen and officials from Kuwait, and Saudi nationals who had been taken from their luxury hotel beds in Kuwait City.

"We thought it was over -- clean sheets, excellent food and fruit -- with the commander apologizing to us repeatedly," Bozkurt said. The festive atmosphere aboard the train lasted until Baghdad, when the group was placed on a convoy of 20 buses and driven around Baghdad.

"We thought they were going to drop us at our respective embassies as promised," Bozkurt said, "so we all waved back at the crowds. Pictures of {Iraqi President} Saddam Hussein were everywhere. It seemed like an entire nation of Saddams."

But the tour ended at the gates of a camp that apparently had been designed to hold prisoners captured in the eight-year war with Iran, which ended in 1988.

Bozkurt said he and the others on the buses were forced into two barrack-like structures, each housing 700 people. A third, smaller structure, Bozkurt said he learned, housed about 30 Westerners who had been taken from Kuwait by Iraqi troops and brought to Baghdad.

"For some reason, the Iraqis had already divided the Westerners they had taken from the Kuwait Sheraton into two groups," he said. "They had removed the Americans, Britons, Germans, Spanish and Italians to different quarters, and we never saw them. But the remaining group contained everyone from a Russian diplomat to a Japanese billionaire, four Hungarian telephone technicians and three Greek sailors from a ship docked in Basra."

According to Bozkurt, the accommodations in the Baghdad camp were dismal. "It was strange, seeing captains of industry and men who only stayed in luxury hotels reduced to sleeping on blankets and eating from a communal pot of soup with no spoons and eating bread that could be used in constructing a wall," he said.

A Japanese man who told fellow hostages that he was the president of a $3 billion-a-year Osaka-based corporation was "in a near state of shock," Bozkurt said. "So were many of the Saudis."

Bozkurt said he maintained calm and even devised an escape plan -- never used -- along with his fellow Turkish engineers. He said he managed to keep a hand-held tape recorder, making notes until he ran out of batteries. He compiled a list of the names and contact addresses for 1,630 prisoners in his camp. The prisoners also devised a makeshift refrigerator from a closed container given to the group and some wiring, he said.

On Aug. 11, Bozkurt said, he and the rest of the Turks, along with all Iranian, Afghan and Chinese nationals from the camp, were released. After recuperating for one night in a luxury hotel on the Tigris, they were taken by bus to Jordan, and Bozkurt continued home to Turkey.

"When we left, we saw, with our own eyes, four other camps just like ours -- 4,000 people," he said.