BAGHDAD, (Reuters) – Saddam Hussein was in good health and taking liquids with nutrients on the sixth day of a hunger strike, the U.S. military said on Thursday.
The former Iraqi leader and three co-defendants are refusing food in protest at court procedures and the killing of their defence lawyers in their trial for crimes against humanity.
“He is still in good health and receiving appropriate medical care,” said Lieutenant Colonel Keir-Kevin Curry, spokesman for the U.S. military’s detentions command.
Saddam, whose last meal was dinner on July 7, was drinking coffee with sugar and water with nutrients. Curry said he did not have any information on the three co-defendants, whom he declined to identify.
Saddam’s lead lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi told Reuters on Wednesday the former Iraqi president’s health had started to deteriorate. He said Saddam had been on hunger strike for seven days.
Curry said medical personnel had made “all efforts” to persuade Saddam and the other three to end their fast. “They have been made aware that continuation of the fast could endanger their health,” he told Reuters.
The 69-year-old former leader is on trial along with three senior aides and four minor officials of his Baath party. The trial was adjourned on Tuesday until July 24, when court- appointed lawyers are due to sum up in Saddam’s defence.
Saddam and his senior co-accused did not appear in court this week. Nor did their lawyers, who announced a boycott to further their demands for a full inquiry into the killing of defence lawyer Khamis al-Obaidi last month and an improvement in security provision for them and their families.
Obaidi was the third defence lawyer killed since the trial began in October. Colleagues blame sectarian death squads bent on denying the Sunni Arab leader a fair trial and have urged that the U.S.-sponsored proceedings be moved away from Baghdad.