July 19, 2006

Saddam gets counseling to end hunger strike: US

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Saddam Hussein is receiving psychiatric
counseling to convince him to start eating again after 12 days
on hunger strike in a U.S. military prison.

Saying that the 69-year-old ousted Iraqi president was
still refusing food but taking liquid nourishment, a U.S.
spokesman said such counseling was part of additional daily
medical care for inmates who risked damaging their health by
their actions.

"Medical and mental health professionals counsel the
detainees on the dangers," Lieutenant Colonel Keir-Kevin Curry
said. "They try to convince the detainees to end their fast."

Saddam and three co-defendants who last ate on July 7 are
all healthy, Curry said.

A lawyer for Saddam, who is due back in court on Monday,
has said his client's health has suffered but that he is
determined to pursue the protest until U.S. officials improve
protection for defense attorneys and meet other demands on the

U.S. officials involved with the Iraqi court trying Saddam
and seven others for crimes against humanity have said that a
defense lawyer killed last month, the third since the trial
began, had refused U.S. offers of protection.

The defense team responded to a letter in English from a
foreign legal adviser to the court urging them to end a boycott
of the proceedings by publishing the letter, describing it as a
threat and complaining it should have been written in Arabic.