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Lawyer Says Saddam is on Hunger Strike, Despite US Denial


One of Saddam Hussein's lawyers says the former Iraqi leader is refusing food, despite reports to the contrary. French lawyer Emmanuel Ludot says he wants the International Red Cross to check on Saddam's condition.

Lawyer Emmanuel Ludot says he heard from a colleague in Iraq that Saddam Hussein is on a hunger strike.
According to his sources in Iraq, Mr. Ludot says, Saddam stopped eating three days ago, to protest the conditions of his detention, and the fact he cannot meet his family or his lawyers. Mr. Ludot says he will meet with Red Cross officials in Geneva on Wednesday to discuss the situation. He wants the international agency to visit Saddam and several other imprisoned members of his regime in Iraq, and publish a report on their detention.

The Red Cross officials visit Saddam and the other detainees regularly. Its last visit was in November, when, according to Mr. Ludot the officials reported Saddam was in good health.

The U.S. military denies Saddam is on a hunger strike. It says eight colleagues who did stop eating have now ended their protests.

The conflicting assertions come a year after U.S. soldiers discovered Iraq's former leader in an underground hiding spot, near his hometown of Tikrit. Saddam remains in prison in an undisclosed location, where he reportedly gardens and writes poetry. It is not clear when he will be brought to trial.

Mr. Ludot is one of about 20 lawyers from around the world, who are reportedly representing Saddam. None of them is known to have met with the former Iraqi leader, including Mr. Ludot.

Mr. Ludot says he will raise the issue of meeting with Saddam, along with the hunger strike reports, when he meets with Red Cross officials this week.

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