The trial of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein for the murders of 148 Shi'ite men resumed without him Monday. Saddam remains in a hospital, where he was admitted Sunday after suffering the effects of 17-day long hunger strike.

U.S. officials say Saddam Hussein is being fed voluntarily through a tube and his life is not in danger.

The 68-year-old former dictator has been on a hunger strike since July 7. He is protesting the murders of three of his defense attorneys and demanding better security for the rest of his legal team.

His lawyers had announced before he was hospitalized Sunday that Saddam would boycott Monday's closing arguments.

Saddam and seven co-defendants have been on trial since October for the 1982 murders of 148 Shi'ite men from the town of Dujail following a failed assassination attempt on the former Iraqi leader.

Only one of Saddam's co-defendants turned up in court Monday.

Saddam's half-brother and former chief of the secret police, Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, told the judge that all the charges against him are false, and that he never ordered the murders of anyone in the town of Dujail.

Later, the judge adjourned the proceedings until Wednesday, when the remaining three defendants including Saddam, are due to make closing statements.

Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is in London for talks with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, ahead of his Tuesday trip to see President Bush in Washington.

In a joint news conference following their meeting, Mr. Maliki accused Saddam loyalists and Islamic militants of trying to drag the country into civil war, saying they must be stopped.

Sectarian violence has been escalating in Iraq since February, when a Shi'ite shrine was bombed in the city of Samarra. In the last week, more than 100 Iraqis have been killed in separate attacks across the country.