Saddam Hussein's cousin, whose execution has been delayed for months in a complex legal and political battle, has been hospitalized after going on a hunger strike, his lawyer said Monday.
Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as "Chemical Ali" for the strikes he ordered against Kurds in the 1980s, and co-defendant Abdul-Ghani Abdul-Ghafour were admitted to a U.S. medical facility on Sunday after they passed out, their defense attorney said.
The U.S. military confirmed that al-Majid was hospitalized on Sunday and said he is in stable condition. But it could not immediately confirm the information about Abdul-Ghafour or provide more details.
Al-Majid has been sentenced to hang for his role in a brutal crackdown against the Kurds in the 1980s. He is also on trial in a separate case stemming from the suppression of a 1991 Shiite uprising against Saddam's Sunni-dominated regime.
Defense attorney Badee Izzat Aref said al-Majid, Abdul-Ghafour and 13 other co-defendants in the Shiite uprising trial started a hunger strike on Friday to protest an order forcing them to stay in cramped quarters at the courthouse instead of their regular cells at the U.S. detention facility Camp Cropper.
The defendants complained they had to share small cells with a joint bathroom instead of their larger quarters at Camp Cropper, Aref said in a telephone interview from Amman, Jordan.
He said they were told they would have to stay at the courthouse until the next trial session begins no May 13.
Al-Majid was one of three former Saddam officials sentenced to death in June after being convicted by an Iraqi court of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for their part in the Operation Anfal crackdown that killed nearly 200,000 Kurdish civilians and guerrillas.
But influential Sunni Arabs and President Jalal Talabani intervened and insisted that one of the three others — former defense minister Sultan Hashim al-Taie — be spared the gallows.
That delayed the execution of all three.
In February, the three-member presidential council, which includes Talabani and the two vice presidents, agreed to al-Majid's execution, but did not approve the death sentences against the other two.
Still, no date for his execution has been announced.