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Saddam Hussein Hospitalized --> Saddam Hussein in court (file photo) (AFP) July 23, 2006 -- Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was today hospitalized, 17 days into a hunger strike.

The chief prosecutor in Hussein's trial, Ja'far al-Musawi, described the 68-year-old's health as "unstable" and said he is being fed through a tube.

Hussein and seven codefendents began refusing food on 7 July in protest at the murder in June of Hussein's senior defense lawyer, Khamis al-Ubaydi.

The hunger-strikers are demanding better security for their lawyers. Three members of the defense team have been murdered during the course of the trial.

Hussein was due to appear in court on July 24.

Earlier on July 23, Hussein's defense team said they will boycott the July 24 session to protest the court's refusal to meet their demands for a "fair trial."

Al-Musawi and the prosecution team have called for Hussein to be executed for allegedly ordering the execution of 148 people in retaliation for an attempt on his life in the village of Al-Dujayl in 1982.

(Reuters, AP, AFP)

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