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Last Updated: Sunday, 12 December, 2004, 21:45 GMT
Jailed Saddam aides 'shun food'
Saddam Hussein
Saddam is "continuing his normal routine", the US military says
The US military says a number of former senior Iraqi officials who are now in custody have been refusing food.

A military spokesman said seven of a group of 11 prisoners that includes Ali Hassan al-Majid, also known as Chemical Ali, have been refusing some meals.

He said there was no concern for their health because they were still taking water and some US army rations.

The spokesman denied reports that the former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was on hunger strike.

Secret location

Saddam Hussein is being held separately from the other men who all face trial for war crimes.

This absolutely does not involve Saddam. He's in good condition and is continuing with his normal routine, which includes taking meals
Lt-Col Barry Johnson,
US military

He was captured by US troops a year ago, on 13 December, and is being held in a secret location until his trial sometime in 2005.

"It appears that some of the other 11 high-value detainees have been rejecting food, although they continue to snack and to take on liquids," Lt-Col Barry Johnson told Reuters.

Col Johnson said the seven detainees had "been making a show of not taking meals beginning after the breakfast meal [on Saturday]".

The group of 11 also includes former deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz.

His lawyer told the BBC the men did not want to go on trial because they still considered themselves the legitimate government.

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