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Hussein claims hunger strike

Saddam Hussein announced Tuesday that he and several co-defendants are on a hunger strike to protest his trial. "For the past three days we've been on a hunger strike against you and your masters," Hussein declared.

Word of the hunger strike came during another turbulent session of Hussein's trial in a heavily guarded Baghdad courtroom. The session ended with an announcement that it would be adjourned until Feb. 28.

The former president attended the trial on Monday only after being brought there by force. Tuesday, Hussein's half-brother, Barzan Ibrahim, on trial for his role as Hussein's chief of intelligence, attended the trial in his pajamas. He told the court that he had not planned to attend but had been tricked into leaving his cell.

The chief judge, Raouf Abdel-Rahman, a Kurd who has taken a stricter line with defendants than his predecessor, sparred briefly with Hussein and other defendants, who were complaining about the court having appointed lawyers to take the place of their own, who are boycotting the trial. At one point Abdel-Rahman told Hussein, "You are a defendant. You should stand up before you speak to me." "I am not a servant in your house," Hussein replied.

Hussein has objected to Abdel-Rahman as chief judge because he comes from a village in Kurdistan that was attacked with poison gas by Hussein's forces in 1988, killing relatives of Abdel-Rahman.

Hussein and the other defendants are charged with the killing of 148 men from the town of Dujail in the Shiite south in reprisal for an assassination attempt during a visit there by Hussein in 1982.

The court heard from three witnesses, all former officials under Hussein, all of whom said they were testifying reluctantly.

BRITISH FLAG BURNED: More than 1,000 protesters burned a British flag Tuesday and the regional administration in Basra severed all ties with British authorities over video footage showing British soldiers allegedly beating and kicking Iraqi youths. In London, the British Defense Ministry announced the arrest of two more people in connection with the images. Another person - apparently the man who shot the video - was arrested Monday. The governing council for Basra province, which includes Iraq's huge southern oil fields, announced it was cutting all ties with British military and civilian operations in the area, headquarters of Britain's 8,000-member military contingent in Iraq.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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