Saddam is being fed through a feeding tube in hospital due to the effects of his 16-day hunger strike.

His lawyers also boycotted the hearing in Baghdad on Monday, saying the court had refused to meet their demands for a fair trial.

Adjourning the hearing until Wednesday, judge Rauf Abdel Rahman accused the lawyers of political grandstanding. 

He said, "The decision of the lawyers to boycott the hearing is designed to generate publicity and thwart the course of justice."

He also rounded on Barzan al-Tikriti, Saddam's half-brother and former intelligence chief, who had refused a court appointed lawyer and demanded to be allowed to leave the court.

Rahman said, "Enough blood. Your hands have been saturated with blood since your childhood."

Barzan, one of three other of Saddam's co-accused, told the judge he was there "against my will".

Force-feeding

Chief defence lawyer Khalil Dulaimi has accused US military authorities of force-feeding the toppled leader to make him end his strike.

"The US military are force-feeding the president to break his will and end his hunger strike to protest against the trial and its illegality," said Dulaimi.

But a US military spokesman said that Saddam was being fed voluntarily through a feeding tube and his condition was not considered to be life-threatening.

 

The Dujail trial, which US and Iraqi officials had hoped would project a new image of democracy in postwar Iraq, has been marred by the killing of three defence lawyers and the resignation of the first chief judge in protest against what he called government interference.

 

Saddam was due to appear before judges at the latest hearing in his prosecution for the alleged massacre of 148 members of Iraq's Shia community in 1982 after an attempt on his life.
  
He and his co-defendants have reportedly been refusing food since July 7.