BAGHDAD – Saddam Hussein's cousin, whose execution has been delayed for months in a complex legal and political battle, was returned to a U.S. detention facility on Tuesday after suffering a heart attack, U.S. officials said.
Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as "Chemical Ali" for the strikes he ordered against Kurds in the 1980s, was admitted to a U.S. medical facility on Sunday.
His lawyer, Badee Izzat Aref, said al-Majid had suffered a heart attack after going on a hunger strike with other defendants.
A U.S. military official familiar with the medical records confirmed that al-Majid had suffered a heart attack but said he was in stable condition and had been returned to a U.S. detention facility.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to disclose the information, said he had no information about a hunger strike or the involvement of other defendants.
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.
Aref, the defense attorney, said earlier this week that both al-Majid and co-defendant Abdul-Ghani Abdul-Ghafour were admitted to a U.S. medical facility on Sunday after they passed out.
He said the two men, along with 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.
But, he said, al-Majid and six other defendants had been returned to Camp Cropper on Tuesday and the rest were to be returned on Wednesday.
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.