Entries in Hunger Strike (4)


Albrecht Muth’s Refusal to Eat Delays Murder Trial

Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post(WASHINGTON) -- A bizarre murder case involving a German expatriate who claims to be an Iraqi general and the death of his 91-year-old wife is now further complicated by the fact that the defendant is refusing to eat.

Albrecht Muth, 48, was supposed to stand trial Wednesday for the murder of his wife, Viola Drath. Instead, he is lying in a Washington hospital nearly starved to death, prompting a judge to indefinitely postpone the case due to his poor health condition.

Lying completely reposed in a hospital bed for his first and only interview since his arrest, Muth told ABC’s Martha Raddatz that he is not on a hunger strike but is fasting for religious reasons.

“I’m opposed to killing myself, I’m a Roman Catholic,” says Muth, who adds that he will eat again when he is “commanded or permitted to.”

Muth’s strange behavior started well before he was implicated in his wife’s murder. He has a reputation in Washington as a sort of con man.

He was known for hosting parties to which he invited numerous luminaries and government officials, such as Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Ambassador Anne Patterson, Ambassador Thomas Pickering, and Gen. Peter Chiarelli, as well as journalists, including Raddatz and CBS’ David Martin.

Muth would send invitations featuring a guest of honor, who was usually a visiting Iraqi official; and upon arrival, guests would be escorted to a basement dining room only to be informed by Muth, who was often dressed as an Iraqi general, that the guest of honor would not be able to make it. (Raddatz once attended a dinner at Muth’s house and left early after sensing it was a scam.)

Another habit of Muth’s was to regularly send elaborate emails to journalists and government officials making it appear he had senior contacts within the Pentagon and intelligence agencies, when in reality he did not.

Muth says he did not kill his wife, to whom he was married for 22 years, calling himself a “convenient suspect.” Muth has been accused of previous incidents of violence toward Drath and even acknowledges a specific assault in 1992.

“I have no recollection, it was a bad moment, but it is correct,” Muth says of assaulting Drath.

Muth maintains that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, who he says had a key to their house, murdered his late wife.

Detectives did not initially expect foul play when Drath was found dead in her Georgetown home on August 12, 2011, but the medical examiner discovered that she had been strangled to death after finding bruising and broken cartilage in her neck.

Muth says he was out of the house the night she was killed and only discovered her after returning to the home at 10 a.m. the next morning.

Muth, who still insists that he is legitimately connected to the Iraqi military, is transparent about one thing: his lack of affection for his late wife, which he characterized as a “marriage of convenience.”

“She provided the stage, I the play,” says Muth of his marriage to Drath.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


With Palestinian Hunger Strikers Near Death, Fear of Violence

Kevin Horan/Stone(TEL AVIV) – Six Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike in Israeli prisons are in danger of “imminent death,” a result that could trigger an outbreak of violence in the relatively peaceful occupied West Bank, according to Israeli and Palestinian officials and activists.

The six are part of a larger group that some activists estimate is now in the thousands after some 1,600 Palestinians joined a smaller hunger strike on April 17; more joined in solidarity after that. They are protesting a lack of rights in Israeli prisons, as well as “administrative detention,” which allows Israel to indefinitely renew six-month prison terms with no charges.

Friday was the 74th day of hunger striking for administrative detainees Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahla, currently in a prison clinic despite pleas from the Red Cross and Israel’s Physicians for Human Rights to transfer them to hospitals. The four other prisoners have been striking for over 40 days.

The six “are in imminent danger of dying,” the Red Cross said in a statement this week. “We urge the detaining authorities to transfer all six detainees without delay to a suitable hospital so that their condition can be continuously monitored and so that they can receive specialized medical and nursing care.”

An Israeli Prison Service spokeswoman told the Palestinian Ma’an news service Friday that the men would be transferred to a hospital “if it is necessary,” but that “as of now, I know that those who should be receiving extra care are receiving it.”

“We need immediate intervention now” from the international community, activist Raya Ziada told ABC News. Her brother is in an Israeli prison serving a 30 year sentence. If prisoners die, she said, “I think there will be an explosion of frustration for not intervening.”

Top Palestinian officials have warned of an outbreak of violence in the West Bank with President Mahmoud Abbas saying “it is very dangerous.”

A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wouldn’t discuss ongoing negotiations, but said they want to see an end to the hunger strikes as soon as possible to avoid the possibility of “riots all over the West Bank.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Moms of US Hikers Imprisoned in Iran on Hunger Strike to Bring Sons Home

ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- They've waited 662 days for their sons' freedom. Now Cindy Hickey and Laura Fattal, the mothers of imprisoned American hikers Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, told ABC News they've run out of patience.

Interviewed at the National Press Club in Washington, Hickey said, "There are days I don't sleep. I don't sleep at night. I watch my daughters struggling -- my daughters are struggling very hard with this. It's still surreal to me that we are in this situation. How long can this go on? At some point things that have been lost wouldn't be able to be recovered, and that's my biggest fear."

The mothers, along with Fattal's brother Alex, have launched a series of events to raise awareness of the hikers' case and, they hope, speed up their release.

After learning that their sons went on a 17-day hunger strike to protest their not being able to receive letters from loved ones, the families of the hikers have started a hunger strike of their own. Cindy Hickey and Laura Fattal rolled it out last week. Deepak Chopra picked it up over the weekend. And now Alex is taking his turn. Laura Fattal will start again on June 4, her son Josh's birthday.

Laura Fattal says, "I could imagine this could have been done in 21 hours, not 21 months to free them. Of course, we are strong. We are strong to get our sons to their freedom, and because these are 28-year-old young men who have their entire life in front of them."

Cindy Hickey: "We want to stand in solidarity with Shane and Josh. We want them home. This will continue. It's a rolling hunger strike. It will continue until they are home. There is always somebody on a hunger strike. The answer to ending this is to have Shane and Josh home."

The hikers families and loved ones have also enlisted the help of boxing legend Muhammad Ali and U.S. Muslim leaders who have called for the mens' release. In a letter to Ayatollah Khamenei, released Wednesday, Ali and 20 other American Muslim leaders wrote of Bauer and Fattal's innocence, and appealed to the supreme leader to release them out of compassion and kindness, following the example of the Prophet Muhammad.

On Sunday the two detainees spoke with their families for the first time since Nov. 27, 2010. The phone calls from Fattal and Bauer were both reassuring and worrying for their mothers. Laura Fattal was out of the house when her husband took the call.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Mothers of Detained American Hikers in Iran Go on Hunger Strike

ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The mothers of the two American hikers who remain in Iran after they were imprisoned over 21 months ago, began a hunger strike Thursday to support their sons.

Their fast strike comes after a court hearing for Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer was postponed last Wednesday because officials did not bring them to court from the prison.  Iran has since not given a reason for their absence.

Cindy Hickey, Bauer's mother, said, "We have not had any news about Shane and Josh for many months and we are terrified that they have now gone on hunger strike to protest against this latest, devastating delay.  We're worried that they are not getting proper medical care and that their lives may be in danger."

The hunger strike also coincides with the last and only time the mothers were able to visit their sons in Tehran since they were arrested on July 31, 2009.

"One year ago, as we were about to fly to Tehran, we learned at the departure gate that Iran had cut the length of our visit from the seven days we were promised to just two," said Laura Fattal, Josh's mother. "That's just one example of the heartless pain all of us have been made to suffer because Iran has a disagreement with the U.S."

Fattal and Bauer, along with fellow hiker Sarah Shourd, were detained after crossing an unmarked border while hiking in northern Iraq.  Iranian authorities claimed the trio had illegally crossed over into their territory and charged them with spying for the U.S.

Shourd was kept in solitary confinement until she was released by Iranian authorities after posting $500,000 bail in September of 2010. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio