Hunger Strike Convict: Force Feeding Made Me Scream

The convicted rapist trying to wage a hunger strike in prison says force-feeding made him scream "louder than I've screamed since I left Liverpool."

Connecticut prison officials are asking the court to make a temporary court order allowing them to force-feed William "Bill" Coleman permanent.

Coleman, 58, a a British citizen and native of Liverpool, and the American Civil Liberties Union argue he has the right to prevent prison medics from forcing a feeding tube into his nose. His attorneys say Coleman is conducting the same type of peaceful protest used by the late Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian spiritual and political leader.

Coleman has testified he doesn't want to die but says, "I'm willing to take that risk."

Judge James Graham has allowed Coleman to detail his objections to the criminal justice system.

He said his defense lawyer "sold me out" and the prosecution "railroaded" him when he was convicted of sexually assaulting his estranged wife. He has lost several appeals of his 2005 conviction.

"Least of all, I'm innocent," Coleman said. "My two boys need to be saved."

He hasn't seen his sons, ages 12 and 10, since 2004, he said.

In cross-examination, Assistant Attorney General Lynn Wittenbrink asked Coleman whether his motive is to draw attention from reporters who might investigate his conviction.

She also suggested other inmates might copy Coleman's hunger strike if Judge Graham removes his temporary court order.

Coleman has been taking fluids since prison officials force-fed him in the fall, an act Coleman contends violates international human rights conventions.

Coleman's weight dropped from 237 pounds to 133 pounds before prison officials began force-feeding him. They force-fed him at least a dozen times, including two occasions in late October in which a feeding tube was inserted through his nose.

Coleman is expected to be the final witness in the case. The judge is not expected to make an immediate ruling.

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