Honecker 'facing death'

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BERLIN (Reuter) - The former East German leader, Erich Honecker, charged with manslaughter for killings on the Berlin Wall, could soon die of liver cancer, a doctor said yesterday.

Volkmar Schneider, entrusted with determining Mr Honecker's fitness to stay in jail and face trial, said a medical report from last week found the hardline Communist terminally ill. 'I've seen the report and I don't want to contradict its findings,' he said.

Citing a medical examination on 4 August, Mr Honecker's lawyers have said their client cannot go on trial on 49 charges of manslaughter and have applied for a halt to proceedings.