Castro in grave condition after 3 failed operations - 17 January, 2007

Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro is in "very grave" condition after three failed operations and complications from the intestinal infection diverticulitis, a Spanish newspaper has reported. A Cuban diplomat called the report a "lie."

In its report Tuesday, El Pais newspaper cited two unnamed medical sources from Gregorio Maranon hospital in Madrid.

The facility employs surgeon Jose Luis Garcia Sabrido, who flew to Cuba in December to treat the 80-year-old Castro, but one of the journalists who wrote the article told The Associated Press that Garcia Sabrido was not one of the two sources. The journalist, Oriol Guell, said the sources were both doctors at the hospital, but declined to identify them.

El Pais said "A grave infection in the large intestine, at least three failed operations and various complications have left the Cuban dictator, Fidel Castro, laid up with a very grave prognosis."

El Pais said that in December, when Garcia Sabrido visited, Castro had an abdominal wound that was leaking more than half a liter (1 pint) of fluids a day, causing "a severe loss of nutrients." The Cuban leader was being fed intravenously, the report said.

Garcia Sabrido, the Madrid hospital's chief surgeon, declined comment Wednesday when approached by AP Television near the hospital.

But in an interview with Spanish newspaper ABC, Garcia Sabrido said the only trustworthy information about Castro's health is what "comes from his medical team, and the rest are rumors, inaccuracies and things that are absolutely false."

He provided no new details about Castro's health, reports AP.

A Cuban diplomat in Madrid said the newspaper's report was "an invented story."

"It's another lie and we are not going to talk about it. If anyone has to talk about Castro's illness it's Havana," said the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with normal diplomatic practice.

"It's an invented story. I don't know anything about this."