Jumat, 04 Januari 2008

Britney Spears in hospital after ambulance drama: police (AFP)

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Britney Spears was being evaluated at a Los Angeles hospital early Friday after being taken from her home by paramedics following the latest twist to the troubled pop stars custody battle.

Spears was taken by stretcher from her home late Thursday following a stand-off which began when she reportedly refused to hand over her two children, Sean Preston, 2, and Jayden James, 1 to ex-husband Kevin Federlines bodyguard.

Video footage and pictures of the incident shown on celebrity news websites showed a conscious Spears smiling as she was wheeled into an ambulance.

Los Angeles Police Department spokesman Jason Lee said Spears was being detained and evaluated in hospital because officers had found her under the influence of an unknown substance.

Lee said officers had been called to Spears home at 8 pm Thursday (0400 GMT Friday) to resolve a custody dispute.

Celebrity news websites USmagazine.com and TMZ.com reported that the drama began when Spears failed to hand her two children over as arranged under a court-ordered custody agreement with Federline.

At around 10:30 pm paramedics and an ambulance arrived and shortly afterwards the two children were turned over to Federline after police reviewed court documents, Lee said.

Police could not confirm celebrity news website reports that Spears youngest son Jayden James had also been taken to the hospital, Lee adding only that there were "no reportable injuries to anyone involved."

Spears, one of the most successful pop stars of her generation, has been embroiled in a bitter custody battle with Federline ever since the couple separated in late 2006.

A judge limited Spears access to her children in October after she failed to submit to random drug testing as demanded at an earlier hearing where the court ruled Spears was a "habitual, frequent, and continuous" user of "controlled substances and alcohol."

Earlier Thursday Spears began a court-ordered deposition in the custody case after missing several appointments to do so, but appeared for questioning by Federlines lawyer so late that it lasted only 13 minutes, USmagazine reported.

The day before, her lawyers had requested to leave her case, citing "a breakdown in communications" with Spears that made "further representation of her interests impossible."

The court-room drama rumbled throughout a difficult year for Spears that saw her rarely out of the tabloid headlines.

In late 2006 she was repeatedly photographed in nightspots wearing no underwear and was also captured bizarrely shaving her head in a hair salon and attacking a photographers car with an umbrella. Those episodes were followed by a stint in a rehabilitation treatment center.

In September Spears attempted to resurrect her career but suffered a critical savaging after a live performance at the Video Music Awards.

Nevertheless the release of her first album in four years in October, "Blackout," offered Spears some encouragement with critics broadly hailing the work as a success.

Spears family was back in the headlines again last month when it emerged that the singers 16-year-old sister, the star of a popular US television childrens show, was pregnant.

Spears shot to superstardom in late 1998, with her smash-hit debut album "Baby One More Time" which she followed with another chart-topping success the following year, "Oops! ... I Did It Again."

According to Time magazine, Spears has sold over 76 million records worldwide, and her 31 million albums sold in the United States make her the eighth best-selling female artist in US music history.

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