- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 5, 2003

EGYPT
Activist tried again; verdict due March 18
CAIRO U.S.-Egyptian rights activist Saad Eddine Ibrahim, 64, who has spent most of the past three years in jail over charges he tarnished Egypt's image abroad, stood trial again yesterday in a seven-hour hearing.
The court said that it would issue its verdict, considered Mr. Ibrahim's last chance to be cleared and avoid a seven-year prison term, on March 18. The sociology professor from Cairo's American University has been free since December, when an appeals court quashed the earlier sentence and ordered his retrial.

ISRAEL
Palestinian police block rocket fire from Gaza
JERUSALEM For the first time in many months, Palestinian security forces are taking steps to prevent militant groups from firing rockets into Israel, the daily Ha'aretz reported yesterday.
Quoting Israeli intelligence sources, the newspaper said that in the past two weeks, a Palestinian Qassam rocket cell was arrested in the Gaza Strip and the activity of several other cells were "disrupted" through the deployment of police in areas where the rockets have been fired.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) fears increasing Israeli military raids into the Gaza Strip aimed at rocket and mortar production in Palestinian towns "will eventually smash what remains of the PA's government in the Gaza Strip and further damage the status of the Palestinian security apparatus in the Strip," Ha'aretz said.

YEMEN
7 Koranic students held in political killing
SAN'A Police have arrested seven students from a Koranic-studies school in connection with the murder of a prominent socialist politician, the Al-Islah Party's electronic newspaper reports.
Among those held was Abdul Salam Hariri, a brother-in-law of the party's controversial ideologue Abdul Majid al-Zindani, Al-Sahwa newspaper said Monday. Twenty-one persons are now under arrest as investigations go on into the slaying of Jarallah Omar, deputy leader of the Yemeni Socialist Party, the paper said.
Muslim fundamentalist Ali Jarallah, an Al-Islah member, was reported to have shot Mr. Omar dead at a party conference in December. Jarallah and radicals who killed three American missionaries in southern Yemen the same month had left Al-Islah, complaining it had gone soft on Westerners and minority Islamic sects.

Weekly notes
Iran's hard-line judiciary chief told visiting European Union External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten that courts had stopped ordering execution by stoning, state television reported yesterday in Tehran. Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi-Shahrudi did not say whether stoning had been abolished or temporarily suspended. Diplomats said Mr. Patten asked whether the decision was temporary, but got no reply. … Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi offered yesterday to mediate between President Bush and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to try to halt the slide toward a new Gulf war. "I wish I could have the opportunity to talk to these two persons, to address them," he told CNN while in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the summit of the African Union.

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