- The Washington Times - Monday, June 23, 2003

BELGIUM

U.S., NATO briefed on war-crimes law

BRUSSELS — Belgium presented changes yesterday on a war-crimes law used to target President Bush and other U.S. leaders, and NATO’s secretary-general said he hoped the amendments will avert a major crisis in the alliance.

Foreign Minister Louis Michel met separately with U.S. Ambassador Stephen F. Brauer and NATO Secretary-General George Robertson to discuss changes in the law, which allows war-crimes charges to be brought in Belgian courts regardless of where offenses are purported to have taken place.

Belgium agreed Sunday to change the law by limiting its scope to cases where Belgians or Belgian residents are involved as victims or suspects.

MALAWI

Five held on suspicion of aiding al Qaeda

BLANTYRE — Authorities in Malawi arrested five men suspected of helping funnel money to al Qaeda though charities, officials in the southern African nation said yesterday.

Malawi’s National Intelligence Bureau said the foreigners — one Sudanese, a Saudi, a Kenyan and two Turks — were arrested Sunday night in the southern city of Blantyre with assistance from the CIA. A spokesman for the CIA in Washington declined to comment.

President Bush is scheduled to visit Africa next month, with stops planned in Senegal, South Africa, Botswana, Uganda and Nigeria.

CUBA

Top court upholds sentences of dissidents

HAVANA — Cuba’s Supreme Court has upheld harsh prison sentences for dozens of dissidents jailed in April, ignoring international pleas for clemency and growing diplomatic tensions, a local rights group said yesterday.

“So far, 50 of the 75 sentences have been upheld,” said Elizardo Sanchez, president of the illegal but tolerated Cuban Human Rights Commission, adding that he did not expect the pending 25 appeals to fare any better.

The dissidents were sentenced to an average of 19 years in prison after being accused of conspiring with the United States to overthrow the communist government.

BRITAIN

Anglican leader backs homosexual bishop

LONDON — The leader of the world’s 70 million Anglicans stood behind the appointment of an openly homosexual bishop yesterday in a dispute that threatens to split the church.

In his first public statement on the issue, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said he saw nothing wrong with the appointment of Jeffrey John, 50, as suffragan, or assistant, Bishop of Reading, outside London.

In a letter to bishops, Archbishop Williams said he did not “believe that Canon John’s appointment either subverts current discipline or forecloses future discussion.”

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