- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 6, 2004

FRANCE

Paris court frees man sought by Italy

PARIS — A Paris court last week ordered the release from custody of a former far-left extremist sought by Italian authorities after being sentenced to life in prison for murder. The decision means he can remain at liberty pending a court hearing April 7 on the Italian request.

Cesare Battisti, 49, who has lived in France since 1990 and now writes detective novels, was detained Feb. 10 after an extradition request by Italy.

A former member of Armed Proletarians for Communism, Battisti was convicted in absentia in 1998 by a court in Milan. He was found guilty of participation in four killings in 1978 and 1979 as well as a number of armed robberies.

Italian Justice Minister Roberto Castelli refused to comment on the decision. French leftists undertook a high-profile campaign to stop the extradition, with the Socialist majority on the Paris city council voting to give him “the protection of the city.”

POLAND

Ruling party saved by independents

WARSAW — The ruling social democrats struck a coalition deal with a band of independent deputies in parliament last week, boosting the minority Cabinet’s chances of winning crunch votes on its planned spending cuts.

The agreement between the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) of Prime Minister Leszek Miller and a group of 15 deputies, to be formally signed next week, also increases the chance that Mr. Miller’s highly unpopular government will survive until general elections in late 2005, politicians said.

“During the coming year and a half, we will do everything to protect Poland from danger and carry out public finance reform,” said Krzysztof Janik, chief of the SLD’s parliamentary caucus.

GREECE

Foreign armed guards rejected for Olympics

ATHENS — Authorities have ruled out foreign teams using their own armed guards to guard against terrorist threats during this year’s Athens Olympic Games.

Olympics organizers will deploy more than 40,000 security staff during the 16 days in August, the largest number ever used in the Games, but still have come under pressure to allow armed foreign guards to accompany national teams.

“It will not be allowed to have foreign armed guards during the Games,” Col. Lefteris Economou, the chief police spokesman, told Reuters in an interview. But he said high-risk teams would be under tighter guard at the first summer Olympics since the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Weekly notes

Sweden’s military, which recently announced it will cut hundreds of millions of dollars from its budget, may begin training foreign troops as a source of extra income, Defense Ministry officials say. “There is a lot of interest among foreign militaries to use Sweden as a training ground. Northern Sweden, with all its space and so much winter, is especially well-suited for this,” said Defense Department spokeswoman Anna Birgerson. … The U.N. War Crimes Tribunal has indicted two Croatian generals, presenting Zagreb’s new conservative government with a credibility test for its European Union hopes, state television reports. Western diplomats said the government was likely to “cooperate aggressively” with the court.

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