- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 28, 2005

BRITAIN

Big Ben stops ticking

LONDON — Big Ben, the landmark London clock renowned for its accuracy and chimes, stopped ticking for 90 minutes, an engineer said yesterday.

Officials do not know why the 147-year-old clock on the banks of the River Thames stopped at 10:07 p.m. Friday. It resumed keeping time, but stalled again at 10:20 p.m. and remained still for about 90 minutes before starting up again, a spokeswoman for the House of Commons said on the condition of anonymity, citing government policy.

There has been speculation a recent spell of hot weather may have been to blame.

SPAIN

Basque leader freed on bail

MADRID — The most prominent member of an outlawed pro-independence Basque party was released from jail yesterday on $500,000 bail.

Arnaldo Otegi, leader of the Batasuna party, which is seen as the political wing of the armed Basque separatist group ETA, was jailed Thursday by a Spanish judge who accused him of being a leader of the armed group.

The arrest of Mr. Otegi, 47, followed a court hearing on Wednesday, hours after a car bomb blamed on the ETA injured 52 persons in Madrid.

BULGARIA

President meets Libyan AIDS victims

TRIPOLI, Libya — Bulgaria’s president met children with HIV in eastern Libya yesterday, days before a court rules on an appeal by Bulgarian nurses sentenced to death on charges they infected more than 400 children with the virus.

Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov toured the hospital in the eastern city of Benghazi, which saw an outbreak of HIV/AIDS in 1999. Later he visited the nurses in a Tripoli prison.

Five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor were sentenced to death by firing squad last year after being convicted of deliberately giving HIV-tainted blood to 426 children. Some 50 children have died, authorities said.

ROMANIA

Gay parade booed, protected by police

BUCHAREST — About 500 Romanian homosexuals marched through central Bucharest yesterday in the first such demonstration in the ex-communist country, attracting anger from passers-by who booed and shouted.

Romania, which aims to join the European Union in 2007, decriminalized homosexuality in 2001 as part of reforms needed to join the wealthy bloc.

Homosexuals holding banners reading “Out and proud” and “Stop prejudice, I love who I want” walked through the streets protected by riot police as onlookers shouted “Shame on you,” “Get out of Romania” and “Homosexuality is a sin.”

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