- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 9, 2006

BRAZIL

Two U.S. pilots charged in collision

SAO PAULO — Police yesterday charged two U.S. pilots in connection with Brazil’s deadliest air disaster, saying their “lack of caution” at the controls of an executive jet played a role in the collision over the Amazon that killed 154 persons.

If convicted of exposing an aircraft to danger, the two could face up to 12 years in prison, Brazilian federal police said.

Joseph Lepore, 42, of Bay Shore, N.Y., and Jan Paladino, 34, of Westhampton Beach, N.Y., were questioned yesterday by police for six hours and then allowed to pick up their passports and leave the country. They are required to return to Brazil for their trial.

They were piloting a Brazilian-made Legacy executive jet on Sept. 29 when it collided with a Gol Airlines Boeing 737-800 heading south over the Amazon jungle. All 154 persons aboard the Gol flight were killed, while the Legacy landed safely with all seven aboard unharmed.

PHILIPPINES

Summits put off over storm fears

CEBU — An approaching storm has forced the postponement of two Asian summits scheduled for next week, a top Philippine official said yesterday.

Summit organizing committee officials denied the decision was driven by the threat of terrorism. The United States, Britain and Australia had warned Thursday that terrorists might be planning an attack during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and East Asia summits in Cebu.

The storm is expected to hit the area when Asian leaders would be flying in over the weekend, officials said. The ASEAN summit had been scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, followed by the second East Asia summit on Wednesday.

MEXICO

Inmates escape after prison riot

CANCUN — More than 150 prisoners escaped from a state penitentiary in Cancun early yesterday after hundreds of inmates overpowered guards with knives and bats. Police quickly recaptured about half the men.

Guards shot and killed three inmates during the riot, said a Red Cross official who received the bodies.

About 1,000 inmates attacked guards to stop the transfer of gang leader Marcos Gallegos to another penitentiary more than 200 miles to the south. Gallegos, who is serving 17 years for raping minors, was not among those who escaped.

LEBANON

Prime minister sees Hezbollah coup threat

BEIRUT — Prime Minister Fuad Siniora yesterday accused Hezbollah’s leader of threatening a coup as the Shi’ite guerrilla group escalated its attempts to oust the government.

Mr. Siniora spoke to hundreds of supporters in his fortified office, where he has lived for more than a week. Outside, pro-Hezbollah demonstrators in a nearby square replayed on loudspeakers a Thursday-night speech in which their leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, accused the prime minister of siding with Israel during the July-August war.

FIJI

Commonwealth suspends nation

LONDON — The Commonwealth, an association of mostly former British colonial territories, suspended Fiji yesterday after a bloodless military coup this week that has been widely condemned.

The Commonwealth is an association of 53 countries with 1.8 billion citizens, one-third of the world’s population. It does not have a formal charter.

Rifts over Fiji’s military takeover have widened as powerful traditional chiefs and politicians disagreed over whether to back the overthrow of the South Pacific island nation’s government. Australia, New Zealand, Britain and the United States have imposed economic and defense sanctions.

RUSSIA

42 killed in fire at drug hospital

MOSCOW — A fire broke out in a Moscow drug treatment hospital while patients slept early today, filling the wards with heavy smoke and killing 42 persons, fire officials said.

Russia’s chief fire inspector, Yuri Nenashev, said he was “90 percent certain” the fire was caused by arson.

About 160 people were evacuated from the five-story Hospital No. 17 in southern Moscow, said Moscow Fire Department spokesman Yevgeny Bobylyov. But he blamed hospital workers for not reacting to the fire sooner and evacuating people more quickly.

SERBIA

War crimes suspect ends hunger strike

THE HAGUE — A Serbian war crimes suspect ended his nearly monthlong hunger strike yesterday after judges allowed him to conduct his own defense, the U.N. Yugoslav tribunal announced.

Vojislav Seselj began his hunger strike Nov. 11 to demand unrestricted spousal visits, the right to defend himself and the replacement of the three judges trying his case.

The appeals chamber said Seselj has started eating and ordered that his trial be resumed.

ISRAEL

Soldiers shoot child playing with toy gun

BETHLEHEM — A Palestinian child playing with a plastic rifle was shot and wounded yesterday by Israeli soldiers near Bethlehem in the West Bank, medical and security sources said.

Miras al-Azza, 12, was shot in the belly when Israel soldiers opened fire on a group of children playing with a plastic rifle in the Aydah refugee camp.

The soldiers fired from a military position at the camp’s entrance, the sources added. The Israeli army had no comment.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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