- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 7, 2006

TURKEY

EU urges raising status of women

ANKARA — Turkey must do more to fight so-called “honor crimes” and forced marriages if it is to join the European Union, Europe’s commissioner for equal opportunities said in an interview published yesterday.

Vladimir Spidla said that although legal reforms have improved the status of women in Turkey, traditions continue to play a major role in justifying violence against them.

“In certain regions, and even on a national level, violence against women is seen as the norm,” Mr. Spidla told the Milliyet newspaper. “That thinking has to change.”

EGYPT

Mubarak unlikely to succeed dad

CAIRO — The main political adviser to President Hosni Mubarak said yesterday that Mr. Mubarak would welcome retirement if he could find a replacement.

But the Mubarak family is not thinking of putting forward the president’s 42-year-old son, Gamal, as a successor, adviser Osama al-Baz told Reuters news agency. The elder Mr. Mubarak will be 78 in May and has ruled Egypt since 1981.

“He will remain, so long as he’s able, capable and so on. But if he finds that there is another group of people, another person, who are willing to carry the torch, I have the feeling that he would welcome it,” Mr. al-Baz said.

ITALY

U.S. soldier’s penalty for rape reduced

ROME — A U.S. soldier who raped a Nigerian woman in Italy was given a lighter sentence because the court deemed that his tour of duty in Iraq had made him less sensitive to the suffering of others.

According to an Italian court document obtained yesterday by Reuters news agency, James Michael Brown, a 27-year-old paratrooper from Oregon stationed in northern Italy, was sentenced to five years and eight months for rape in February 2004. He beat and handcuffed the woman, a Nigerian resident in Vicenza, then raped her and left her to wander the streets naked in search of help.

The crime could have earned him an eight-year sentence, but the judges reduced the penalty due to the “extenuating circumstances.” Brown, who is being held at a U.S. military prison in Mannheim, Germany, may never serve his rape sentence as, under Italian law, he may be allowed to return to the United States pending an appeal to the conviction.

Weekly note…

The European Parliament’s environmentalist bloc called yesterday in Vienna for the European Union to gradually end its dependency on oil. The Green group in the European Union’s elected assembly panned a “green book” on energy to be issued today by the bloc’s executive commission in Brussels.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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