- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 18, 2007

SOUTH AFRICA

Apartheid official spared jail term

PRETORIA — A hard-line police minister in South Africa’s apartheid era and four police officers received 10-year prison terms yesterday but will not be imprisoned provided no crime is committed in the next five years. He pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of a leading black activist in 1989.

Adriaan Vlok and his former police chief Johann van der Merwe were given 10-year sentences, suspended for five years, in a case that rekindled debate about justice and retribution in a country still dealing with the scars of white rule.

The accused tried to kill anti-apartheid activist and cleric Frank Chikane, now adviser to President Thabo Mbeki, by lacing his underwear with poison. The poison attacked his nervous system, making him violently ill.

EGYPT

Police detain Islamist officials

CAIRO — Police broke up a leadership meeting of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood yesterday and took away 20 senior members, including political department chief Essam el-Erian, a Brotherhood member said.

The Egyptian government calls the Muslim Brotherhood an illegal organization and regularly detains members without charge. But members of the group hold one-fifth of the seats in parliament.

Mohamed Habib, the deputy leader of the Brotherhood, said the crackdown was timed to harass the group as it prepares to announce on Sept. 1 the program of a political party that it would like to establish.

CHINA

Reporters barred from bridge crash

BEIJING — Communist authorities have banned most state press and television from reporting on the deadly collapse of a bridge in southern China, with local officials punching and chasing reporters from the scene, reporters said yesterday.

The harassment and the reporting ban, issued by the Central Propaganda Department, came Thursday while reporters swarmed the tourist town of Fenghuang to report Monday’s accident.

The collapse of the bridge, which was under construction, left at least 41 persons dead, making it one of the worst building accidents in China in recent years.

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