- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 6, 2007

GERMANY

Red Army terrorist asks for clemency

BERLIN — The German president has met with a convicted Red Army terrorist leader to decide whether to grant him clemency, his spokesman said yesterday, angering conservative lawmakers who want no mercy for those who showed their victims none.

Christian Klar’s clemency plea has provoked an emotional debate across Germany. Conservatives are vehemently opposed to the early release of a man convicted for his role in the slayings of several people as a leader of the Red Army Faction, a group that left a trail of bodies in its more than two-decade campaign against capitalism.

President Horst Kohler will decide this week whether to grant Klar’s early release, presidential spokesman Martin Kothe said. He confirmed a report in Der Spiegel magazine that the president met with Klar last week.

Many have denounced a court’s decision last month to grant Klar brief supervised releases from prison. Klar is eligible for parole in 2009, and inmates are typically granted accompanied trips out of prison to prepare them for possible release.

SERBIA

Militiamen prepare to fight in Kosovo

BELGRADE — Hundreds of burly former militiamen from the Balkan wars regrouped outside a church in central Serbia yesterday, promising to fight together as a paramilitary unit once more if Kosovo breaks away from the government in Belgrade.

Twenty-seven persons were detained, all wearing T-shirts with symbols of the disbanded Unit for Special Operations, whose former commander and several members are on trial for the 2003 assassination of Serbia’s reformist Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic.

The event illustrated the mounting nationalism over the Western-backed plan to allow Kosovo to split from Serbia as demanded by its ethnic Albanian majority.

Kosovo is formally part of Serbia but is dominated by ethnic Albanians who are seeking independence. The region has been run by the United Nations since a 1998-99 Serb-Albanian war.

BELGIUM

Speeders overwhelm radar enforcement

BRUSSELS — Prosecutors in the Belgian capital, overwhelmed by the number of speeding fines imposed since fixed radar traps were installed, have asked police to let off all but the worst offenders — angering local mayors.

The prosecutor’s office is grappling with a backlog of 10,000 cases. Speeding fines are not automatic in Belgium, and each case goes through the prosecutor’s office.

The paper quoted a letter from the prosecutor to district mayors suggesting they temporarily reduce the number of speed controls and that police report only the worst cases, when drivers exceed the limit by about 25 mph.

TURKEY

Secularists protest against government

MANISA — Tens of thousands of secularist flag-waving Turks rallied for the third big anti-government protest in a month yesterday as conflict rages over the role of religion in the Muslim country’s politics.

A parliamentary committee yesterday accepted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s proposals for constitutional changes to let the people, rather than parliament, elect the president, the Anatolian news agency reported.

The changes, which might increase the chances of the ruling party’s presidential candidate, former Islamist Abdullah Gul, of becoming head of state, could be approved by lawmakers in coming days.

Tension is high after a warning from the pro-secular army against Mr. Gul, the foreign minister, and a court decision to annul the first round of parliamentary voting for the presidency.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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