- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 20, 2007

CUBA

Five sentenced in killing, hijack bid

HAVANA — Four soldiers and a civilian got lengthy prison terms but were spared the death penalty for killing an army officer and trying to hijack a plane off the island, a leading rights activist said yesterday.

It was the second recent case involving killings by soldiers that didn’t end in capital punishment.

The commission said Sgts. Yoan Torres and Leandro Cerezo received life sentences, and a third, Karen de Miranda Rubio, got 30 years behind bars. Capt. Alain Frobes received a 25-year prison term, and a civilian, Ridel Leseaylle Veloz, was sentenced to 15 years.

The soldiers killed at least one soldier while escaping from their base April 29, an incident that prompted a nationwide manhunt. They commandeered a city bus four days later, headed to Havana’s International Airport and attempted to hijack a plane, sparking a shootout in which an army lieutenant colonel was killed.

TAIWAN

U.N. panel rejects membership bid

NEW YORK — The United Nations again blocked Taiwan’s quest for membership in the world body yesterday despite a high-profile campaign this year by Taipei that irritated the United States as well as China.

A U.N. committee rejected a proposal to put Taiwan’s latest bid to rejoin the United Nations on the agenda of this year’s General Assembly annual session that began Tuesday.

The Taiwan-based government lost its U.N. seat to communist China in 1971.

TURKEY

Leader wants ban on scarves lifted

ISTANBUL — Turkey’s devout Muslim prime minister said yesterday that the constitution should be changed to remove a university ban on head scarves, the most potent symbol of the national divide over the role of religion in public life.

A group of legislators and scholars convened by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is writing a constitution to replace one written after a 1980 coup by secularist military officers. That constitution bans head scarves in schools and government buildings, alienating many of the observant Muslims who support Mr. Erdogan’s Islamic-oriented Justice and Development Party.

NORTH KOREA

Nuclear talks set Sept. 27 in Beijing

SEOUL — Six-party talks aimed at ending North Korea’s nuclear programs will resume in Beijing next week after a week-long postponement, a news outlet reported today.

“We are preparing for the talks, assuming that the talks will open on the 27th,” a government official told South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.

“China will soon announce a new schedule for the talks after consultations with other participants.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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