- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 4, 2008

ZIMBABWE

Government halts Care’s operations

JOHANNESBURG | The aid group Care International said Zimbabwe’s government has accused it of campaigning for the opposition and halted its operations in the country.

A group spokesman said that it was ordered to suspend activities pending what the government called an investigation into allegations of political activity by staff members ahead of national elections on March 29.

The group, which provides aid to about 500,000 Zimbabweans, denied it encourages or tolerates political activity by staff members.

Meanwhile, a Zimbabwean court has sentenced three South Africans working as drivers for Britain’s Sky News to six months in jail for carrying unregistered broadcasting equipment, a state-run newspaper reported Tuesday.

SYRIA

IAEA barred from 3 sites

VIENNA, Austria | Syria has told fellow Arab countries that it will not permit an International Atomic Energy Agency probe to extend beyond a site bombed by Israel, despite agency interest in three other suspect locations, diplomats told the Associated Press on Tuesday.

The agency’s main focus during its planned June 22-24 visit to Syria is a building in the country’s remote eastern desert that was destroyed by Israeli jets in September.

RUSSIA

Medvedev replaces military chief

MOSCOW | President Dmitry Medvedev dismissed the chief of the general staff of the Russian armed forces Tuesday, moving to tighten the Kremlin’s grip on the massive military and its purse strings.

Mr. Medvedev announced the removal of Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, who was loyal to the Kremlin but had become an obstacle to a campaign begun by former President Vladimir Putin to tighten control over military spending.

Gen. Baluyevsky and other top brass have clashed with civilian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, a one-time furniture store manager Mr. Putin appointed early last year with a mandate to clean up the military’s finances.

NORWAY

3 men acquitted in bomb plots

OSLO | Three Norwegians were acquitted Tuesday of plotting attacks against Israeli and U.S. embassies in 2006, but one was convicted of a shooting at an Oslo synagogue.

The Oslo District Court said there was insufficient evidence against Arfan Bhatti and two other suspects in Norway’s first terrorism trial since anti-terror laws were strengthened after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

FRANCE

Bardot convicted for Islam comments

PARIS | A Paris court on Tuesday convicted Brigitte Bardot of provoking discrimination and racial hatred for writing that Muslims are destroying France. The court also handed down a $23,325 fine against the former screen siren and animal rights campaigner.

A leading French anti-racism group known as MRAP filed a lawsuit last year over a letter she sent to then-Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. The remarks were published in her foundation’s quarterly journal.

GREECE

Island mayor charged in first gay weddings

ATHENS | The mayor of a tiny Aegean Sea island was charged with breach of duty after officiating at Greece’s first same-sex marriage ceremonies Tuesday in defiance of a prosecutor’s order calling such nuptials illegal.

Mayor Tasos Aliferis of Tilos, about 240 miles southeast of Athens, held the civil ceremonies for two Greek gay and lesbian couples shortly after dawn, provoking the wrath of conservative church officials and the country’s justice minister.

The couples sought to take advantage of a loophole in a 26-year-old law that does not specify gender in civil weddings.

ALGERIA

Christians sentenced in conversion case

TIARET | Four Algerian Christians received suspended jail terms and fines Tuesday for seeking to convert Muslims in the latest in a series of cases that provoked accusations in the West of religious repression.

A court in the western town of Tiaret meted out a six-month suspended prison term to Rachid Seghir, a 36-year-old computer technician, and fined him 200,000 dinars ($3,150) for violating a provision in a 2006 law that forbids non-Muslims from trying to convert Muslims.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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