- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 21, 2009

GERMANY

U.S. soldier guilty in deaths of 4 Iraqis

VILSECK | A U.S. Army medic was convicted of murder Friday for his involvement in the execution-style slayings of four bound and blindfolded Iraqi detainees shot in the back of the head in the spring of 2007.

A military court sentenced Sgt. Michael Leahy Jr. to life in prison with the possibility of parole. He will also have his rank reduced to private, his pay forfeited and be dishonorably discharged.

He was found guilty on charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder by the nine-person jury that had heard testimony about the killings at the court-martial at the Army’s Rose Barracks Courthouse since Wednesday.

Leahy, 28, was acquitted of murder in a separate incident involving the death of another Iraqi in January 2007.

MEXICO

Police chief quits amid threats

CIUDAD JUAREZ | The police chief of Mexico’s largest border city has stepped down after criminal gangs threatened to kill more police officers if he didn’t resign.

Public Safety Secretary Roberto Orduna’s decision to quit came hours after a Ciudad Juarez officer and jail guard turned up dead. Both bodies had messages from unnamed criminal gangs saying at least one officer would be killed every two days until he quits.

Ciudad Juarez police have long come under attack, and many officers have quit out of fear for their lives.

SOUTH AFRICA

New party picks bishop for president

JOHANNESBURG | South Africa’s new Congress of the People party, or COPE, seen as the first challenge to the ruling African National Congress, has chosen Methodist Bishop Mvume Dandala as its presidential candidate for the April election.

COPE, formed by ANC dissidents in December, said Friday that Bishop Dandala had been nominated by party structures throughout South Africa. The April 22 parliamentary election is expected to be the most closely contested since apartheid ended in 1994.

The ANC is widely expected to win the election and make party leader Jacob Zuma president despite a renewed graft case that has dogged him for years.

BRITAIN

Gitmo inmate to be released

LONDON | A former British resident who claims he was tortured while in U.S. custody will soon be released from Guantanamo Bay and sent back to Britain, authorities said Friday.

Binyam Mohamed — accused by U.S. authorities of conspiring to take part in a dirty bomb plot and training in al Qaeda camps — was kept at the military prison even though charges against him were dropped in October.

Britain’s foreign secretary, David Miliband, has been lobbying for Mr. Mohamed’s return to Britain since 2007.

VATICAN CITY

Israel TV show called ‘offensive’

VATICAN CITY | The Vatican said Friday it has formally complained to the Israeli government about a private Israeli TV show that ridiculed Jesus and Mary in an “offensive act of intolerance.”

In Israel, the television station assured the Israeli foreign ministry that the segment would not be shown again and that its host, well-known Israeli comedian Lior Shlein, had apologized.

In the program, Mr. Shlein sarcastically denied Christian traditions - that Mary was a virgin and that Jesus walked on water - saying he was doing so as a “lesson” to Christians who deny the Holocaust. It was a reference to the Vatican’s recent lifting of the excommunication of a bishop who denied 6 million Jews were killed during World War II. The rehabilitation sparked outrage among Jews.

THAILAND

Attackers behead 2 soldiers in south

PATTANI | Suspected Muslim insurgents ambushed a military convoy and beheaded two soldiers in southern Thailand on Friday in the second such attack this month, police said.

More than 20 gunmen armed with automatic rifles ambushed a group of five pairs of soldiers traveling on motorcycles after they finished escorting teachers to school in Yala province, police said.

An Islamic separatist insurgency in Thailand’s three southernmost provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat has led to the deaths of more than 3,300 people since early 2004.

GERMANY

Soldier crashes tanks on joyride

BERLIN | A British soldier crashed not one but two 8-ton reconnaissance tanks after breaking out of his camp in northern Germany early Friday on a drunken joyride.

The 18-year-old soldier drove the first Scimitar tank out of his camp near Hohne at about 4 a.m. but left the road after 500 yards and the vehicle ground to a halt, police in the nearby town of Celle said.

Undeterred, he walked back to base, fetched another light tank and sped off toward the town of Bergen, pursued by British military police. When they tried to block his path he swerved and crashed into a beech tree.

German police said the soldier’s blood alcohol level was double the legal limit and opened an investigation.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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