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First freed dissidents headed for Spain

MADRID | The first of a group of 52 political prisoners ordered released by the communist regime in Cuba could arrive in Spain as early as Monday, the Spanish foreign ministry said.

The ministry confirmed Sunday a statement by Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos that “the government hopes that the freed prisoners will travel to Spain from Monday.”

However a source at the ministry stressed that the date was an “idea” and that for now there was no fixed date for the first group of 17 prisoners to head for Spain after the landmark church-brokered release deal.

Sources close to the release process in Cuba said the first departures for Spain could happen on Monday, while Spanish national radio (RNE) quoted prisoners’ relatives as saying that they could depart Tuesday or Wednesday.

If all 52 activists are freed, it would be the largest prisoner release since President Raul Castro took Cuba’s reins permanently from his brother Fidel in 2008.

IRAN

Woman’s stoning halted ‘for time being’

TEHRAN | Iran’s judiciary says the controversial stoning sentence for a woman convicted of adultery will not be implemented for now.

Malek Ajdar Sharifi, the top judicial official in the province where the woman was convicted has told the state news agency the sentence “will not be implemented for the time being.”

He added in Sunday’s report that the death sentence for Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani would still be implemented if the judiciary wanted, despite protests from the West.

He added that her crimes were “various and very serious” and not limited to adultery.

The outcry over the death sentence is the latest thorn in Iran’s relationship with the international community, with the United States, Britain and international human rights groups urging Tehran to stay the execution.

WEST BANK

Abbas: No point in talks with Israel

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