- - Tuesday, July 27, 2010

SPAIN

Catalonia may say adios to bullfights

MADRID | Lawmakers in Catalonia might ban bullfighting in a razor-close vote this week, rejecting a pillar of traditional Spain in a region with its own language and culture, and an acute sense of being a country within a country.

If a proposed ban is approved in Wednesday’s local legislature vote, the wealthy northeast coastal region centered around Barcelona would become the first in mainland Spain to outlaw the deadly dance of sword-wielding matador and charging half-ton beast.

The practical effect of such a move would be limited: Catalonia has only one functioning bullring, in Barcelona - another disused one is being turned into a shopping mall - and it stages 15 fights a year that are rarely sold out, out of a nationwide total of roughly 1,000 bouts per season.

Still, bullfighting buffs and Spanish conservatives are taking the drama very seriously. They see a stinging anti-Spanish rebuke in a grass-roots, anti-bullfighting drive that started last year and will culminate in the vote in the 135-seat Catalan Parliament.

The final result will depend on the region’s two dominant parties - a center-right Catalan nationalist coalition called Convergence and Union, and the local branch of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s Socialists.

SOUTH AFRICA

Murder charge for driver in Mandela kin crash

JOHANNESBURG | South African prosecutors say the driver of a car in which Nelson Mandela’s great-granddaughter died will face charges of murder, attempted murder and driving under the influence of alcohol.

Sizwe Mankazana, 23, is scheduled for an Aug. 27 trial in the death of Zenani Mandela. The 13-year-old was killed June 11 on the drive home from the FIFA World Cup opening concert.

Mr. Mankazana could face a long jail term if convicted of the charges, which were announced Tuesday. He did not speak during his court appearance Monday.

Mr. Mankazana, a student in the U.S., traveled home to South Africa for the soccer tournament. His father is in a relationship with one of Nelson Mandela’s daughters and has close ties with the Mandela family.

He is not being held in custody.

From wire dispatches and staff reports