- - Tuesday, June 29, 2010

INDIA

Bhopal 7 appeal convictions

NEW DELHI | Seven managers convicted over the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster have appealed, a newspaper reported Tuesday as India said again it would urge the U.S. to extradite the company’s former American boss.

The convictions of the Indian managers for criminal negligence earlier this month, the first verdicts more than 25 years after the catastrophe, sparked uproar among survivors because of the perceived leniency of the punishment.

The guilty were handed two-year prison terms and fines of $2,000 for their roles in the world’s worst industrial accident, which killed 15,000, according to the government’s official figures, and injured thousands of others.

The seven executives, all managers at the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal that spewed toxic gas into neighboring slums in December 1984, have filed appeals in a local Bhopal court, the Express newspaper said.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also said that New Delhi would renew efforts to have Warren Anderson, former chief executive of Union Carbide, extradited to India, where he faces negligence charges.

AUSTRALIA

U.S. doctor convicted of surgery deaths

SYDNEY | An American doctor accused of botching a string of operations while he was the chief surgeon at an Australian hospital was found guilty Tuesday of killing three of his patients and grievously harming another.

Jayant Patel, 60, was ordered into police custody until Thursday’s sentencing after a jury returned guilty verdicts on all charges against him.

Patel had pleaded innocent to three counts of manslaughter and one count of causing grievous bodily harm to four patients he treated while working as director of surgery between 2003 and 2005 at a public hospital in Queensland state.

He faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

The trial came more than 25 years after questions were first raised about Patel’s competency, and marks a milestone for many former patients and their families who have waited years to face the man they accuse of irreparably damaging their lives.

MALDIVES

Cabinet quits before confidence vote

COLOMBO | The Maldivian Cabinet resigned en masse Tuesday after a threat by the opposition to bring a vote of no confidence in parliament against every minister.

The 13-member Cabinet said it could no longer work with the opposition-controlled majlis, or parliament, the office of President Mohamed Nasheed said. It said the president will remain in office.

“The majlis is preventing Cabinet ministers from performing their legal obligations,” Mr. Nasheed, 43, said in a statement. “Majlis members are behaving against the spirit and the letter of the constitution.”

Attorney General Husnu Suood said it was becoming difficult to govern the archipelago nation of 330,000.

“Every passing week, there is another attempt by opposition MPs to wrestle more control from the executive,” Mr. Suood said. “They are making the country ungovernable.”

There was no immediate comment from the opposition.

The opposition has resisted an ambitious privatization program proposed by Mr. Nasheed, who came to power in 2008 as the first democratically elected leader in the Indian Ocean atoll nation known for its upmarket tourism.

INDIA

3 protesters killed in Indian Kashmir

SRINAGAR | Police and paramilitary troops fired on thousands of anti-India protesters in Kashmir on Tuesday, killing at least three people in the worst street violence in a year, police said.

Faced with more than two weeks of increasingly strident protests in the divided Himalayan region, government forces have been accused of killing a total of 11 people in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

Protesters demanding independence have attacked troops with rocks and sticks, and government forces have responded by launching tear gas, charging with batons and opening fire.

Muslim militants have fought in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir since 1989 for independence or merger with Pakistan.

While anti-India demonstrations are frequent in the region, the latest round of street protests was triggered by a police investigation this month that found Indian army soldiers had killed three Kashmiri civilians in May.

The investigation said the soldiers staged a gunbattle in order to claim the dead were militants. The army responded by suspending two officers.

ITALY

Berlusconi attacker unfit for trial

MILAN | The man who hurled a statuette at Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, leaving the bloodied Italian leader with a broken nose and two broken teeth, is not fit to stand trial, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Judge Luisa Savoia, however, placed Massimo Tartaglia, 42, under observation for one year in a psychiatric hospital, where he has been held since February.

The ruling technically finds Mr. Tartaglia not guilty of the attack based on a psychiatric evaluation that found the defendant was not capable of knowingly or intentionally committing a crime at the time the attack took place, said defense lawyer Gian Marco Rubino.

MADAGASCAR

Constitution vote deferred indefinitely

ANTANANARIVO | Madagascar’s electoral board on Tuesday announced that a constitutional referendum scheduled for Aug. 12 was postponed indefinitely for lack of a new constitution draft.

The board chairman, Hery Rakotomanana, explained that the transitional administration’s electoral code stipulates that the referendum campaign should last 45 days.

With the vote on a new constitution initially slated for Aug. 12 by the Indian Ocean island’s leader, Andry Rajoelina, the campaign needed to have started on Monday, he told Agence France-Presse.

Yet no new constitution draft was prepared amid a complete deadlock in internationally sponsored talks between opposition parties and Mr. Rajoelina, who seized power with the army’s backing in March 2009.

A new constitution was a prerequisite for legislative elections Mr. Rajoelina had said should take place on Sept. 30.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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