- - Tuesday, November 23, 2010

IRAN

Warrant names ex-president’s son

TEHRAN | Iranian authorities have issued an arrest warrant for the son of former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on charges of helping foment last year’s postelection unrest, state radio reported Tuesday.

In the turmoil that swept Iran after the disputed June 2009 presidential election, the ruling establishment sought to contain the powerful Mr. Rafsanjani, who supported an opposition candidate and appeared to side with critics alleging vote fraud.

His son, Mahdi Hashemi, has been living in Britain since shortly after the election, and it appeared that authorities were targeting him primarily to deliver another warning to his father.

Since last year, judiciary officials and other hard-liners have been challenging Mr. Hashemi to return to Iran to answer accusations of encouraging anti-government violence. Mr. Hashemi, who has denied the charges, is not known to have had any key role in the opposition movement or the street protests.

ISRAEL

4 in critical condition after refinery leak

JERUSALEM | Four people are in critical condition in a Haifa hospital since late Sunday after inhaling poisonous material after a leak at the country’s oil refinery on the city’s seacoast, the rescue service said.

The rescue service said in a statement that its crews worked to resuscitate the victims at the scene and on the way to the hospital. Paramedic Eli Geller said the four were not breathing and had no pulse when they were found. He told Israel Radio: “One’s pulse has been restored, and a second is showing signs of recovery.”

The cause and source of the leak were not immediately known, and there were no immediate details about the nature of leaked material. Israel Radio said the leak was contained within the refinery, and there was no danger outside.

The huge oil refinery in Haifa, Israel’s third-largest city with a population of 265,000, has been a target of environmentalists and worried residents because of the potential for widespread damage and casualties in the event of an accident or an attack.

IRAQ

Lawmaker backs protecting Christians

BAGHDAD | A Christian lawmaker called on Iraq’s government Tuesday to better protect its dwindling Christian community, lambasting the nations that have offered asylum to the minority as meddling in Iraq’s problems.

The comments by lawmaker Younadem Kana, from the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, come after a spate of violent attacks on Iraqi Christians — including an attack on a Catholic church last month that killed 68 people.

Earlier this week, two Christian brothers in Mr. Kana’s hometown were fatally shot by unknown gunmen who raided their auto mechanic shop.

Officials in France and Germany have offered asylum to Iraq’s Christians, an estimated 1 million of whom have already left their homeland since 2003.

More than a third of the 53,700 Iraqis who have been given asylum to the U.S. since 2007 are Christian, according to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, even though they only make up an estimated 5 percent of the population.

IRAN

Woman’s execution may be rescinded

TEHRAN | The head of Iran’s human rights council predicted that a woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery will likely be spared from execution.

The stoning sentence against 43-year-old Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani drew an international outcry.

It was then put on hold and is now being reviewed by Iran’s Supreme Court.

“Iran’s Council of Human Rights has helped a lot to reduce her sentence and we think there is a good chance that her life could be saved,” Mohammad Javad Larijani said in an interview on the English-language Press TV on Monday night.

Mrs. Ashtiani was convicted in 2006 of having an “illicit relationship” with two men after the murder of her husband the previous year.

Later that year, she also was convicted of adultery and sentenced to be stoned, even though she retracted a confession that she said was made under duress.

Iranian authorities then said she had been convicted of involvement in the murder and could be executed by hanging.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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