- - Monday, February 7, 2011

ITALY

Milan judge frees ex-Gitmo inmate

MILAN | A judge ruled Monday that a Tunisian convicted of criminal association with the aim of terrorism must be freed from prison, citing time served at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Adel Ben Mabrouk and another Guantanamo inmate were transferred to Italy in November 2009 as part of the U.S. administration’s bid to shut down the prison.

Mabrouk’s defense attorney, Giuseppina Regina, said she and prosecutors made a joint appeal to the judge to take into consideration the eight years Mabrouk spent in Guantanamo in “inhumane conditions,” plus a year and a half in Italian prison.

Prosecutor Armando Spataro said he appealed for a lighter sentence based on Mabrouk’s detention at Guantanamo Bay, which under Italian law is illegal, and the fact that he was accused of crimes allegedly committed more than a decade ago.

RUSSIA

Chechen rebel leader claims airport bomb

MOSCOW | A website affiliated with Chechen rebels has released a video in which insurgent leader Doku Umarov takes responsibility for last month’s deadly suicide bombing at Russia’s largest airport.

The Kavkaz Center website says it received the video late Monday.

It was not clear when or where the video was recorded.

The Jan. 24 attack at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport killed 36 people. Russian investigators say the bomber was a 20-year-old man from the Caucasus region that includes Chechnya, but have not released his name or other details.

According to the website, Mr. Umarov said, “Muslims of the Caucasus were at war with the Russian occupation army in the name of Allah to defend Islam and the people’s right to dignity, to liberate the land of Caucasus Muslims, and to establish law and justice.”

RUSSIA

Russia rebukes Japan in dispute over islands

MOSCOW | A row between Russia and Japan over a disputed island chain escalated on Monday, when Japan criticized a visit to the islands by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Russia accused Japan of funding anti-Russian groups.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan told a briefing in Tokyo that Mr. Medvedev’s trip in November to what Russia calls the Southern Kuril Islands, in the western Pacific, was “an unforgivable outrage.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called Mr. Kan’s remarks “clearly undiplomatic.”

Mr. Lavrov also lashed out at the Japanese leadership for “deciding not to distance itself” from nationalist civil society groups, whose actions he called “absolutely unacceptable.”

Ultra-nationalist groups orchestrated “disgusting public acts desecrating” the Russian flag in front of the Russian Embassy in Tokyo on Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

ISRAEL

Israel delays pullout from Lebanese village

JERUSALEM | The political turmoil in Lebanon has delayed Israeli plans to pull out of the northern part of a village straddling the countries’ border, an Israeli official said Monday.

Israeli Cabinet ministers agreed in November to withdraw troops from northern Ghajar and to relinquish control to U.N. peacekeeping forces in Lebanon. At the time, Israel said the pullout would be worked out within a month.

On Monday, an Israeli official said Israel continues to discuss withdrawal plans with the U.N. forces. But because the government in Lebanon was toppled and a new government is not fully formed, U.N. forces are not able to relay information between the two sides, he said.

AFGHANISTAN

900 militants join reintegration program

KABUL | Despite Taliban threats against their lives, nearly 900 militants have quit the fight and enrolled in an Afghan government program luring insurgents off the battlefield, a NATO official said Monday.

The months-old reintegration program, which attracts fighters with promises of jobs, literacy and vocational training plus development aid for their villages, is slowly gaining acceptance but faces serious challenges, said Maj. Gen. Phil Jones, who tracks the reintegration effort at NATO headquarters in Kabul.

The Taliban has retaliated against some insurgents trying to switch sides in northern Afghanistan, Gen. Jones said. Some local Afghan leaders also remain unclear about the details of the program, and many question whether those who align themselves with the government can be protected.

NIGERIA

Muslim sect demands troop withdrawal

MAIDUGURI | A radical Muslim sect responsible for killings across northeastern Nigeria demanded Monday that troops withdraw from the troubled region and that the government rebuild destroyed mosques.

A spokesman for the sect, known locally as Boko Haram, issued the demand after the group claimed responsibility for killing seven people, including the dominant gubernatorial candidate in Borno state.

The spokesman, who identified himself as Abu Suleiman, told the BBC’s Hausa language service that the sect would not stop its attacks until the government met the conditions.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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