- - Sunday, July 31, 2011


Dulles-to-Cancun flight makes emergency landing

HAVANA — A United Airlines jetliner carrying 135 passengers from Washington to a Mexican beach resort made an unplanned landing in Cuba on Sunday after a strange odor was detected on board, a spokesman for the carrier said.

United Airlines Flight 831 left Washington Dulles International Airport in the morning and was bound for Cancun, but instead landed safely in Havana after “the crew noticed an unfamiliar smell in the cabin,” spokesman Charles Hobart said in a statement.

“In an abundance of caution, the pilots decided to land the aircraft at the nearest available airport,” he said. “The plane landed routinely and safely in Havana, and we are working to reaccommodate our customers.”

Gloria Berbena, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Interests Section, which Washington maintains in Havana instead of an embassy since the two nations do not have full diplomatic relations, said a second plane arrived from the U.S. later Sunday and flew out with the passengers.

She did not know whether they continued to Cancun or returned to the U.S., or whether the original aircraft was still in Cuba. U.S. diplomats on the island were in close contact with their Cuban counterparts on the matter, she said.


Verdict for 2 U.S. hikers within a week

TEHRAN — The lawyer for two Americans jailed in Iran on charges of espionage said Sunday the court will announce its verdict within a week, dashing hopes for their immediate release after a final hearing in the case.

Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, both 29, have been held in Iran’s Evin Prison since shortly after their arrest along the border with Iraq exactly two years ago on Sunday. The case has added to tensions between the United States and Iran that already were high over issues like Tehran’s disputed nuclear program.

The Americans’ lawyer, Masoud Shafiei, had hoped that Sunday’s final court session would result in their immediate release because it coincided with the two-year anniversary of their arrest and came near the start this week of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, when pardons are traditionally handed down.

Mr. Shafiei said he and the two Americans presented closing arguments in their defense and the court announced the end of its hearings.

He said he was still hopeful that, if found guilty, they would be sentenced to time already served and released.


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