- - Wednesday, March 2, 2011

BELARUS

Court sentences more protesters

MINSK | Belarus on Wednesday jailed more protesters for their part in an election rally against President Alexander Lukashenko last December, sentencing three men each to between 3 and 4 years in a top-security prison.

They were among several hundred demonstrators initially rounded up in a police crackdown on the Minsk rally on Dec. 19, the day after Mr. Lukashenko won a fourth term in an election that international observers criticized as rigged.

The United States and the European Union responded with fresh sanctions against Mr. Lukashenko, often called the “last dictator in Europe.

The sanctions include a travel ban on him and several of his top officials.

CUBA

AMERICAN FACES TRIAL FOR CRIMES AGAINST STATE

HAVANA | A U.S. aid contractor caught up in one of the world’s last Cold War conflicts goes on trial Friday for crimes against the Cuban state in a case that could put him in prison for 20 years and further damage U.S.-Cuba relations.

Alan Gross, 61, who already has spent 15 months in jail, is accused of illegally importing satellite communications equipment under a U.S. program outlawed on the communist-led island.

A three-person panel will hear his case, which, like most Cuban trials, is expected to last only a day or two.

MALAYSIA

Sleeping burglar gets five years

KUALA LUMPUR | A Malaysian court this week slapped a five-year prison sentence on a burglar who was found sleeping in a house he broke into.

Prosecutor Muhammad Ashraff Diah said Wednesday that the 35-year-old man burglarized the house in southern Malaysia last week and spent the night sleeping there.

The homeowner returned in the morning and called the authorities before the man woke up.

Police found several hundred dollars on the man when they caught him as he tried to run away.

The prosecutor said the man pleaded guilty to a burglary charge this week.

From wire dispatches and staff reports