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World Briefs

- - Tuesday, May 31, 2011

SERBIA

Mladic extradited to face war-crimes charges

BELGRADE — Serbia extradited Ratko Mladic to the U.N. war-crimes tribunal on Tuesday, 16 years after he was charged by the court for the killing of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the worst massacre of civilians in Europe since World War II.

Reporters at the Belgrade airport saw a government jet take off at 5:40 p.m., minutes after Serbian Justice Minister Snezana Malovic said Mladic was on the airplane.

"By handing over Mladic to The Hague, Serbia has fulfilled its international and moral obligation," Ms. Malovic said. "We have proven that we keep our word."

The extradition to The Hague came the same day judges rejected Mladic's appeal to stop the handover on the grounds that the 69-year-old is not mentally and physically fit to stand trial.

Mladic is charged at the tribunal with genocide for atrocities committed by Serb troops under his command during Bosnia's 1992-95 war, including the Srebrenica massacre in July of 1995.

SYRIA

TV: Syrian president issues amnesty

BEIRUT — President Bashar Assad issued a general amnesty Tuesday that includes all political prisoners, Syrian State TV reported Tuesday, in a gesture aimed at calming protests that have rocked the country for weeks.

State TV said the amnesty covers all crimes committed before May 31. It could affect 10,000 people who have been rounded up during the protests, according to activists.

It includes prisoners belonging to political parties, including the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, the report said.

The arrests are part of the government's crackdown on a two-month-old popular uprising demanding Mr. Assad's resignation.

SRI LANKA

Video shows executions, abuse of corpses

GENEVA — A U.N. expert called Tuesday for Sri Lanka to investigate and file charges against soldiers shown in a graphic video shooting bound, blindfolded prisoners and abusing corpses in the final days of the country's 26-year civil war.

The U.N. expert, Christof Heyns, reviewed the five-minute, 25-second video frame by frame with a team of technical and forensic specialists to determine its authenticity, and concluded that the video suggests there is enough evidence to open a war-crimes case.

Sri Lanka has claimed the video is fake.

RUSSIA

Minister: Moscow 'negative' on Minsk crackdown

MOSCOW — Russia will not join the European Union in pushing for further sanctions on Belarus, but the Kremlin has a "negative perception" of its crackdown on the opposition, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday.

"We have not imposed any sanctions and are not threatening new ones like the European Union," Mr. Lavrov said in Moscow after a meeting with Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, the Tass news agency reported.

Mr. Lavrov stressed that Russia did not expect Belarus to meet standards on human rights that Moscow does not impose on itself.

The EU is considering imposing economic sanctions against Belarussian state companies after a string of political trials that slapped prison terms on dozens of opposition protesters.

Belarus has struggled to secure a bailout loan from its traditional partner, Russia, to rescue its economy.

JAPAN

Oil spill, blast hit crippled nuclear plant

TOKYO — An oil spill and a small explosion have caused limited damage - but no further radiation leaks - at the crippled nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan, the plant operator said Tuesday.

Workers at Fukushima Dai-ichi plant found an oil spill in the sea near reactors five and six, which were in shutdown when the earthquake and tsunami struck March 11, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said. The spill was contained by an oil fence, Tepco spokesman Taichi Okazaki said.

The explosion workers heard at reactor four was likely from a gas tank and did not cause any additional radiation leaks, Mr. Okazaki said. The cause was being investigated.