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World Briefs: Congolese warlord sentenced to 14 years

- - Tuesday, July 10, 2012

THE HAGUE — The International Criminal Court sentenced a Congolese warlord to 14 years in prison on Tuesday, a watershed moment for the 10-year-old tribunal and a potential landmark in the struggle to protect children during wartime.

Judges found Thomas Lubanga guilty in March of recruiting and using children in his Union of Congolese Patriots militia - sending them to kill and be killed during fighting in Congo's eastern Ituri region in 2002-2003.

Tuesday's announcement was the first time the tribunal had sentenced a convicted war criminal.

Human rights activists hailed the decision.

"This sentence sends out a stark warning across the world to those engaged in the use of child soldiers that their criminal actions will land them in prison," said Armel Luhiriri of the Coalition for the ICC, a nongovernmental group that supports the court's efforts to end impunity for the world's worst crimes.

Prosecutors had asked for a 30-year sentence, but said they would be willing to cut it to 20 years if Lubanga offered a "genuine apology" to the victims of his crimes. He did not offer an apology.

SOUTH KOREA

Warrant issued for president's brother

SEOUL — A court issued an arrest warrant late Tuesday for the elder brother of South Korea's president on bribery allegations, a major embarrassment to the ruling party in a presidential election year.

The Seoul Central District Court issued the warrant hours after enraged protesters threw eggs at Lee Sang-deuk, grabbing his tie and jostling him as he entered the court for questioning.

A court official declined to provide further details, including his name or when Mr. Lee might be arrested, citing court procedures.

Prosecutors have accused the former lawmaker of taking half a million dollars in bribes from two detained bankers with the intent of using his influence to help the bankers avoid punishment.

Mr. Lee wasn't directly hit by any of the eggs, but some yolk could be seen on his shoulder. He didn't speak to a swarm of reporters gathered at the court, shaking off the protesters and media mobbing him before walking through a security checkpoint.

RUSSIA

Wikipedia shuts down to protest censorship

MOSCOW — The Russian-language Wikipedia website shut down for a day Tuesday and symbolically blacked out its logo in protest at a bill that would allow the state to block access to blacklisted websites.

"Imagine a world without free knowledge," the online encyclopedia said in a statement on its otherwise white main page. It said amendments to be discussed in parliament Wednesday "could lead to the creation of extrajudicial censorship of the whole Russian-language Internet."

The amendments to an existing information law are being promoted as a crackdown on child pornography in particular, but the Ru.Wikipedia.org site warned that they could "prompt the creation of a Russian version of the Great Firewall of China."

Passed in its first reading on Friday, the bill calls for the creation of a federal register that would rule on websites carrying banned information and require site owners and providers to close down the offending sites.

UNITED KINGDOM

'Fast Eddie' in court on armed robbery charges

LONDON — After two decades on the run, a British man deported from the United States appeared in court Tuesday to face trial over an armored truck robbery.

Dubbed "Fast Eddie" by British media, Edward J. Maher was working as a guard for a security company in 1993 when authorities say he conducted a heist in Suffolk, England, that netted him a haul of British currency worth about $1.5 million at the time.

British police said Mr. Maher, who was arrested in rural Missouri earlier this year on immigration charges, did not enter a plea to the charge of theft and will be kept in custody until a July 17 hearing.

Prior to his arrest in February, Mr. Maher, 57, was last seen in Britain sitting in an armored truck, waiting for a fellow security guard to return from a bank with a load of cash. Mr. Maher, who was then in his mid-30s, vanished, along with the armored truck.

FRANCE

TV station warned over airing terrorist tape

PARIS — France's audiovisual watchdog has issued a warning to a leading TV channel for airing excerpts of a recording of conversations between police and a man accused of a deadly terrorist rampage.

The High Broadcast Council, which distributes frequencies, warned TF1 on Tuesday against re-airing the leaked recordings of Mohamed Merah, a 23-year-old suspected of killing three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and three paratroopers near Toulouse in March.

Police recorded the negotiations while Merah was trapped in his apartment and eventually killed.

Victims' families have said they were shocked to hear his voice.

Stations ignoring council warnings may be forced to air an apology, risk a fine or be shut down. The Paris prosecutor's office is investigating the Sunday broadcast.

From wire dispatches and staff reports