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World Briefs: Nuclear plant operator gets billion-dollar bailout

- - Wednesday, May 9, 2012

JAPAN

TOKYO — The government approved a $12.5 billion public bailout Wednesday for the operator of Japan's tsunami-devastated nuclear power plant and put it under temporary state control.

In exchange, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) has appointed new management and pledged to cut costs while raising utility rates as it works to stabilize the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant and compensate tens of thousands of victims of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

"I hope Tokyo Electric will work to win back public trust," said Economy and Trade Minister Yukio Edano.

He stressed the need for Tepco to become more transparent amid criticism that it did not release complete and timely information about the disaster.

Tepco has come under fire for being unprepared for the massive earthquake and tsunami that ravaged Japan's northeastern coastline last year.

The cooling systems at the plant failed, causing meltdowns of at least three reactor cores and the release of large amounts of radiation.

The plan calls for $41.3 billion of cost cuts over 10 years by Tepco.

UNITED KINGDOM

Court rejects appeal of al Qaeda-linked cleric

LONDON — Europe's highest appeals court Wednesday refused to hear a challenge by the radical Islamist cleric Abu Qatada against a British order that he be deported to Jordan.

The ruling marks a milestone in the legal wrangling over the suspected senior al Qaeda figure, effectively exhausting his efforts to have European judges intervene in the case. He could be sent to Jordan within months. Britain's efforts to remove the radical preacher have dragged for more than a decade.

The Palestinian-Jordanian preacher has been in detention since his arrest last month. His lawyers applied Wednesday for bail, though no date for that hearing has been set.

The ruling Wednesday by judges in Strasbourg, France, clears the way for a fresh British deportation hearing for the Islamist cleric, who has been described in both Spanish and British courts as a leading al Qaeda figure in Europe.

RUSSIA

Activists jailed after Victory Day protest

MOSCOW — Two leading opposition activists said they were sentenced to 15 days each in jail Wednesday after they were arrested along with dozens of others ahead of a tightly policed Victory Day parade.

Protest leader Alexei Navalny and radical left leader Sergei Udaltsov were among those detained at an unsanctioned gathering in a small park near Red Square.

The parade, which commemorates Russia's 1945 defeat of Nazi Germany, was watched by newly inaugurated President Vladimir Putin.

In a Twitter message, Mr. Navalny's lawyer, Nikolai Polozov, said his client had been give a 15-day sentence for disobedience. Mr. Navalny, himself, tweeted: "Of all my detentions this is the least like disobedience."

UKRAINE

Tymoshenko in hospital after ending hunger strike

KHARKIV — Yulia Tymoshenko ended a nearly three-week hunger strike Wednesday. The imprisoned former prime minister was moved from jail to a hospital for treatment of a severe back condition under the supervision of a German doctor.

The news was likely to allay at least some Western concerns over Tymoshenko's health and handling in prison.

EU officials and some governments from the 27-nation bloc have vowed to boycott the European Championship soccer tournament, which begins in June and is co-hosted by Ukraine and Poland.

Ukraine had to cancel a regional cooperation summit this weekend after most heads of Central and Eastern European states canceled their visits because of the Tymoshenko case.

Tymoshenko, 51, the country's top opposition leader, had been on hunger since April 27 to protest alleged abuse. Ukraine's government has come under intense Western pressure to provide Tymoshenko with suitable medical care.

She was sentenced to seven years in prison on conviction of abuse of office while conducting natural gas import negotiations with Russia in 2009. The West has condemned the verdict as politically motivated.

EGYPT

Female prisoners accuse authorities of sex abuse

CAIRO — Women detainees and civil rights groups have accused Egyptian troops and prison authorities of sexual assault in the latest crackdown on demonstrations.

More than a dozen women were detained among some 300 protesters after a demonstration outside the Defense Ministry in Cairo last week.

A recently released female detainee told a parliamentary committee that soldiers groped her, knocked her unconscious and threatened her with sexual assault.

The ruling military government had no immediate comment.

•From wire dispatches and staff reports