- - Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Russia

MOSCOW — A man whose plot to cause carnage on Moscow’s iconic Red Square was thwarted by a spam phone message that prematurely detonated a bomb was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in jail.

Ilyas Saidov, a member of an underground Islamist group, brought explosives-laden belts disguised as heaters for two female suicide bombers on a bus from his native Dagestan, a southern province in the Caucasus region plagued by almost daily clashes between Islamists and Russian forces.

Just hours before they were to detonate the bombs on New Year’s Eve 2010, a belt attached to a cellphone exploded after the detonator was activated by a spam message, killing one of the women and prompting the arrest of the other. She was sentenced to 10 years in jail in May.

Spam is a daily nuisance for many Russians buying new SIM cards, but this time, the message saved thousands from being in harm’s way, authorities said. Red Square is a popular gathering point for Muskovites to see in the new year.

Czech Republic

Jewish groups urge Holocaust compensation

PRAGUE — Jewish groups at a meeting in Prague have urged countries in Eastern Europe to compensate Jews dispossessed of property during the Holocaust before the survivors die of old age.

The demands for restitution came Wednesday at the end of a two-day international conference aimed at reviewing recent restitution efforts.

It is an issue that many countries in the region have failed to resolve. After the Nazis invaded large parts of Central and Eastern Europe during World War II, they confiscated Jewish homes, factories and other property. After the war, much of that property was nationalized by communist governments.

Even 23 years after the fall of communism, several countries, including Poland, Latvia and Romania, have not yet compensated Holocaust victims or their heirs.

Colombia

International court renounced after ruling

BOGOTA — Colombia said Wednesday it will no longer recognize the International Court of Justice’s jurisdiction in border disputes, following a recent ruling that redrew its maritime boundary in favor of Nicaragua.

President Juan Manuel Santos said his country’s territorial and marine boundaries should be established through treaties, not sentences handed down by the U.N. court in the Netherlands.

“For that reason, Colombia yesterday renounced the Pact of Bogota,” he said, referring to a 1948 agreement that committed Colombia to abide by the court’s settlements of boundary disputes.

Colombia has protested a ruling by the court on Nov. 19 that confirmed Colombia’s sovereignty over the San Andres archipelago in the Caribbean but redrew marine boundaries in a way that favored Nicaragua.

Saudi Arabia

State TV shows king recovering from surgery

RIYADH — Saudi state television has broadcast the first public images of King Abdullah since the 87-year-old monarch underwent what was described as back surgery 11 days ago.

The video shows the king sitting down as members of the royal family greet him and kiss his hand in a hospital suite in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

The Wednesday broadcast appeared aimed at quieting speculation about the overall health of Abdullah, a key U.S. ally in the region. The official Saudi Press Agency says the top-level delegation was “reassured” about Abdullah’s recovery.

Israel

Netanyahu’s party leads with win margin in poll

JERUSALEM — A new poll shows the Israeli prime minister’s conservative Likud Party handily winning the Jan. 22 elections despite the entry of a dovish new party into the race.

The Dialogue poll gives Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud 39 of parliament’s 120 seats, days after the party elected a slate of candidates that is more hawkish than the previous one.

It gives seven seats to the new party of former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the onetime chief negotiator with the Palestinians.

The poll, published Wednesday, shows Likud and its traditional right-wing and religious partners capturing 69 seats.

The survey of 514 respondents had a margin of error of 4.2 percent.

The Netherlands

Parliament scraps crime of insulting God

AMSTERDAM — The Almighty will have to defend His own name from now on. The Dutch parliament has scrapped a law making it a crime to insult God.

A majority of parties said Wednesday the European Union nation no longer needs the law, which hasn’t been invoked in the past half-century.

The movement to decriminalize blasphemy gathered strength in the past decade amid a national debate about the limits of freedom of speech. The climax came at the 2011 trial of conservative politician Geert Wilders, when judges ruled he had the right to criticize Islam even if his opinions were insulting to many Muslims.

It still remains illegal under Dutch law to insult police officers or Queen Beatrix, the country’s monarch.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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