- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 19, 2002

VENEZUELA
Top court wrests police from Chavez
CARACAS Venezuela's Supreme Court ordered the federal government to transfer control of the Caracas police force yesterday from President Hugo Chavez and give it back to Caracas Mayor Alfredo Pena, a leading Chavez opponent.
The decision, announced on national television by a Supreme Court justice, came as opposition protesters choked the capital by blocking roads on the 17th day of a strike aimed at forcing Mr. Chavez to resign or agree to early elections. The general strike has cut Venezuela's oil output by almost 90 percent.
Mr. Chavez ordered the military to take control of police stations in Caracas on Nov. 16, seizing power from Mr. Pena.

NETHERLANDS
4 acquitted in plot to bomb U.S. sites
ROTTERDAM A Dutch court acquitted four men yesterday of conspiracy to attack U.S. targets in Europe, citing insufficient evidence and an improper police investigation.
The raids were conducted as part of a worldwide anti-terrorist crackdown immediately after the September 11 attacks.
The court found French national Jerome Courtailler and Algerian Abdelghani Rabia not guilty of hatching a plot to attack the U.S. Embassy in Paris. The court also freed Saaid Ibrahim and Adel Tobbichi, who faced charges of belonging to an unidentified criminal organization and forging passports.

BRITAIN
7 North Africans held in terror crackdown
LONDON Police in Britain, on high alert against a Christmas holiday attack, arrested seven men of North African origin on suspicion of terrorism yesterday, two days after four persons were taken into custody in the Paris area.
Three men were detained in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh, and four in London, police said.
On Monday, four suspected Islamic militants were arrested at an apartment in a Paris suburb in which chemicals and a military chemical protection suit were found.

BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA
15 to 25 years sought for war criminal
THE HAGUE U.N. prosecutors called yesterday for 15 to 25 years in jail for Bosnian Serb "Iron Lady" Biljana Plavsic, which attorneys for the only woman to confess to war crimes at The Hague said was tantamount to a life sentence.
Closing a pre-sentencing hearing for the 72-year-old former Bosnian Serb president, who admitted crimes against humanity, prosecutors stressed the horrors wreaked on non-Serbs in the 1992 to 1995 Bosnian war but said Plavsic's guilty plea was a mitigating factor.
Plavsic gave an unprecedented courtroom "mea culpa" Tuesday by admitting responsibility for atrocities against Muslims and Croats, though she stopped short of apologizing.

INDIA
3 sentenced to death in Parliament raid
NEW DELHI An Indian court sentenced three Kashmiri Muslims to death for treason yesterday for their role in last year's attack on Parliament, which nearly triggered a war with nuclear rival Pakistan.
Five gunmen stormed the Parliament complex on Dec. 13, 2001, and killed eight security guards and a gardener before they were shot dead.
Police say two of the defendants, Mohammed Afzal and Shaukat Hussain, were members of the outlawed Pakistan-based Kashmir militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed. The third, Abdul Rehman Geelani, taught Arabic at Delhi University. All three pleaded not guilty.

GERMANY
Top court blocks law on immigrant workers
BERLIN Germany's supreme court yesterday blocked a landmark immigration law designed to bring in skilled workers wanted by industry.
The court ruled that an upper-house vote to approve the law in March was unconstitutional because the chamber's president a member of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats overlooked dissent in one state's delegation, tipping the balance in the vote.
The government said it would reintroduce the bill in Parliament in January and seek a compromise with the opposition.

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