- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 6, 2002

Tunisia criticized for courtroom raid

GENEVA The jailing of Tunisian opposition leader Hammi Hammami and two leftists shows how fundamental rights are being undermined in Tunisia, an anti-torture group said yesterday.

The Geneva-based World Organization Against Torture strongly criticized the actions of police who burst into a Tunis courtroom on Saturday before an appeals hearing had begun and led away Mr. Hammami and two others. The court later confirmed 1999 terms of nine years in prison against the trio for belonging to an illegal organization.

The anti-torture group criticized the entire proceeding, the denial of attorneys to the defendants and contradictory statements in court. The three came out of hiding Feb. 2 to attend an appeal hearing against heavy prison sentences they were given in absentia for being members of the Communist Workers Party of Tunisia.

Kurds OK changes to end terror image

TUNCELI, Turkey Kurdish separatist leaders said yesterday the September 11 attacks on the United States had prompted them to drop the name of their group to show they were seeking change through political means.

The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), whose commander Abdullah Ocalan was captured in 1999 and sentenced to death for treason, said it aimed to change its name at a party congress within the next few days.

"After the events that took place on September 11, new international solutions are needed. The whole world, especially the Middle East, has changed," rebel leaders based in northern Iraq said.

Detained Arabs, Kurds get Somali hospitality

MOGADISHU, Somalia Eleven of 18 foreigners detained even after they were cleared of having links with international terrorist groups were freed yesterday, police said.

They were released after Somali families offered to host them, and the seven others will also be released when local hosts are found. The Arabs and Kurds arrived in Somalia at various times last year from the United Arab Emirates, which deported them because they lacked valid travel documents.

They were arrested in Mogadishu in December on suspicion of having ties to terrorist groups, but subsequent investigations failed to find any evidence of this.

Weekly notes

Amnesty International called on Egypt yesterday to free Saadeddin Ibrahim, a jailed Egyptian-American civil rights activist convicted of defaming the Arab state. Egypt's highest appeals court is expected to rule today on whether one of Egypt's best-known and most vocal civil rights campaigners, will be retried. Islamic insurgents attacked a home in a village west of Algiers, killing 13 persons, all from the same family, Algerie Presse Service reported yesterday. Around the same time late Monday and in the same area, a different group of insurgents shot to death nine persons at a roadblock in Sidi Lakhdar, about 75 miles west of the capital, APS said.

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