- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 22, 2003

LIBYA

Gadhafi foundation faults prison conditions

TRIPOLI — A charity led by a son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has criticized prison conditions in Libya and urged the government to probe questionable deaths of detainees.

The Gadhafi International Foundation for Charity Associations — in the first such report released inside Libya on the country’s human-rights record — called on Libyans to report rights abuses by the authorities, including cases of possible torture.

The report, obtained yesterday by Reuters news agency, did not say whether the suspicion-raising deaths in jails were those of political opponents, but its tone was a departure from contentions by government officials about the situation in prisons in the North African country.

MOROCCO

Trials postponed for 52 bombing suspects

CASABLANCA — A Moroccan court has postponed until Friday and next Monday the trials of 52 persons, who are suspected of being Islamic militants, in connection with suicide bombings in May.

The defendants appeared in court Monday on charges linking them with the attacks here on May 16, in which 44 persons, including 12 bombers, died. They could face the death penalty. The court postponed hearings until Friday for 33 defendants and to Monday for the others to allow their lawyers more time to prepare.

No group took responsibility for the simultaneous attacks. Investigators homed in on an ultra-conservative Islamist movement they called the “Salafist Jihad current,” a loose alliance of groups that include veterans of combat in Afghanistan. Under antiterrorism legislation approved within days of the bombings, the defendants can be sentenced to death by firing squad if found guilty of terrorist acts.

IRAQ

Cameraman’s wife still awaits word

BRUSSELS — It has been four months since her husband disappeared in Iraq, and Fabienne Nerac waits for any scrap of information that could end the torture of not knowing his fate.

“I can only speculate, that’s what is terrible,” she told Agence France-Presse, adding that she is neither willing to believe he is dead nor sure he is alive.

Fred Nerac, 43, a French TV cameraman working for British Independent Television News, was in a convoy that came under fire, apparently from British or U.S. forces, near Basra on March 22.

Weekly notes …

Jordanian Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb and Syrian Public Works Minister Hussam Aswad discussed plans for the construction of a dam across the Yarmouk River yesterday, Jordan’s official news agency, Petra, reported. The two countries signed an agreement in April on construction of the al-Wehda Dam at a cost of $90 million. Jordan, which is 92 percent desert, is to gain 2.8 billion cubic feet of water from the project, and Syria would benefit from hydroelectric power. … Sweltering heat in Algeria’s Sahara Desert has killed 40 persons since the beginning of summer, according to news reports this week. Many succumbed to the extreme heat after frequent power cuts shut off the normal flow of drinking water, the daily El Khabar said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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