- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 3, 2003


Author put on trial for republishing book

ANKARA — A state security court began hearing a case yesterday about a book denouncing the government’s heavy-handed approach toward minority Kurds, for which the author spent 20 months in jail.

Human rights activists and lawmakers have criticized the case as showing the country’s failure to implement democratic reforms it adopted to improve its chances of joining the European Union. Prosecutors seek as long as four years in prison for Fikret Baskaya, 63.

The law under which Mr. Baskaya is being tried is to be abolished as part of a new set of EU-minded reforms that the government is planning to submit to Parliament this month. He served 20 months in prison a decade ago for the book, first published in 1992. The Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights condemned that sentence and ordered Ankara to pay Mr. Baskaya compensation.

Mr. Baskaya, an associate professor of economics, said the prosecution contends that republishing the book this year constitutes a repetition of the offense and argues that six other earlier editions went “unnoticed” by authorities.


French citizen held in suicide attacks

RABAT — Police arrested a French citizen wanted in connection with the May 16 suicide attacks in Casablanca that killed 31 bystanders, security officials said. The circumstances of the arrest were not immediately made public.

Robert Richard Antoine Pierre was arrested in Tangiers, where he lives with his Moroccan wife, the officials said. Mr. Pierre, 28, is the first foreigner implicated in the five nearly simultaneous suicide attacks that targeted Jewish and Spanish sites in Casablanca, as well as a major hotel.

Twelve of the 14 suicide bombers, all Moroccans, died in the bombings. The two other would-be suicide bombers were arrested, and scores of people have since been detained. Mr. Pierre, also known as “Lhaj” and “Abou Abderrahmane,” was described as armed and dangerous in wanted posters.


Border guards kill arms dealer in shootout

RIYADH — Saudi border guards killed a Saudi arms dealer caught in possession of about 100 automatic rifles in Najran province, bordering Yemen, a newspaper reported yesterday.

Al-Watan quoted Prince Mishal bin Saud, governor of Najran, as saying Said bin Faraj bin Mohammed al-Mahri al-Yami died in a shootout when he refused orders to surrender and opened fire at the security forces, badly damaging their vehicles.

The deceased had in his possession 100 Kalashnikov AK-47 rifles and an equal number of magazines of ammunition worth $36,000, the prince said.

Weekly notes …

A Saudi militant suspect killed by police this week was carrying a letter said to have been written by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden about six months ago, Al-Watan quoted “informed sources” as saying yesterday. Police said they found the handwritten letter in the pocket of Youssef Saleh al-Eiery, named among 19 suspects connected in three May 12 suicide bombings in Riyadh that killed 26 persons, mostly foreigners, and the nine bombers. … Libya said this week that it has shut down its embassy in Baghdad and is withdrawing its staff after the United States announced Thursday that there is no longer any diplomatic immunity there. The African Unity Ministry in Tripoli, which handles Libya’s relations with Arab and African states, accused U.S. forces in Iraq of violating international law and conventions.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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