- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 25, 2003

BELGIUM

Court throws out war crimes charges

BRUSSELS — A Belgian court yesterday threw out war-crimes cases against former President George Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, helping to ease Belgium’s soured ties with Israel and the United States.

Lawsuits also had been filed under Belgium’s genocide law against the current President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, but under recent changes to the act they were unlikely ever to come to court.



The appeals court dismissed the cases on grounds that the country’s courts did not have the jurisdiction. The case against the father of the current U.S. president accused him of crimes against humanity during the 1991 PersianGulf war.

BRITAIN

3 countries unite to break drug ring

LONDON — Police in Britain, Colombia and Spain raided homes and made arrests in a coordinated strike against a major cocaine-smuggling and money- laundering operation.

Police in London said they had broken the largest known drug operation in Britain, arresting 10 men and two women and seizing $412,500 in cash. In the two-year investigation, British authorities previously reported 20 arrests and the seizure of $32 million in cocaine.

ITALY

Berlusconi pushes investment in beauty

NEW YORK — Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s sense of humor struck again yesterday when he vaunted the attractions of Italian secretaries to potential American investors.

“Italy is a great country to invest in these days. The proof is that the Italian prime minister has invested all his money there,” the billionaire businessman- turned-politician told a business audience at the New York Stock Exchange.

“Another reason to invest in Italy is that today we have fewer communists. There were 34 percent of them when I entered politics 10 years ago; today there are only 16 percent,” he said.

“And another reason to invest in Italy is that we have beautiful secretaries,” Mr. Berlusconi said, risking outrage in a country where sexist remarks are regarded as seriously offensive.

VENEZUELA

Tensions rise over Chavez recall

CARACAS — Venezuelan lawmakers traded blows yesterday during a marathon debate on supreme court reforms that the opposition fears could weaken its bid for a vote to recall President Hugo Chavez.

The acrimonious all-night debate in the National Assembly, which was suspended until today, reflected political tensions gripping the world’s No. 5 oil exporter as it waited for electoral authorities to set regulations for a referendum.

Mr. Chavez, who was elected in 1998 and survived a coup last year, was resisting the fight for a constitutional referendum to try to vote him out of office. His foes say his self-styled “revolution” is leading Venezuela toward Cuba-style communism.

YEMEN

Saudis hand over bombing suspects

SAN’A — Saudi Arabia yesterday handed over nine Yemeni detainees, some of them wanted for the bombing of a French supertanker last year, a Yemeni official said.

Saudi Arabia and Yemen are boosting security cooperation to battle al Qaeda, which is blamed for the September 11 attacks on the United States and for the bombings of the warship USS Cole and the French supertanker Limburg in Yemeni waters in 2000 and 2002.

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