- The Washington Times - Monday, September 8, 2003

SPAIN

Judge extends detention of reporter

MADRID — A top Al Jazeera reporter was ordered detained for another 72 hours yesterday while police investigate charges he is linked to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network.

Tayssir Alouni, 48, who interviewed bin Laden two years ago, was arrested Friday at his home in southern Spain. He was questioned for nearly three hours at a closed-door hearing in Madrid yesterday, court officials said.

The court officials said Mr. Alouni appeared calm and relaxed before investigative Judge Baltasar Garzon, who has been leading the investigation in Spain into suspected members of al Qaeda and other militant Islamist groups.

The officials said Mr. Alouni acknowledged he had taken up to $4,000 from Spain to people abroad on several occasions but said he was merely expressing solidarity with the Arab community, not supporting terrorists.

SINGAPORE

SARS returns after four months

A man in Singapore has tested positive for SARS, the first reported new case of the disease in four months. The announcement yesterday came after health officials had warned the flulike illness could return.

The man, an ethnic Chinese Singaporean citizen, tested positive for severe acute respiratory syndrome when he tried to enter Singapore General Hospital, a Ministry of Health spokeswoman said.

SARS killed more than 800 people and sickened 7,900 after it was first recognized in China in November and then spread to more than 30 other countries. The illness killed 33 persons and sickened 328 in Singapore earlier this year.

INDIA

Sharon arrives on landmark visit

NEW DELHI — Ariel Sharon began a landmark visit to India yesterday, intent on cementing defense deals and fortifying his country’s friendship with a longtime Palestinian ally during the first visit here by an Israeli prime minister.

Pakistan, India’s neighbor and chief rival, immediately warned of the “dangerous consequences” of a military alliance between Israel and India, knowing Mr. Sharon hopes to seal the $1 billion sale of an advanced airborne radar package.

NETHERLANDS

NATO chief backs de Hoop Scheffer

THE HAGUE — Outgoing NATO Secretary-General George Robertson said yesterday that Dutch Foreign Minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer would be a good candidate to replace him when he steps down in December.

Mr. de Hoop Scheffer and Canadian Finance Minister John Manley have emerged as top candidates likely to succeed Mr. Robertson as head of the 19-nation Western defense alliance.

Speculation that Mr. de Hoop Scheffer will succeed Mr. Robertson heightened when he and Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende met with President Bush and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell in Washington last week.

FRANCE

Heat deaths blamed on slow reaction

PARIS — France’s first official investigation into why thousands of elderly people died during a brutal summer heat wave partly blamed hospitals, which let doctors leave during August vacation, said a report released yesterday.

The report also said that health authorities were too slow to realize how serious the situation was in emergency rooms.

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