- The Washington Times - Friday, February 18, 2005

ISRAEL

Sharon spared; son is indicted

JERUSALEM ” Israel’s attorney general decided not to file charges against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and former aides in a campaign funding scandal but indicted his son yesterday, the Justice Ministry said.

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz closed a three-year investigation of Mr. Sharon, saying there was not sufficient evidence of involvement in setting up shell companies to funnel foreign donations to his 1999 primary campaign.

Although Mr. Sharon emerged largely unscathed, his son and close adviser Omri Sharon, 40, was indicted on criminal charges including fraud, breach of trust and perjury. A legal analyst told Israel Radio he faces as many as seven years in prison if convicted.



Meanwhile, Israel’s defense minister ordered a halt to the policy of demolishing the homes of Palestinian suicide bombers and gunmen after an internal army review concluded it had not deterred attackers but inflamed hatred.

THAILAND

Car bomb kills five in Muslim south

BANGKOK ” In an escalation of the sectarian violence plaguing Muslim-dominated southern Thailand, a powerful car bomb exploded yesterday in a busy night-life district, killing five persons and injuring more than 40. The car bomb was thought to be Thailand’s first.

A series of smaller attacks during the past year has been blamed on Islamic separatists, but yesterday’s car bomb raised questions about whether foreign militants were involved.

SPAIN

2 ETA suspects held in attack plot

MADRID ” Spanish police arrested two suspected members of the Basque separatist group ETA in a seaside city who were armed with explosives and were planning an attack, the government said yesterday.

The man and woman were arrested in the city of Valencia, the Interior Ministry said.

The El Pais daily newspaper reported that the attack was to be carried out before Sunday’s planned referendum on the European Constitution.

CANADA

Court releases al Qaeda suspect

OTTAWA ” A Canadian court yesterday ordered the government to release a Moroccan whom Ottawa suspects of belonging to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda group, federal officials and the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. said.

They said a judge in Montreal had ruled that Adil Charkaoui should be freed on $40,500 bail after spending 20 months in detention.

CUBA

Paya begins talks on transition

HAVANA ” Leading Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya yesterday called for a national dialogue on a post-Castro transition in Cuba, inviting both exiled Cubans and government supporters to participate.

Mr. Paya announced the creation of a committee of 110 members, half of whom live in exile, who will promote discussion on reforms to Cuba’s one-party communist state.

PARAGUAY

Ex-leader’s family mourns daughter

ASUNCION ” The family of former President Raul Cubas yesterday mourned the slaying of his kidnapped daughter after her charcoal-smeared body was discovered in a pit near an abandoned house, bringing a gruesome end to the country’s highest-profile kidnapping.

The abduction of 32-year-old Cecilia Cubas ” purportedly with the involvement of Colombian guerrillas ” has added to a heightened sense of fear in this poor country.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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