Top dissidents held after meeting
HAVANA — Cuban police detained 22 persons, including the three top leaders of a dissident group, apparently to thwart a planned rally for the release of political prisoners on the island, according to human rights activist Elizardo Sanchez.
Supporters of President Fidel Castro also staged noisy demonstrations outside the homes of opponents who had planned the rally outside the French Embassy in Havana to call for the release of political prisoners.
The incidents came as Cuba’s communist authorities moved to keep the lid on discontent over prolonged power cuts on the Caribbean island before the July 26 anniversary of the start of Mr. Castro’s revolution 52 years ago.
Small plane crashes outside parliament
BERLIN — An ultralight airplane crashed close to the German parliament and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s office late yesterday, killing the pilot but harming no one on the ground, police said. A city official ruled out a terrorist attack.
The pilot died when his plane plunged onto a lawn in front of the Reichstag, which houses the lower house of parliament, in downtown Berlin shortly before 8:30 p.m., police said.
The burned wreckage lay about 650 feet from the parliament and about 330 feet from Mr. Schroeder’s office. It was not immediately clear if Mr. Schroeder was in his office.
2,000 Islamists protest arrests
ISLAMABAD — More than 2,000 supporters of a coalition of radical Muslim groups rallied yesterday in the Pakistani capital to condemn a crackdown on Islamic militants that has netted more than 200 suspects.
Chanting “God is great,” and “Down with America,” the protesters — mostly Islamic students and members of a coalition known as Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal, or United Action Forum — marched on a main road in Islamabad, briefly clashed with police, and demanded the release of all detainees.
There were no reports of violence at rallies elsewhere in the country, where hundreds of Islamic radicals also protested the crackdown on mosques and offices of outlawed groups that followed the July 7 suicide bombings in London.
Foreigners need more medical tests
MOSCOW — Outrage greeted an announcement yesterday that foreigners wanting to work or obtain residency permits in Russia will have to take tests for leprosy, tuberculosis and a string of sexually transmitted diseases in addition to the existing HIV test.
Russia’s immigration service said that it would henceforth be implementing in full a 2003 decree requiring the tests.
The 2003 decree lists tuberculosis, leprosy, syphilis, chlamydia, syphilitic chancre and HIV as “infectious diseases that are dangerous and can be the basis for refusing or canceling temporary residency for foreigners … or work permits in the Russian Federation.”
Polanski wins libel case
LONDON — Roman Polanski won his libel case against Vanity Fair yesterday over an article saying he tried to seduce a Scandinavian “beauty” soon after his wife was murdered while eight-and-a-half months pregnant in 1969.
The weeklong trial was peppered with sensational details of the Franco-Polish director’s sex life in the “Swinging Sixties” and raw emotion when he burst into tears while giving evidence.
Mr. Polanski also made legal precedent, becoming the first libel claimant to sue via video link from another country.
He is wanted in the United States after admitting having sex with a 13-year-old-girl in 1977, and could be extradited there by Britain if he appeared at London’s High Court.
From wire dispatches and staff reports