- The Washington Times - Monday, June 27, 2005

PAKISTAN

Former detainees of Gitmo released

LAHORE, Pakistan — A group of 17 men who were arrested upon their return home to Pakistan after being released from the U.S. prison at Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were freed yesterday after nine months in detention here, an official said.

“They have not been found to be involved in any kind of terrorist activity,” Tahir Ashrafi, a religious-affairs adviser for the government in eastern Punjab province, told reporters outside the Kot Lakhpat jail.

The men had “furnished surety bonds that they will maintain good behavior and will not be involved in any anti-state activities,” he said. Since September 2004, some 35 Pakistanis have been freed from Guantanamo.

PHILIPPINES

President denies vote-rigging

MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo denied rigging last year’s ballot but apologized yesterday for “a lapse in judgment” in telling a Philippine election official she wanted a million-vote victory margin.

In a nationally televised speech, Mrs. Arroyo said she would not resign and appealed for unity as she addressed the three-week-old political crisis over the wiretapped phone conversation. The disclosure of that phone call has prompted calls for Mrs. Arroyo to resign with five years left in her term.

“I recognize that making any such call was a lapse in judgment,” a somber Mrs. Arroyo said.

KENYA

Accused bombers of hotel acquitted

NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenya’s latest attempt to convict suspects in an al Qaeda-linked hotel bombing that killed 15 persons ended with acquittals yesterday — raising questions about the readiness of Kenyan prosecutors to handle such cases.

After two years and scores of witnesses, Kenyan prosecutors have failed to convict in three terrorism cases: the November 2002 hotel bombing, the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombing that killed 219 persons, including 12 Americans, and a purported 2003 plot against the rebuilt embassy.

Kenyan prosecutors lack the specialized training to handle such cases, said Philip Kichana, former executive director of the Kenya chapter of the International Commission of Jurists.

ISRAEL

Soldier convicted of killing activist

CASTINA MILITARY BASE, Israel — An Israeli military court yesterday convicted a former soldier of manslaughter in the shooting of a pro-Palestinian British activist, the first time a soldier was found guilty of killing a foreigner during four years of conflict with the Palestinians.

Wahid Taysir, a member of Israel’s Bedouin Arab minority, was accused of shooting Tom Hurndall in the head during an April 2003 army operation in the Gaza Strip. Witnesses said Mr. Hurndall, 22, was helping Palestinian children avoid Israeli tanks.

Mr. Hurndall was comatose for nine months before dying in a London hospital. Taysir’s attorneys claimed Mr. Hurndall did not die directly from his wounds, but rather because of malpractice by British doctors.


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