- The Washington Times - Friday, March 18, 2005

IRAQ

Christian hostage freed unharmed

STOCKHOLM — An Iraqi-Swedish Christian politician kidnapped in Baghdad in January and threatened with beheading was freed unharmed yesterday, Swedish officials said.

Minas al-Yousifi, the 60-year-old leader of Iraq’s Christian Democrats who returned from exile in Sweden to re-establish the party two years ago, was abducted by the Iraqi Vengeance Battalion, Martyr al-Isawi Brigade.

They had threatened to behead him unless a $4 million ransom was paid and U.S. troops were withdrawn from Iraq. It was not clear yesterday whether a ransom was paid.

BRITAIN

Charles-Camilla union’s blessing to be on TV

LONDON — Britons will be able to watch the church blessing of next month’s wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles live on television, royal officials said yesterday, although the marriage itself remains private.

The religious service on April 8 at St. George’s Chapel inside Windsor Castle, the royal family’s home just west of London, will be broadcast in Britain.

The blessing for the union will be led by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual head of the global Anglican Church, and attended by about 750 guests.

BRITAIN

Teens convicted of murdering girls

LONDON — Four teenagers were found guilty yesterday of gunning down a pair of teenage girls outside a party, bringing to a close a case that shocked the nation and starkly highlighted a sharp rise in gun crime.

Charlene Ellis, 18, and Letisha Shakespeare, 17, died in a hail of bullets outside a New Year’s party in Birmingham, during a botched revenge attack mounted by one gang against another.

The shooting prompted widespread media and political concern about rising gun use by criminals, notably within black communities of Caribbean descent in Britain’s inner cities.

ZIMBABWE

Expatriates denied right to vote

HARARE — Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court has rejected a request by Zimbabweans living abroad to vote by mail in this month’s parliamentary election, blocking millions of potential ballots expected to favor the opposition.

The official Herald newspaper reported yesterday the country’s highest court had rejected an application by seven Zimbabweans based in Britain challenging laws barring them from voting in the March 31 election pitting President Robert Mugabe’s ruling party against the Movement for Democratic Change.

Critics say the requirement disenfranchises more than 3 million Zimbabweans living abroad.

ICELAND

Citizenship offered to fugitive Fischer

REYKJAVIK — Iceland’s parliament said yesterday it would grant fugitive chess master Bobby Fischer citizenship to allow him to travel to Reykjavik from Japan, where he is in detention fighting a U.S. deportation order.

The 62-year-old American is wanted in the United States for violating sanctions against the former Yugoslavia by playing a chess match there in 1992. He was arrested in Japan last July at the request of the United States.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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