- The Washington Times - Friday, December 1, 2006

SRI LANKA

Defense secretary escapes attack

COLOMBO — A suicide bomber targeted a convoy carrying Sri Lanka’s defense secretary in the capital yesterday, killing himself and two soldiers, the military said.

Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse, who is President Mahinda Rajapakse’s younger brother, was unharmed. Soon after the explosion, security officials opened fire, possibly fearing a second attack. The body of an unidentified man lay at the scene with gunshot wounds.

The government blamed the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels for the attack.

INDIA

Former cricket star convicted of homicide

CHANDIGARH — A former Indian national cricketer and current member of Parliament was convicted of homicide yesterday by a court that overturned an earlier acquittal related to a road-rage incident 17 years ago.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court said 43-year-old Navjot Singh Sidhu, now also a popular TV commentator, would be sentenced on Dec. 6. Sidhu, a member of the opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, resigned from the lower house of Parliament within hours of the conviction.

Sidhu was involved in a car accident in his hometown of Patiala in the northern state of Punjab in 1989. He was accused of getting into a fight with the occupant of the other car and beating him up, leading to his death. A lower court acquitted him in 1999.

PAKISTAN

Musharraf signs amended rape law

ISLAMABAD — Despite nationwide protests by hard-liners, President Pervez Musharraf yesterday signed into law an amendment to the country’s controversial rape statute to make it easier to prosecute sexual assault cases.

Human rights activists have long condemned Pakistan’s old law for punishing — instead of protecting — rape victims, while providing legal safeguards for their attackers.

The new legislation, known as the Protection of Women Bill, was supported by Gen. Musharraf’s government as part of efforts by Islamabad to soften the country’s hard-line Islamic image and appease moderates and human rights groups who opposed the old law.

Weekly Notes …

Nepal’s Maoists and political parties failed to meet yesterday’s deadline to form an interim government, but said the plan had only been delayed and progress was expected next week. Under an earlier schedule agreed with the government, the Maoists — who fought since 1996 to topple Nepal’s monarchy — had been due to take their first step into mainstream politics yesterday by entering an interim Cabinet. … Meanwhile, two top rebel Maoist leaders imprisoned in India for three years arrived in Nepal’s capital Katmandu yesterday to scenes of rejoicing and welcome from some 2,000 Maoist supporters including rebel leader Prachanda.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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