- The Washington Times - Friday, December 29, 2006

PHILIPPINES

U.S. Marine placed in American custody

MANILA — A U.S. Marine convicted of raping a Filipino woman was whisked away from a Manila jail to the U.S. Embassy yesterday, a spokesman said, almost a month after the U.S. and Philippine governments urged a local court to transfer him to American custody during his appeal.

Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith, 21, had been in a Manila jail since he was convicted and sentenced to 40 years on Dec. 4. Three other Marines were acquitted in the case. All four were in U.S. Embassy custody during the trial that stirred anti-American feelings in this former U.S. colony.

Smith’s lawyers, the U.S. Embassy and the Philippine departments of justice and foreign affairs have agreed that his detention violates the 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement, which governs the conduct of U.S. troops in the Philippines.

A provision in it states that any accused U.S. serviceman shall remain in U.S. custody until all judicial proceedings are exhausted.

BULGARIA

Speedy appeal sought for convicted nurses

SOFIA — Bulgaria insisted yesterday on a speedy appeal for five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor sentenced to death in an AIDS case in Libya, a case that has triggered outrage in the nation.

Libya, meanwhile, denounced Western criticism of the case, saying it is politically motivated and biased against Muslim values.

Diplomatic relations between the countries have become increasingly strained since 1999 when the medical workers were jailed on charges that they intentionally spread HIV to more than 400 children at a hospital in Benghazi during what Libya claims was a botched experiment to find a cure for AIDS.

Fifty children have died and the rest have been treated in Europe.

RWANDA

British police arrest genocide suspects

LONDON — Four men accused of organizing and participating in the Rwandan genocide in 1994 have been arrested in Britain on warrants issued by the Rwandan government, police said.

The men, arrested Thursday night, were accused of killing members of the Tutsi ethnic group “with the intent to destroy in whole or in part, that group,” according to the warrants.

Britain and Rwanda agreed last week to allow Rwanda to seek extradition of the men, following an assurance by the central African country that they would not face the death penalty, said Gemma Lindfield, a prosecutor for the Rwandan government.

BRITAIN

Ex-Beatle’s wife reports art theft

LONDON — Police were called to the country estate of former Beatle Paul McCartney after his estranged wife reported the theft of paintings — including a Picasso and a Renoir — from the lodge they once shared, police said yesterday.

“We checked the premises and spoke to Heather Mills [McCartney], and as a result it was found to be a civil matter between her and her husband,” Sussex Police spokesman Paddy Rea said. “There’s been no theft.”

Mrs. Mills McCartney called police Thursday night after discovering that paintings valued at an estimated $19.5 million had gone missing, the Sun newspaper reported yesterday.

The Sun, quoting an unidentified friend of Mrs. Mills McCartney, said that Mr. McCartney had taken the paintings and reprogrammed the estate’s alarm codes, and informed her Thursday night by text message.

ISRAEL

Abbas’ plea to free prisoners rejected

JERUSALEM — Israel has rebuffed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ request to free Palestinian prisoners ahead of a major Muslim holiday, insisting that Palestinian militants first agree to release a captured Israeli soldier.

The estimated 8,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails enjoy iconic status in Palestinian society, and Israel usually frees a small number at Muslim holiday time in a goodwill gesture. Last week, at their first official meeting, Mr. Abbas asked Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to do the same before the Eid al-Adha holiday, which begins today.

An Israeli official said no release was planned as long as Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit remains in captivity. He was seized in a June 25 cross-border raid by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

SOUTH KOREA

Seoul says North can make 7 nukes

SEOUL — South Korea’s Defense Ministry said North Korea is thought to have about 110 pounds of plutonium, enough to produce up to seven nuclear weapons.

In its biennial defense report, released yesterday, the ministry also said the North is thought to be capable of producing biological weapons, including anthrax weapons, and possesses up to 5,000 tons of toxic agents.

North Korea stoked regional tensions in October when it conducted its first nuclear test, drawing U.N. sanctions and global condemnation.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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