- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 27, 2006

FRANCE

Court rejects bid to apply U.S. rule

PARIS — A French court yesterday rejected an appeal by families of victims of a plane crash at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheik for the civil case to be heard under U.S. jurisdiction.

The Jan. 3, 2004, accident took 148 lives, including those of 134 French passengers, when a chartered Boeing 737-300 crashed into the Red Sea after takeoff. The parties have 15 days to appeal the ruling by the court in Bobigny, near Paris.

“The court, against the opinion of [French justice officials], ruled the victims could not argue that the tribunal in charge of the case was not competent to hear it,” said Gerard Montigny, a spokesman for the victims’ attorneys, who sought to invoke a U.S. legal procedure known as “discovery,” which has no equivalent in France, to oblige four American firms to produce documents the courts might need to establish responsibility

TURKEY

Mayor faces prison for mourning Kurds

DIYARBAKIR — A Turkish mayor faces 10 years in prison for attending the funerals of outlawed Kurdish militants and commenting on their deaths in the fifth case opened against him in a month, court documents show.

Charges against Osman Baydemir, mayor of this largest city in the mainly Kurdish southeast, contrast the issue of Kurdish separatism in Turkey and human rights concerns in the European Union, which Ankara hopes to join. The court must accept the charges before a trial can be held.

Mr. Baydemir was accused yesterday of “knowingly and intentionally helping” the Kurdistan Workers Party by attending the funerals of 14 rebels killed by Turkish troops and expressing grief at their deaths.

LEBANON

Syrian president cites al Qaeda threat

BEIRUT — Syrian President Bashar Assad warns of growing al Qaeda presence in neighboring Lebanon, and state press and broadcast outlets in his closed nation quickly break news of gunbattles between police and Islamic militants in the Syrian capital.

Syria complains of a rising threat from Islamic extremists, fueled by popular anger over the U.S. war in Iraq.

Mr. Assad’s foes say the charges are an attempt to win U.S. support, defuse international pressure and find a pretext for Syrian meddling in Lebanon.

Washington has long accused Damascus of subscribing to terrorism, mainly for its support of the Shi’ite Muslim Hezbollah guerrilla movement in Lebanon, which is not connected to al Qaeda but is its enemy. In an interview this week with Al-Hayat newspaper, Mr. Assad insisted his country is a victim of terrorism.

Weekly notes …

The U.S. military issued a sober assessment yesterday of the Baghdad security crackdown in the two weeks since 75,000 Iraqi and American troops flooded the capital, saying violence had decreased but not to “the degree we would like to see.” The evaluation was released as 18 more Iraqis fell victim to sectarian and insurgent violence, including five persons whose bodies were found dumped in Baghdad. The U.S. military also announced the deaths of a Marine and three soldiers. Female candidates are determined to make headway in Kuwait’s parliamentary elections tomorrow, despite an uphill battle against experienced male opponents and public opinion uneasy with equal roles for women. More than 250 candidates contesting the elections, including 28 women, have addressed rallies before Kuwait’s first elections in which women can run and vote.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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