- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 28, 2006

BELARUS

Courts jail political protesters

MINSK — Belarusian courts yesterday jailed for up to 15 days dozens of mostly young protesters detained when police broke up rallies against a presidential election judged unfair by the West.

The European Union, accused by Minsk of trying to foment revolution, urged the release of the protesters while Belarusian customs officers barred a Polish diplomat from entering the country.

Opposition leader Alexander Milinkevich dismissed the trials of the protesters as a farce and said his supporters would campaign nationwide to win more public backing and would organize bigger protests.

UNITED NATIONS

Final gavel falls for rights panel

GENEVA — The discredited U.N. Human Rights Commission yesterday held its last meeting before making way for a new body, ending a 60-year history in which some of the world’s worst offenders often used their membership to protect one another from condemnation.

Peruvian Ambassador Manuel Rodriguez Cuadros, chairman of the 53-nation commission, gaveled the final session to an end. The commission’s work will be taken up by the U.N. Human Rights Council, which debuts in June.

The commission, which originally was inspired by the United States, was discredited in recent years because some countries with poor human rights records — such as Sudan, Libya, Zimbabwe and Cuba — used their membership to protect one another from condemnation.

LITHUANIA

Deportee convicted of helping Nazis

VILNIUS — An 85-year-old Lithuanian deported from Florida was convicted yesterday of helping Nazis murder Jews during World War II, but the judge said the man was too frail to serve prison time.

The Vilnius District Court said Algimantas Dailide helped round up Jews for the Nazis as part of the Nazi-backed Vilnius security police during World War II, when nearly 90 percent of Lithuania’s Jewish population was killed.

“The defendant was fully aware he was committing crimes against Jews but did not personally take part in killings or torture,” Judge Alvyra Kvaraciejute said.

PHILIPPINES

Bomb blast kills at least 9

MANILA — A bomb exploded yesterday in a grocery store on a southern Philippine island considered a stronghold of the terror group al Qaeda, killing at least nine persons and wounding at least a dozen, authorities said.

One man was arrested, and police suspected the blast was the work of Abu Sayyaf, a notorious Islamic militant group that is on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations.

The explosion occurred midday on southern Jolo island, where U.S. troops recently conducted counterterrorism exercises with Philippine forces.

BRITAIN

Pardon considered for WWI soldier

LONDON — The British government said yesterday that it would reconsider its refusal to give a posthumous pardon to a soldier who was fatally shot for cowardice on the orders of his officers during World War I.

The government previously said it would not pardon Pvt. Harry Farr, who was shot at dawn on Oct. 2, 1916, for refusing to return to the front line.

But after hearing an appeal from the deceased’s family, a lawyer representing the government said Defense Minister John Reid would reconsider the case “with an open mind.”

This may raise hopes of the relatives of 305 other British soldiers fatally shot by their own side during World War I.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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