- The Washington Times - Friday, May 12, 2006

ICRC seeks access to secret prisons

GENEVA — Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, yesterday deplored the refusal of the U.S. administration to allow its neutral delegates to visit people being held in secret detention.

In an unusually strongly worded statement, the agency known for its discretion expressed disappointment that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other officials refused to yield to the demand.

Mr. Kellenberger made the comment following a series of top-level meetings in Washington.

The ICRC is the only independent body the United States lets visit terror suspects detained in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.


Security officials fired in shake-up

MOSCOW — Russian authorities fired a string of high-ranking security and law-enforcement officials in a shake-up described yesterday as part of a Kremlin push to fight graft and cement control of key government agencies.

The firing of senior officials in the Federal Customs Service, Federal Security Service, Interior Ministry and the Prosecutor General’s Office was reported by local press two days after President Vladimir Putin called for a stronger anti-corruption effort in his state of the nation speech.


Man fires at guards of U.S. Consulate

RIYADH — A man opened fire on guards at the U.S. Consulate in Jidda in Saudi Arabia yesterday as he drove past but no one was hit, the Interior Ministry said. Police chased and arrested the suspect after wounding him in a shootout when he fled from his car.

In December 2004, al Qaeda militants stormed the U.S. Consulate compound in the Red Sea port city, killing five non-American consular staff. Four of the five attackers died in the attack, and a fifth was wounded and arrested.


9 bomb blasts rock capital; 4 killed

ADDIS ABABA — Nine bombs exploded across Ethiopia’s capital yesterday, killing four persons and wounding dozens in what police said was a coordinated attempt to discredit the government.

The attacks came days before the anniversary Monday of last year’s general election. International observers had called the balloting seriously flawed, and opposition politicians have refused to take up their posts to protest what they called government rigging.


Dissident starts bid for vote on change

HAVANA — Dissident Oswaldo Paya has started a new campaign to press for a referendum vote on democratic change.

Inspired by the Varela Project he spearheaded four years ago, the “All Cubans” plan he announced Wednesday calls for a Cuban transition that would begin from within the current system, with a referendum vote.

Many Cuban dissidents support change only outside the existing one-party communist regime.


Cloning scientist indicted in fraud

SEOUL — South Korean prosecutors indicted disgraced cloning scientist Hwang Woo-suk yesterday on charges of fraud, embezzlement and bioethics violations in a scandal over faked stem-cell research that shook the scientific community.

Five members of Mr. Hwang’s research team were indicted on lesser charges. The 52-year-old scientist faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted. The first hearing is expected in mid-June.


Inflation tops 1,000 percent

HARARE — Zimbabwe’s annual inflation rose above 1,000 percent last month, dramatizing the severity of an economic crisis that analysts say could trigger protests against President Robert Mugabe’s government.

Zimbabwe, in its eighth year of recession, has the fastest shrinking economy of a country outside a war zone, according to the World Bank, and the highest inflation rate in the world.

The official statistics agency said the annual inflation rate hit a record 1,042.9 percent in April after rising 913.6 percent in March.


Corruption case on Suharto dropped

JAKARTA — Indonesia dropped corruption charges against ailing former strongman Suharto yesterday, disappointing those who struggled against his repressive rule and had long hoped to see him brought to justice.

Mr. Suharto, 84, was ousted after 32 years amid student protests and nationwide riots in 1998. In 2000, prosecutors charged him with embezzling $600 million.

Doctors say Mr. Suharto — who has been hospitalized at least four times since 1998 — is weak but recovering well from colon surgery Sunday to stem intestinal bleeding.


Government detains king’s ex-ministers

KATMANDU — Nepal yesterday detained five ministers in the former royalist government, the state television said, bowing to demands of pro-democracy activists to act against those responsible for a crackdown on popular anti-king protests.

King Gyanendra gave in to last month’s mass demonstrations against his absolute rule and handed power back political parties after 17 persons were killed and thousands injured in the crackdown.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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