- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 16, 2006

IRAQ

Saddam hears charges of murder and torture

BAGHDAD — A defiant Saddam Hussein refused to enter a plea yesterday as the judge at his trial formally charged him with crimes against humanity, including the murder and torture of women and children.

As stipulated by Iraqi law, the charges were announced as the defense began making its case in the nearly seven-month-old trial of the ousted Iraqi leader and members of his regime.

Chief Judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman listed the names of 17 persons who died from torture during interrogation or from harsh prison conditions during a crackdown against Shi’ites in the 1980s.

BELGIUM

EU vows to speed aid to Palestinians

BRUSSELS — The European Union pledged yesterday to resume payments to the Palestinians as soon as possible, but said a new aid mechanism needed Israeli support.

EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels expressed “serious concern” about the deterioration in the humanitarian, economic and financial situation in the Gaza Strip and West Bank that came after cuts in EU and U.S. aid payments.

EU External Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said she hoped an aid mechanism proposed last week by the Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators that would bypass the Hamas-led government could be put in place by next month.

ITALY

President takes oath, vows to unite nation

ROME — Giorgio Napolitano, the first former communist to become head of state, took office yesterday, promising to unite a deeply divided country and get a quick grip on its rickety finances.

“I will not at any moment be the president only of that majority which elected me,” he said. “I will respect you all and all the political positions and ideals you express.”

Mr. Napolitano was elected last week by Romano Prodi’s tiny center-left majority against the wishes of outgoing Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who begrudgingly acknowledged that he had lost a national election in April by a fraction of the vote.

NETHERLANDS

Disgraced lawmaker plans future in U.S.

AMSTERDAM — Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born Dutch politician known for her outspoken criticism of Islam, will leave parliament and move to the United States after admitting she lied to win asylum in the Netherlands.

Mrs. Hirsi Ali, 36, sought asylum in the Netherlands in 1992, claiming to be escaping from an arranged marriage. She gained Dutch citizenship in 1997 and was elected to parliament in 2003.

A storm erupted about her asylum application last week after a Dutch television documentary interviewed members of her family about her background. She subsequently admitted having lied about her name, age and how she came to the Netherlands.

SOUTH AFRICA

Zuma is reinstated to top ANC job

JOHANNESBURG — Popular politician Jacob Zuma has been handed back his duties of deputy president of the ruling African National Congress a week after he was acquitted of rape charges, the party said yesterday.

The ANC’s National Executive Committee’s decision Sunday strengthens Mr. Zuma’s position in a likely candidacy to succeed Thabo Mbeki when the South African president steps down in 2009.

Many of Mr. Zuma’s rank-and-file ANC supporters have denounced the rape charges as a smear campaign to prevent him from succeeding Mr. Mbeki. Mr. Zuma said last week he was willing to seek election as South Africa’s next president.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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