President steps aside, delays vote
DHAKA — The president yesterday declared a state of emergency, stepped down as interim leader of Bangladesh’s caretaker government and postponed this month’s elections after violent protests by a key political alliance that has said it would boycott the vote.
President Iajuddin Ahmed said in a televised speech that the balloting, which had been scheduled for Jan. 22, would be delayed, and he did not give a new date.
One of Mr. Ahmed’s advisers, Fazlul Haque, was to serve as the head of the caretaker government, and Mr. Ahmed said he would remain Bangladesh’s president, a largely ceremonial role.
Mengistu sentenced to life for genocide
ADDIS ABABA — Former Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam was sentenced to life in prison yesterday, ending his 12-year trial in absentia on charges of genocide and other crimes committed during his iron-fisted rule.
Mengistu, known as “the butcher of Addis Ababa,” is unlikely to spend a day behind bars. He lives comfortably in exile in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has said he won’t deport Mengistu if he refrains from political activity.
Mengistu ruled from 1974 to 1991 after his military junta ended Emperor Haile Selassie’s reign in a bloody coup. Some analysts say 150,000 university students, intellectuals and politicians were killed in a purge by Mengistu’s Marxist regime.
Israel encouraged by nuke opposition
BEIJING — Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said yesterday that he was surprised and encouraged by talks with Chinese leaders who told him they were opposed to Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons.
Mr. Olmert met with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao during a three-day visit to Beijing that ended yesterday.
6 Iranians held in Kurdish city
BAGHDAD — U.S.-led multinational forces detained six Iranians yesterday at an Iranian government office in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil, Iraqi officials said.
The U.S. military confirmed the detentions. A senior Pentagon official said the building was not a consulate and did not have any diplomatic status, but Tehran registered a formal protest.
Irbil, 220 miles from Baghdad, is in the Kurdish-controlled northern part of Iraq.
Suspect arrested in bank chief’s death
MOSCOW — Police yesterday detained a man suspected of ordering the killing of a senior government banker, a crime apparently connected to efforts to clean up Russia’s financial industry.
The first deputy chairman of Russia’s Central Bank, Andrei Kozlov, was shot point-blank in the head as he left a soccer game between bank employees in Moscow on Sept. 13.
Press reports identified the suspect as Alexei Yefimovich Frenkel, the former head of small private bank that Mr. Kozlov closed three months before his slaying.
Rats, garbage found in hospitals
ROME — Expired drugs, unlicensed nurses, stray cats and scuttling rats were among the horrors that emerged from police inspections of Italian hospitals that recommended investigations of more than 100 people.
Health Minister Livia Turco promised swift action, but insisted the problems affected only a minority of the country’s hospitals.
From wire services and staff reports