- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 14, 2007

GERMANY

Government worried as Scientology expands

BERLIN — Guests from across Europe crowded into a private ceremony yesterday marking the opening of a spacious new center for the Church of Scientology in a country where it is denied recognition as a religion and kept under surveillance.

Police estimated 1,000 people visited the 43,000-square-foot glass and steel building in the capital’s western district of Charlottenburg. The U.S.-based Scientology said 4,000 people attended the opening of its Berlin center.

Scientology members packed the sidewalk outside the six-story building, waving their national flags and releasing balloons. The American actress Anne Archer was among the guests of the group, whose members include Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

Under surveillance for years by the domestic intelligence service, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Scientologists have fought several legal battles with German authorities seeking to end the monitoring.

ITALY

Tribunal convicts Nazis in 1944 massacre

ROME — A military tribunal yesterday convicted 10 former members of the Nazi SS in the 1944 slaughter of more than 700 people near Bologna — the worst civilian massacre in Italy during World War II, a news report said.

The 10 received life sentences for murder, while seven others were acquitted, the Italian news agency ANSA said. But none of the men was in custody. They were tried in absentia, and all are thought to be living in Germany.

The defendants, one former officer and 16 enlisted personnel of the 16th SS Division, were tried in a military court in the northern port town of La Spezia. Court officials in La Spezia could not be reached to comment on the report.

SPAIN

Thousands protest against Basque attack

MADRID — Tens of thousands of people joined peace rallies yesterday in Madrid and in the Basque city of Bilbao, two weeks after a deadly attack by the armed separatist group ETA.

Both demonstrations were organized to protest the ETA bombing at a parking lot at Madrid’s airport on Dec. 30 that killed two Ecuadorean men.

The silent march in Bilbao began around 5 p.m. and police estimated the crowd at some 80,000.

The bombing was the first deadly ETA attack since May 2003 and broke their nine-month unilateral cease-fire. Although ETA, which claimed responsibility, has maintained its cease-fire still holds; this is rejected by the government.

TURKEY

Pleasing the EU becomes low priority

ISTANBUL — Turkey’s chief negotiator with the EU said yesterday that the bloc’s demands for reforms were “no longer of much importance” following the partial freeze of accession talks in December.

“What will be the EU demands for us in 2007? After the decision taken in December 2006, the EU’s demands … are no longer of much importance,” Turkish press agency Anatolia cited Ali Babacan as saying.

“From now on, it is us who will fix the calendar,” he said.

In December, the EU froze accession talks with Turkey in eight of the 35 policy areas that candidates must complete in response to its refusal to grant trade privileges to Cyprus under a customs union pact.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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