- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 16, 2008

CONGO

Plane crashes in crowded area

GOMA — A plane crashed yesterday into a crowded neighborhood in eastern Congo, and at least 79 people were thought to have died, government officials said. There were six known survivors.

It was not immediately clear how many people may have been killed on the ground in the Central African nation when the DC-9 plane faltered shortly after takeoff, said Julien Mpaluku, the governor of the region.

Employees at the Goma headquarters of World Vision, the U.S.-based charity, said they saw the plane plow through houses and shops in the highly populated market area.

UZBEKISTAN

Court sentences dissident poet

TASHKENT — An Uzbek court yesterday sentenced a dissident poet to five years in internal exile for insulting the authorities, an Uzbek rights activist said.

Yusuf Juma, who criticized President Islam Karimov in his poems, was arrested in December when security forces stormed his house in the ancient Silk Road town of Bukhara.

Surat Ikramov, a prominent rights defender who attended the court, told Reuters news agency the 50-year-old poet was sentenced to five years of domestic exile but said the decision was milder than expected.

EGYPT

Court convicts Muslim brothers

CAIRO — An Egyptian military court yesterday convicted 25 key members of Egypt’s largest opposition group and sentenced them to up to 10 years in jail, a security official said.

The charges against the Muslim Brotherhood members included money laundering and terrorism, but it was not immediately clear whether the 25 were found guilty of both offenses, according to the official.

The official, who attended the trial at the military court north of Cairo but spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to the news media, also said that 15 other defendants were acquitted.

RUSSIA

Putin accepts party leader post

MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin accepted the leadership of the dominant United Russia party yesterday, securing his grip on power after he leaves the Kremlin and becomes prime minister next month.

He was quickly approved as leader in a unanimous vote during a congress of the United Russia party, which mixed promises of a bright Russian future with traditions from the Soviet past.

Mr. Putin will hand the presidency to Dmitry Medvedev next month.

GENEVA

Angry Muslims seek Wilders’ prosecution

GENEVA — Islamic countries used a meeting of the U.N.’s top human rights body yesterday to demand the prosecution of a Dutch lawmaker whose anti-Koran movie has sparked Muslim protests.

Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and other members of the U.N. Human Rights Council said the Netherlands should adopt laws against religious defamation.

The anti-Koran film by right-wing legislator Geert Wilders triggered street protests in Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia, and calls in other countries to boycott Dutch goods, when it was posted on a Web site last month.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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