- The Washington Times - Monday, July 28, 2008


Deadly storms wreak disaster

KIEV | Severe storms and floods killed 13 people in Ukraine and five people in neighboring Romania, officials said Sunday.

Five days of heavy rainfall in the Carpathian Mountains caused flooding, mostly in areas near the Prut and Dniestr rivers, damaging more than 21,000 houses, Ukraine’s Emergency Ministry said in a statement. At least two people were missing, it said.

Ukraine’s government has evacuated more than 8,000 people, officials said, and more than 300 towns and villages have been left without electricity. The government said damages are estimated at more than $300 million.

President Viktor Yushchenko declared the region a national disaster area. He had to leave festivities marking the 1,020th anniversary of the country’s adoption of Christianity in the capital, Kiev, and flew to the heaviest-hit Ivano-Frankivsk region.

“Ukraine has not seen anything like this in 100 years,” First Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Turchynov said in televised remarks.

The storms will continue for at least another 24 hours, and the water level is expected to rise, the meteorological service said.

Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who had already been touring the region, called for a parliamentary session to allocate disaster relief funds.

In northern Romania, five people died in flooding and heavy rain in areas bordering Ukraine, and power outages affected about 20,000 people, officials said.


Stolen bike returned to opposition leader

LONDON | British opposition leader David Cameron has been reunited with his stolen bicycle thanks to a tabloid newspaper and a supporter of the rival Labor Party, the paper reported Sunday.

The Conservative Party leader, often photographed riding his bike to work at the House of Commons, realized that it was stolen after he left it outside a supermarket near his West London home Wednesday evening.

The Sunday Mirror said it located the bicycle — dumped in a nearby street — with the help of resident Ernest Theophile, 60, who enlisted neighborhood youths to trace it.

Mr. Theophile was identified by the paper as a staunch supporter of Britain’s left-leaning Labor Party.

“You never want to see anyone have their bike [stolen] — not even a Tory,” he was quoted as saying.

A call to the Conservative Party seeking comment was not returned.

Mr. Cameron, 41, is riding high in opinion polls, including one published Saturday giving his party a 22-percentage-point lead over the Labor Party, which is led by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.


Parliament takes up charges of torture

LONDON | A committee of British lawmakers demanded an investigation Sunday into whether a senior army general and a top defense official lied to them about the British military’s use of banned interrogation techniques in Iraq.

Members of Parliament were told by Minister of State for the Armed Forces Adam Ingram in 2004 and by Lt. Gen. Robin Brims in 2006 that detainees in Iraq were not subject to hooding or put in stress positions, according to a report published Sunday by parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights.

“Whilst they were saying this, in practice, on the ground, that wasn’t what was happening in Iraq,” committee Chairman Andrew Dismore told the British Broadcasting Corp. in an interview broadcast Sunday.

In its report, the committee demanded a “detailed explanation of the discrepancies.”

Mr. Dismore’s committee had five lawmakers from Britain’s ruling Labor Party, including Mr. Dismore, six from the opposition Conservatives and one unaligned.

The use of techniques such as hooding and stress positioning was exposed by a legal case involving the abuse and torture of hotel receptionist Baha Mousa and nine other Iraqi civilians about five years ago in the Iraqi city of Basra.

Mr. Mousa’s postmortem showed that he suffered 93 injuries and died of asphyxia caused by a stress position that British soldiers forced him to maintain. The committee’s report said soldiers from the 1 Queen’s Lancashire Regiment had sought and received permission from their brigade headquarters for the use of the interrogation stress position technique.


Court jails 7 militant suspects

MADRID | Spain’s National Court on Sunday jailed seven people on charges of belonging to a militant cell of the Basque separatist group ETA.

The cell is thought to be responsible for a string of recent bombings, and investigators suspect its members were planning more attacks.

The seven will be held in provisional preventive custody pending a full trial, counterterrorism Judge Baltasar Garzon said in a statement. A date for the trial was not given.

All seven were detained Tuesday in police raids in the Basque towns of Getxo and Elorrio. Among those jailed was the suspected leader of the cell, Arkaitz Goikoetxea.

Judge Garzon said the cell was suspected of having perpetrated many attacks, including the May car bombing of a police barracks in Legutiano, northern Spain, in which one officer died.

After the detentions, Mr. Goikoetxea led officers to two caches of explosives and other terrorism-related material, including tranquilizers to sedate kidnap victims, the judge said in the statement.

Mr. Goikoetxea acknowledged during questioning taking orders directly from ETA’s top military strategist, Garikoitz Azpiazu, Judge Garzon said. Azpiazu’s whereabouts is unknown.

The cell had planned to establish a permanent ETA base in Portugal, the statement said. There was evidence that it was planning a chain of attacks in August, during Spain’s peak tourist period, in the southern, Mediterranean province of Andalucia, Judge Garzon said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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