- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Lawyer named interior minister

MEXICO CITY | Mexican President Felipe Calderon named a little-known lawyer Monday to be his new interior minister after the previous holder of the job died in a plane crash last week.

The new minister, Fernando Francisco Gomez Mont, is a former federal lawmaker for Mr. Calderon’s conservative party who the president said would push forward justice and security reforms.

Mexico’s interior minister is in charge of domestic security but also works with the country’s political parties to push the government’s agenda in Congress.

Mr. Calderon, speaking in a televised address, also said he had given his new minister specific instructions to work to keep organized crime out of elections.

Mexico will hold midterm elections to Congress next year. Mr. Calderon last year warned that powerful drug gangs were trying to intimidate and buy candidates.


Prisoner transfer said readied for U.S. trial

President-elect Barack Obama’s advisers are quietly crafting a proposal to ship dozens, if not hundreds, of imprisoned terrorism suspects to the United States to face criminal trials, a plan that would make good on his promise to close the Guantanamo Bay prison but could require creation of a controversial new system of justice.

During his campaign, Mr. Obama described Guantanamo as a “sad chapter in American history” and has said generally that the U.S. legal system is equipped to handle the detainees. But he has offered few details on what he planned to do once the facility is closed.

Under plans being put together in Mr. Obama’s camp, some detainees would be released and many others would be prosecuted in U.S. criminal courts.

A third group of detainees - the ones whose cases are most entangled in highly classified information - might have to go before a new court designed especially to handle sensitive national security cases, according to advisers and Democrats involved in the talks. Advisers participating directly in the planning spoke on the condition of anonymity because the plans aren’t final.

The move would be a sharp deviation from the Bush administration, which established military tribunals to prosecute detainees at the Navy base in Cuba and strongly opposes bringing prisoners to the U.S.

According to three advisers participating in the process, Mr. Obama is expected to propose a new court system, appointing a committee to decide how such a court would operate.


Sandinistas see gains in municipal elections

MANAGUA | Nicaragua’s ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front took an early lead in municipal elections marked by violence and allegations of fraud, early returns showed Monday.

In Managua, with more than 7 percent of the vote counted, Sandinista candidate Alexis Arguello led Eduardo Montealegre of the main opposition Liberal Constitutional Party 55.2 percent to 41.6 percent, according to returns issued by the Supreme Electoral Council.

Voting took place Sunday in 146 of 153 municipalities. But the election was postponed in the seven remaining municipalities until January because of storm damage from last year’s Hurricane Felix.

Police arrested 33 people in unrest outside polling places in parts of the capital. In Leon, about 55 miles northwest of Managua, two people were wounded when police dispersed crowds with tear gas, police spokeswoman Vilma Reyes said.

The civic group Ethics and Transparency said it had recorded irregularities in 32 percent of the polling places it monitored. The group was among many would-be election observers the government had refused to accredit.

The electoral campaign, which finished Wednesday, was marred by violence between followers of the government and the Liberal Constitutional Party. Three smaller parties also took part in the vote.

The government of President Daniel Ortega, a former Marxist guerrilla, came under fire for barring two opposition parties from fielding mayoral candidates and for police raids against nongovernmental organizations.

Mr. Ortega led Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990 after Sandinista guerrillas overthrew the Anastasio Somoza dictatorship. He was re-elected in 2006.


Tragedy strikes farm workers

GUATEMALA CITY | Sixteen people died Sunday when a bus carrying agricultural workers burst into flames for unknown reasons, rescue workers and forensics experts said.

The incident occurred 87 miles east of the capital, an official with the fire department in the nearest town of La Fragua said.

The burnt bodies of victims were still in their seats, so disfigured that their identity and even their gender was impossible to determine, spokesman Gerardo Lorenti said.

Authorities are not ruling out the hypothesis that the fire was set intentionally, as gasoline was found on and around the bus, the Prensa Libre newspaper reported on its Web site.


Lawsuit against Yale sought over artifacts

LIMA | Peru has reportedly approved a plan to sue Yale University for thousands of Inca artifacts excavated decades ago by a U.S. scholar at Machu Picchu.

State newspaper El Peruano said Sunday the Justice Ministry will assign a prosecutor to press the government’s case against the New Haven, Conn., university.

Thomas Conroy, a Yale spokesman, said the university was aware of the news report.

“It is, of course, disappointing, since we had a positive informal meeting with the foreign minister, and have expected to have further discussions,” he said.

Peru demanded the collection back in 2006, saying it had never relinquished ownership when Hiram Bingham III, a Yale scholar, rediscovered Machu Picchu in 1911 and sent thousands of ceramics, textiles and bones to the university. Peru officials have threatened to sue in the past, but never did.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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