- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 12, 2008

GERMANY

Rwanda expels envoy over arrest

FRANKFURT | Rwanda expelled the German ambassador Tuesday and its president declared that Germany violated his country’s sovereignty when it arrested one of his aides in connection with an attack that set off Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.

In response, Germany asked the Rwandan ambassador to leave Berlin.

Rose Kabuye, chief of protocol for Rwandan President Paul Kagame, was arrested Sunday at Frankfurt International Airport on a warrant from France, where she is wanted in connection with the fatal April 1994 attack on the plane of former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana.

French authorities, who are investigating the attack because Mr. Habyarimana’s two pilots were French, suspect that Ms. Kabuye housed the Tutsi commando unit blamed for shooting down the plane. Ms. Kabuye’s attorney said she denies involvement.

Hutu extremists accuse Tutsi fighters - then led by Mr. Kagame - of shooting down the plane and killing Mr. Habyarimana, a Hutu. Others believe, however, that Rwanda’s hard-line Hutus may have shot down the plane in hopes of creating a pretext for mass violence against Tutsis.

Mr. Kagame visited Ms. Kabuye at the Preungsheim women’s prison Tuesday. It remained unclear whether Ms. Kabuye had diplomatic immunity, even though Mr. Kagame insisted she was in Frankfurt on government business.

BURMA

Junta gives dissidents 65-year sentences

RANGOON | Burma’s military junta sentenced at least 11 dissidents involved in monk-led protests last year to 65 years in jail on Tuesday, opposition figures said, a major blow to the pro-democracy movement before a 2010 election.

The National League for Democracy and exiled dissidents in Thailand said the group, all of whom played a role in another brutally suppressed uprising in 1988, were sentenced at a closed-door hearing in Rangoon’s notorious Insein prison.

The group included Ko Jimmy and his wife, Nilar Thein, who had to abandon her 4-month-old daughter when she went into hiding during the August 2007 crackdown over fuel price protests. Nilar Thein was arrested in September after more than a year on the run.

The United Nations says at least 31 people were killed when Burma’s military rulers sent in troops to end the mass demonstrations led by columns of Buddhist monks, the biggest challenge to military rule in 20 years.

RUSSIA

Cuban president to visit next year

MOSCOW | Cuban President Raul Castro will visit Russia next year, the Kremlin said Tuesday, in a new sign that Moscow is reviving a Cold War-era trade and military alliance.

Moscow also repeated calls for Washington to lift the economic embargo imposed on the Caribbean island in 1962 when Mr. Castro’s brother, Communist revolutionary Fidel Castro, was in power.

“Next year we await … Raul Castro in our country and this will be yet another contribution to the development of ties,” Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque.

Russia has been trying to restore its Cold War-era alliance with Cuba by expanding trade and military ties.

AUSTRALIA

5 men accused of terror plot

SYDNEY | Five Muslim men accused of plotting a terrorist attack in Australia stockpiled bomb-making instructions and purchased explosive chemicals as part of their plan, a prosecutor told a court Tuesday.

Prosecutor Richard Maidment said the suspects saw Australia’s military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq as an act of aggression against Muslims. The men, who prosecutors have said were devotees of a radical cleric sympathetic to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, have pleaded not guilty.

Mr. Maidment told the 15-member jury as the trial opened Tuesday in New South Wales state Supreme Court that the men planned to use explosive devices or firearms to commit “extreme violence” in a bid to force Australia’s government to change its policy on Middle East conflicts.

The suspects have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

URUGUAY

Abortion vote faces veto

MONTEVIDEO | Uruguay’s Senate voted Tuesday to depenalize abortion during the first trimester - a rare step in a Latin American nation. President Tabare Vasquez has said he will veto the measure.

Sen. Monica Javier of the governing Socialist Party said 17 of the 30 senators present voted for the bill, which earlier passed the lower house of Congress on a 49-48 vote.

The country’s Roman Catholic Church has crusaded against the measure, which would make Uruguay only the second country in South America, along with English-speaking Guyana, to allow abortion without restriction in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Socialist President Vasquez, himself a physician, said last year that he doesn’t agree with legalized abortion and would veto any bill to remove penalties. Abortion is now banned altogether in Uruguay.

CHINA

Protesters smash unlicensed taxis

BEIJING | Taxi drivers protesting high costs and competition from unlicensed cabs took to China’s streets for the second day Tuesday as police detained 21 people for smashing cabs during the latest taxi strike to hit the country, a local official said.

The strike in Sanya, a tourist city in the island province of Hainan, was taking place just days after similar action by 9,000 drivers in Chongqing, in China’s southwest. During the earlier two-day strike, disgruntled taxi drivers smashed more than 100 cabs and three police vehicles, according to state media.

MALDIVES

Former dissident turns president

MALE | A former political prisoner and democracy crusader who defeated Asia’s longest-serving ruler in the first multiparty election in the Maldives was sworn in as president of the Indian Ocean archipelago Tuesday.

Mohamed Nasheed, 41, took the reins from Maumoon Abdul Gayoom - a man who jailed him repeatedly on what rights groups say were trumped-up charges - after a brief ceremony.

Mr. Gayoom, 71, did not attend. Mr. Nasheed, who was just 11 when Mr. Gayoom took power in 1978, defeated his former adversary in a runoff poll on Oct. 28 with 54.2 percent of the votes.

NEPAL

‘Buddha boy’ back from jungle

KATMANDU | A teenage boy who many believe is the reincarnation of Buddha has re-emerged from the jungle in southern Nepal, attracting thousands of devotees, officials said Tuesday.

After retreating into the jungle for more than a year, Ram Bahadur Bamjan, 18, re-emerged Monday near Nijgadh town, about 100 miles south of the capital, Katmandu.

Upon hearing the news, thousands of Mr. Bamjan’s followers, some from as far away as India, traveled to the site Tuesday to see him, police said. People have worshipped the teenager since he was first seen in 2005 meditating in the jungle, where he sat for months, motionless with his eyes closed among the roots of a tree.

ISRAEL

Secular candidate is Jerusalem mayor

JERUSALEM | Secular candidate Nir Barkat on Tuesday won a mayoral election that turned Jerusalem into a political battleground between secular and ultra-Orthodox Jews.

A Channel 1 television poll showed Mr. Barkat had received 50 percent of the vote compared to 42 percent for ultra-Orthodox rabbi Meir Porush.

Palestinians and the international community do not recognize Israeli rule over occupied Arab East Jerusalem and its claim to all of the city as its capital. Turnout in those areas was very low, reports said.

Mr. Barkat, 49, a centrist city councilor and high-tech entrepreneur, campaigned on a secular ticket but broadened his appeal to a middle constituency of moderate religious voters.

Secular voters make up some 43 percent of the vote and the middle constituency about 30 percent. Ultra-Orthodox voters were estimated at 27 percent of the electorate.

The Jerusalem vote was among the most significant of some 160 local elections held across Israel on Tuesday ahead of a national parliamentary election on Feb. 10.

IRAN

American student freed on bail

TEHRAN | An Iranian-American female student held on security-related charges in Tehran has been freed on bail after almost four weeks in detention, a relative said Tuesday.

The relative, who declined to be named, said Esha Momeni was released Monday. She was detained while visiting Iran from the United States to see family and to research the women’s movement.

The Web site of a campaign lobbying for an end to what activists see as discrimination of women in the Islamic Republic said Ms. Momeni had been kept in solitary confinement since Oct. 15. The site, www.forequality.info, said a deed to her family’s home was posted as bail.

The judiciary last week said Ms. Momeni was accused of acting against national security, a common charge against dissenting voices in Iran.

Women’s rights activists say Ms. Momeni had interviewed campaigners for a film as part of her studies in California when she was detained and transferred to Tehran’s Evin prison.

Activists launched the campaign in 2006 to collect 1 million signatures in support of demands to change laws that they say deny women in Iran equal rights in matters such as divorce and child custody.

EGYPT

4,300-year-old pyramid discovered

SAQQARA | Egypt’s chief archaeologist has announced the discovery of a 4,300-year-old pyramid in Saqqara, the sprawling necropolis and burial site of the rulers of ancient Memphis.

The pyramid is said to belong to Queen Sesheshet, the mother of King Teti who was the founder of the 6th Dynasty of Egypt’s Old Kingdom.

Egypt’s antiquities chief Zahi Hawass made the announcement Tuesday at the site in Saqqara, about 12 miles south of Cairo.

Mr. Hawass’ team has been excavating the site for two years. He said the discovery was only made two months ago when it became clear that the 16-foot-tall structure uncovered from the sand was a pyramid.

EGYPT

Bedouin seize police near Israeli border

RAFAH | Armed Bedouin attacked a security checkpoint Tuesday in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and seized 11 policemen in a restive area near the border with Israel, an Egyptian security official said.

The tribesmen were angered by a police shooting a day earlier that killed a suspected Bedouin smuggler in the area. Smugglers use the border area to send weapons, drugs and other items into the Gaza Strip, often through underground tunnels. Traffickers also ferry African migrants seeking to enter Israel.

Tribesman Moussa Abu Freh said Bedouin had taken over several other checkpoints near the Egyptian-Israel border.

GAZA STRIP

Israel unblocks fuel supply

JERUSALEM | Israel on Tuesday reopened the terminal that handles all fuel supplies to Gaza to allow delivery of diesel to the Palestinian territory’s sole power plant one day after it shuddered to a halt.

A U.N. agency, meanwhile, warned it will have to suspend food distribution on which a majority of Gaza’s 1.5 million population depends unless Israel also allows in vital foodstuffs.

The Nahal Oz terminal used for oil deliveries “opened at 8:30 a.m. for the transfer of the diesel for the power station,” said military spokesman Peter Lerner.

An official of the Palestinian energy authority in Gaza confirmed that Israel resumed the fuel shipments and said the power plant should restart later in the day.

SAUDI ARABIA

Royals’ doctor faces 1,500 lashes

CAIRO | Demonstrators in Cairo demanded Tuesday that Saudi Arabia release an Egyptian doctor sentenced to 15 years in prison and 1,500 lashes after he was convicted of malpractice - reportedly after treating a Saudi princess.

His wife said she feared the punishment would kill him.

Dr. Raouf Amin el-Arabi, 53, who has been serving the Saudi royal family for about 20 years, was convicted last year of giving a patient the wrong medication. Egyptian newspapers reported that he was accused of driving a Saudi princess “to addiction.”

He initially was sentenced to seven years in prison and 700 lashes, but when he appealed two months ago, the judge not only upheld the conviction, but more than doubled the penalty to 15 years in prison and 1,500 lashes.

Family members, friends and colleagues gathered at the headquarters of Egypt’s doctors’ union in downtown Cairo and urged Saudi King Abdullah II to pardon Dr. el-Arabi.

The case has drawn nationwide criticism in Egypt and local human rights groups have demanded that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who maintains close ties with the Saudi royal family, intervene to free Dr. el-Arabi.

SYRIA

U.N. aid supply for refugees barred

DAMASCUS | Syria prevented a World Food Program ship carrying rice for Iraqi refugees from unloading at the country’s main port Tuesday because, the government said, its cargo failed tests.

The order to stop the 8,000-ton vessel Genesis at Latakia comes at a time of heightened tension between Syria and Iraq in the wake of a U.S. raid on Syria from Iraqi territory that killed at least eight people.

Iraqi refugees - reliant on food aid distributed jointly by the WFP, a U.N. division, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees - said they have stopped receiving rice, the main part of their rations.

Around 194,000 Iraqi refugees in Syria get food aid. A U.N. official in the Syrian capital confirmed that distribution of rice had stopped, but declined to say why.

A Syrian official in Latakia said the decision to stop the vessel was purely technical.

“The percentage of cracked rice in the cargo was higher than allowable under Syrian standards. The ship was ordered not to unload,” he said.

ISRAEL

Blair guard triggers scare in airport

JERUSALEM | A bodyguard for former British Prime Minister Tony Blair triggered a security scare at Israel’s Ben Gurion airport Tuesday when he accidentally fired a shot, police said.

Airport authorities said the incident occurred as Mr. Blair was about to board a plane at the international airport near Tel Aviv with the British guard.

As representative of the Middle East diplomatic Quartet, made up of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States, Mr. Blair is a frequent visitor to Israel.

Staff and wire reports

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