- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 19, 2008

CONGO

International court to try warlord

AMSTERDAM | The International Criminal Court cleared the way Tuesday to begin its first trial in January, in the case of a purported Congolese warlord charged with recruiting child soldiers and sending them into battle.

The court in The Hague lifted its suspension of the case against Thomas Lubanga after the prosecution submitted to demands to hand over confidential evidence to the judges that it had received from the United Nations.

The case is a landmark on several scores: Mr. Lubanga is the first defendant brought before the court since it was created in 2002 as the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal, and it is the first trial to deal exclusively with the use of child soldiers.

The judges were on the verge of throwing out the case last July and had ordered Mr. Lubanga’s release, arguing he could not get a fair trial because some of the material being withheld by the prosecution could help Mr. Lubanga’s defense.

SPAIN

Judge drops Civil War probe

MADRID | A Spanish judge on Tuesday dropped an investigation into thousands of disappearances during Spain’s Civil War which had come under attack from other legal officials.

In a ruling, High Court Judge Baltasar Garzon cited opposition to the probe he launched in October by the state prosecution agency. The opposition said it violated an amnesty law passed in 1977 for participants in the 1936-39 conflict.

But Judge Garzon said he was passing responsibility for exhuming mass graves holding victims, mostly shot by the forces of former dictator Francisco Franco, to regional courts.

Judge Garzon’s probe had aimed to establish the facts behind roughly 100,000 disappearances but would not have led to prosecutions.

AFGHANISTAN

NATO troops fire into Pakistan

KABUL, Afghanistan | NATO troops in eastern Afghanistan fired 20 artillery rounds at insurgents inside Pakistan in an attack the alliance said was coordinated with the government in Islamabad.

The military alliance said it fired the rounds Sunday after insurgents attacked its troops in Afghanistan’s eastern Paktika province with rockets from across the border.

Meanwhile, clashes in both nations killed at least 25 people, officials said Tuesday, including seven left dead after Taliban militants elsewhere in Pakistan’s northwest attacked pro-government tribal elders.

CANADA

Oldest polar bear euthanized by zoo

WINNIPEG, Manitoba | The world’s oldest polar bear has died at a Canadian zoo.

Zoo coordinator Gordon Glover at Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park Zoo said Tuesday that the bear, named Debby, was euthanized Monday after suffering from several strokes and organ failure.

The 42-year-old polar bear was born in the Russian Arctic in 1966. She came to Winnipeg’s zoo as an orphan a year later.

Debby entered the Guinness World Records as the oldest living polar bear earlier this year at age 41. She produced six surviving offspring with her mate Skipper, who passed away in 1999 at age 34.

Few polar bears reach 20 years of age in the wild, but many have survived into their early 30s in captivity.

ZIMBABWE

Police block striking doctors

HARARE | Riot police prevented striking doctors and nurses Tuesday from protesting against Zimbabwe’s collapsing health care system, which lacks even basic drugs amid a rapid spread of cholera in the country.

Eyewitnesses said police broke up a protest at a hospital in the capital, Harare. The health workers regrouped later but were prevented by riot police from leaving the hospital.

Meanwhile, the official Herald newspaper reported that cholera had killed 36 people since Friday in the town of Beitbridge on the South African border. It said that 431 people had been diagnosed with the highly infectious disease.

BOLIVIA

Farmer finds dinosaur footprints

ICLA | Bolivian farmer Primo Rivera had wondered for two decades about the dents in a rocky hill near his home. Paleontologists solved the mystery this month: they are fossilized dinosaur footprints - the oldest in Bolivia.

The fossilized footsteps found in the southern province of Chuquisaca are thought to be about 140 million years old, much older than other dinosaur prints found in the Andean country.

CHINA

Beijing denies theft of rocket technology

BEIJING | China on Tuesday dismissed suggestions that it is seeking to illegally obtain U.S. space technology after a scientist in the United States was convicted of violating the U.S. arms embargo on China.

The scientist, Quan-Sheng Shu, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Shanghai, pleaded guilty Monday in a district court in Norfolk to selling rocket technology to China and bribing Chinese officials to secure a lucrative contract for his high-tech company.

Prosecutors said Shu, an expert in cryogenics, sold technology to China for the development of hydrogen-propelled rockets. Shu’s attorney said the case had nothing to do with espionage or treason.

The Chinese government is developing a space launch facility in the southern island province of Hainan that will house liquid-propelled launch vehicles designed to send space stations and satellites into orbit. The project is overseen by an arm of the People’s Liberation Army.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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