- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Court restores Sharif government

ISLAMABAD | Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Tuesday restored the provincial government of a main opposition leader in the country’s most powerful province, easing political turmoil.

The decision by a five-member bench returns Shahbaz Sharif to his post as chief minister of Punjab, but it does not end court reviews of a case questioning the eligibility of Mr. Sharif and his brother, Nawaz Sharif, for office, meaning it technically is temporary relief.

In late February, a three-member bench disqualified the Sharif brothers from holding elected office on grounds related to past convictions dating to the rule of ex-military leader Pervez Musharraf. Nawaz Sharif is a former prime minister who was ousted by Mr. Musharraf in a coup and is now the country’s main opposition leader.


Hit man pleads guilty to 27 killings

Gerald Gallant, who had become a police informant while already serving a life sentence for a 2001 slaying, also pleaded guilty to 12 charges of attempted murder and a handful of other charges.

The killings from 1978 to 2003 targeted members of motorcycle gangs, mobsters and people in street gangs. Biker gangs have long been a problem in the French-speaking province of Quebec, and most of the murders happened from 1994 to 2002 as the Hells Angels and Rock Machine gangs battled over drug sales.

Gallant, 58, apologized Tuesday as he read a prepared statement in front of survivors and relatives of victims in a Quebec City courtroom.


Hundreds of migrants feared drowned

TRIPOLI | Hundreds were feared dead Tuesday in the chilly waters of the Mediterranean Sea, days after an overcrowded wooden fishing boat packed with migrants seeking a better life in Europe capsized in stormy waters off the coast of Libya.

A few survivors - those who could swim - were rescued, but authorities pulled 21 bodies from the waters and at least 200 more were still missing after the boat capsized Friday. It is thought to be the deadliest migrant ship accident between North Africa and Europe in recent memory, an international migration official said.

The capsized boat, which a Libyan police official said had a capacity of just 50, had about 250 people on board.


Pope orders probe of conservative group

VATICAN CITY | Pope Benedict XVI has taken the extraordinary step of ordering an investigation into a conservative Roman Catholic order that recently disclosed that its late founder had fathered a child.

The Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said investigators would visit all of the institutions run by the Legionaries of Christ, one of the fastest-growing orders in the Roman Catholic Church.

The Legionaries of Christ was much admired by the late Pope John Paul II for its conservative view, strict loyalty to Vatican teaching and success in enrolling recruits. However, its Mexican founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel, was long dogged by allegations he sexually abused seminarians.

In 2006, a year into Benedict’s pontificate, the Vatican disciplined him on the sexual-abuse charges, asking that he refrain from celebrating Mass in public. Father Maciel died in 2008 at age 87.


Nine arrested for tainted pork

GUANGZHOU | Police have arrested nine people and revoked the license of a livestock market owner in a case involving pork tainted with a chemical that made 70 people sick in southern China’s biggest city, an official said Tuesday.

The incident in Guangzhou has raised new fears about the safety of China’s food industry, which in the past year has been rocked by scandals involving milk powder and other items laced with harmful additives.

Officials began investigating the pork case about two months ago when 70 people became ill after eating pig organs in Guangzhou. Investigators determined the pork was tainted with clenbuterol and ractopamine, banned chemicals used to make animals develop more muscle and less fat.


Caterpillar workers detain bosses

GRENOBLE | Angry French workers facing layoffs at a Caterpillar factory held four of their bosses Tuesday at the U.S. manufacturer’s plant in the Alps to protest job cuts, a regional official and police said.

It is the third time in the past few weeks that French workers have seized their bosses to protest job losses stemming from the global economic crisis.

Last week, workers at a 3M plant south of Paris held the company boss for two days, and earlier this month workers at a Sony plant held a similar protest.

Elsewhere, the mayor of the small town of Pont-Saint-Esprit in southern France was prevented from leaving City Hall by townspeople angry over municipal management amid the economic downturn.


Gold mine collapses, killing at least 20

DAR ES SALAAM | At least 20 people were killed in northwest Tanzania when the walls of a small gold mine collapsed, burying workers inside, local media said on Tuesday.

Reports said the accident happened on Sunday in Geita, Mwanza region, when the 328-foot-deep pit they were working in was flooded by a heavy seasonal downpour. Some local media said more than 30 people might have been killed.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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