- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 3, 2009

CONGO

Ex-vice president to stay in jail

THE HAGUE | An International Criminal Court appeals judge on Wednesday reversed a decision to release the former vice president of Congo from custody, ordering him to stay in jail until he is tried for allegedly commanding a brutal militia.

The court in August ordered Jean-Pierre Bemba freed, saying he would otherwise spend too much time in custody after his arrest in May 2008.

But appeals judge Akua Kuenyehia ruled Wednesday there was a risk Mr. Bemba would flee if released.

Mr. Bemba did not react to the decision and said nothing at the brief hearing, but one of his lawyers told reporters they would continue to fight for his release.

Mr. Bemba faces five counts of murder, rape and pillage for allegedly commanding a militia responsible for atrocities in the Central African Republic.

SOMALIA

Hijacked tanker reaches pirate cove

NAIROBI | A Greek shipping company says an oil supertanker Somali pirates hijacked four days ago has reached the coast of Somalia.

Maran Tankers Management Inc. said in a statement Wednesday that the tanker is near the Somali coastal town of Hobyo, a haven for pirates. The company said the ship’s crew of 28 are well.

The Maran Centaurus was hijacked Sunday about 800 miles off the coast of Somalia. The tanker is carrying around 275,000 metric tons of crude oil.

Somali pirates have increased attacks on vessels off East Africa for the millions of dollars of ransom that can be had. But Somalia does not have a coast guard or navy to stop them because it has not had an effective central government for 18 years.

LIBYA

Swiss jailing linked to Gadhafi son

TRIPOLI | Two Swiss businessmen sentenced to 16 months in jail and a fine for violating residency and labor laws will now face trial for illegal economic activities later this month, a Libyan official said Wednesday.

The Foreign Ministry official said the two face charges of conducting commercial activities in Libya without a license. The trial is scheduled for Dec. 15, he said, on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case with the media.

The businessmen, identified as Max Goeldi and Rachid Hamdani, were detained in July 2008 on alleged visa violations - days after Swiss police arrested Hannibal Gadhafi, the son of Libya’s leader, and his wife for allegedly beating up their servants in a Geneva hotel.

MAURITANIA

Spanish hostages moved across border

NOUAKCHOTT | Three Spanish aid workers kidnapped in the West African desert nation of Mauritania are being taken by their captors to neighboring Mali, a Mauritanian official said Wednesday.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media on the subject, said the hostages were headed to a camp run by al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb.

While there have been no official claims of responsibility for Sunday’s abductions, Spanish officials have said they fear the hostages were taken by al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb. The group operates mainly in Algeria but is suspected of crossing the country’s porous desert borders to spread violence in the rest of northwestern Africa.

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