- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 15, 2009


2-year-old boy freed from jail

HARARE | A 2-year-old boy was released from jail after being held for weeks with his parents in what the Zimbabwean opposition calls a crackdown on dissent, a lawyer said Wednesday.

Nigel Mutemagau was released to relatives Tuesday after the judge said there was no reason to hold him, defense attorney Charles Kwaramba said.

The boy’s parents, opposition party members Collen Mutemagau and Violet Mupfuranhehwe, are accused of plotting to overthrow President Robert Mugabe.

At a court hearing Wednesday, at which Mr. Mutemagau and Mrs. Mupfuranhehwe appeared without Nigel in their arms for the first time since they were detained, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausika ordered that all the defendants be taken to a hospital for medical examinations to investigate charges they were tortured.

Attorney General Prince Machaya promised the order would be followed. Similar orders from lower court judges have been ignored. It was not clear when the couple would be taken to a hospital.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change said Wednesday the charges against the boy’s parents and six other defendants were “trumped up.” The party said those detained - including Nigel - were abused by security agents.


Chinese to visit after Taiwan snub

BLANTYRE | China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi was to visit Malawi on Thursday, the first trip by a high-ranking Chinese official since the African nation switched its ties from Taipei to Beijing last year, China’s ambassador Lin Songtian said.

The poor southern African country last year switched its diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China, in a controversial move that angered Taiwan and led to the termination of various cooperation agreements with Blantyre.


217 abuse claims against U.N. forces

GENEVA | A United Nations probe collected 217 allegations of abuse of girls and women by peacekeepers in eastern Congo, from sex with teenagers in the back room of a liquor store to threats of “hacking” victims for cooperating with investigators.

The 2006 investigation found many allegations credible and said evidence suggests “frequent and ongoing” sexual exploitation in the region. But it could only establish proof against one of 75 peacekeepers accused of wrongdoing.

Details of reported incidents dating back to 2004 are summarized in a “strictly confidential” 17-page document. It is dated Jan. 30, 2007, and was published Wednesday by the whistleblower Web site Wikileaks.org. The report previously has been referred to by human rights organizations and the U.N. itself, but not made public. U.N. officials confirmed its authenticity.

The U.N. mission in Congo has 22,000 soldiers and police from dozens of countries. It began in 1999 during a civil war that brought in neighboring countries seeking to exploit Congo’s mineral wealth.


Government planes bomb Darfur rebels

KHARTOUM | Sudanese warplanes bombed Darfur rebels hunkered down in the war-torn region as President Omar Bashir on Wednesday compared the six-year conflict to wars in Iraq, Gaza and Afghanistan.

Antonov bombers struck the rebel Justice and Equality Movement near Muhajariya, a village in southern Darfur that is a stronghold of a rival group that signed a peace deal with Lt. Col. Bashir’s government, the army and rebels said.

Officials from the U.N.-led peacekeeping mission in Darfur confirmed a bombing less than a mile southeast of Muhajariya on Tuesday and another against a village elsewhere in the south that wounded two people Saturday.

Sudan’s head of state, who is accused of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, delivered a defiant speech comparing the increasingly complicated conflict in Darfur with wars across the Muslim world.

“There is one battle — in Darfur, in Iraq, in Gaza, in Somalia, in Afghanistan — against the Jews, and we are fighting one enemy,” he told a village celebration about 28 miles north of Khartoum.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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