- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 7, 2009


Activist freed after protests

HARARE | A human rights activist and 14 others were ordered freed on bail Wednesday after Zimbabwe’s president and prime minister forced a judge to reverse her decision to send them back to the prison where they said they had been tortured.

Harare Magistrate Catherine Chimanda ignited international outrage Tuesday by revoking bail for human rights advocate Jestina Mukoko and 17 others, saying prosecutors had formally charged them in a terrorism case.

The terror charges they face have been widely denounced as baseless, but Magistrate Chimanda decreed the trial should begin July 4.

As criticism flooded in from rights groups and other governments, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai raised the issue Tuesday in meetings with President Robert Mugabe and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.

At a hastily called court hearing Wednesday, Magistrate Chimanda reversed her decision without saying why. She refused, however, to free three others she had ordered returned to prison Tuesday, saying their cases were more serious because they had purportedly been found with explosives.


Pirates seize German ship

NAIROBI, Kenya | Somali pirates hijacked a German cargo ship carrying 11 crew members in the Gulf of Aden, the latest seizure by high-seas bandits who are holding hundreds of merchant mariners hostage, officials said Wednesday.

The German-owned ship, the MV Victoria, was captured Tuesday afternoon 75 miles south of Yemen, said a spokesman for the Bahrain-based U.S. 5th Fleet.

At least 19 ships are now being held by Somali pirates, and about 250 sailors from countries around the world are being held hostage in the Gulf of Aden and directly off Somalia’s eastern coast.


Darfur rebels resume talks

DOHA, Qatar | Darfur’s most active rebel group Wednesday resumed Qatari-brokered talks with Sudanese government officials aimed at reaching an agreement for lasting peace in the war-ravaged region.

The Justice and Equality Movement had suspended negotiations with Khartoum in the wake of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant issued in March against Sudanese President Omar Bashir on war-crimes charges.

The U.S. special envoy to Sudan, J. Scott Gration, attended the meeting along with Qatari Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ahmad bin Abdullah al-Mahmud and U.N. representatives.


Junta recalls 30 ambassadors

CONAKRY | Guinea’s ruling junta has recalled 30 ambassadors in cities from Washington to Beijing, nearly five months after seizing power when the West African country’s longtime dictator died.

The military junta gave no reason for the diplomatic reshuffle, ordered by a presidential decree read on state television Tuesday night.

Almost all of Guinea’s embassies will be affected by the reshuffle. It is the first major diplomatic move by the self-proclaimed president, Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara, since he seized power in a bloodless coup on Dec. 23, hours after dictator Lansana Conte died. Mr. Conte’s inner circle had ruled Guinea for a quarter century.


Crocodiles kill nine children

LUANDA | Crocodiles killed at least nine children and attacked several women in Angola’s southern Kwanza-Sul province in recent weeks, the state radio reported Wednesday.

The children, between 10 and 16, were killed as they approached the river Keve to collect water. An official said locals are forced to go to the crocodile-infested waters since a canal in Amboim municipality was shut down recently.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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