- The Washington Times - Monday, April 19, 2010


EU-Pakistan summit delayed due to ash

BRUSSELS | A summit meeting between Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and EU leaders set for Wednesday in Brussels will be postponed due to the halt in European air traffic, a diplomatic source told Agence France-Presse.

“The summit will be postponed, the office of the Pakistani prime minister has indicated he won’t be able to make it to Europe due to the difficulties with air travel,” the source said Sunday on condition of anonymity.

An official announcement of the postponement of the annual summit was expected to be made on Monday.

Mr. Gilani was due to have met with European Union President Herman van Rompuy and European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso.


Doctor ‘treated patients’ during Congo captivity

MADRID | A Spanish doctor kidnapped by rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo said Sunday he treated patients during the 10 days he spent in captivity earlier this month.

“I took care of several sick people including one of the seven wives of the leader of the rebels, Ibrahim,” Mario Sarsa told Spanish public television TVE in his first interview since being freed by the Congolese army on April 13.

Dr. Sarsa, 56, was abducted while traveling by boat on the Congo River near the rain-forest gateway city of Kinsangani by a rebel group known as the Allied Forces for the Liberation of Congo that is headed by Ibrahim Mangbama.

The tropical medicine specialist, who had previously worked in Equatorial Guinea, said he thought the rebels were going to kill him when they abducted him but was otherwise treated well.


3 aid workers freed in Afghanistan

ROME | Italy’s Foreign Ministry said Sunday that three Italian medical workers detained in southern Afghanistan last week have been released.

The three employees of Italian nongovernmental organization Emergency hadn’t been heard from since being taken into custody April 10 in Helmand after explosives and handguns were found in a raid by Afghan police and British troops on an Emergency hospital.

Officials in Helmand have alleged to the media the three were bribed by insurgents to smuggle weapons into the hospital in preparation for an assassination attempt on the provincial governor.

Emergency strongly denied the accusation.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said the release came about “without putting into question” Italy’s Afghan and NATO relations.


Pope admits ‘shame’ to sex-abuse victims

VALLETTA | Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday expressed his personal “shame and sorrow” to victims of pedophile priests at a surprise meeting during a visit to Malta.

The small group of men met the pope at the papal envoy’s residence in Malta, one of the countries rocked by the international scandal that has shaken the Roman Catholic Church.

The pontiff “was deeply moved by their stories and expressed his shame and sorrow over what victims and their families have suffered,” the Vatican said.

Pope Benedict “prayed with them and assured them that the Church is doing, and will continue to do, all in its power to investigate allegations [and] to bring to justice those responsible for abuse,” it said in a statement.

The pope promised the victims “effective measures designed to safeguard young people in the future.”

The 83-year-old pope arrived in the tiny Mediterranean state on Saturday on his first foreign trip since the focus of the priest sex-abuse scandals moved to Europe in recent months.


Prosecutor seeks life sentence for Knox

MILAN | Italian agencies say the prosecutor in the slaying of a British student in Italy is appealing the sentences against American student Amanda Knox and her former Italian boyfriend.

Both defendants were found guilty in the 2007 slaying of Meredith Kercher. Knox, a 22-year-old former University of Washington student, was sentenced to 25 years in prison, while Raffaelo Sollecito received 25 years.

The news agency ANSA reported that prosecutor Giuliano Mignini is seeking to increase the sentences to life in prison, his original request.

ANSA says Mr. Mignini was not convinced by the court’s reasoning for the lesser sentences.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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