- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 18, 2010

FRANCE

5 ex-Gitmo inmates to return to court

PARIS | France’s highest court on Wednesday overruled a lower court’s acquittal of five former inmates at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and ordered an appeals court to rehear the case centering on terrorism charges.

The Court of Cassation did not immediately explain its reasons for the ruling.

The Paris criminal court in 2007 convicted the five — Ridouane Khalid, Brahim Yadel, Khaled ben Mustafa, Nizar Sassi and Mourad Benchellali — of “criminal association with a terrorist enterprise,” a broad charge often used in terror cases in France.

During the original 2007 trial, the suspects had acknowledged having spent time in military training camps in Afghanistan, but said they had never put their combat skills to use.

But last February, a Paris appeals court ruled that agents from the French counterterrorism agency DST who questioned the five inmates at Guantanamo in 2002 and 2004 had overstepped their roles, and overturned the convictions.

PAKISTAN

Government pulls judicial nominees

ISLAMABAD | Pakistan’s government was forced into an embarrassing U-turn Wednesday, withdrawing the appointments of top judges that sparked a showdown with the Supreme Court and a fresh crisis in the country.

The row flared when President Asif Ali Zardari appointed two senior judges last week. The Supreme Court swiftly suspended the nominations, on the grounds that the head of state had apparently violated the constitution.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani announced the U-turn following talks with Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

Mr. Gilani said Justice Khawaja Muhammad Sharif, whom the president last Saturday appointed to the Supreme Court, would stay in position as head of the high court in Lahore.

Instead three alternative judges, Saqib Nisar, Asif Saeed Khosa and Khalil ur Rehman Ramday, had been appointed to the Supreme Court, he said.

NORTH KOREA

Leader’s sister has more power

SEOUL | North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s only sister appears to be wielding more power in North Korea after making a comeback to the front line of the regime last year, South Korea said Wednesday.

Kim Kyong-hui, 64, was newly added to a diagram of the North’s power structure released by the South’s Unification Ministry after returning to the public spotlight for the first time in nearly six years.

The annually updated diagram, which offers a glimpse into changes in the North’s elite power system, showed her heading an organ which oversees light industries under the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea.

UKRAINE

Tymoshenko appeal suspends results

KIEV | Ukraine’s presidential election results giving the victory to Russia-friendly Viktor Yanukovych were suspended Wednesday pending review of his rival’s appeal.

Ukraine’s Administrative Court said it would rule on Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s appeal by Feb. 25, when lawmakers had planned to inaugurate Mr. Yanukovych.

Mrs. Tymoshenko has refused to concede, claiming the election was tainted by fraud. Until the ruling on her appeal the court said it was suspending the Central Election Commission’s declaration that Mr. Yanukovych had won the Feb. 7 vote by just 3.5 percentage points.

International observers have deemed Ukraine’s latest election free and fair, and President Obama and other leaders have already congratulated Mr. Yanukovych.

ISRAEL

Congressman says Official snubbed him

TEL AVIV | A visiting U.S. congressman lashed out at Israel’s No. 2 diplomat Wednesday, saying he was snubbed by the Foreign Ministry and demanding an official clarification.

Rep. Bill Delahunt, a Democrat from Massachusetts and a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is heading a congressional delegation to the region. The trip is hosted by J Street, a liberal Jewish lobbying group that presents itself as an alternative to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee — one of Washington’s most powerful lobbies.

J Street says it sought a meeting for the U.S. representatives with Israeli diplomats but was turned down. Israel’s government has been critical of the group’s programs, which are more dovish than those of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hawkish government.

Speaking to reporters in Tel Aviv, Mr. Delahunt said he was surprised and disappointed to read an Israeli newspaper report that he was being boycotted by the Foreign Ministry for his affiliation with J Street and identified Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon as the culprit.

Mr. Ayalon’s office said the deputy minister was prepared to meet any elected officials, especially from the U.S. Congress, but he “didn’t need mediators.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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