- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 25, 2010

ITALY

3 Google officials convicted over video

MILAN | An Italian court convicted three Google executives of privacy violations Wednesday because they did not act quickly enough to remove an online video that showed sadistic teen bullies pummeling and mocking an autistic boy.

The case was being watched closely around the world because of its implications for Internet freedom.

In the first such criminal trial of its kind, Judge Oscar Magi sentenced the three in absentia to a six-month suspended sentence and absolved them of defamation charges. A fourth defendant, charged only with defamation, was acquitted.

Google called the decision “astonishing.” Spokesman Bill Echikson said the company will appeal.

Those convicted were Google’s global privacy counsel, Peter Fleischer, its senior vice president and chief legal officer, David Drummond, and retired Chief Financial Officer George Reyes. Senior product marketing manager Arvind Desikan, based in London, was acquitted. All four had denied wrongdoing.

RUSSIA

Official warns against ‘crippling’ Iran sanctions

MOSCOW | A senior Russian diplomat warned the West on Wednesday against trying to paralyze Iran by targeting the Islamic republic’s energy and banking sectors with crippling sanctions.

Russia in recent weeks has signaled growing frustration with Iran over its nuclear program, though Moscow has given few indications about what sanctions it might be prepared to accept in the United Nations Security Council.

The United States has said it hopes to see sanctions against Iran in a matter of weeks and Israel has pressed Russia to back crippling sanctions, though the Kremlin has steered clear of openly supporting calls for further U.N. sanctions.

Oleg Rozhkov, deputy director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s security affairs and disarmament department, said Moscow would consider only sanctions aimed at strengthening the nuclear nonproliferation regime.

IRELAND

Omagh bomb suspect acquitted on retrial

DUBLIN | The only man ever convicted of involvement in the 1998 car-bomb slaughter in Omagh was acquitted Wednesday in a retrial judgment that angered the survivors of Northern Ireland’s deadliest blast.

The three judges of Ireland’s anti-terrorist Special Criminal Court ruled that police had failed to collect sufficient evidence against Colm Murphy, 57, and had fatally undermined their case by illegally rewriting their records of Mr. Murphy’s purported admissions under interrogation.

Mr. Murphy, an Irish Republican Army veteran once caught in an FBI sting trying to buy American machine guns, said outside the courthouse that he was “glad to see it’s all over.”

Nobody has been successfully prosecuted for the Aug. 15, 1998, attack by the Real IRA splinter group in the heart of Omagh. Twenty-nine people, mostly women and children, died after the 500-pound car bomb ripped through crowds of shoppers, workers and tourists whom police had evacuated away from the town’s courthouse, thinking it was the target.

AFGHANISTAN

Rights group reports 28 civilian deaths

KABUL | The Afghan human rights commission reported Wednesday that 28 civilians have been killed so far in NATO’s offensive on the Taliban stronghold of Marjah, and urged pro-government forces to take greater care in distinguishing between civilians and militants.

The report was released as Marines started a push to clear the last pockets of insurgents from Marjah in Helmand province. The 12th day of the offensive was relatively calm as the troops secured areas they’ve already taken and moved into position to tackle these final holdouts.

NATO has stressed the importance of protecting civilians as part of its counterinsurgency campaign. But military officials say that despite the care taken, the offensive has still been marred by civilian deaths, including a rocket attack last week that hit a house and killed 12 people.

GERMANY

Protestant leader quits after DUI incident

BERLIN | Germany’s top Protestant cleric resigned Wednesday after she was caught driving with a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit, an incident that she said had undermined her authority.

Margot Kaessmann, 51, who was elected in October as the first woman to head Germany’s Lutheran Church, said she was quitting that post and her job as bishop of Hanover immediately.

Mrs. Kaessmann was stopped by police on Saturday after ignoring a red traffic light in Hanover. A test showed she had a blood alcohol level of 0.154 percent — well above the legal limit of 0.05.

SPAIN

Palestinian accepted as first Gitmo inmate

MADRID | The United States got help from Europe Wednesday in its troubled drive to shut down Guantanamo Bay, as Spain accepted a former inmate from the prison for terror suspects and the tiny Balkan nation of Albania took in three more.

Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said the man who arrived in his country is Palestinian, but would not give his name or any other information, citing privacy concerns. He reiterated that Spain will take in up to five Guantanamo inmates, the largest commitment yet from a European country since President Obama pledged in January 2009 to close Guantanamo in a year, a deadline he missed.

The U.S. Justice Department issued a statement expressing gratitude to Spain and said there are now 188 inmates being held in Guantanamo.

Separately, Albania’s Interior Ministry said the country had taken in three more former Guantanamo detainees — a Tunisian, an Egyptian and a Libyan national — under an agreement with the U.S. They arrived Tuesday.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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