- The Washington Times - Monday, January 11, 2010

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Abu Dhabi sheik acquitted of torture

AL AIN | A member of the United Arab Emirates’ ruling family on trial in connection with the videotaped beating of an Afghan man was cleared of all charges Sunday.

Judge Mubarak al-Awad acquitted Sheik Issa bin Zayed Al Nahyan of all charges in a UAE criminal court in the oasis city of Al Ain. The charges against Sheik Issa, a half brother of the country’s president, included endangering a life, causing bodily harm and rape. A security guard who was seen on the video assisting the sheik with the beating also was acquitted.

It was the first time that a member of the ruling family of this wealthy Gulf Arab nation had been put on trial, but human rights groups were quick to criticize Sheik Issa’s acquittal.

Judge al-Awad, who presided over a three-judge panel, said Sheik Issa was innocent because he was in a state of “diminished liability” during the videotaped 2004 incident in Abu Dhabi’s eastern desert.

ANGOLA

Togo soccer team quits after ambush

CABINDA | Togo withdrew from a continentwide soccer tournament and its players reluctantly left Angola on Sunday, two days after a deadly ambush on the team bus killed three and injured eight. A separatist leader warned, however, that violence would not likely end.

It took a call from Togo’s president to persuade the players to leave the African Cup of Nations; they said they wanted to stay and compete in honor of the assistant coach, team spokesman and Angolan bus driver who died in Friday’s attack.

The government dispatched the presidential plane, while Togo’s prime minister, Gilbert Houngbo, said Angola had not done enough to protect the team after the attack in Cabinda - the oil-rich region in northern Angola which has seen occasional separatist violence.

SPAIN

4 ETA members held in Portugal, France

MADRID | Four suspected members of the Basque separatist group ETA were arrested in Portugal and France, one driving a van loaded with explosives near a police barracks, the government said Sunday.

Two ETA suspects were captured in northern Portugal after one was stopped while driving the van through the northwestern Spanish town of Bermillo de Sayago, about 20 miles east of the border with Portugal, officials said.

GAZA STRIP

Israeli raid kills 3 Islamic Jihad men

JERUSALEM | Israeli warplanes killed three Islamic Jihad gunmen in an air strike Sunday as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that the military would respond harshly to rocket and mortar fire from Gaza.

The aircraft targeted a group of Palestinian militants in the central Gaza Strip, killing the three with an air-to-ground missile, Palestinian medics said. The Israeli military said the militants were targeted “as they were preparing to fire rockets into Israel.”

The Israeli military said one of the dead, whom it identified as Awad Abu Nasir, was a senior Islamic Jihad field commander behind a string of attacks on Israel.

KENYA

Bid to deport Muslim cleric fails

NAIROBI | A radical Jamaican-born Muslim cleric who led a British mosque attended by convicted terrorists was flown back to Kenya on Sunday after an attempt to deport him failed, officials said.

Nigerian authorities refused to grant a transit visa for Sheik Abdullah el-Faisal and instead sent him back to Kenya early Sunday, an official said.

Kenya deported Mr. el-Faisal on Thursday. Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang said the cleric had chosen Gambia as a destination, and Gambia accepted, after attempts to fly him to Jamaica failed. Britain, South Africa, Tanzania and the U.S. have declined to grant Mr. el-Faisal a transit visa that would allow him to connect to flights to Jamaica, which has said it would accept him but would keep a close eye on him.

HONG KONG

Acid attack injures 30; man held

HONG KONG | Police arrested a man early Sunday after two bottles of corrosive liquid were hurled into a crowd at one of Hong Kong’s famous tourist spots, officials said. At least 30 people were injured in the city’s latest acid attack.

The victims, including children and tourists, were all treated at local hospitals for burns and other injuries and released. The liquid was thrown on them Saturday night near Temple Street, a densely populated district known for its outdoor shops and restaurants in the city’s Kowloon area.

Hong Kong has seen a series of similar attacks since December 2008 that have injured more than 100 people.

The suspect was described as a Chinese man in his 30s.

JORDAN

Town drops plan to honor Saddam

AMMAN | The mayor of a provincial town in Jordan said Sunday he had dropped plans to name a new neighborhood there after Iraq’s late dictator Saddam Hussein at the request of the central government.

Mohammed Sarayrah said several hundred residents of Mazar in southwestern Jordan had applied to name the neighborhood on the edge of the town after Saddam. The number was large enough to grant the request, he said.

But he said Jordan’s central government, under pressure from Kuwait and Iraq, demanded that he drop the plan to name the area after Saddam, who was executed by hanging in 2006.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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