- - Wednesday, September 8, 2010

UNITED KINGDOM

Britain apt to tighten U.S.-U.K. extradition law

LONDON | Britain is likely to overhaul its extradition laws amid concerns the United States is able to fly suspects out of the U.K. with little proof they have committed a crime, Home Secretary Theresa May said Wednesday.

MS. May said in a written statement to Parliament that a review of current laws would propose changes and consider whether the present rules are “unbalanced” in favor of the U.S. and against British citizens.

It follows worries over high-profile extradition cases, including Gary McKinnon, who is wanted in the U.S. for purportedly hacking into American military computers, and retiree Christopher Tappin, accused of plotting to sell missile components to Iran.

Lawyers complain that under “fast-track” extradition procedures introduced after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the U.S. is not required to offer substantial proof of an allegation when seeking to extradite a suspect from Britain.

David Blunkett, a former home secretary who agreed to the arrangements, acknowledged last week that he may have gone too far in loosening the rules. Mr. Blunkett told BBC radio he may have “given too much away” to the U.S.

IRAN

Authorities suspend woman’s stoning

TEHRAN | Iranian authorities have suspended the execution by stoning of a woman convicted of adultery, the Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday, after weeks of condemnation from around the world.

The statement came a day after European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso called the stoning sentence against Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani “barbaric beyond words,” the latest in a string of criticisms by foreign powers.

She was convicted of adultery in 2006 and has been charged with involvement in her husband’s killing.

Adultery is the only crime that carries the penalty of death by stoning under Islamic Shariah law. The death penalty for murder in Iran is by hanging.

PAKISTAN

U.S. missile attacks suspected in Waziristan

DERA ISMAIL KHAN | Officials said two suspected U.S. missile strikes in northwestern Pakistan have struck two targets, killing at least 10 militants.

The strikes happened within hours of each other in North Waziristan, a lawless region just across the border from Afghanistan. It has been used to launch attacks on U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan.

Pakistani officials said six suspected militants were killed in an attack on a house. The second missile hit a car traveling a few miles from the border, killing four others.

There have been six launches staged this week. The U.S. has fired hundreds of missiles into northwest Pakistan over the last 2½ years to kill militants. Critics say innocent people are also killed, fueling support for the insurgency.

SRI LANKA

Term limits ended for presidency

COLOMBO | Sri Lanka’s Parliament voted to eliminate term limits for the president Wednesday, a move critics say could lead to dictatorship.

The amendment also will tighten President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s hold on power by giving him total control over the judiciary, police and the civil service.

The main opposition group, the United National Party, boycotted the vote and burned an effigy of Mr. Rajapaksa at a protest in the capital.

But the constitutional amendment passed easily, with 161 votes in the 225-member Parliament. That’s 11 votes more than the two-thirds majority required. Seventeen lawmakers voted against it.

Six United National Party members and one member from the Tamil National Alliance — the main party representing ethnic-minority Tamils — defected and voted with the government.

The constitution used to limit the president to two six-year terms, so Mr. Rajapaksa’s term starting in November would have been his last.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Karzai’s kin profited on Kabul Bank deal

DUBAI | Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s brother says he made at least $800,000 by buying and then reselling a high-end Dubai villa using a loan provided by the chairman of the troubled Kabul Bank.

Mahmood Karzai told the Associated Press on Wednesday that he bought the house on the Palm Jumeirah in July 2007 to obtain residency in Dubai.

He is the third-biggest shareholder in the bank, which faced a bank run last week after reports of steep losses tied partly to risky Dubai property investments.

Mr. Karzai says the loan and purchase was arranged by former Kabul Bank Chairman Sherkhan Farnood, but is unsure whether the money came from the bank or from Mr. Farnood personally.

Mr. Farnood couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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