- - Thursday, March 24, 2011


U.N. names human rights investigator on Iran

GENEVA | The United Nations’ top human rights body appointed a special investigator to look into human rights abuses in Iran, overcoming resistance from nations that considered it meddling with that country’s internal affairs.

The vote marks the first time since it was formed five years ago that the U.N. Human Rights Council has created such an investigative position for a U.N. member nation rather than merely extend the mandate of a previously existing one.

All of the previous country-specific investigators were created by the former U.N. Commission on Human Rights, long criticized for being dominated by countries with dubious rights records, that the new council replaced.


Court convicts 6 in freighter hijacking

MOSCOW | A Russian court convicted six men Thursday for the 2009 hijacking of a freighter with a Russian crew that caused an international uproar.

Russian authorities said the Arctic Sea freighter was seized by pirates in the Baltic Sea after leaving Finland with a load of timber. But speculation persisted that it was carrying clandestine cargo, possibly Russian S-300 surface-to-air missiles for Iran or Syria. Russian officials have denied those claims.

The men received prison terms ranging from seven to 12 years after being convicted of piracy charges, said a spokeswoman for the Arkhangelsk Region Court. Their attorneys said they would appeal the verdict.


Dubai police stop Yemen-bound weapons

DUBAI | Dubai police seized 16,000 Turkish-made pistols hidden in a sea cargo shipment bound for Yemen, officials said Thursday.

Authorities said the guns were headed to Yemen’s restive Saada region, where Shiite rebels have fought government forces for years.

Dubai’s government described the find as the largest arms shipment of its kind discovered in the region.


Cuba wants 20 years for former Castro pal

HAVANA | Cuban prosecutors are seeking a 20-year prison term for a Chilean businessman and one-time confidant of Fidel Castro. Max Marambio recently was tried in absentia on bribery and fraud charges.

The Communist Party newspaper Granma reports that prosecutors also want a 15-year sentence for former Food Minister Alejandro Roca Iglesias, who was removed from his post in March 2009.

The newspaper’s report Thursday did not say when the trial began, how long it lasted or what evidence was presented.

Mr. Marambio was a longtime friend of Mr. Castro’s who became a prominent businessman in Cuba. His Rio Zaza company made juices and other products that were ubiquitous on the island.


North Koreans to talk with ex-U.S. envoys

BERLIN | An American think tank says senior North Korean officials will meet with former U.S. officials in Germany this weekend.

Aspen Institute Executive Director Charles King Mallory said Thursday that the two sides would talk about denuclearization and bilateral relations. He wouldn’t give further details on the meeting, citing the sensitivity of the issue.

The State Department says there is no U.S. government involvement.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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