- - Wednesday, June 13, 2012

PUERTO RICO

SAN JUAN — The man who has called himself the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks is seeking to wear military-style clothing at his upcoming war crimes trial in Guantanamo, one of his attorneys said Wednesday.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has asked to wear a camouflage field jacket and camouflage turban with traditional Pakistani clothing as he goes on trial with four other men at the U.S. base in Cuba on charges that include murder and terrorism.

Mohammed wanted to wear the items at his May 5 arraignment but prison officials refused to allow it. They also rejected some clothing requested by other defendants as inappropriate for the military tribunal.

But his defense team is asking the judge to overrule that decision, arguing in newly released court papers that Mohammed is seeking to wear items customarily worn by members of a militia and that it violates his right to a fair trial and historical precedent by forbidding him to do so.

EGYPT

Security agents get wide powers of arrest

CAIRO — Egypt’s Justice Ministry on Wednesday gave the country’s military police and intelligence agents the right to arrest civilians over a wide range of suspected crimes, including “resisting authorities.” The move sparked charges that the country’s military rulers want to extend their grip on power even after handing over to civilians.

The decision comes during heightened tensions in Egypt, three days before a highly polarized presidential runoff election and a day before rulings by the country’s highest court that could dissolve the Islamist-dominated parliament and even cancel the presidential vote Saturday and Sunday.

The decision, published in the official gazette, would remain in effect until a new constitution is in place. The process of writing a constitution has hit snags. On Tuesday the Islamist-dominated parliament voted on an assembly to draft the document, but liberals boycotted the session. An earlier attempt to name the body collapsed because of opposition from liberals. Both times they charged that Islamists were unfairly dominating the procedure.

CUBA

Two Cabinet ministers replaced over corruption

HAVANA — Cuba has reassigned two Cabinet ministers who oversaw economic sectors allegedly hit by corruption.

A notice in the Communist Party daily Granma says Communications Minister Medardo Diaz Toledo will rejoin the armed forces and be replaced by a vice minister.

Tomas Benitez Hernandez is also out as minister of basic industry, which controls mining and energy. A deputy will fill his post.

Some foreign news media have reported the corruption-related arrests of two senior officials at the Communications Ministry, though the government has made no statement.

Businessmen have also reported detentions involving suspected graft at the Moa nickel mine project, run jointly by Cuba and Canadian company Sherritt.

Wednesday’s notice in Granma did not say why the Cabinet changes were made.

PAKISTAN

U.S. drone attack kills four militants

PESHAWAR — Pakistani intelligence officials said Wednesday that a U.S. drone strike has killed four suspected militants after firing two missiles at a vehicle in which they were riding near the Afghan border.

Two officials said the attack occurred near Miran Shah, the main town in the North Waziristan tribal region.

It is the first drone strike since an American missile fired June 4 killed al Qaeda’s second in command, Abu Yahya al-Libi.

The identity and nationality of the men killed Wednesday is not immediately known and the officials said their agents are trying to get more details.

Washington has pushed on with its drone campaign against suspected Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists in Pakistani tribal areas, despite Pakistani objections.

ARGENTINA

Stimulus plan uses pensions for home loans

BUENOS AIRES — Argentina is rolling out a major economic stimulus plan, using pension funds to provide nearly cost-free housing loans of up to $77,000 to 400,000 people who will not need to provide any proof of their ability to pay the money back.

Buenos Aires Gov. Daniel Scioli on Wednesday ordered all “nonproductive” government-owned land to be made available for the program President Cristina Fernandez announced hours earlier. The vast Buenos Aires province surrounding Argentina’s capital is plagued with slums and has by far the nation’s largest population in need of housing.

YEMEN

Army hitting al Qaeda in southern strongholds

SANAA — Airstrikes and clashes intensified in southern Yemen on Wednesday as army troops followed major victories with more pressure on al Qaeda militants holding small towns, according to tribal and military officials.

The military killed at least 17 al Qaeda terrorists in the latest phase of Yemen’s offensive, they said.

The attacks came a day after Yemeni forces regained control of two major al Qaeda strongholds, Jaar and Zinjibar, which were in the hands of the militants for more than a year.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports


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