- - Thursday, June 14, 2012

BERLIN — The former commander of the Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade was fined $300,000 and issued a formal reprimand Thursday, after a court-martial convicted him of multiple counts of fraud, conduct unbecoming of an officer, bigamy and other charges related to a long-term extramarital affair he had with a woman he met in Iraq.

As part of the sentence, Col. James Johnson III will have to serve five years in prison if the fine is unpaid, Army spokeswoman Hilde Patton said.

Johnson had pleaded guilty to 13 counts against him and was convicted of two other counts by the panel of officers hearing the case. Twelve other counts were dismissed as the proceedings opened Sunday.

The West Point graduate was relieved of his command of the Vicenza, Italy-based 173rd in March 2011 amid the investigation.

He was accused of having an affair with an Iraqi woman he met in Iraq in 2005, who was the daughter of his cultural adviser. He pleaded guilty to marrying her before divorcing his wife.


‘Vampire’ skeleton going on display

SOFIA — Ever since archaeologists announced last week that they have found two ancient skeletons in Bulgaria with iron rods thrust through their chests, the media have been reporting how Bulgarians once did that to prevent the dead from emerging from the grave as vampires.

On Saturday, one of those 700-year-old skeletons will be put on display at the National History Museum in Sofia. Its director, Bozhidar Dimitrov, says he expects a big turnout.

Mr. Dimitrov said Thursday that some people who were believed to have led evil lives were treated that way when they were buried in parts of Bulgaria as recently as the beginning of the 20th century.

The media have reported that because vampire tales remain popular in Balkan countries such as Bulgaria some people in the Black Sea resort of Sozopol, where the skeletons were found in a graveyard, are having trouble sleeping at night.


Terrorist’s son who spied for Isreal on lecture tour

JERUSALEM — The son of a Hamas founder who renounced his father’s terrorist group to spy for Israel has returned to the Jewish state on a college lecture tour, an Israeli official said Thursday.

Mosab Yousef was invited by Druse Arab lawmaker Ayoob Kara, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party.

Mr. Kara’s spokesman, Mendi Safadi, said Mr. Yousef will be in Israel nearly a month lecturing at universities and other places. He also will hold a news conference at Israel’s parliament next week.

Mr. Yousef published a shocking autobiography, “Son of Hamas,” two years ago in which he described his decade of service as a secret Israeli agent. He claims to have prevented dozens of suicide attacks and helped Israel to hunt down militants, including his father. Hamas considers him a traitor, and his father, Sheik Hassan Yousef, who is imprisoned in Israel, has disowned him.

“My father, like many Hamas leaders, is ignorant of simply the historic right of the Israeli nation,” Mosab Yousef told Israel TV on Thursday. “I love Israeli people,” he added.


Video shows police kidnapping three men

MEXICO CITY — Mexican prosecutors have released surveillance videos that show five city policemen kidnapping three men from a hotel in western Mexico. The men later were found asphyxiated and beaten to death.

The images from the Jalisco state prosecutors’ office provide an unusually open view of just how deep corruption runs. The police officers appear to act on the orders of four civilians who may have been members of a drug gang.

The tape shows the three victims being marched out of a hotel in their underwear. The three turned up dead the next day.

Jalisco prosecutors’ spokesman Lino Gonzalez said Thursday that the five officers, their commander and the local police chief in the city of Lagos de Moreno have been detained pending charges.


Top investigator denies threatening to kill reporter

MOSCOW — Russia’s top investigator denied Thursday that he threatened to kill a reporter because of a story that lambasted his agency, but he apologized for an “emotional outburst” with the journalist.

Novaya Gazeta, Russia’s leading investigative publication, claimed Wednesday that Investigative Committee chief Gen. Alexander Bastrykin took reporter Sergei Sokolov to a forest outside Moscow where he threatened to kill him and then joked that he would lead the investigation into his death.

The alleged June 4 incident followed Mr. Sokolov’s story that accused Gen. Bastrykin’s agency of failing to punish the perpetrator of a 2010 killing of 12 people, including four children, by a gang in southern Russia.

Gen. Bastrykin told the Izvestia daily Thursday he had invited the journalist to meet the team that investigated the 2010 killings and then had a “very emotional conversation” with him. But the conversation did not take place in a forest, he insisted.

“My job keeps me too busy for picnicking,” he said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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