- - Tuesday, June 5, 2012

CAIRO — One of the Egyptian defendants in the case of pro-democracy groups accused of illegally taking foreign funds says judges have postponed the trial until next month.

Rawda Saeed, one of 43 facing charges, said prosecution witnesses including Egypt’s minister of international cooperation will address the court starting July 4. She said the next sessions would be closed to the media.

Only 17 defendants, including two Americans and one German, were in court Tuesday.

The other defendants are no longer inside Egypt. They include six Americans who were allowed to leave in March.

Ms. Saeed said the judge released a dual national U.S.-Egyptian defendant who was detained Sunday upon his return from the United States to attend the trial.

The case has shaken U.S.-Egyptian relations.


Guards subdue rioters at 2 Baghdad prisons

BAGHDAD — Guards put down riots at two Baghdad prisons Tuesday by firing into the air and swinging clubs after inmates set tents, garbage and blankets on fire, officials said.

Twelve prisoners suffered burns and one was shot in the leg, police and prison officials said.

The unrest erupted when prisoners loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr at the 4th Risafa Detention Facility and at Baladiyat Prison were told they would be sent to a third lockup.

After prisoners started fires, security forces stormed the two prisons, firing weapons and beating inmates with clubs to subdue them.

Later Tuesday, a bomb went off close to the outer fence of a Shiite mosque in eastern Baghdad, wounding eight passers-by, police said.

Elsewhere in eastern Baghdad, two mortar rounds landed in an empty yard near the Interior Ministry, causing no damage or injuries.


Kurds postpone provincial elections

ARBIL — Election authorities in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region on Tuesday indefinitely postponed provincial polls scheduled for September because of laws that restrict minority voting rights.

The delay further extends the period between Iraq’s nationwide provincial council elections in January 2009 and similar elections in the three-province Kurdish region.

Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission said Kurdish regional laws allowed Christians to vote only for candidates from their religious community, thereby restricting their human rights and falling short of international election standards.

“[The Kurdish government] postponed the elections indefinitely and, after reaching an agreement over the law of provincial councils, they will announce a new date,” electoral commission chief Faraj al-Haidari said at a news conference in the regional capital, Arbil.

“There was a section of the law of provincial councils that stated Christians should only vote for Christian candidates, and this is against international standards and human rights because every human being has the right to vote in favor of any candidate.”

Elections in the three provinces that comprise Iraqi Kurdistan were due to have been held Sept. 27, after having last taken place in 2005.

In 2009, elections were held in 14 of Iraq’s 18 provinces. Only the three Kurdish provinces and the disputed northern province of Kirkuk, claimed by Kurdish authorities as well as the central government, are not taking part.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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