- - Thursday, May 17, 2012


HAVANA — An associate of Cuban first daughter Mariela Castro says the U.S. has granted her a visa to attend a conference in San Francisco and an event in Washington.

The daughter of President Raul Castro is a noted advocate of gay rights. Her planned attendance at next week’s meeting of the Latin American Studies Association in San Francisco already is being criticized by Cuban-American politicians.

Mariela Castro runs Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education, and an official there said Thursday that Ms. Castro has travel permission and will be at the conference, as well as an event in Washington.

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to discuss the matter.

Officials at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana and the U.S. State Department declined to comment.


Court acquits police in protesters’ deaths

CAIRO — An Egyptian court on Thursday found 14 policemen not guilty in the killing of protesters during last year’s popular uprising, the latest verdict in what activists claim to be a pattern of acquittals for police blamed for the deaths of hundreds of people during the revolt.

The men are among nearly 200 security officers and former regime officials - including former President Hosni Mubarak himself - who face trial in the deaths of nearly 850 protesters during the revolt.

A verdict in Mr. Mubarak’s case is expected next month.

Many in Egypt accuse authorities of failing to bring to account those responsible for the deaths, and the cause of the “martyrs” has been a rallying crying by protesters who say that Egypt’s new leaders are dragging their feet in meting out justice against those responsible for the deaths.

On Thursday, a Cairo Criminal Court acquitted the 14 policemen of charges of shooting protesters in front of police stations on Jan. 28, 2011, one of the most violent days of the uprising.

The ruling marked the end of the 10th court case dealing with the deaths of protesters. In nine instances, the security officers have been acquitted; in one case, the court issued a suspended sentence.


Socialist government gets down to work

PARIS — French President Francois Hollande and his Socialist government adopted a 30 percent pay cut Thursday, a gesture of shared sacrifice by leaders who must now reduce the country’s massive debts and tackle spiraling unemployment.

The new Cabinet’s first meeting, just a week after conservative former leader Nicolas Sarkozy last convened his government, marked a sharp shift in France’s power structure and strategy for solving Europe’s debt crisis and restructuring the economy.

The new finance minister reduced hopes in some other European capitals that Mr. Hollande would ease off on his push for a renegotiation of a hard-won European treaty on trimming budgets.

“The treaty will not be ratified as is. It must be added to, completed with a growth amendment,” Pierre Moscovici said after taking control of the Finance Ministry.


Judge delays Mladic trial, citing evidence errors

THE HAGUE — A judge suspended Ratko Mladic’s genocide and war-crimes trial indefinitely Thursday after prosecutors failed to disclose thousands of documents to the former Bosnian Serb military chief’s defense team - a ruling that could delay the trial for months.

Presiding Judge Alphons Orie said he was delaying the Yugoslav war-crimes tribunal case owing to “significant disclosure errors” by prosecutors, who are obliged to share all evidence with Gen. Mladic’s attorneys.

The announcement is a significant setback for the court in one of its highest-profile cases, its final trial to focus on atrocities committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war, which left more than 100,000 dead.

Judge Orie said judges will analyze the “scope and full impact” of the error and aim to establish a new starting date “as soon as possible.” The presentation of evidence was supposed to begin later this month.


Army pushing into al Qaeda stronghold

SANAA — Government troops battling al Qaeda fighters in southern Yemen have made inroads into the militants’ strongholds.

But the offensive on a strategic city has slowed because of concerns the extremists could launch a surprise counterattack, military officials said Thursday.

Backed by heavy artillery and warplanes, Yemeni troops have advanced into Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province, which fell under the control of al Qaeda-linked fighters last year as the country was engulfed by political turmoil that led to the ouster of longtime leader Ali Abdullah Saleh.

If the military were to recapture Zinjibar, it would deal a heavy blow to al Qaeda by depriving it of a key base and scattering its fighters to smaller towns and mountain areas of the south.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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