- - Thursday, May 24, 2012


LONDON — An auction house in the Channel Islands canceled the auction of a vial containing dried blood residue said to be of former President Ronald Reagan.

The PFC Auction house said the item instead will be donated by the seller to the late president’s foundation for display.

Reagan’s family, his foundation and his surgeon had criticized the proposed sale as an invasion of his privacy.

The foundation Thursday expressed appreciation for the decision.

Online bidding on the item had reached about $30,000 when the sale was suspended. It had been set to conclude Thursday evening.


U.N.: Syrian forces, opposition committing crimes

GENEVA — Syrian government forces and anti-government armed groups are both carrying out unlawful killings, torturing opponents and abusing children in the 15-month-old uprising, a U.N.-appointed panel of human rights experts said Thursday, though it underlined that security forces are still responsible for the largest share of the violence.

The findings by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria show a chilling pattern of abuses on both sides of a conflict that it says has become “increasingly militarized” despite U.N. cease-fire efforts.

The report is based on hundreds of interviews since March with victims and witnesses who fled the country.

Syria’s main opposition council, meanwhile, said it has accepted the resignation of its Paris-based president who earlier offered to step down amid mounting criticism of his leadership.

The three-member U.N. panel says the conflict has shifted and the government now faces armed and well-organized fighters bolstered by defectors.

The widespread human rights abuses by government forces occur “most often during large-scale, military attacks on specific locations known for hosting defectors and other anti-government sympathizers,” it says.


Iran, West agree to meet again next month

BAGHDAD — Tough negotiations between Iran and world powers over Tehran’s nuclear program ended Thursday with a plan to meet next month for another round of talks but agreement on little else.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said both sides agreed to continue the discussions June 18 to 19 in Moscow in hopes of a breakthrough on international concerns about the Islamic Republic’s ability to build atomic weapons.

The announcement capped two days of negotiations in Baghdad between Iran and western powers represented by the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.


Prosecutor demands death for former dictator

TUNIS — The prosecutor in a military tribunal has demanded the death penalty for Tunisia’s former dictator over his role in the deaths of protesters during the popular uprising that overthrew him a year ago.

Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia and is being tried in absentia by both military and civilian courts in Tunisia on accusation of crimes committed during his 23-year, iron-fisted rule of the North African country.

Mr. Ben Ali is accused of ordering soldiers to open fire on protesters in the four southern towns of Thala, Kasserine, Kairouan and Tajerouine during the early weeks of the monthlong uprising that began in December 2010. At least 338 people died in the uprising and another 2,147 were wounded.

The revolution in Tunisia sparked a wave of pro-democracy movements across the Middle East and North Africa that overthrew several governments and became known as the Arab Spring.


Court sentences Kurd to 10 years in prison

ANKARA — A court Thursday sentenced a prominent Kurdish legislator to 10 years in prison on charges of spreading Kurdish rebel propaganda.

Legislator Leyla Zana says she will appeal the verdict on the grounds that her parliamentary immunity protects her from prison.

The court in the mainly Kurdish province of Diyarbakir convicted Ms. Zana for nine speeches she made over the years, which it considered to be propaganda on behalf of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. The group, which is fighting for Kurdish autonomy in southeast Turkey, is labeled a terrorist organization.

Ms. Zana was initially convicted of the charges in 2008, but an appeals court overturned that decision and ordered a new trial.

She has already spent a decade in prison on charges of links to the party. She was freed in 2004.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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