International News Briefs

Gbagbo fit to be tried

IVORY COAST: Former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo is fit to be tried for war crimes, Al Jazeera reports. Judges at the International Criminal Court have ruled Gbagbo is of healthy enough mind to understand the charges laid against him, which include murder, rape and persecution. The charges stem from a civil war following his refusal to stand down after losing the country’s presidential election in 2010. More than one million people were displaced and thousands killed in four months of fighting. Gbagbo’s trial has been suspended since June, after he told judges the ill treatment he had received at the hands of his captors in Ivory Coast had left him unfit to stand trial. The ICC noted Gbagbo’s mental health is fragile, and that close monitoring and appropriate treatment are required.

Free Pussy Riot: Medvedev

RUSSIA: Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is calling for the release of punk band Pussy Riot, Al Jazeera reports. In August, the band’s three members were handed two-year prison sentences after performing a “punk prayer” in a Moscow church, pleading with the Virgin Mary for deliverance from Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to the report. Though he detested the act, Medvedev said last week the women have been in prison long enough and should be released. The call, however, is likely to fall on deaf ears. Medvedev is regarded as a “liberal yet nominal government figure whose pledges and orders are seldom followed through on,” according to the report.

Twitter comment lands man in prison

BAHRAIN: An online activist in Bahrain has been sentenced to six months in prison for defaming the country’s king in comments posted on Twitter, the BBC reports. The man, whose name was not released, was among four others arrested last month on similar charges. The four deny any wrongdoing. Insulting the king and other members of the Al Khalifah ruling family is considered a serious offence in the Gulf state, according to the report. In September, activist Zainab al-Khawaja was jailed for two months for ripping up a picture of King Hamad. Repeated abuse of freedom of speech and expression rights like riots and calls for the overthrow of ruling figures could no longer be accepted, government minister Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifah said.

Suicide bomber kills politician

PAKISTAN: A bomb attack has killed an anti-Taliban politician in northwest Pakistan, the BBC reports. Fateh Khan, along with three of his guards, was killed Nov. 3 after a suicide bomber blew himself up in front of Khan’s vehicle as he was leaving a gas station in the city of Buner. Khan was an ex-leader of the secular Awami National Party who had recently joined the Qaumi Watan Party, and was the head of a local anti-Taliban force. ANP leaders are regular targets of the Taliban in the region, but this is the first suicide attack there in several months, according to the report. Buner was freed from the control of Taliban militants three years ago. Five other people were injured in the attack.

Published in Volume 67, Number 10 of The Uniter (November 7, 2012)

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