Briefs, December 11, 2012

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 December, 2012, 4:54am

Germany expels four Syrian embassy staff

BERLIN - Germany has expelled four employees of the Syrian embassy in Berlin in a diplomatic move to put pressure on President Bashar al-Assad's regime. Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said yesterday the expulsion of the four, whose identities were not released by the government, sends a "clear sign that we are reducing relations with the Assad government to an absolute minimum". AP


Sixth person held in UK sex abuse probe

LONDON - British police have arrested another person in the sex abuse probe spurred by allegations against the late BBC entertainer Jimmy Savile. Officers arrested a man in his 60s on suspicion of sexual offences. Six people have been arrested while a seventh has been questioned. No one has yet been charged. AP


US commando died in doctor rescue mission

WASHINGTON - A Pentagon official said a US Navy commando was killed during the rescue mission in Afghanistan that freed an American doctor abducted by the Taliban. The commando who died in the weekend raid was a member of SEAL Team Six, the same unit that killed Osama bin Laden last year. Dr Dilip Joseph was rescued early on Sunday in eastern Afghanistan. The adviser for Morning Star Development was abducted last week. AP


NZ collapsed building was poorly designed

WELLINGTON - An office block that collapsed, killing 115 people in last year's Christchurch earthquake, was so badly designed it should never have received a building permit, an official report said. The six-storey Canterbury Television building crumpled when the 6.3-magnitude quake rocked New Zealand's second-largest city on February 22 last year. A Royal Commission found the building was poorly designed by an engineer with no experience in multi-storey structures. AFP


Two Afghan officials killed in ambushes

KANDAHAR - An Afghan provincial police chief and an official in charge of women's affairs were killed in separate attacks yesterday. The police chief for Nimroz province was travelling home from neighbouring Herat province when his vehicle struck a roadside bomb. That same morning, gunmen shot and killed the head of the women's affairs department for the eastern Laghman province. AP


French court to rule in Zao family feud

PARIS - The French judiciary will make a ruling in a family feud over the elderly Chinese-French abstract painter Zao Wou-ki after an appeals court decided a power-of-attorney case could be heard in France. Zao, who is 92 and has Alzheimer's disease, is at the centre of a bitter legal battle between his third wife and his son from a previous marriage. The son, Jia-Ling Zhao, is seeking to obtain power of attorney over his father in the French courts, claiming he was moved to Switzerland in 2011 against his will. AFP

Hamas chief Meshaal leaves Gaza Strip

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories - Exiled Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal left the Gaza Strip after a historic first visit to the tiny Palestinian enclave. "Abu al-Walid [Meshaal] left the Gaza Strip through the Rafah terminal this afternoon after his historic visit," Islam Shahwan said, referring to the Rafah crossing on the Gaza-Egypt border. AFP


Freed Somalia hostage arrested over drugs

JOHANNESBURG - A South African woman who was held captive by Somali pirates for 20 months has been charged with drugs possession. Debbie Calitz was arrested at her house north of Pretoria during a raid at the weekend that also netted six others. It is believed that they used the back garden of the house to grow marijuana. Calitz and her partner Bruno Pelizzari were hijacked in 2010 while sailing in the Indian Ocean. They were freed in June. AFP


Mother of Nigerian graft-buster abducted

ABUJA - The mother of Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former World Bank managing director, was kidnapped on Sunday from her home in the country's south. Okonjo-Iweala has pushed to clean up corruption in Nigeria, particularly related to a fuel-subsidy programme. AFP

Activist's daughter sent to jail in Bahrain

DUBAI - A Bahraini court yesterday sentenced the daughter of the prominent Shiite opposition activist Hadi al-Khawaja to a month in jail for taking part in an unauthorised demonstration. Zainab al-Khawaja was found guilty of entering the "prohibited area" of Pearl Square, the main symbol of last year's protests crushed by security forces. She was also fined 100 dinars (HK$2,000). AFP


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Briefs, December 11, 2012

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