Briefs, December 17, 2012

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 December, 2012, 6:16am

Islamists claim victory in Egypt referendum

CAIRO - Islamists backing a new constitution for Egypt claimed victory yesterday in an initial phase of a referendum, but the opposition alleged polling violations and said it would await the final results. A small majority of 56.5 per cent voted for the draft charter put to half of Egypt's 51 million voters on Saturday, according to the Freedom and Justice Party, the political branch of President Mohammed Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood. But the opposition said it would wait for the formal tally after next Saturday's second round of voting. AFP


Jonathan orders probe into helicopter crash

LAGOS - Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan ordered an investigation into the crash of a military helicopter on Saturday that killed the governor of the northern state of Kaduna and the country's former national security adviser. The crash in the Nembe area of Bayelsa state killed Governor Patrick Yakowa, ex-security adviser Owoye Azazi and four others, presidential spokesman Reuben Abati said. Bloomberg


Actor Depardieu to give up his French passport

PARIS - French actor Gerard Depardieu, claiming he was "insulted" by critics for becoming a tax exile in Belgium, said he was giving up his French passport. The 63-year-old said in an open letter to Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault: "I don't ask to be approved, but I could at least be respected." Ayrault had described the Cyrano de Bergerac star's decision to quit France as "pathetic". Depardieu wrote: "I give you back my passport and my social security that I have never used. We no longer have the same country. I am a real European, a citizen of the world, as my father always taught me." AFP


UN orders Ghana to release Argentine ship

BERLIN - A United Nations court ordered the immediate release of an Argentine navy training ship seized by Ghana two months ago at the request of an American hedge fund. Argentina appealed to the UN's International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea for the ship's release, arguing that as a warship the Libertad is immune from being seized. Ghana courts ordered the ship held on a claim by Cayman Islands-based NML Capital Ltd. Its owner, American billionaire Paul Singer, leads a group demanding about US$350 million (HK$2.7 billion) for bonds bought after Argentina's 2001-2002 economic collapse. AP