Silvio Berlusconi

Briefs, January 19, 2013

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 January, 2013, 4:30am

Berlusconi verdict to be delayed until after polls

MILAN - A court has refused to halt ex-prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's fraud appeal until after national elections. It ruled that the hearings, which began yesterday, would continue, but the verdict would be returned after the February 24-25 elections, avoiding any "media clamour" impacting the race. Berlusconi is heading a centre-right coalition but has not been clear on whether he will be a candidate for prime minster. AP


Washington recognises government of Somalia

WASHINGTON - The United States and Somalia launched a new era of diplomatic relations, as Washington recognised the African country's government for the first time since 1991. The move turns the page on the darkest chapter in ties between the two nations, in which Americans were anguished by scenes of US soldiers being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu by a mob in 1993. Somalia has not had an effective central government since 1991, but a new administration took office in the nation last year. AFP


Reporters witness fatal attack by prison guards

JOHANNESBURG - A South African prisoner died after warders assaulted him in an incident witnessed by journalists at a maximum-security jail, local media reported. Journalists saw guards beat the inmate on Wednesday while on a guided tour with lawmakers at the Groenpunt jail in the central province of Free State, where dozens of prisoners rioted last week. Prison officials detained the journalists, who managed to photograph the attack on the inmate through a fence. AFP


Rape on the rise in Congo's refugee camps

GOMA - Rape of displaced women by armed men is on the rise in camps around Goma, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, according to Medecins Sans Frontieres, which said it took in 95 victims of sexual assault between December 3 and January 5. MSF deplored a "lack of involvement by bodies responsible for the protection of the civilian population". AFP


Police fire tear gas at protesters in Bahrain

DUBAI - Bahraini police fired tear gas to disperse Shiite protesters who took to the streets of the capital chanting anti-regime slogans, witnesses said. The demonstration coincided with the final of the Gulf Cup of Nations football tournament being hosted in Manama. "Down [King] Hamad," yelled protesters who attempted to march in small groups in the city's narrow alleys as riot police fired tear gas and stun grenades, witnesses said. AFP


Canadian gets 14 years for aiding terrorists

CHICAGO - A Pakistani-born Canadian was sentenced by a US district court to 14 years in prison for providing material support to overseas terrorism, including a Pakistani group whose 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, left more than 160 people dead. But jurors cleared Tahawwur Rana of the most serious charge of involvement in the three-day rampage in Mumbai - which has often been called "India's 9/11". Prosecutors had sought a sentence of up to 30 years. AP


Most Icelanders uphold move to join EU

REYKJAVIK - A majority of Icelanders want to complete the island's bid to join the European Union, according to a poll by the Frettabladid newspaper and Channel 2. The poll showed that 48.5 per cent of voters wanted to proceed with the application, while 36.4 percent wanted Iceland to withdraw from the process. Iceland started EU membership talks in 2010 and planned to vote on accession later this year, according to Foreign Minister Ossur Skarphedinsson. Bloomberg


No nuclear deal for UN envoy in Iran

VIENNA - The chief UN nuclear inspector returned from Iran without a hoped-for deal on investigating its nuclear programme. A team led by Herman Nackaerts of the International Atomic Energy Agency obtained only an agreement to meet in Tehran again next month. The IAEA conducts regular inspections of Iran's declared nuclear facilities but it also wants access to what it believes are sites where undeclared activities aimed at developing nuclear weapons took place until 2003, and possibly since. AFP


Zimbabwe breaks impasse on charter

HARARE - Zimbabwe's political leaders say they have reached an agreement on a new constitution after more than two years of delays and bickering over changes to reduce the sweeping powers of President Robert Mugabe and his ruling party. No details of the deal were released, but a coalition of democracy activists said that "sticky issues" were resolved, paving the way towards finalising the draft. AP