British producer David Cecil waves from a cell. Photo: AFP

Briefs, September 18, 2012


GAZA CITY - Four Palestinian hardliners were jailed after a Gaza military court found them guilty of the kidnap and murder of Italian peace activist Vittorio Arrigoni in April last year. Mahmud al-Salfiti, 24, and Tamer al-Husasna, 26, were each sentenced to life imprisonment. Another member of the salafist group, Khadr Faruk Jerim, 26, received a 10-year prison term for kidnapping the Italian, while Amer Abu Ghola, 26, was jailed for a year for providing the house in which he was found hanged. A salafist group had threatened to kill Arrigoni within 30 hours if Hamas failed to release a group of jihadist prisoners. Arrigoni's body was found shortly afterwards, ahead of the stated deadline. AFP


ROME - Pope Benedict's former butler and a Vatican computer technician will go on trial on September 29 on charges of leaking secret papers that revealed fraud and intrigue in the Holy See. The butler, Paolo Gabriele, has told investigators he was acting as an agent for the Holy Spirit to rid the Catholic Church of "evil and corruption". He is accused of aggravated theft, which carries a sentence of up to six years in prison, in a scandal dubbed "Vatileaks" by the Italian press. Also on trial is Claudio Sciarpelletti, who, according to court papers, played a secondary messenger role in the scandal. AFP


LONDON - Kweku Adoboli, the former trader on trial for allegedly costing Swiss bank UBS US$2.3 billion from unauthorised trades, was in debt and had several spread-betting accounts in violation of the bank's rules, a prosecutor said. The bank's compliance department notified Adoboli, 32, that he should have flagged his personal trading through the spread-betting firms IG Index and City Index to UBS beforehand, prosecutor Esther Schutzer-Weissmann said. Adoboli's personal bank accounts were mostly overdrawn and he had borrowed money from various short-term lenders, she said. Bloomberg



KAMPALA - Uganda released a British theatre producer on bail yesterday after he was arrested for unauthorised staging of a play about a gay man, his lawyer said. David Cecil - who faces up to two years in jail if found guilty - was charged with two counts, including one of "disobeying lawful orders". His lawyer said that Cecil was in good condition and had been ordered to appear back in court in around a month's time. The play - - was performed at venues in Kampala last month despite an injunction by Uganda's government-run media council. AFP


Police officer sacked over protester's death

LONDON - A Scotland Yard officer who was cleared by a British jury of killing a man caught up in the G20 protests in London in 2009 was sacked after being found guilty of "gross misconduct". Constable Simon Harwood, 45, was judged at a police disciplinary hearing over the death of newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson. Harwood was accused of hitting 47-year-old Tomlinson with a baton and pushing him to the ground. Tomlinson collapsed and later died, but the disciplinary panel said it would not consider whether the officer's actions caused the fatality. Tomlinson's widow stormed out of the hearing, calling it a "whitewash". AFP


7 killed in attack near Baghdad's Green Zone

BAGHDAD - A suicide bomber killed seven people and wounded an MP in an attack at an entrance to Baghdad's heavily secured Green Zone, where the Iraqi government is based, officials said. The attacker drove up to the entrance situated at the July 14 Bridge, which is manned by Iraqi soldiers and lies across the Tigris River from the Green Zone, before detonating an explosives-rigged vehicle, an interior ministry official said. Among the 24 injured was MP Habib Hamza al-Turfi, said another deputy, Ammar Toma. Reuters



Britain weighs IVF with DNA from 'third parent'

LONDON - A fertility technique that uses DNA from three parents to create an embryo could become legal in Britain after a public consultation on its ethical implications was launched. The results of the consultation will help inform a decision by the government on whether to legalise the technique as early as next year - potentially making Britain the first country to hold human trials into the treatment, The Daily Telegraph reported. The IVF-based technique is designed to avoid serious mitochondrial diseases inherited on the maternal side, by replacing some of the mitochondrial DNA with healthy DNA from the so-called third parent. AFP



Chicago schools closed as union extends strike

CHICAGO - A confrontation between Chicago teachers and Mayor Rahm Emanuel escalated when their union extended a strike and Emanuel said he would go to court to block the walkout, risking more friction within US President Barack Obama's political coalition. There were to be no classes in Chicago public schools yesterday and today, affecting 350,000 students. The showdown left in doubt a deal on wages, benefits and education reforms for 29,000 unionised teachers that negotiators thought they had struck on Friday. Reuters