DUBAI: A Bahraini court yesterday jailed seven Shias for 10 years after finding them guilty of attempting to murder policemen during protests, and acquitted 13 others, the attorney general said. The 20, all males, had been accused of “intentionally attempting to kill policemen in the (Shia) town of Sitra... using petrol bombs” in mid-February last year, said Attorney General Mhanna Al Shayji. Two policemen were wounded in the attack in which a security forces vehicle was burnt, he said in a statement. The main Shia opposition bloc Al-Wefaq said that the 20, among them five children, were “tortured” during their interrogation and that confessions had been “extracted under duress”. Bahrain has continued to witness sporadic Shia-led demonstrations which now take place in Shia villages surrounding the capital.
Ex-Gaddafi PM critical after torture in Libya
TUNIS: Al Baghdadi Al Mahmudi, the last premier of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, is in critical condition after being tortured in a Libyan prison, his Tunisian lawyer said. Mahmudi “is in critical condition as a result of the torture he has suffered,” said Mabrouk Kourchid, adding that “he could die”. The lawyer did not provide any further details nor reveal his sources for fear they could suffer reprisals. Mahmudi fled to Tunisia in September 2011, shortly after rebels seized Tripoli and effectively put an end to more than four decades of Gaddafi’s iron-fisted rule. He was arrested there and extradited to Libya last June, despite warnings from rights groups that he could face the death penalty. He went on trial in November for what the prosecutor general’s spokesman said were “prejudicial acts against the security of the state and financial crimes”.
Ocalan ‘to declare ceasefire on March 21’
DIYARBAKIR: The jailed leader of Kurdish rebels is set to call for a long-sought ceasefire on March 21, the day of the Kurdish new year, as part of a renewed push for peace with Ankara, officials said. “(The PKK) will declare at the very least a ceasefire by Newroz (March 21) and lay down arms by July-August, after which departure from the country will be discussed,” Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said in an interview on NTV news, relaying written instructions given by Abdullah Ocalan to the Kurdish rebel movement. Arinc was quoting a 20-page letter penned by the rebel chief outlining his views on a possible solution for the nearly three-decade-long conflict between the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Turkish security forces that has cost 45,000 lives, mostly Kurdish.
Balloon crash probe rules out criminal activity
LUXOR: An initial probe into a hot air balloon crash that killed up to 19 tourists in Egypt has ruled out any criminal activity as a cause of the accident, state media said yesterday. “Investigations so far by the general prosecution show no suspicion of criminal activity,” the official Mena news agency reported, citing the preliminary findings of the investigation. Four investigating teams were formed after Prime Minister Hisham Qandil ordered a probe into Tuesday’s balloon crash in the ancient temple city of Luxor that killed tourists from Hong Kong, Japan, Britain, France and Hungary. Luxor Governor Saad Ezzat and a delegation of Egyptian officials, as well as tourism industry professionals, visited the scene of the crash where they placed three bouquets of white flowers before observing a minute’s silence.
Saudi urged to disclose fate of Jordanian
AMMAN: Amnesty International urged Saudi Arabia yesterday to disclose the whereabouts of a Jordanian activist it said was arrested last month and ensure to that he is protected from torture. Web developer Khalid Al Natur, 27, was arrested on January 6 when he and four associates arrived at Riyadh’s airport on a business trip, Amnesty said, adding that the others “were told they would risk a similar fate if they did not leave the airport immediately”. Amnesty said Natur, a member of movement calling for political and economic reform in Jordan, was arrested last year near the Saudi consulate in Amman for insulting a security officer during a protest “against Saudi Arabia’s involvement in Bahrain”. “Neither the Jordanian authorities nor Natur’s family, who have sought information about his case, have been provided with an official response regarding his detention, including his whereabouts and the reason for his detention,” Amnesty said.
52 hurt in Algeria protest over social housing
ALGIERS: People angry over the allocation of subsidised housing have clashed with police in a town east of the Algerian capital, leaving 52 people injured, witnesses said yesterday. Rioters sacked the mayor’s office in Bodj Bou Arreridj, 230km from the capital, and partly blocked a motorway, causing tailbacks. Forty-three demonstrators and nine police were being treated in hospital, a day after the protests broke out when a list of 935 people being allocated social housing was published. The demonstrators gathered in front of the prefecture with banners that read: “We demand our right to housing” and “Down with corruption and favouritism”. Agencies