Foreign Digest

FOREIGN DIGEST

January 20, 2003

JERUSALEM — Israeli court rules West Bank leader can be tried

JERUSALEM - An Israeli court in Tel Aviv ruled yesterday that it can try Marwan Barghouti, a leader of the Palestinian uprising, rejecting defense claims that it has no jurisdiction. The trial will begin April 6, and the judges appointed a public defender for Barghouti, who has refused legal representation.

Barghouti, West Bank chief of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, will be tried for involvement in Palestinian terror attacks that took the lives of 26 Israelis. Barghouti contends that he is not involved in violence.

Millions of Cubans vote in uncontested elections

HAVANA - President Fidel Castro and millions of Cubans voted yesterday in parliamentary elections in which all 609 candidates ran uncontested. Many Cuban dissidents labeled the vote a farce and refused to participate.

Castro was among the candidates seeking re-election to the National Assembly. Other candidates seeking election included internationally known figures, such as Juan Miguel Gonzalez, father of Elian, the Cuban boy at the heart of an international child custody battle in 2000.

Teacher's death sentence is wrong, Iran judge says

TEHRAN, Iran - One of three Supreme Court judges reviewing the case of a university professor said that his death sentence should be thrown out because it is inconsistent with the charged on which he was convicted, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported yesterday.

Hashem Aghajari, a history professor at Tehran's Teachers Training University, was sentenced to death Nov. 6 after he was convicted of insulting Islam and questioning the hard-line rule of the clergy. Aghajari delivered a speech in June asking why only clerics had the right to interpret Islam, saying that each new generation should be able to interpret the faith on its own.

U.S. to demand ballot on Libya for rights post

UNITED NATIONS - Breaking with tradition, the United States plans to demand a vote when the U.N. Human Rights Commission chooses a new chairman today to show its opposition to the nation in line for the post - Libya - and force other countries to take a stand.

Libya is unfit because it has an "atrocious" human rights record, said Richard Grenell, spokesman for U.S. Ambassador John D. Negroponte, noting that Libya remains under U.N. sanctions stemming from the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.

Chavez warns Venezuela; immigrants urge peace

CARACAS, Venezuela - President Hugo Chavez threatened yesterday to order more raids on private food producers participating in a 7-week-old strike intended to force him from office.

Meanwhile, immigrants to Venezuela and their descendants marched through the capital, Caracas, to protest strike-related violence. They said the march was neither pro- nor anti-Chavez - a rare display of independence in this deeply polarized South American country.

Worshipers die in fall as cable snaps in India

PAWAGADH, India - Cables snapped yesterday and three cable cars carrying the faithful to a hilltop temple in western India fell to the ground, killing seven passengers and injuring 24, police said.

The cable cars carry hundreds of people a day to a hilltop temple at Pawagadh, 110 miles north of Ahmadabad, to offer prayers to Hindu goddess Durga. The cause of the accident was unknown.

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