In Brief

IN BRIEF

December 17, 2008|By FROM SUN NEWS SERVICES

Iraqi shoe hurler is set to appear before judge

BAGHDAD: The Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at President George W. Bush was expected to appear before a judge today in a first step of a complex legal process that could end in a criminal trial, a government official and the reporter's brother said. Muntadhar al-Zeidi has been in custody since Sunday, when he gained folk hero status in the Arab world by throwing both shoes at Bush during a news conference in Baghdad. Bush ducked twice during the bizarre assault and was not injured. Despite widespread sympathy for his act across the region, Iraqi authorities sent the case to the Central Criminal Court of Iraq, which handles security and terrorism cases. An investigative judge will review the evidence and decide whether al-Zeidi should stand trial - a process that could take months. Iraq officials have recommended charging him with insulting a foreign leader, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of two years imprisonment or a small fine. If the judge finds enough evidence to warrant prosecution, a judicial panel would appoint three judges to hear the case and set a trial date.

Ore. bomb suspect's father is charged

SALEM, Ore.: The father of a Salem man accused of killing two Oregon law enforcement officers in a bank explosion was arrested yesterday on bomb-making conspiracy charges, authorities said. Bruce Turnidge, 57, faces charges of conspiracy to manufacture and possess an explosive device, the Marion County district attorney's office said. His son, Joshua Turnidge, 32, appeared in court yesterday on charges that include aggravated murder in the explosion Friday at the West Coast Bank in the agricultural town of Woodburn. The charge carries a potential death sentence.

China blocks access to Web sites again

HONG KONG: The Chinese government has quietly begun preventing access again to Web sites that it had stopped blocking during the Beijing Olympic Games in August, Internet experts said yesterday. Liu Jianchao, a spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry, said at his semiweekly news conference yesterday in Beijing that the Chinese government has a right to censor Web sites that violate the country's laws. He added that "some Web sites," which he did not identify, had violated China's law against secession by suggesting that there are two Chinas - a reference to the Beijing government's long-standing position that mainland China and Taiwan form a single China.

Woman undergoes first U.S. face transplant

CLEVELAND: A woman so horribly disfigured that she was willing to risk her life to do something about it has undergone the nation's first near-total face transplant, the Cleveland Clinic announced yesterday. Reconstructive surgeon Dr. Maria Siemionow and a team of other specialists replaced 80 percent of the woman's face with that of a female cadaver a couple of weeks ago in a bold and controversial operation certain to stoke the debate over the ethics of such surgery. The patient's name and age were not released, and the hospital said her family wanted the reason for her transplant to remain confidential. The hospital plans a news conference today and would not give details until then. The transplant was the fourth worldwide; two have been done in France, and one was performed in China. Surgeons not connected to the Cleveland case reacted cautiously since little is known about the circumstances, but they generally praised the operation.

Fla. police close case in 1981 Walsh killing

HOLLYWOOD, Fla.: A serial killer who died more than a decade ago is the person who decapitated the 6-year-old son of America's Most Wanted host John Walsh in 1981, police in Florida said yesterday. The announcement brought to a close a case that has vexed the Walsh family for more than two decades, launched the television show about the nation's most notorious criminals and inspired changes in how authorities search for missing children. "Who could take a 6-year-old and murder and decapitate him? Who?" an emotional John Walsh said at yesterday's news conference. "We needed to know. We needed to know. And today we know." Police named Otis Toole, saying that he was long the prime suspect in the case and that they had conclusively linked him to the killing. They declined to be specific about their evidence and did not note any DNA proof of the crime but said an extensive review of the case file pointed only to Toole, as John Walsh long contended.

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