In Brief

IN BRIEF

January 21, 2009|By From Sun news services

Not guilty plea entered in killing of Hudson's kin

CHICAGO: Jennifer Hudson's brother-in-law pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges that he fatally shot the Oscar-winning actress' mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew. William Balfour, 27, entered not guilty pleas to first-degree murder and home invasion charges in a Cook County courtroom. Balfour is the estranged husband of Hudson's sister, Julia Hudson. He is charged in the deaths of the sisters' mother, Darnell Donerson, their brother, Jason Hudson, and Julia Hudson's son, Julian King. Prosecutors allege that Balfour shot the three in a jealous rage because he was upset Julia Hudson had been dating another man. The bodies of Donerson and Jason Hudson were discovered Oct. 24 at the family's South Side home. The boy's body was found three days later in an SUV on the city's West Side. Balfour's next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 27.

Prosecutors seek stay on Guantanamo trials

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba: Guantanamo prosecutors are seeking to put the war crimes trials on hold while the future of the widely criticized tribunals remains in doubt, a military defense lawyer said yesterday. Under the proposal, the prosecutors would ask judges to stay pending cases while President Barack Obama's administration reviews the military commissions system and the legal alternatives for prosecuting suspected terrorists, said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Bill Kuebler, a military defense lawyer who represents a Canadian being tried before the tribunals. Kuebler said that the chief prosecutor for the military commissions discussed the plan earlier yesterday with the chief defense counsel but that the defense opposes the idea and thinks that, in any case, the judges would reject it. A Pentagon spokesman who was at Guantanamo, Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon, declined to comment.

1,500 Rwandan troops enter eastern Congo

NAIROBI, Kenya: More than 1,500 Rwandan troops crossed into Congo early yesterday as part of a joint military operation to crack down on rebel militias that have been destabilizing the central African nation for more than a decade. It marks the second time in a month that Congolese President Joseph Kabila has made a controversial decision to invite foreign troops onto his soil to help restore security in eastern Congo. The latest campaign appears to be targeting a Rwandan rebel army that also sought refuge in Congo's dense jungles. The Hutu militia, known as Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR, is accused of seeking to overthrow Rwanda's Tutsi-led government. The Rwandan troops began making their way toward the town of Rutshuru, north of the regional capital of Goma, where they were expected to join Congolese troops with tanks and other heavy equipment, United Nations officials said.

Bomb scare closes stretch of N.J. Turnpike

WOODBURY HEIGHTS, N.J. : A potential bomb threat that shut down part of the New Jersey Turnpike yesterday has been found not to be credible, New Jersey State Police said. Sgt. Stephen Jones, a state police spokesman, said troopers took a 27-year-old Massachusetts man into custody after a car stop about 6:15 p.m. yesterday in the southbound lanes of the turnpike in Woodbury Heights about six miles south of Exit 3. Jones said state police stopped the car after receiving a tip from federal authorities that the driver might be armed and dangerous, and possibly carrying a bomb. Jones said the original tip came from a member of the man's family. State police initially shut down a 30-mile stretch of the turnpike in both directions from Exit 4 in Mount Laurel to its southern terminus near the Delaware Memorial Bridge. By 9:45 p.m., all northbound lanes had been reopened, and southbound lanes from Exit 4 to Exit 2 in Woolwich were expected to reopen within a half-hour, state police said. .

U.S. secures safer Afghan supply routes

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Russia and neighboring Central Asian nations have agreed to let supplies pass through their territory to American soldiers in Afghanistan, lessening Washington's dependence on dangerous routes through Pakistan, a top U.S. commander said yesterday Securing alternative routes to landlocked Afghanistan has taken on added urgency this year as the United States prepares to double troop numbers there to 60,000 to battle a resurgent Taliban eight years after the U.S.-led invasion. U.S. and NATO forces get up to 75 percent of their "non-lethal" supplies such as food, fuel and building materials from shipments that traverse Pakistan, a volatile, nuclear-armed country.

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