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Weekly World News Briefs

Friday, February 16, 2007

Written by Gonzalo Moreno

North Korea Agrees to Dismantle Nuclear Arsenal

After several rounds of multilateral talks between North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the US, Kim Jong-Il’s communist dictatorship agreed on Tuesday to shut down its production of nuclear material. The agreement will allow international inspectors into North Korea to verify the country’s compliance. In exchange for this dismantling, North Korea will receive generous quantities of food and specially fuel aid, and will also be symbolically struck off the infamous “Axis of Evil” list.

Trial of Madrid Train Bombings Begins

The criminal trial for the train bombings that took place on March 11, 2004 began this Thursday in Madrid, Spain. It has taken almost three-years to complete the investigation of the bombings, which is now over 80,000 pages long. There are 29 people charged with planning, aiding, and executing the attacks, which killed 191 people and wounded 1,824 others. In the first day of the trial, Rabei Osman, an Egyptian citizen who has also been charged with being a member of Al-Qaeda and is considered to be the mastermind behind the bombings, declared his innocence and refused to answer further questions. It is anticipated that the trial will last about 6 months, with a final verdict coming in the early fall. The trial is considered a benchmark because it is the first time that Islamic terrorists of this magnitude stand trial in a Western nation. Although conviction could result in thousands of years’ worth of cumulative prison sentences for the accused (Osman alone faces cumulative sentences of over 30,000 years), Spanish law includes neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment, so, if convicted, the accused will face a maximum of 40 years in prison.

European Parliament Condemns “Extraordinary Rendition” Practices

The European Parliament condemned on Wednesday the use of European Union airports and airspace to allow the CIA to transport detainees to third countries where they were interrogated free of the guarantees of U.S. law, a process known as “extraordinary rendition.” The Parliament’s investigation comes years after the first episodes of CIA “rendition flights” were reported in countries like Spain, Germany, Italy and the UK. The report condemns individual countries and the Council of the European Union for “turning a blind eye” to these operations. On a related matter, an Italian judge ordered 26 US citizens, including the former heads of CIA missions in Rome and Milan as well as several individuals presumed to be CIA field agents, to stand trial for the kidnapping of Abu Omar. Omar, a Muslim cleric, was kidnapped in broad daylight off a Milan street, and claims to have been rendered to Egyptian authorities and subsequently tortured.

Bush Spars with Iran

Tension between the US and Iran mounted over the course of this week. US intelligence reports blamed elements of the Iranian regime for the smuggling of potent armor-piercing weapons into Iraq, weapons that were used in attacks against American soldiers. In a press conference on Wednesday, US President George W. Bush danced between attributing the smuggling to an elite unit of the Iranian military and refraining from blaming the highest levels of the Iranian government for the incident. This latest spatter of conflict with the Islamic republic came on the eve of a vote of a non-binding resolution to oppose Bush’s much-touted “troop surge.”

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