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Daily Archives: 07/12/2010

Somali islamist group claims responsibility for Uganda blasts

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One of the survivor of Sunday’s bomb blast in Mulago Hospital in the Ugandan capital Kampala, Monday, July 12, 2010. An al-Qaida-linked Somali militant group suspected in twin bombings in Uganda’s capital that hit crowds watching the World Cup final endorsed the attacks Monday but stopped short of claiming responsibility. (Getty)

(KATAKAMI / RFI.FR) The Somali Islamist group al-Shebab has claimed responsibility for the overnight bomb blasts in the Ugandan capital Kampala that killed at least 74 people.

“We are behind the attack because we are at war with them,” Ali Mohamoud Rage, the group’s top spokesman told reporters in Mogadishu.

In an audio message earlier this month the group said that Uganda would face retaliation for its role in supporting the western-backed Somali transitional government.

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A health worker at Mulago Hospital treats one of the survivors of Sunday’s explosion in the Ugandan capital Kampala, Monday, July 12, 2010. An al-Qaida-linked Somali militant group suspected in twin bombings in Uganda‘s capital that hit crowds watching the World Cup final endorsed the attacks Monday but stopped short of claiming responsibility. (Getty)

“We had warned the Ugandans to refrain from their actions, we spoke to the leaders and we spoke to the people and they never listened to us,” Rage said.

Meanwhile, the global police agency Interpol has said it will send a team to Uganda to assist local officers.

Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble branded the attack on Kampala football fans “despicable and cowardly” and said that Ugandan police chief Kale Kayihura had requested assistance.  (*)

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Russian president warns Iran getting closer to being able to make nuclear weapons

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July 12, 2010

MOSCOW (KATAKAMI / MACLEANS.CA)  – Russia’s president says Iran is closer to being able to develop nuclear weapons and new sanctions against Iran could stimulate efforts to resolve tensions.

Russian news agencies on Monday quoted Dmitry Medvedev as telling a meeting of Russian ambassadors that “Iran is getting closer to possessing the potential that in principle can be used to produce nuclear weapons.”

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Although Russia had generally resisted sanctions against Iran, it supported a new round of them that the U.N. imposed in June.

“They do make a certain sense — it is a signal to stimulate the negotiating process,” Medvedev was quoted as saying.

Russia has clearly become impatient with its longtime ally in the dispute between Iran and the international community over its nuclear program.

Swiss won’t extradite Polanski on child sex charge

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July 12, 2010

(KATAKAMI / CNN) — Switzerland will not send Oscar-winning filmmaker Roman Polanski to the United States to face sentencing for child sex charges, the Ministry of Justice announced Monday.

He is now free, the ministry said.

Polanski pleaded guilty in Los Angeles, California to having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977 but fled to Europe before he was sentenced.

He was arrested in Switzerland last year and had been fighting extradition since then.

Switzerland was not making a decision about the severity of the charge or whether Polanski was guilty, Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said.

“It’s not about qualifying the crime. That is not our job. It’s also not about deciding over guilt or innocence,” she said.

The Swiss rejected the American request because the United States did not supply all the legal records Switzerland requested, and because Polanski had a reasonable right to think he would not be arrested if he visited the country, she said.

U.S. prosecutors cannot apply again to Switzerland to have Polanski sent there, she said, but could apply to other countries to detain and extradite him.

The U.S. Justice Department declined to comment on the Swiss rejection.

Polanski was 43 at the time he had unlawful sex with the girl. He is now 76.

Prosecutors dropped rape and other charges in exchange for his guilty plea.

But Polanski fled the country before he was sentenced after learning that the judge might not go along with the short jail term Polanski expected to get in exchange for his plea.

He has been a fugitive since 1978 and lived in France before his arrest.

Swiss authorities released the director from jail on $4.5 million bail in early December “pending extradition” to the United States.

Polanski’s victim came forward long ago and has made her identity public, saying she was disturbed by how the criminal case had been handled.

Samantha Geimer, now in her 40s and a married mother of three, has called for the case to be tossed out.

Her attorney, Larry Silver, reiterated her position in December , saying details of the case harm her every time the story is in the news.

Defense attorneys also argued that prosecutors are ignoring the victim’s wishes.

Polanski’s attorney, Chad Hummel, has been pushing for Polanski to be sentenced without having to return to Los Angeles.

Prosecutors have vigorously opposed sentencing him in absentia.

In court papers filed in January, Deputy District Attorney David Walgren stated the reasons in no uncertain terms.

“The defendant is a fugitive,” Walgren wrote. “A fugitive child rapist, who for 32 years has made a mockery of our criminal justice system, should not be given the power or authority to request anything of this court until he, the criminal, acknowledges this court’s lawful authority by surrendering on his outstanding warrant.”

Polanski won an Oscar for best director for the Holocaust drama “The Pianist,” and was nominated for “Tess,” “Chinatown,” and the screenplay he wrote for “Rosemary’s Baby.”  (*)

World Cup champions return home to heroes’ welcome

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Spain’s Sergio Ramos, center, is congratulated by a policeman as the team comes down the plane steps after arriving at Madrid’s Barajas airport on Monday, July 12, 2010. Spain won the World Cup after defeating the Netherlands 1-0 on Sunday.  (Getty)

July 13, 2010

AFP – Spain gave its football team a heroes’ welcome Monday as their World Cup triumph over the Netherlands inspired a red and gold fiesta after years of dashed hopes.

As the South African hosts prided themselves for defying pessimistic predictions, up to a million people were expected to line the streets of Madrid for an evening victory parade to cap off their sporting fairytale.

A huge cheer erupted from a crowd gathered at Madrid airport when keeper Iker Casillas emerged from the squad’s plane with coach Vicente del Bosque and held aloft the golden trophy.

The team were to meet Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero before taking an open top bus through the capital in a moment of pure joy for a country hit by spiralling unemployment and a stuttering economy.

The party had begun immediately after Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta scored the final’s only goal late on Sunday, three minutes before the end of extra time after a match watched by an estimated 700 million people worldwide.

Spain's defender Carles Puyol (centre) and midfielder Xavi Hernandez (left) celebrate on the plane before their arrival at Barajas' airport in Madrid. As Spain returned to Madrid to a welcome befitting their status as freshly-crowned world champions FIFA president Sepp Blatter delivered a glowing appraisal to World Cup hosts South Africa.

Photo : Spain’s defender Carles Puyol (centre) and midfielder Xavi Hernandez (left) celebrate on the plane before their arrival at Barajas’ airport in Madrid.

Others imitated bullfighters and waved Spanish flags over passing cars while chanting “Ole!” to celebrate Spain’s first win World Cup triumph, garnering record Spanish viewing figures.

Zapatero said he had “suffered like never before” as he watched the game in Johannesburg’s Soccer City staudium.

The victory came exactly a week after Spain’s Rafael Nadal lifted the Wimbledon tennis trophy and caps a series of major sporting achievements, including a European title for the nation’s basketball team.

The victories have brought a sliver of happiness to a country where around 20 percent of the active population is jobless and the economy is forecast to contract by 0.3 percent over 2010 as a whole.

While Zapatero’s Socialist administration is keeping its fingers crossed that the feel-good factor will linger, the South African government is also hoping the tournament will bring long-term benefits.

Ever since it became the first African nation to win the right to stage the world’s biggest sporting event, South Africa has had to fend off accusations that rampant crime and lack of infrastructure made it an unsuitable choice.

While there were armed robberies of journalists and thefts from team hotels, a massive police deployment helped ensure the nightmare vision of fans being gunned down did not come to pass.

The crowning glory for the organisers came on Sunday night when South Africa’s first black president, the now 91-year-old Nelson Mandela, rode onto the field in a golf cart, bringing rapturous cheers.

President Jacob Zuma said the World Cup brought “priceless” benefits for attracting South Africans of all races into the stands. He said South Africa could now think about staging the Olympics.

But while the World Cup was marked by a show of unity, massive challenges now lurk in a country still struggling to bridge a racial divide some 16 years after the end of apartheid and a gaping chasm between rich and poor.

In a sign of the tensions bubbling below the surface, immigrants fearing anti-foreigner attacks sought refuge in several South African police stations in Cape Town and surrounding areas on Monday after looting at the weekend.

“The challenge, now, is to ensure that the infrastructure that has been developed, particularly the transport infrastructure, benefits all South Africans, especially the poor,” the Nobel Prize-winning archbishop Desmond Tutu said.

The Dutch won over few neutrals on Sunday with their sometimes brutal approach towards their opponents. Centreback Johnny Heitinga was sent off and seven other players booked by English referee Howard Webb.

The team however will be given a warm welcome on their return home with a parade along the canals of Amsterdam planned for Tuesday and a reception with Queen Beatrix.

“We have to be very proud of the team. They had us in raptures for a month,” Crown Prince Willem-Alexander told Dutch television.

“They will get the tribute next Tuesday that they deserve (in Amsterdam), and we will all see that it is also quite special to have come second here in South Africa.”

The end of the tournament was marred meanwhile by bomb attacks on crowds watching the World Cup final at two restuarants in the Ugandan capital Kampala which killed 74 people.

Ugandan authorities blamed Somali Islamist militants.