Foreign Digest: Rioting in Burma could imperil reforms, officials say

March 25, 2013
britain
Police say Russian died by hanging

A post-mortem examination found that self-exiled Russian
tycoon Boris Berezovsky died by hanging, and there was nothing pointing to a violent struggle, British police said.

Thames Valley Police said Monday that further tests, including toxicology examinations, will be carried out. The force did not specify whether the 67-year-old businessman hanged himself, but they have said there was no evidence to suggest anyone else was involved in the death.

Once one of Russia’s richest men and a Kremlin power broker, Berezovsky fled to Britain in 2001 and claimed political asylum after a bitter falling-out with Russian President Vladimir
Putin. Berezovsky had survived several assassination attempts in Britain and Russia, including a car bomb in 1994 that killed his driver.

Berezovsky’s body was found by an employee on the bathroom floor at his upscale England home on Saturday. The employee called an ambulance after he forced open the door, which was locked from the inside.

— Associated Press

Burma
Rioting could imperil reforms, officials say

Burma’s government warned Monday that religious violence could threaten democratic reforms after anti-Muslim mobs rampaged through three more towns in the country’s predominantly Buddhist heartland.

The mobs destroyed mosques and burned dozens of homes over the weekend despite attempts by the government to stem the latest outbreak of sectarian violence in Burma, also known as Myanmar..

In an announcement Monday night on state TV, the government pledged to make “utmost efforts” to halt the violence and incitement of racial and religious unrest. “We also urge the people to avoid religious extremes and violence which could jeopardize the country’s democratic reform and development,” it said.

President Thein Sein had declared an emergency in the affected areas of central Burma on Friday and deployed army troops to the worst-hit city, Meikhtila, where at least 32 people were killed. According to the United Nations, more than 12,000 people were displaced.

— Associated Press

Israel
Mossad agent may have made key error

An Israeli secret agent whose death in Israel’s highest-security prison was kept secret for nearly two years may have inadvertently revealed details of one of Israel’s most important intelligence-gathering networks, according to accounts published Monday.

Why Mossad agent Ben Zygier, who was known until earlier this year only as Prisoner X, was jailed had been a lingering mystery of the case. Zygier spent nearly a year in solitary confinement so intense that not even his jailers knew his real name before he died, allegedly a suicide.

The new reports suggest that Zygier was a desk-bound agent who botched a self-initiated effort to turn a Hezbollah operative into an Israeli agent, instead revealing the identities of Israeli operatives in Lebanon.

According to Fairfax Media, Australia’s largest newspaper publisher, and Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine, which conducted a joint investigation into the case, Zygier unwittingly handed over intelligence files to a man he thought he was turning into a double agent for Israel.

— McClatchy-Tribune

Italian prosecutors seek to overturn Knox acquittal: A state prosecutor urged Italy’s top court Monday to overturn the acquittal of American Amanda Knox and a former boyfriend in the killing of British student Meredith Kercher and order a new trial. Kercher’s body was found in the apartment she shared with Knox in Perugia in 2007. The prosecutor’s argument came in the second and final level of appeal in the case.

Egyptian activists face arrest: Egypt’s top prosecutor issued arrest warrants Monday for five rights activists on suspicion of inciting violence against members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group that supports President Mohamed Morsi. The move came a day after Morsi sternly warned his opponents he might be close to taking unspecified measures to protect the nation. Morsi was visibly angry during the speech.

American convicted in Dubai: A Dubai court has convicted an American businessman of fraud and sentenced him to 15 years’ imprisonment after a nearly five-year legal battle that included a hunger strike and a failed attempt to flee. Lebanese-born Zack Shahin was found guilty of taking nearly $5.5 million in bribes as head of Dubai-based Deyaar Development. The case brought diplomatic tensions
between the United Arab Emirates and the United States,
which had backed Shahin’s demand for a trial after years in
detention.

— From news services

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