World Digest: Oct. 29, 2013

EGYPT
Brotherhood trial judges step down

The judges presiding over the trial of nearly three dozen members of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, including its top leader, resigned Tuesday after security agencies refused to let the defendants attend the courtroom sessions, judicial officials said.

The move represented a sharp pushback from within the establishment over the conduct of the trial amid criticism by the Brotherhood that wide-ranging prosecutions of its leaders, including ousted president Mohamed Morsi and group leader Mohammed Badie, are vengeful show trials.

The resignation of the three-judge panel overseeing the trial of Badie and 34 other Brotherhood members was an implicit but sharp criticism of the fairness of the prosecutions.

Separately, a Brotherhood-led Islamist coalition said that Morsi is refusing to appoint a lawyer to represent him in his trial, which is due to start Nov. 4, because he does not recognize the tribunal or the political system in place since his ouster. Both trials are centered on charges that the defendants incited deadly violence.

— Associated Press

RUSSIA
New charges filed against Navalny

Russia’s main investigative agency said Tuesday that it has filed new theft and money-laundering charges against opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his brother.

The Investigative Committee said Navalny and his brother Oleg are accused of stealing more than 30 million rubles (more than $940,000) from a commercial company. Navalny dismissed the charges as politically motivated.

In July, he was convicted of embezzlement in a separate case, but a court suspended his five-year sentence this month. Navalny won 27 percent of Moscow’s mayoral vote in September, finishing a strong second behind the Kremlin-backed incumbent.

— Associated Press

TURKEY
Istanbul rail tunnel connects continents

Turkey has opened an underwater railway tunnel linking Europe and Asia, as well as the two sides of Istanbul, realizing a plan initially proposed by an Ottoman sultan about 150 years ago.

The 8.5-mile-long Marmaray tunnel runs under the Bosporus, the strait that connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara. It is one of several large infrastructure projects undertaken by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that have helped boost the economy but also provoked protest.

Started in 2005 and scheduled to be completed in four years, the project was delayed by important archaeological finds, including a 4th-century Byzantine port.

— Associated Press

Next date is set for U.N.-Iran nuclear talks: U.N. efforts to investigate suspicions that Iran has worked on nuclear arms appeared to gain traction in Vienna on Tuesday, with both sides speaking of “very productive” talks after nearly two years of deadlock and agreeing to meet again on Nov. 11 in Tehran. Negotiators for Iran and the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency declined to go into details, but their expressions of optimism and agreement not only to meet again, but also to do so in Tehran, was seen as progress.

Vietnamese dissident sentenced to house arrest: A Vietnamese Facebook user who campaigned online for the release of a brother jailed for criticizing the government was handed the relatively light sentence of 15 months of house arrest for “abusing” his freedom. The case follows a sharp increase in arrests and prison terms for government critics in the past few years that has alarmed the United States, a former enemy that is struggling to build a case for deeper trade ties.

Kenyan soldiers to face charges over mall looting: Two Kenyan soldiers were fired for stealing items during the deadly siege last month of Nairobi’s Westgate Mall, Kenya’s military chief said, adding that the men were in detention pending charges. The two were found with cellphones and other items stolen from the mall.

139 pieces of probable Nazi-looted art identified: Dutch museums said they have found 139 artworks that may have been looted during the Nazi era, including paintings by Matisse, Klee and Kandinsky. They have identified 20 definite looting victims, linked with 61 of the works, and were contacting or seeking the heirs.

— From news services

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