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WORLD IN BRIEF

Tuesday, April 26, 2005; Page A11

9/11 Suspect in Spain Denies He Helped Organize Attacks

MADRID -- The man accused of leading an al Qaeda cell in Spain denied charges that he helped organize the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by arranging a final planning meeting, telling judges Monday that he had nothing to do with that act of "terrible savagery."

Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, the main suspect in Spain's case against al Qaeda, described himself as a hardworking father of six who struggled to make ends meet.

He took the stand on the second day of the trial of 24 terror suspects -- Europe's biggest court case against radical groups with alleged ties to Osama bin Laden's terror network. If convicted, he faces a symbolic sentence of almost 75,000 years in prison -- 25 years for each of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Europe

ROME -- Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi skipped a march to commemorate Italy's liberation from fascism 60 years ago, adding to his political troubles as he gears up to win crucial support for his newly formed coalition.

Berlusconi was criticized -- mainly by the center-left opposition, but also by his new coalition -- for not attending the main commemorative march in Milan, just two days before his revamped cabinet is scheduled for a required confidence vote in parliament.

Africa

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia -- The third and final piece of the Axum obelisk arrived in Ethiopia from Italy, as thousands cheered the return of a symbol of African civilization stolen by European troops in 1937.

"This is the land of the Queen of Sheba, and the obelisk belongs here," said Ethiopian President Girma Woldegioris, wiping tears of joy from his eyes. "I never thought I would be alive to see its return."

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi also watched as a cargo plane landed and workers unloaded the 1,700-year-old piece of carved granite.

LOME, Togo -- Security forces fired tear gas and stun grenades at crowds of angry opposition supporters in Togo's capital, as vote-counting got underway a day after a tense presidential election.

Electoral rivals meeting in Nigeria in a bid to avert the mounting violence agreed to abide by the outcome of Sunday's ballot, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said.

The Americas

CARACAS, Venezuela -- President Hugo Chavez said a military exchange program with the United States was canceled because U.S. officers in Venezuela were spreading a negative image of his government to the soldiers they were training.

The U.S. Embassy said Venezuela had abruptly and without explanation ended the 35-year-old military exchange program. Ambassador William Brownfield said the five U.S. officers in Venezuela involved in the program had been notified.

-- From News Services


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