WORLD IN BRIEF

WORLD IN BRIEF

Thursday, February 28, 2008

COLOMBIA

Rebels Hand Over Four Hostages to Ch¿vez

Marxist rebels freed four Colombian hostages from their "living death" in the jungle Wednesday in a victory for Venezuela's president, Hugo Ch¿vez, who brokered the deal. Venezuelan helicopters painted with Red Cross logos picked up the four lawmakers -- all taken by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia more than six years ago -- and flew them to Venezuela.

The three men and one woman appeared in sound health, although one of the men, believed to have suffered heart problems, looked gaunt and walked more slowly than the others.

Venezuelan officials said the handover raised hopes for a broader deal to free dozens more hostages, including French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and three Americans, whose cases have drawn worldwide attention. Betancourt is seriously ill and mistreated by her captors, the released hostages said.

THAILAND

Police Arrest Ousted Premier Upon His Return

Deposed Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra returned Thursday from 17 months in exile to face corruption charges, saying he hopes to restore his reputation following his ouster. Police immediately took him into custody.

Thousands of supporters -- dancing, beating drums and singing -- gathered at Suvarnabhumi International Airport for his arrival from Hong Kong. But authorities quickly detained the billionaire and drove him to court to face charges against him. He was then granted bail.

Thaksin, 58, was deposed in a September 2006 coup and had lived abroad since. He had expected to face arrest after arriving on charges of graft and abuse of power during his 2001-06 time in office.

SPAIN

20 Terrorism Suspects Acquitted of Bomb Plot

Judges acquitted 20 radical Islamic terrorism suspects Wednesday of conspiring to blow up the court that is the nerve center of the country's anti-terrorism investigations, but they convicted them of lesser offenses. The National Court found 18 of the 20 suspects guilty of belonging to a terrorist organization and the two others of collaborating with the group. Sentences ranged from five to 14 years in prison.

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U.N. Peacekeepers Leave Eritrea-Ethiopia Border

Most of the U.N. peacekeepers on Eritrea's border with Ethiopia have moved to Eritrea's capital, Asmara, after the Red Sea state withdrew its cooperation, the United Nations said.

From News Services


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