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World Digest: Pakistani court blocks extradition of captured Taliban leaders

Saturday, February 27, 2010; A08

PAKISTAN

High court blocks Taliban extraditions

The Lahore High Court barred the government Friday from sending captured Afghan Taliban leaders abroad, a day after Afghan officials said Pakistan had agreed to hand over the group's No. 2 commander.

Pakistan, a U.S. ally, has captured at least four senior Taliban members in recent weeks, including top military strategist Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai's office said Thursday that Pakistan had agreed to hand Baradar over. Pakistani officials said Wednesday that Baradar was being investigated for crimes in Pakistan and would be tried there first.

Islamist rights activist Khalid Khawaja had lodged a petition with the Lahore court expressing concern that Baradar and other captured Taliban leaders would be extradited to the United States.

-- Reuters

COLOMBIA

Court ends hopes for Uribe reelection

Colombia's constitutional court rejected on Friday a referendum to allow President Álvaro Uribe's reelection in a ruling that effectively ends his chance of seeking a third consecutive term in May.

The decision marks the start of a tough campaign among rivals seeking to replace Uribe, who had become one of the country's most popular presidents for his U.S.-backed campaign against leftist guerrillas.

Under Uribe, Latin America's oldest insurgency has ebbed and foreign investment has flowed steadily into Colombia. Many Colombians praised Uribe as the man who steered the country onto the right track.

-- Reuters

THAILAND

Thaksin family assets are ordered seized

Thailand's highest court ruled Friday that ousted leader Thaksin Shinawatra abused his power to enrich himself and his family while in office and ordered that $1.4 billion of his telecommunications fortune be seized.

The ruling could anger Thaksin's millions of supporters, boding ill for mending the rifts in Thai society after four years of political unrest centered on him.

But some analysts suggested the court's decision not to seize all $2.3 billion at stake was a compromise that could foster reconciliation.

Thaksin was deposed in a September 2006 military coup after being accused of corruption and abuse of power. The action was intended to quell tensions sparked by months of anti-Thaksin demonstrations but instead polarized the country.

-- Associated Press

British court discloses ruling on MI5: A British appeals court made public a ruling criticizing domestic intelligence agency MI5's handling of an alleged victim of torture overseas, rejecting a government bid to keep it secret. That ruling included details of the mistreatment of Binyam Mohamed, a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who alleges he was tortured in Pakistan in 2002. MI5 had denied it knew of any mistreatment.

More officers held in Turkish coup inquiry: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that no one is above the law as police detained an additional 18 military officers in connection with a probe into an alleged 2003 coup plot. The investigation, in which about 50 other officers were arrested this week, will be "painful, but it will be beneficial for 72 million people," Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara.

New truce faces threat in Darfur: Heavy fighting between government forces and a rebel group in central Darfur sent thousands of people fleeing and tested a regional cease-fire signed Tuesday in Qatar, rebels and U.N. officials said. The fighting involved a rebel faction that shunned the truce.

Ivory Coast opposition to join government: Ivory Coast's opposition agreed to join a new government, ending a standoff sparked when the president dissolved the last one. The move suggests the crisis might be resolved without further street demonstrations of the kind that have left at least five people dead.

U.N. allows more time for Gaza probes: The U.N. General Assembly voted to give Israel and the Palestinians an additional five months to conduct independent investigations of alleged war crimes during last winter's conflict in the Gaza Strip and warned of "further action" by U.N. bodies if they do not.

-- From news services

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