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Hezbollah militants may be charged in Hariri death

Thursday, July 29, 2010; A10

LEBANON

Hezbollah militants may be charged in Hariri death

Lebanon is braced for another political crisis as a special tribunal set up to try the killers of Rafiq al-Hariri, the former prime minister, appears to be heading toward indicting members of Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group.

Hasan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, which is supported by Syria and Iran, has been making frequent television appearances, hammering home the message that his organization will fight any charges. He portrays the suggestions as a conspiracy engineered by Israel.

The 2005 assassination of Hariri -- a well-connected Sunni leader backed by Saudi Arabia -- was a political earthquake in Lebanon, deepening divisions in society and inflaming sectarian tensions. It was the start of a campaign of killings that claimed the lives of several anti-Syrian Lebanese figures.

For years, Hariri's supporters maintained -- and U.N. investigators indicated -- that elements in the Syrian regime, which then controlled Lebanon, were behind the killing. Anti-Syrian protests and international uproar in response to the assassination led to the establishment of the tribunal and forced Damascus to withdraw its troops after nearly 30 years of a military presence in Lebanon.

-- Financial Times

SOUTH AMERICA

Region's leaders to meet on Uribe-Chávez dispute

An emergency meeting of South American leaders has been scheduled for Thursday in Quito, Ecuador, to defuse a bitter dispute that began when Colombian President Álvaro Uribe accused his Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chávez, of supporting Colombian guerrillas.

That prompted Chávez to sever relations with Colombia and charge that Colombia is preparing to invade his oil-rich country. In a speech Sunday, he accused the Obama administration of being behind the machinations and said he would immediately end oil exports to the United States should Colombia strike, "even if we have to eat rocks here."

With only days left in Uribe's presidency, his government released video and photos last week that Colombian diplomats said show rebel activity inside Venezuela. Chavez denies the allegations.

-- Juan Forero

SPAIN

Catalonia region votes to ban bullfighting

Lawmakers in Catalonia outlawed bullfighting Wednesday, making it Spain's first major region to ban the deadly, centuries-old ballet between matador and beast after heated debate that pitted animal rights against a pillar of traditional culture.

Cheers broke out in the local 135-seat legislature after the speaker announced the ban had passed, 68 to 55 with nine abstentions. It will take effect in 2012.

Catalonia, which lies along Spain's northeast coast, is a powerful, wealthy area with its own language and culture and a large degree of self-rule. Many throughout Spain have seen the anti-bullfighting campaign here as a further bid by the region to stand out from the rest of the country.

The practical effect of the ban will be limited: Catalonia has only one functioning bullring, in Barcelona, the region's capital. Still, bullfighting buffs and Spanish conservatives see the ban as a stinging anti-Spanish rebuke.

-- Associated Press

FRANCE

Al-Qaeda calls ban on veils discriminatory

Al-Qaeda's No. 2 slammed France's push to ban the Islamic full-face veil and urged Muslim women to be "holy warriors" in defense of their headdress in a new audio message released Wednesday on militant Web sites.

Ayman al-Zawahiri said the drive by France and other European nations to ban the veil amounted to discrimination against Muslim women. "Every single woman who defends her veil is a holy warrior . . . in the face of the secular Western crusade," he said.

-- Associated Press

Germany indicts Nazi suspect: An alleged former death camp guard, Samuel Kunz, 88, has been charged with participating in the murder of 430,000 Jews at the Belzec camp in occupied Poland, German prosecutors said Wednesday.

Cameron seeks India trade: British Prime Minister David Cameron wooed Indian business leaders Wednesday in a pitch aimed at revitalizing his nation's economy with help from the burgeoning Asian power it once ruled.

-- From news services

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