Brazil Jury Convicts Two

In Murder of U.S. Nun

BELEM, Brazil -- Two Brazilian men were convicted Saturday of killing an American nun who spent decades working as a human rights and environmental activist in the Amazon rain forest, in a trial many saw as a test of Brazil's commitment to prosecuting land-related killings.

Rayfran das Neves Sales and Clodoaldo Carlos Batista were found guilty of killing Dorothy Stang on Feb. 12 in the heart of the Amazon rain forest.

The seven-member jury sentenced Salas, who shot Stang six times with a .38 caliber revolver on a muddy road, to 27 years in prison. Batista, charged as an accomplice, was sentenced to 17 years.

Stang, 73, was killed in Para state, a region notorious for corruption and violence against peasants. In the past 20 years, violence has claimed the lives of 534 people. Before Saturday, only eight of the killers had been convicted.

Prosecutor Esdon Cardoso said the case would be resolved only when three other suspects are convicted, including two ranchers accused of ordering the killing.

ASIA

* LAHORE, Pakistan -- The country's Supreme Court has extended a ban on making, selling and flying kites that it imposed two months ago after ruling the sport had become increasingly deadly, an official said.

While the court was hearing the case, police swung batons and lobbed tear-gas shells outside the building to disperse about 500 kite makers and kite-flying enthusiasts who were trying to attend the proceedings.

* KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Nine policemen were killed in two separate attacks by Taliban guerrillas in southern Helmand province, police said.

THE MIDDLE EAST

* DUBAI -- Al Qaeda's deputy leader, Ayman Zawahiri, praised Islamic militants in Iraq, saying they were forcing U.S. troops to look for a way out of the Arab country, according to an audiotape whose contents were posted on the Internet.

"If it were not for the sacrifices of the mujaheddin in Iraq . . . there would have been no bold jihadi resistance there. It is that resistance which stabs America every day and makes it scream and search feverishly for a way out of its predicament there," said the tape, apparently recorded in September.

* CAIRO -- An Egyptian court extended the detention of opposition politician and former presidential candidate Ayman Nour until Dec. 12 when his trial on forgery charges resumes, Nour's attorney said. Nour was President Hosni Mubarak's main rival in Egypt's presidential election in September, winning 7 percent of the vote.

EUROPE

* BERLIN -- Germany's new foreign minister described as outrageous a suggestion that German authorities may have played a role in the CIA abduction of a German citizen in 2003.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier told the newspaper Bild he learned only afterward of the abduction of Khaled Masri, who was flown to Afghanistan for interrogation as a suspected terrorist.

Steinmeier was chief of staff to former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder at the time of the abduction and as such had close contacts with German security services. He is due to be questioned about the affair in parliament on Wednesday.

The affair has provided an early test for Germany's new coalition government, in office for less than a month. It caused diplomatic embarrassment this week when Chancellor Angela Merkel, at a joint news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said Washington had acknowledged Masri's abduction was a mistake. U.S. officials denied making any such admission.

AFRICA

* HARARE, Zimbabwe -- President Robert Mugabe conceded that shortcomings in his land redistribution program contributed to critical food shortages as his party wrapped up its annual conference.

Poor planning, corruption, lawlessness, vandalism, crumbling infrastructure and shortages of fertilizer and seed have compounded the effects of recurring drought, Mugabe told about 3,000 delegates of his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front gathered in the western Zimbabwe town of Esigodini.

"All this translates into low production and food insecurity," Mugabe said in a speech broadcast on state-run television.

Mugabe's party, which has governed since independence from Britain in 1980, strengthened its grip on power in Senate elections last month that left its main opposition deeply divided. But party chairman John Nkomo conceded Friday the country's economic crisis threatened to unravel the political gains.

-- From News services