E.U. brokers historic Serbia-Kosovo deal

Serbia agreed to cede its last remaining foothold in the country’s former province of Kosovo on Friday, striking a historic accord to settle relations in exchange for talks on joining the European Union.

The deal, brokered by the E.U., capped six months of delicate negotiations and marks a milestone for the region’s recovery from the collapse of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

If implemented, it could unlock Serbia’s potential as the largest market in the former Yugoslavia, taking the country from international pariah under late strongman Slobodan Milosevic to the threshold of mainstream Europe.

“And the white smoke is out! Habemus pactum! Happy:)))” Kosovo’s E.U. integration minister, Vlora Citaku, tweeted after a two-page plan was signed outlining an end to the ethnic partition of Kosovo between its Albanian majority and a small pocket of about 50,000 Serbs in the north.

The schism has hindered regional stability and development since Kosovo seceded from Serbia in 2008. The Kosovo Serbs, who are widely expected to resist, were already demanding a referendum on the deal Friday.

In exchange for limited autonomy for the Serb north, Serbia agreed not to block Kosovo’s path to eventual E.U. membership — a concession Kosovo hailed as recognition of independence.

— Reuters

Jury rules on woman denied an abortion

A miscarrying Indian woman who died from blood poisoning in an Irish hospital after being denied an abortion perished because staff bungled her diagnosis and didn’t treat her promptly, a jury unanimously ruled Friday in a case that has divided Ireland.

The findings from a coroner’s inquest into the causes of Savita Halappanavar’s Oct. 28 death at University Hospital Galway confirmed what her widower, Praveen, has said all along: Hospital staff refused to give his wife an abortion citing the country’s Catholic social policies, waited three days until the 17-week-old fetus had died, then discovered she was in an advanced state of septicemia. She died 31 / 2 days later from organ failure.

At the conclusion of the coroner’s probe, he praised Praveen Halappanavar for his courage in protesting publicly against his wife’s treatment. Halappanavar then shook the hands of the six-man, five-woman jury that ruled she died from “medical misadventure,” meaning incompetence in her care.

Later he said legal action would continue to try to make particular staff members responsible for her death.

— Associated Press

French hostage freed in Cameroon: A French family with four young children kidnapped at gunpoint by Islamic extremists in northern Cameroon was freed after two months of captivity in what the father described as harsh conditions following the group’s return to safety Friday in the Cameroonian capital, Yaounde. Officials from France and Cameroon offered no details on how the family was freed overnight, and it was not clear whether there were concessions to the kidnappers. Tanguy Moulin-Fournier, the father, is an expatriate employee of a French company in Yaounde.

Islamists, opponents clash in Cairo: Supporters and opponents of Egypt’s Islamist president battled near Cairo’s Tahrir Square as an Islamist rally demanding a purge of the judiciary devolved into violence. Islamist backers of President Mohamed Morsi say the courts are infused with loyalists of the former government who are blocking his policies, while opponents fear that Islamists want to take over the judiciary and get rid of secular-minded judges to consolidate the Muslim Brotherhood’s power.

New Delhi 5-year-old ‘critical’ after alleged rape: A 5-year-old Indian girl was battling for her life after being kidnapped by a 22-year-old neighbor in New Delhi and raped over two days, her father said. Doctors at the hospital where the girl was admitted said her condition was “critical” and objects were removed from her body. Family members, neighbors and activists staged protests outside the hospital against the authorities, including police who the family said had offered it $37 to “keep quiet.”

Attacks kill nine worshipers in Iraq: Mortar shells and bombs were used to target worshipers shortly after noon prayers at two Iraqi mosques, killing nine people and wounding more than two dozen others, police said. The mortar attack in Khalis, a former stronghold of the Sunni insurgency 50 miles north of Baghdad, destroyed a Sunni mosque and left seven dead. Later, a roadside bomb killed two Shiite worshipers in the northern city of Kirkuk.

Italy’s Prodi drops presidential bid: Former prime minister Romano Prodi withdrew Friday from the race for the Italian presidency, deepening the chaos in the center-left after party rebels helped his old enemy, Silvio Berlusconi, scupper his candidacy. The collapse of the center-left’s efforts to secure the presidency for Prodi underlines the political fracture lines in a country still seeking a government nearly two months after an inconclusive general election.

Hotelier trapped for days in Austrian elevator: The Swedish manager of an Austrian hotel was trapped in a faulty elevator for four days before a bread delivery man heard his cries for help Friday, police said. The 58-year-old was in good physical condition after his ordeal in the spa town of Bad Gastein, near Salzburg, police said.

— From news services