Europe may impose Magnitsky sanctions

A report on the death of Russian whistleblowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky that was presented to a European human rights body on Tuesday severely criticized Russia’s failure to hold anyone accountable for his death in pretrial detention.

Swiss lawmaker Andreas Gross, who prepared the report for the Council of Europe, said at a news conference that it would provide material for the council’s Parliamentary Assembly to consider when it debates possible sanctions against Russia at its winter session.

Magnitsky, who died in Moscow in November 2009, accused Russian officials of using documents stolen from the Hermitage Capital investment fund to pull off a $230 million tax fraud. Instead of pursuing the officials, authorities charged Magnitsky with the fraud. Recently, Russia opened a new case against him — posthumously — and brought charges against Hermitage founder William Browder.

Gross said the evidence he accumulated convinced him that Magnitsky was innocent and that responsibility lay with “a group of criminals, including the persons he had accused before these persons took him into custody, where he died.”

Six months ago, the United States passed the Magnitsky law, imposing financial and visa sanctions on certain Russian officials.

— Kathy Lally

Web sites shut down in North and South

Major government and media Web sites in South and North Korea were shut down for hours Tuesday on the 63rd anniversary of the start of the Korean War. Seoul said its sites were hacked, while it was unclear what knocked out those north of the border.

Seoul said experts were investigating attacks on the Web sites of the South Korean presidential Blue House and premier’s office, as well as some media servers.

The attacks in the South did not appear to be as serious as a March cyberattack that shut down tens of thousands of computers and servers at South Korean broadcasters and banks.

The North Korean Web sites shut down Tuesday included those belonging to the national airline, Air Koryo; the Rodong Sinmun newspaper; the official Uriminzokkiri site; and Naenara, the state-run Internet portal. All but Air Koryo’s site were restored a few hours later.

— Associated Press

Premier denounces protesters; 20 held

Police on Tuesday detained at least 20 people allegedly involved in violent protests, in the second sweep in Turkey’s capital, Ankara, this week, as the prime minister continued to lash out at protesters who he said were part of a conspiracy to injure the nation.

Meanwhile, hundreds marched to Istanbul’s Taksim Square to denounce a court decision to free, pending trial, a police officer accused of killing a protester during the ­anti-government demonstrations that have swept the country this month.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan holds unspecified foreign forces, bankers and media outlets responsible for the protests, which followed a police clampdown on peaceful activists.

“Their aim is to prevent democracy, to harm Turkey’s economy, to hit tourism,” he said in parliament.

— Associated Press

U.N. greenlights deployment of Mali force: The U.N. Security Council approved the July 1 deployment of a new Mali peacekeeping force tasked with helping the government regain control of rebel-held areas and organize elections while facing severe logistical challenges in a vast desert territory. The June 18 accord between Mali’s government and the Tuareg rebels has raised hopes that the West African country is on track to regain stability after losing half its territory last year to a rebel invasion.

At least 23 killed in Iraq attacks: A suicide bomber blew himself up among a group of demonstrators in the ethnically disputed northern Iraqi city of Tuz Khormato, in the deadliest in a spate of attacks that killed at least 23 people nationwide, authorities said. Turkmen protesters were demanding tighter security after a deadly car bombing Sunday when the bomber struck, killing at least 11 people, including two Turkmen leaders.

Libya chooses new parliament leader: Libyan lawmakers elected a new parliament chief, replacing the leader who stepped down to comply with a law that bans officials from the former regime from senior posts. Nouri Abu Sahmein, the first member of the minority Berber sect to hold such a senior post, drew support from a bloc led by the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm.

— From news services