Military court starts trial of journalist

The military trial of an Egyptian journalist accused of spreading false information about the army’s counterinsurgency operations in the volatile Sinai Peninsula opened Sunday behind closed doors but was soon postponed for a few days so lawyers could review his case, a security official said.

The detention of freelancer Ahmed Abu-Draa, a resident of the Sinai, and his trial by military tribunal have caused an outcry among journalists in Egypt. Egyptians rely on local reporters for news from the lawless northern Sinai.

Dozens of journalists protested Abu-Draa’s detention and trial outside the courtroom where he is being tried in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia. The media watchdog Reporters Without Borders has called for his immediate release.

The court adjourned until Wednesday, said the security official, who attended the session and spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to the media.

Abu-Draa was detained 11 days ago after he wrote on Facebook that airstrikes ostensibly targeting militants had hit civilian areas and that military officials were misinforming the public. He questioned the military’s statements about its operations against militant groups in the Sinai.

— Associated Press

Anti-E.U. party’s rise is threat to Cameron

British Prime Minister David Cameron’s hopes of being reelected in 2015 suffered a setback Sunday when a poll showed that a party opposed to the European Union had split the center-right vote in dozens of decisive constituencies.

The poll focused on 40 of Britain’s 650 parliamentary seats that Cameron’s Conservative Party won with the slimmest of margins in the 2010 national election. It showed that the main opposition Labor Party had made little progress in the constituencies despite being ahead in opinion polls nationwide.

But a surge in backing for the UK Independence Party was siphoning off support from the Conservatives, the poll showed, pointing to a Labor election victory.

If an election were held today, the poll said, Labor would win 32 of the 40 seats in the constituencies surveyed and would win overall power in Britain with a majority vote of about 60 percent.

— Reuters

Agency gives nod to right listing ship

Authorities have given the final go-ahead for a daring attempt Monday to pull upright the crippled Costa Concordia cruise liner from its side in the waters off Tuscany, a make-or-break engineering feat that has never been attempted in such conditions.

The ship capsized 20 months ago, and Italy’s Civil Protection Department waited until sea and weather conditions were forecast for dawn Monday before giving the permission to try to right it.

The Concordia struck a reef near Giglio Island the night of Jan. 13, 2012, took on water through a 230-foot gash in its hull and capsized just outside the harbor. Thirty-two of the 4,200 passengers and crew members died. The bodies of two of the dead have never been recovered.

Never before have engineers tried to right such a huge ship so close to land. If the operation succeeds, the Concordia will be towed away and broken up for scrap.

Salvage experts had hoped to right the 115,000-ton vessel in spring 2012, but heavy storms hampered work. Crews have raced to get the Concordia upright before another winter season batters the ship against its rocky perch, which would increase the chance that it couldn’t be towed away in one piece.

— Associated Press

Female police officer shot in Afghanistan: Gunmen shot the top female police officer in a troubled southern Afghan province on Sunday, leaving her facing possible paralysis just months after her predecessor was killed, government and hospital authorities said. It was the latest in a series of attacks on prominent women in Afghanistan, where 1 percent of the police force is female. The officer, identified only as Negar, was outside her home when gunmen drove by on a motorcycle and fired at her, said Omar Zawak, a spokesman for the governor of Helmand province.

Anti-graft Malawian official wounded in shooting: Malawi’s budget director was shot and severely wounded Friday in an attack that was apparently related to his efforts to fight corruption, the president’s office said Sunday. Paul Mphwiyo was the victim of “a barbaric and targeted shooting,” the office of President Joyce Banda said.

1 dead as Cambodian police clash with protesters: Riot police in Cambodia clashed with protesters in the nation’s capital on Sunday, fatally shooting one and wounding six, opposition activists said. The government of Prime Minister Hun Sen is facing a new wave of demonstrations after a disputed July election. The demonstrations in Phnom Penh, which also left one police officer injured, marked one of the biggest challenges to the autocratic rule of Hun Sen, who has been in power for nearly three decades. They also raised fears that bloodier days could be ahead, with opposition leader Sam Rainsy vowing to keep up the pressure until the post-election deadlock is resolved.

— From news services