BY Wire Reports
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
1/29/13 at 2:33 AM
Guatemala City: Guatemala ex-dictator to stand trial for genocide
A former U.S.-backed dictator who presided over one of the bloodiest periods of Guatemala's civil war will stand trial on charges he ordered the murder, torture and displacement of thousands of Maya Indians, a judge ruled Monday.
Jose Efrain Rios Montt is the first former president to be charged with genocide by a Latin American court.
Guatemala's leaders have been criticized for years for their inability or unwillingness to prosecute government forces and allied paramilitaries accused of entering Mayan villages, carrying out rapes and torture, and slaughtering women, children and unarmed men in a "scorched earth" campaign aimed at eliminating support for a left-wing guerrilla movement.
Rios Montt served as a Guatemalan congressman for 15 years until he lost a re-election race late last year. He had held immunity from prosecution while a member of Congress and was put under house arrest after losing his post.
Rome: Italian court: Missile caused 1980 plane crash
Italy's top criminal court has ruled there is ''abundantly" clear evidence that a stray missile caused an Italian passenger jet to crash into the Mediterranean Sea in 1980, killing all 81 people aboard.
Quoting from the Rome ruling on Monday, the Italian news agency LaPresse said the court upheld a Palermo appeals ruling that Italian radar systems didn't adequately protect the skies and Italy must compensate the victims' families.
What caused the Itavia DC-9 to crash during a flight from Bologna to Palermo has been one of Italy's enduring mysteries.
Some theorized a bomb exploded. Others contended the jet was caught in the crossfire of a military aerial dogfight, with a Libyan plane possibly the target. French, U.S. and NATO officials have denied military activity in the skies that night.
Tehran, Iran: Iran says monkey sent on successful space voyage
A gray-tufted monkey strapped in a pod resembling an infant's car seat rode an Iranian rocket into space and returned safely, officials said Monday in what was described as a step toward Tehran's goal of a manned space flight.
The mission also touched on concerns that advances in Iran's rocket expertise could be channeled into military use for long-range weapons that might one day carry nuclear warheads. Iran says it does not seek atomic weapons.
Launching a live animal into space - as the U.S. and the Soviet Union did more than a half-century ago in the infancy of their programs - may boost a country's stature. But John Logsden, a space policy professor emeritus at George Washington University, said Iran's achievement should draw no concern.
"A slight monkey on a suborbital flight is nothing to get too excited about," he said. "They already had the capability to launch warheads in their region."
Abuja, Nigeria: Nigerian who stole $145M pays fine to avoid prison
A man who formerly helped oversee Nigeria's police pension program pleaded guilty Monday to stealing $145 million, but walked out of court a free man after agreeing to a plea bargain that saw him pay only a fraction of it back.
The plea deal given to John Yakubu Yusufu and read in court sparked immediate anger across Nigeria, a nation where many feel government officials pilfer pension funds and oil revenue without any fear of prosecution. Yusufu will pay only a $14,000 fine, forfeit some properties and pay about $2 million in restitution, something that the nation's top anti-corruption agency immediately criticized.
Justice Mohammed Talba, who agreed to the plea deal in a Federal High Court, sentenced Yusufu to serve two years in prison. However, Talba said Yusufu could pay the fine and the restitution, which also includes turning over 32 properties he allegedly purchased with the stolen money.
Moscow: Putin sacks leader of volatile Russian province
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday sacked the regional leader of Dagestan, a province that has become the epicenter of Islamist insurgency in the Caucasus.
The ouster of Magomedsalam Magomedov appears to reflect Kremlin concern about rising violence in Dagestan, which lies 340 miles east of the Black Sea resort of Sochi, the host of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
A man dressed as a "Momotxorro," a natural entity made of bones and sheepskin, walks to take part in a carnival in the Basque village of Zubieta in Spain on Monday. In one of the most ancient carnivals in Europe, dating from before the Roman empire, companies of Joaldunak (cowbells) and Momotxorros parade between the villages of Zubieta and Ituren. DANIEL OCHOA DE OLZA / Associated Press