Jumaat, 11 April 2014

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The Star Online: World Updates

Former U.S. Marine Hekmati retried, convicted in Iran - report

Posted: 11 Apr 2014 07:10 PM PDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iranian-American Amir Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine whose previous death sentence in Iran on espionage charges was overturned, has been secretly retried, convicted of collaborating with the U.S. government and sentenced to 10 years in prison, the New York Times reported on Friday, quoting his lawyer.

The newspaper quoted lawyer Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei as saying Hekmati, held since 2011, was not told by Iranian officials about the retrial, conviction or prison sentence. The Times quoted Tabatabaei as saying Hekmati was retried by a revolutionary court in December and convicted of "practical collaboration with the American government."

The U.S. State Department did not confirm the developments but reiterated America calls for his release.

"We remain concerned about the fate of Mr. Hekmati, who has been detained by Iranian officials for over two years and was sentenced on fabricated espionage charges. We again ask Iranian authorities to release him so he may be safely reunited with his family," said a State Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Times said Tabatabaei suggested that Hekmati possibly could be released in a matter of months, particularly if the United States frees at least some Iranian prisoners. The newspaper said the lawyer did not name these prisoners.

Tabatabaei said that "a lot depends on the Americans," the Times reported. "If they show their good will, it will become much easier to get Mr. Hekmati freed," the lawyer was quoted as saying.

The Hekmati case is another irritant in relations between the United States and Iran. The report about Hekmati's case came on the same day that the U.S. government said it would not grant a visa to Iran's proposed U.N. ambassador, citing the envoy's links to the 1979-1981 hostage crisis.

Hekmati was arrested in August 2011, his family says, and convicted of spying for the CIA, a charge his relatives and the United States deny. His family says he was detained while visiting his grandmother in Tehran.

He was sentenced to death, but a higher court nullified the penalty in March 2012 and sent the case to another court.

Tabatabaei said he learned of the retrial, conviction and sentence only recently in discussions with Iranian judiciary officials, the Times reported. The newspaper said the lawyer informed Hekmati, who is being held in Tehran's Evin prison, as well as his family members in Flint, Michigan.

Hekmati's family has called for his release. The family has struggled to pursue the case because Iran and the United States have no direct diplomatic relations. Ties were cut in 1980 after Iranian students took 52 U.S. diplomats hostage following the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Hekmati served as an infantryman, language and cultural adviser and Arabic and Persian linguist in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2001 to 2005, performing some of his service in Iraq.

The Times reported that Tabatabaei, who is well connected to Iran's highest leaders, gave the information about Hekmati in interviews this week at his office in Tehran, providing the first authoritative disclosures in more than two years about the status of the case.

The United States and other world powers are engaged in negotiations with Iran over curbing the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for easing economic sanctions.

(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Ken Wills and Mohammad Zargham)

Madagascar names new prime minister, eyes World Bank aid

Posted: 11 Apr 2014 04:40 PM PDT

ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) - Madagascar named Kolo Christopher Laurent Roger, a radiologist who lived abroad for decades, as its new prime minister on Friday, part of a process aimed at ending prolonged political turmoil on the Indian Ocean island.

Kolo, 70, faces a big challenge reviving the mineral-rich island's economy, which has slumped since a 2009 military coup.

President Hery Rajaonarimampianina, who took office in January, has pledged to woo foreign investors and tourists to Madagascar, which is famed for its exotic wildlife and also boasts nickel, cobalt, coal, iron ore and uranium deposits.

"(Roger Kolo) was proposed by 12 parties with 93 members (backing him). The majority required by the constitution was easily exceeded," Rajaonarimampianina told a news conference announcing the choice.

"If I took so much time to name him, it's because I listened to many parties," he added.

In Madagascar, the president wields most power, while the prime minister's job is to run day-to-day affairs of government and to implement the president's policies and orders.

However, the World Bank has said its resumption of normal lending would hinge on the appointment of a new prime minister.

The International Monetary Fund restored ties with Madagascar in March. External financing made up 40 percent of the island's budget until donors withdrew aid after rebel troops led by former disc jockey Andry Rajoelina seized power in 2009.

Rajoelina has been at the heart of a power struggle that stoked five years of turmoil in the island nation. He was barred from standing in December's presidential election under the terms of a peace deal brokered by regional African states.

Kolo, who returned to Madagascar last year after spending more than 30 years abroad and who ran a radiology practice in Switzerland, was barred from contesting the presidential election because of residency rules.

Rajoelina ruled out seeking the post of prime minister for himself in February, a decision that was seen easing political divisions that had driven away investors and hurt the economy.

U.S. says G7 backs more sanctions if Russia escalates Ukraine crisis

Posted: 11 Apr 2014 03:50 PM PDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A group of the world's leading rich nations will support increasing sanctions against Russia if Moscow escalates the crisis in Ukraine, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said on Friday.

"There is broad and strong unity within the G7 on increasing sanctions and costs in response to escalating action from Russia," Lew said at a news conference, referring to the Group of Seven industrial nations.

(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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