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World in brief

Germany releases suspected 9/11 aide

By Wire services
Published December 12, 2003

BERLIN - The United States' refusal to allow testimony from a jailed al-Qaida figure prompted a Hamburg judge on Thursday to order the release of a Moroccan accused of aiding the Sept. 11 hijackers.

The judge acted after reviewing new evidence that Ramzi Binalshibh, a suspected member of the Hamburg al-Qaida cell that planned and executed the World Trade Center attacks, told U.S. interrogators that only he and the three suicide pilots from the Hamburg cell knew about the attacks before they happened. The judge said that while he had strong doubts about the reliability of the evidence, he could not properly evaluate it without testimony from Binalshibh.

Abdelghani Mzoudi, 31, is charged with acting as an accessory in the deaths of more than 3,000 people in the Sept. 11 attacks. While Ruehle granted the defense lawyers' request for an immediate release, the trial, now in its final stages, will continue.

GERMAN RAIDS: Police raided the home of an Islamic militant as part of a nationwide sweep against members of his banned organization, seizing weapons and making five arrests during searches of nearly 1,200 homes. The predawn operation involved 5,500 officers and targeted sympathizers of Caliphate State, a group seeking the overthrow of Turkey's secular government.

Amid acrimony, former French president honored

PARIS - Ending an unusual bout of sniping among France's rarefied intelligentsia, former President Valery Giscard d'Estaing was elected to the revered Academie Francaise on Thursday in a symbolic gesture of support for the European Union.

Academy officials said 19 of 34 of its "immortals," as members are known, voted for the French statesman, currently head of the European Union's effort to draft a constitution.

Giscard's candidacy drew fire from foes who said he had doubtful literary credentials and carried a potential conflict of interest. As French president from 1974 to 1981, he served as the academy's "protector," a job that entails approving members.

"It's a very happy moment for me," said Giscard, 77. "I'm reaching an age when "immortality' has become a safe haven."

Foes weren't impressed.

"This is the worst election since 1722 . . . when there was a similar issue," said academician Maurice Druon, Giscard's chief detractor. "The Academy will never be quite the same as it was - for a certain time."

Slain politician's son freed in southern Russia

MAKHACHKALA, Russia - The 11-year-old son of a slain politician was freed after 31/2 years in captivity in southern Russia, and the head of the regional antikidnapping unit was a suspect in the case, police said Thursday.

Dzhamal Gamidov, who was abducted in 2000, weighed just 33 pounds when he was found by chance Wednesday, said Adilgerey Magomedtagirov, the interior minister of Dagestan, a troubled Russian province bordering Chechnya.

"He was harassed, neglected," Patimat Kabordiyeva, the head of the hospital intensive care unit treating the boy, told state-run Rossiya television. "He had hardly received any food or any water."

Magomedtagirov said that among those arrested was Imamutdin Temirbulatov, the head of the regional police unit charged with fighting kidnapping.

The boy's father, Dagestani Economy Minister Gamid Gamidov, was killed in 1997 when a bomb exploded in his ministry.

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