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World in brief

Britain weighs secretive courts for terror cases

By wire services
Published August 10, 2005

LONDON - Britain is considering setting up secretive courts to make it easier to prosecute terror suspects - and to hold them without charge for longer than the current 14 days - as part of the crackdown after the deadly London bombings, officials said Tuesday.

The Home Office said it was weighing changing the pretrial process to deal with particularly sensitive terror cases, with the aim of "securing more prosecutions." Currently, terror suspects can be held for two weeks without charge; after they are charged, police can no longer question them. Police have asked the government to extend this period to three months.

The antiterror courts - run by judges with high-level security clearance - would meet behind closed doors to study the merits of the case against terror suspects, rule on highly sensitive evidence and decide how long the suspect could be held, the Guardian newspaper reported Tuesday.

U.S. soldier killed in Afghanistan fighting

KABUL, Afghanistan - Fighting sparked by an insurgent attack on coalition forces in southern Afghanistan killed one U.S. service member and at least 16 suspected Taliban rebels amid violence ahead of key legislative elections, the military said Tuesday.

The American - the fourth U.S. casualty in less than a week - was killed when militants opened fire with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades on Afghan and U.S. forces Monday in Zabul province's Day Chopan district, a remote and mountainous region known as a hub of rebel activity.

U.S. and coalition aircraft joined the ensuing battle. The military gave no further details.

Elsewhere . . .

SUB INQUIRY: Russian prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into how seven men were trapped in a mini-submarine in the Pacific after initial findings pointed to negligence on the part of officials overseeing the mission.

GAZA PULLOUT: Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas warned his people Tuesday that attacks during Israel's Gaza Strip pullout would harm their chances for independence. "There is a requirement to ensure the withdrawal takes place in a civilized manner," Abbas said.

[Last modified August 10, 2005, 00:38:10]

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