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London police offered money to dead Brazilian's family

By wire services
Published August 21, 2005

LONDON - London police said in a statement Saturday they had offered a $26,950 payment to the family of an innocent Brazilian man who was killed but stressed it "does not inhibit any future claim that the family may have against the Metropolitan Police Service."

Jean Charles de Menezes, 27, was shot seven times in the head by police who tailed him to a south London subway station on July 22, one day after four bombs were planted by suspected terrorists. The bombs failed to detonate fully. Menezes was wrongly suspected of being a suicide terrorist.

Meanwhile, Britain's top security official, Home Secretary Charles Clarke, said Saturday he had full confidence in London Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair.

"I am very happy with the conduct, not only of Sir Ian Blair, but the whole Metropolitan Police in relation to the inquiry" into the shooting, Clarke told British Broadcasting Corp., a day after Menezes' cousin Alessandro Pereira called for Blair's resignation over the shooting death.

Jordan finds launcher used in rocket attack

AQABA, Jordan - The Jordanian police on Saturday continued to sift through evidence from a rocket attack the day before in the port city of Aqaba, and a nationwide search for suspects went on.

Interior Minister Awni Yirfas said Saturday that the police had found the rocket launcher used in the attack in a workshop about 5 miles from the port. Three Katyusha rockets were fired from the second floor of the building on Friday morning, apparently aimed at two American Navy vessels. The rockets missed the ships, but a Jordanian soldier was killed and a taxi driver was wounded.

Cherished stone stolen ahead of throwing contest

INTERLAKEN, Switzerland - A 184-pound stone that has been tossed for a century in a Swiss celebration of folklore and national heritage has been stolen, authorities said Saturday.

The Unspunnenstein, named after the site of Switzerland's most revered stone-throwing contest, was stolen Saturday morning from a hotel in the central Swiss city of Interlaken, where it was on display before the competition scheduled for Sept. 3 and 4, authorities said.

The stone is one of country's most cherished cultural objects and recalls a gathering called two centuries ago to reassert Switzerland's identity in the chaos of Napoleon's Europe.

While stone-throwing has its roots in the Middle Ages, competition above regional level began with the 1805 festival of Alpine herdsman at Unspunnen, a grassy meadow near Interlaken.

The event, first re-enacted in 1905 using the stone stolen Saturday, involves throwers lifting the boulder above their heads, running and hurling.

The Unspunnenstein was stolen before in 1984, but it was recovered in 2001.

Remote-control bomb kills three Russian police

MAKHACHKALA, Russia - A bomb detonated by remote control killed at least three police officers on patrol in Dagestan on Saturday, the latest violence to hit the troubled Russian region amid continuing fears about spreading violence in the Caucasus.

The bomb exploded Saturday afternoon as a four-man patrol walked in Makhachkala, the capital of the Caspian Sea region, said city police Lt. Col. Akhmed Magomedov.

A fourth officer was hospitalized in serious condition.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast.

Near-daily attacks on police and authorities in Dagestan have raised fears that violence is spreading from neighboring Chechnya. Since the beginning of the year, a series of explosions has killed more than 30 police and security officers and wounded scores of others in Dagestan.

Amnesty: Zimbabwe put homeless in worse camp

LONDON - Zimbabwe's government cleared out camps for those it made homeless in a so-called urban cleanup campaign, then secretly moved their inhabitants to the outskirts of the capital in even worse conditions, a human rights group said Saturday.

Amnesty International released footage it said had been smuggled out of Zimbabwe. The footage showed people sheltering in an area known as Hopley Farm under little more than blankets and sheets of plastic and lining up with buckets at a mobile water tank.

According to the human rights group, the government moved the refugees to the area the same day a U.N. investigator condemned conditions in the camps where they had been living before. Amnesty said there was no shelter or toilets at the camp and limited access to running water.

The human rights group called on Zimbabwe to say if other areas like Hopley Farm existed and ensure aid agencies had access to them.

Ruling party's picks sweep violent Pakistani elections

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Candidates supported by Pakistan's ruling party apparently swept violence-marred municipal elections amid allegations of vote rigging, though the U.S.-allied government insists the polls were free and fair.

At least 20 people were killed and more than 200 others wounded nationwide during the first phase of elections Thursday, police and media reports said. The elections were held in 53 districts.

The second and final phase of the elections will be held Thursday.

In Pakistan, elections for choosing mayors and councilors are held every four years. Municipal officials play a key role in the country's politics and supervise development work in their areas.

After fight over exiles, Cuba, Panama restore ties

HAVANA - Cuba and Panama restored diplomatic ties Saturday, one year after they were broken off in a dispute sparked by the decision by Panama's previous president to pardon four Cuban exiles accused of trying to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro.

Castro and Panamanian President Martin Torrijos looked on as a document was signed in Havana declaring normal relations.

Luis Posada Carriles - branded by Havana as the hemisphere's top terrorist - and three others were found innocent of plotting to kill the Cuban president, but were sentenced to terms of seven to eight years in Panamanian prisons on lesser charges. They were allowed to go free on former President Mireya Moscoso's orders.

Venezuela is currently urging the United States to extradite Posada, who has been held in Texas since May on charges he sneaked illegally into the United States.

[Last modified August 21, 2005, 01:02:04]

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