Vantican envoy attends service for Holocaust
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published April 16, 2007
The Vatican's ambassador to Israel attended a Holocaust Remembrance Day service on Sunday, reversing an earlier decision to boycott the event. Monsignor Antonio Franco said last week he would skip the ceremony at Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem because Catholics were offended by a caption at the museum describing the wartime conduct of Pope Pius XII. The caption says that the pope "did not protest" the slaughter of Jews by German Nazis in World War II and that he "maintained his neutral position" with the exceptions of appeals to Hungary and Slovakia toward the end of the war. The Vatican says Pope Pius spearheaded discreet diplomacy that saved thousands of Jews.
Men hijack copter to free inmate
Two men hijacked a helicopter Sunday and forced the pilot to land in a prison courtyard, where they picked up an inmate in a dramatic jailbreak, the pilot told Belgian television. The accomplices paid for a helicopter ride, saying they were tourists, pilot Eric Mathieu told the RTL-TVI network. After takeoff, they produced a pistol and hand grenade, ordering Mathieu to fly to Lantin prison outside Liege. Mathieu said he touched down while about 200 prisoners were exercising in the yard. One climbed on board while his accomplices threw tear gas canisters into the crowd. The helicopter then landed less than a half-mile away, where the three men drove away in a waiting car, VRT television news said. RTL-TVI identified the fugitive as a Frenchman who was in pretrial detention on charges of fraud and theft. RTBF television said he had previously escaped from prisons in France and Spain.
Deaths, fraud mar state elections
The president's ruling party took a commanding lead Sunday in state elections marred by allegations of fraud and clashes that left at least 21 people dead. The chaotic Saturday elections for state lawmakers and governors bode ill for a crucial presidential vote this month to set up the country's first handover of power between elected civilians. Most of the deaths during Saturday's vote came in fights between supporters of rival political parties or during attempts to skew the vote, according to newspaper reports. Previous elections have seen roughly similar levels of violence.
Ecuador: Ecuadoreans voted overwhelmingly Sunday to support an ambitious plan to call a special assembly to rewrite the constitution and weaken the discredited Congress, an exit poll showed. Official results will not be available for five days.
Gaza Strip: A previously unknown Palestinian group said Sunday it had killed a British journalist kidnapped over a month ago. "The brigades of Tawheed and Jihad" said it killed British Broadcasting Corp. correspondent Alan Johnston, 42. The BBC and the Palestinian government said there was no evidence to back up the claim.
Vatican City: Pope Benedict XVI gave thanks for his 80 years of life dedicated to the Roman Catholic Church with a special Sunday Mass. His birthday is today.
Germany: A German army instructor who ordered a soldier to envision himself facing hostile blacks in New York while firing his machine gun is still on duty, the army said Sunday. The July 2006 incident was videotaped and is under investigation.
[Last modified April 16, 2007, 01:56:37]
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