quarta-feira, 10 de fevereiro de 2010
Five US citizens held in Pakistan on suspicion of plotting attacks have alleged that US officials directed their torture to extract confessions.
The US embassy in Islamabad has dismissed the claims as "baseless".
The men, who are being held in the city of Sargodha, earlier stated in court that they had been tortured by the Pakistani authorities.
They deny claims they were plotting attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan and had sought links with extremists.
The men, aged between 18 and 25, were arrested in Sargodha in November on suspicion of trying to contact al-Qaeda linked groups and plotting attacks against Pakistan and its allies.
Officials say the men were planning to travel to Afghanistan to fight with the Taliban. The men have denied having links to al-Qaeda and insist that they wanted to go to Afghanistan for charity work.
They face life imprisonment if put on trial and found guilty. A Pakistani court has barred their deportation to the US.
"The boys told me that Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents were present and were directing their interrogations," Khalid Khawaja, a human rights activist handling the case told the BBC.
"I have a written statement which says the Americans were asking them to which militant organisation they belonged.
"Pakistanis were beating them up and Americans kept asking them questions.
"The agents demanded they confess that they had come here (to Sargodha) to attack the nearby nuclear plant".
Mr Khawaja said that the men had also made accusations of torture in the court where their case is being heard.
He said it was only because of US pressure that the men had been arrested.
"There is no real evidence against them," he said.
"I intend to file a petition in the next few days asking the court to dismiss all charges against them".
Ukraine's Central Election Commission (CEC) is split in opinions on fraud reports during the presidential election runoff, with some calling the reports "legal spam" and others calling for recount.
Opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych narrowly won Ukraine's presidential election with 48.95% of the vote, with his rival Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko garnering 45.47% of the vote, 3.48 points behind Yanukovych, according to preliminary results announced Wednesday with 100% of ballots counted following Sunday's second round.
CEC members voiced different viewpoints on the situation. Deputy CEC head Zhanna Usenko-Chyornaya told journalists Wednesday that votes could be recounted at some polling stations in Ukraine due to several dozen complaints received by the election authorities.
"Getting familiarized with the first of them already provides grounds to instruct relevant district election commissions to recount votes," Usenko-Chyornaya said.
But another CEC member, Mikhail Okhendovskiy, said the election commission was "piled with legal spam" as "one of the candidates was trying to create an illusion of rigging".
"In fact, documents provided as proof of rigging can be qualified, mildly speaking, as legal spam," he said, adding that the Central Election Commission "had no serious reports of violations of law during Ukraine's presidential election".
Oleksandr Turchynov, a Ukrainian first deputy prime minister who also heads Tymoshenko's election headquarters said Wednesday Ukraine's presidential election had been rigged in some regions and this has been proven legally. Tymoshenko's team demanded that the CEC recount votes at over 900 polling stations.
KIEV, February 10
By Gregg Zoroya, USA Today
Mideast edition, Thursday, February 11, 2010
The Army needs to double its staff of substance abuse counselors to handle the soaring numbers of soldiers seeking alcohol treatment, said Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army’s No. 2 officer.
About 300 more counselors are needed to meet the demand, cut wait times and offer evening and weekend services, said Chiarelli, the Army vice chief of staff.
Last year, 9,199 soldiers enrolled in treatment after being diagnosed with alcohol problems, a 56 percent increase over 2003, when the Iraq war started, according to Army records released Monday. Overall, 16,388 sought some type of counseling, the records show.
In 2003, of the 11,309 soldiers who sought counseling, 5,873 enrolled in treatment.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that since 2001 and being involved in two wars … that we probably have a higher incidence of alcohol abuse,” Chiarelli said.
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Horne, chief of Army human resources and policy, said “we need the nation’s help” in finding more counselors. The service is currently down 20 percent from its authorized staffing level of 290, said Les McFarling, director of the Army Substance Abuse Program.
Last year, then-Army Secretary Pete Geren asked Chiarelli to work to reduce the Army’s record rate of suicide. Chiarelli said substance abuse has been identified as an issue in many of the deaths, which reached 160 confirmed and suspected cases in 2009.
McFarling said many soldiers are referred for substance-abuse counseling after an incident such as being cited by police for drunken driving. If counselors determine they do not have an alcohol-abuse problem, the soldiers are required to go through a two-day educational course instead of a formal treatment program.
Alcohol remains a much larger problem than drug abuse, making up 85 percent of the Army substance-abuse treatment caseload, McFarling said.
Last year, the Army started a program aimed at reducing the stigma associated with seeking help for alcohol problems. At three Army installations, soldiers can seek alcohol-abuse counseling without their commanders being notified. The program allows soldiers to receive counseling off the post and during nights and weekends.
The Army would require more counselors to expand the program throughout the service, Horne said. The Army wants to have one counselor for every 1,600 soldiers instead of the current target of one for every 2,000, he said. The officials did not give a cost estimate for the additional counselors.
“We’ll have more counselors on the scene that can see more people quickly,” Horne said.
Stars and Stripes
The Obama administration is imposing new sanctions on several affiliates of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, targeting one person and four companies for penalties over their alleged involvement in producing and spreading weapons of mass destruction.
Catherine Philp, Diplomatic Correspondent
Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister is considering pressing charges against a pro-Palestinian protester who allegedly hurled racist abuse at him during an address at the Oxford Union.
Danny Ayalon was addressing the student audience on Monday evening when protesters waving Palestinian flags began shouting in Arabic and English.
One was alleged to have shouted the Arabic phrase “Idhbah al-yahud”, meaning “kill the Jews”, before being ejected by security.
The Israeli Embassy in London was examining video footage of the incident yesterday to determine whether the phrase was uttered. If so, it could lead to hate crimes charges.
Mr Ayalon, a member of the right-wing nationalist party Yisrael Beitenu, said he had a moral duty to press charges against the protesters, believed to be a member of a pro-Palestinian student society at Oxford.
"This demonstrates our new policy on hatred and racism and we will have zero tolerance for anti-Semitism, something that should have happened a long time ago," he told reporters.
The incident is another embarrassment for the British Government following the row over war crimes arrest warrants being issued for Israeli officials visiting London.
Mr Ayalon is the first senior Israeli official to come to Britain since the former foreign minister Tzipi Livni cancelled her trip after a British court issued her with an arrest warrant.
University security guards intervened as protesters called out “Palestine will be free, from the river to the sea".
The same day at the University of California, police arrested 12 students who disrupted a speech by the Israeli Ambassador to the United States.
Hecklers interrupted Michael Oren's lecture more than ten times, shouting "killers" and "how many Palestinians did you kill?", forcing him to take a 20-minute break.
The arrested students were apparently members of the university's Muslim Student Union, which had publicly condemned the visit.