, pub-6663105814926378, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 Around The World Pristina, Kosovo Organ-harvesting charges 4289

Around The World Pristina, Kosovo Organ-harvesting charges

Pristina, Kosovo
Organ-harvesting charges: The EU will file charges against former Kosovar guerrillas for crimes against humanity, including killing people for their organs, committed after the 1999 war with Serbia. Clint Williamson, the U.S. special prosecutor leading the EU investigation, said this week that indictments will be brought against unnamed “senior officials” once an international tribunal is established. Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, former leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army, has been dogged for years by accusations of organ trafficking; he denies them. Williamson said there was evidence of a few instances of killing for organs but much more evidence that Kosovo militants waged an ethnic-cleansing campaign of murder and rape against minority Serb and Roma communities after a NATO bombing campaign ousted Serbian troops from the country.

Caracas, Venezuela
Homecoming party: The former head of Venezuelan military intelligence received a hero’s welcome from President Nicolás Maduro when he landed in Caracas this week, after evading extradition to the U.S. on drug-trafficking charges. The U.S. says Gen. Hugo Carvajal was on the payroll of a Colombian cartel and personally arranged drug shipments as part of alleged Venezuelan military collusion in cocaine trafficking. It had Aruba arrest Carvajal when he arrived there last week to take a post as Venezuelan consul, but Aruban authorities soon released him, saying he had diplomatic immunity even though he had not yet been accredited. The U.S. said Aruba caved to Venezuelan threats to cut flights to the Caribbean island, which would have crippled its tourism industry.

Quito, Ecuador
Ecuadoran Bitcoin: Ecuador has outlawed the use of Bitcoin and other independent electronic currencies and will create its own state-run e-currency. Under a sweeping financial reform package passed last week, the central bank will develop the currency. It’s not clear what exchange rate the new coin will have. Oil-dependent Ecuador adopted the U.S. dollar in 2000 after its old currency, the sucre, collapsed in the wake of falling oil prices. But using U.S. currency has hurt Ecuadoran exports. Leftist President Rafael Correa, a fierce critic of the U.S., may see the new e- currency as a way to regain monetary independence.

Potosí, Bolivia
Mass grave found: A colonial-era mass grave containing at least 400 bodies was discovered this week near an old silver mine, a reminder of the bloody history of the silver trade. The bodies are believed to be remains of indigenous slaves who worked for Spanish overlords mining silver and tin in the 17th and 18th centuries. Potosí was once one of the world’s largest cities and the hub of the Spanish silver industry. Hundreds of thousands of workers, indigenous and African slaves and indentured servants, are believed to have died in the mines.

Ankara, Turkey
Jewish group wants award back: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey agreed this week to hand back an award given to him in 2004 by the American Jewish Congress for trying to broker Middle East peace. The AJC rescinded the honor after Erdogan accused Israel of genocide in Gaza, saying the Jewish state had “surpassed Hitler in barbarism.” The prime minister stood by that statement but said he is still committed to a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine and the protection of Turkish Jews. Turkey’s once-excellent relations with Israel have deteriorated over the past decade, since Erdogan’s Islamist-leaning party took power.

Bamako, Mali
Europe funds al Qaida: European governments are bankrolling al Qaida by paying millions in ransom for kidnapped citizens. A New York Times investigation found that al Qaida branches have received at least $125 million in ransom since 2008, half of it in 2013. Some of the evidence for the payments comes from al Qaida documents found in northern Mali. Officially, the governments of Italy, France, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland deny paying ransom to kidnappers, but in practice they do, sending money by way of proxies and disguising it as foreign aid. One hostage can bring up to $10 million. Al Qaida central command in Pakistan coordinates ransom demands for the branches in North Africa, Yemen, and Somalia.

Karzai cousin killed: A cousin of President Hamid Karzai’s and a major supporter of presidential hopeful Ashraf Ghani was killed by a suicide bomber this week. Hashmat Khalil Karzai was receiving visitors for a feast at the end of Ramadan when a teenager embraced him and detonated a bomb in his turban. No group claimed responsibility. Karzai led Ghani’s campaign in the south and was expected to play a key role in government should Ghani be announced as the winner of June’s disputed presidential election, which is being recounted. “His star was rising,” said Graeme Smith of the International Crisis Group. “He was becoming a key connection between the front-runner candidate and the interests of the Karzai family.”

Kolofata, Cameroon
Boko Haram attacks: The militant Islamist group Boko Haram is now targeting politicians in Cameroon as well as in Nigeria. Some 200 fighters crossed the border of Nigeria this week and attacked the home of Cameroon’s Deputy Prime Minister Amadou Ali, kidnapping his wife and killing at least six people in the household. Cameroon had recently jailed a group of Boko Haram militants. That attack followed an attempt on the life of Nigerian opposition leader Muhammadu Buhari, one of the country’s most revered politicians. Nigerian authorities say Boko Haram, which has been waging a terrorist campaign to create an Islamic state in northern Nigeria for five years, may be trying to set up a base in Cameroon.

Top official targeted: China is investigating one of the Communist Party’s most powerful officials for corruption. Former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang, who retired in 2012, led the national oil company before becoming head of police and surveillance, and is suspected of illegally amassing millions of dollars for himself and his family. Taking on Zhou is the biggest step yet in President Xi Jinping’s anticorruption campaign, which targets top officials as well as junior bureaucrats. “It stands to change the whole nature of the political game in China,” said Chinese politics expert Kerry Brown. “The current leaders are in effect saying that they do not fear being held to [the same] standards in the future.”

Ansan, South Korea
Ferry crew on trial: Teenage survivors of the Sewol ferry disaster in April gave chilling testimony this week at the trial of the crew, telling of their desperate struggle to save themselves. The high school students, who were on a school trip, said they were repeatedly told to stay in their cabins even as the boat filled with water and listed to the side. “When I was floating, the room’s door was above my head,” one student said. “A friend of mine outside grabbed my hands while another friend took my hip and lifted me up.” Fifteen crew members who were among the first to abandon ship are on trial for neglecting their duty, and the captain and three mates are also charged with homicide.

Aleppo, Syria
U.S. arms rebels: A U.S.-backed effort to arm vetted Syrian rebel groups is funneling weapons across the Turkish border, The Washington Post reported this week, but it may be too late. Moderate Syrian rebels are struggling to retain control of Aleppo, under siege from government forces, and they are battling Islamist militants as well. “This is a very critical moment for the Free Syrian Army,” said rebel spokesman Hussam al-Marie. “The situation is growing more urgent every day.” During the month of Ramadan, nearly 1,500 civilians and more than 400 rebel fighters were killed by pro-government forces.

Tripoli, Libya
Fighting threatens oil: The worst fighting in Libya since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar al-Qaddafi is threatening the safety of the country’s oil reserves. Battles between rival militias at Tripoli’s international airport caused a fire at a fuel depot containing 1.6 million gallons of oil, but the blaze was put out before the whole thing exploded. The U.S. this week evacuated its embassy in the Libyan capital and moved all staff to Tunisia. Meanwhile, Islamist militants took over a base in Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city, as factional fighting raged there. “This is a threshold moment in Libyan politics,” said Libya expert Dirk Vandewalle. “What we’re seeing more than ever before is a struggle over the soul of Libya.”

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