World digest 02/19/03

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Saudi Arabia to try 90 al-Qaida suspects

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- Saudi Arabia, facing U.S. criticism for laxness on fighting terrorism, said Tuesday it has referred 90 Saudis to trial for alleged al-Qaida links and that 250 Saudi suspects were under investigation.

The announcement from Interior Minister Prince Nayef was the first word of Saudi court proceedings connected to post-Sept. 11 terror crackdowns.

Of the suspects being questioned, the prince said "investigations proved they have links with al-Qaida and other similar networks, but we still need to determine the level of involvement for each one of them," according to the paper.

Prince Nayef also said more than 150 Saudi suspects had been released after being cleared of terror connections.

Police say Bali bombings death toll reaches 202

BALI, Indonesia -- The death toll from the terrorist bombings on Indonesia's resort island of Bali has likely reached 202, a police spokesman said Tuesday.

Lt. Col. Yatim Suyatmo said a final report estimated 194 people were killed on Bali, while eight others died of their injuries in hospitals overseas.

The report was issued Tuesday by forensics experts tasked with identifying and counting the bodies from the Oct. 12 blasts, Suyatmo said.

Officials originally put the death toll at 192.

Most victims of the attack on the popular nightclub strip were foreign tourists, including 88 Australians.

Police have arrested 29 suspects in connection with the bombings. Some have been linked to Jemaah Islamiyah, a militant Muslim group with ties to al-Qaida.

Albanians transferred to war crimes tribunal

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- A key Kosovo Albanian war crimes suspect was arrested Tuesday to face charges in The Hague, under the first indictment against former leaders of the Western-backed Kosovo Liberation Army.

Fatmir Limaj, 32, is the highest-ranking of four indicted ex-guerrillas of the KLA, which fought Serb forces during the 1998-99 conflict.

NATO-led troops arrested the other suspects, Haradin Bala, Isak Musliu, Agim Murtez, in Kosovo on Monday.

The four are charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes committed against Serb and ethnic Albanian civilians in May and July 1998. Specifically, they are accused of atrocities at the Lapusnik Prison Camp, where the KLA routinely subjected prisoners to beatings and torture.

All four were expected to enter pleas within a few days.

New Arab news channel to go on air Thursday

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- An all-news, Arab satellite TV channel will begin airing this week, hoping to catch the attention of viewers hungry for information about a possible U.S.-Iraq war.

Al-Arabiya, or The Arabic, will start with 12 hours of news and news-oriented programs on Thursday, before going on air round the clock on March 3, station director Saleh Qalab said.

"With or without war against Iraq, our Arab region is undergoing and expecting a lot of developments," said Qalab, a former Jordanian information minister.

Al-Arabiya will be the newest competition for heavyweight Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based channel that in 1996 became the first all-news Arabic station to go on the air.

Japanese emperor returns to work following surgery

TOKYO -- Japan's Emperor Akihito resumed his official duties Tuesday after taking a one-month rest to undergo cancer surgery.

Officials said the 69-year-old monarch's recovery from the surgery on Jan. 18 for prostate cancer has been better than expected. He was released early from the hospital and is expected to fully recover.

Under Japan's postwar constitution, the royal family has no official political powers and its role is largely symbolic.

-- From wire reports

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