World In Brief

Court sentences Rwandan to life in prison

ARUSHA, Tanzania — A U.N. court convicted the organizer of the 1994 Rwandan genocide that left more than 500,000 people dead and sentenced him to life in prison today along with two co-defendants.

Theoneste Bagosora was found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity, Judge Erik Moses said.

The judge said Bagosora organized and armed the notorious Interahamwe militia, and used his position as the former director of Rwanda's Ministry of Defense to direct Hutu soldiers to kill Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Bagosora also was found responsible for the deaths of former Rwandan Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and 10 Belgian peacekeepers.

The Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda was set up by the U.N. in 1997 to try those responsible for the killings.

Shoe-throwing journalist seeks pardon

BAGHDAD — The jailed journalist who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush has asked for a pardon for what he described as "an ugly act," a spokesman for Iraq's prime minister said today.

Muntadhar al-Zeidi, a correspondent for an Iraqi-owned television station based in Cairo, Egypt, could face two years imprisonment for insulting a foreign leader. He remained in custody today.

"It is too late now to regret the big and ugly act that I perpetrated," al-Zeidi wrote in a letter delivered to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, according to the prime minister's spokesman.

The spokesman, Yassin Majid, told The Associated Press that al-Zeidi went on in the letter to recall an interview he conducted with the prime minister in 2005 when al-Maliki invited him into his home, saying: "Come in, it is your home too."

"So I ask for your pardon," al-Zeidi wrote, Majid said.

Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani, can issue pardon if recommended by the prime minister, except for certain offenses including international crimes, according to Iraq's constitution.

Iraqi officials had said al-Zeidi would probably be charged with insulting a foreign leader, a relatively minor offense.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said: "the Iraqi authorities are dealing with the matter. We would hope that the fact of a U.S. president standing next to a freely elected prime minister of Iraq who just happens to be Shia, who is governing in a multi-confessional, multi-ethnic democracy in the heart of the Middle East is not overshadowed by one incident like this."

Former Gitmo prisoner claims abuse

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — A former Guantanamo Bay prisoner who was released earlier this week claims he was abused and humiliated at the U.S. detention center for suspected terrorists.

Mustafa Ait Idr was among the first Guantanamo detainees ordered freed by a U.S. federal judge. The 38-year-old Algerian-born man returned to Bosnia, and he told private television Hayat that his captors abused him.

Ait Idr spent seven years at Guantanamo and called it "the worst place" imaginable.

In his interview with Hayat, which was made available Wednesday, Ait Idr alleged his interrogators broke one of his fingers.

He also said his captors insulted him and other Muslim prisoners by tossing the Quran — Islam's holy book— into a bathroom and sitting on it.

Iraq is deadliest place for journalists

BAGHDAD — Iraq was the deadliest place for journalists in 2008, a respected media watchdog group said today, putting the country atop the list for the sixth consecutive year.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said 11 journalists died in Iraq in 2008 — a sharp drop from the 31 recorded for 2007, but still substantially higher than anywhere else.

The organization said the second-deadliest country this year was Pakistan with five killed, followed by India, where four journalists died in civil strife. Three journalists were killed in Georgia during the war with Russia, which lasted only five days, and three died in civil unrest in Thailand.

In all, seven of the deaths came in combat situations, CPJ said.

— The Associated Press

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