Global Report - 25.03.05

RUSSIA

Russia’s Supreme Court upheld the acquittal of six men suspected of
murdering an investigative journalist more than a decade ago,
delivering a blow to state prosecutors and the victims’ parents, who
exhausted their last legal recourse, Pravda
reported. Dmitry Kholodov, a reporter who investigated military
corruption, was killed in October 1994 when a briefcase he had picked
up at a Moscow train station following an anonymous call blew up in his
office. Colleagues said he had been told it contained evidence. Six men
charged in the killing, including four former members of an elite
paratroop unit, were acquitted in two separate trials.

“We are sure they are guilty of the death of our son. No one can
convince us otherwise,” Kholodov’s father said after the verdict.

ITALY

The Italian government is in trouble following the attack by US
soldiers on a car carrying freed hostage Giuliana Sgrena to Baghdad
airport. Sgrena, a journalist for the leftist Il Manifesto
newspaper, and killing Nicola Calipari, the Italian intelligence agent
responsible for negotiating her release. The incident provoked
immediate outrage in Italy. Hundreds of thousands lined the streets
during the state funeral for Calipari, who died shielding Sgrena during
the shooting. Demonstrations took place demanding the immediate
withdrawal of Italy’s 3,000 troops from Iraq. Italy’s president Carlo
Azeglio Ciampi is pictured visiting Sgrena in hospital.

RUSSIA

A Russian paper has cast doubt on the official version of the death
of Chechnya’s rebel chief Aslan Maskhadov, as Moscow claimed it had
paid out the $10 million bounty on his head. Russia’s FSB security
service said that Maskhadov had been found and killed after people
seeking the bounty had provided information on his whereabouts.
Maskhadov, 53, was elected Chechen president in 1997 before the second
Chechen war, was reportedly killed by Russian forces on 8 March in a
village north of Grozny. Authorities said he was killed in a bunker
where he had been living for months. But the Moskovsky Komsomolets
said it had inspected the house above the bunker, before its demolition
by security forces and that Maskhadov could not possibly have hidden
there for months. Pictured is a Jordanian boy of Chechen origin in
front of a banner of Maskhadov.

TURKMENISTAN

Russian journalist Viktor Panov of Ria Novosti has been expelled from Turkmenistan, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
reports. A source in the country’s Foreign Ministry said the
correspondent had been spying for Russia. Panov was taken to Ashgabat
airport in handcuffs and put on a plane bound for Russia by Turkmen
security service officers.

The journalist holds both Russian and Turkmen citizenship. He has worked for Ria Novosti in Turkmenistan since the mid-90s

MALAWI

The eccentricity of Africa’s ruling class was on display when one
president denied that ghosts had chased him from his palace and a
former president complained about the loss of his underpants in a
police raid. In a continent noted for quixotic leaders, president Bingu
wa Muthgarika had not previously stood out. He has now, after he got
two journalists arrested for reporting that exorcists have been
summoned to the presidential palace. Mutharika angrily denied fleeing
the property and declared that he had never been afraid of ghosts. A
presidential aide had been quoted as saying: “Sometimes the president
feels rodents crawling all over his body but when the lights are turned
on, he sees nothing. In Zambia Frederick Chiluba, who was president for
ten years until 2001, is on trial for stealing £18 million. Police
confiscated hundreds of his designer suits, shirts and shoes. news.telegraph.co.uk

YEMEN

Abdul Karim al-Khaiwani, editor of the newspaper al-Shura, and the
lone Yemani journalist behind bars, is still awaiting a verdict from
the appeals court, reports the Journalists Network.

He has been in jail since September on grounds of inciting violence,
defaming president Ali Abdullah Saleh and publishing false news. His
case is linked to an armed rebellion in north west Yemen.

INDIA

A newspaper editor was shot and badly wounded in Nepal. Khagendra Shrestha of Dharan Today was shot while in his office. Four others were arrested during protests against King Gyanendra.

Reporters Without Borders has condemned the increase in violence against journalists in Nepal and demanded the release of the detained journalists.

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