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Saddam leaves court in protest
Baghdad, January 29
The trial of Saddam Hussein resumed today but was thrown into chaos when the former Iraqi leader, his lawyers and all high-profile co-defendants stormed out in protest against the proceedings.

65 die in Polish roof collapse
Chorzow (Poland), January 29
A roof collapsed at an exhibition hall in Poland packed with hundreds of people, killing at least 65, and trapping dozens more under the rubble in freezing conditions, officials said on Sunday.

Naga truce in trouble
Bangkok, January 29
In a hardening of stance, the Naga insurgent outfit Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isaac-Muivah) said today that unless the Indian Government took “positive” steps on the Naga issue, it saw no need to extend the ceasefire which expires in two days.

Tube killing: police ‘faked’ evidence
London, January 29
Undercover London police officers faked vital evidence to cover up their fatal role in the shooting of innocent Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes, mistaken for a suicide bomber, a newspaper alleged today.



EARLIER STORIES

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
Actress Shabana Azmi gives an acceptance speech after receiving the Crystal Award at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland
Actress Shabana Azmi gives an acceptance speech after receiving the Crystal Award at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Saturday. The Crystal Award is presented to artists who use their art to reach out to other cultures. — AP/PTI

News analysis
India needs to take reality check on China
It is a fact that India-China relations have entered the best phase since 1956. And yet, it is time for the Government of India and the foreign policy makers to take a reality check.

Hamas not to recognise Israel
London, January 29
Mahmoud Zahar, the joint leader of Hamas that has been voted to power in last week’s Palestinian election, has ruled out recognising Israel. “We are not going to recognise Israel,” Zahar said in an interview published in the Sunday Telegraph today, putting to rest suggestions that Hamas may alter its 1988 charter calling for the destruction of the Jewish state.

Indo-Pak ties better than before: Pervez
Washington, January 29
Observing that Indo-Pak relations have never been as good as now, President Pervez Musharraf has, however, said he was disappointed with the lack of forward movement on the resolution of Kashmir issue.

Shankardass is penal reform chief
Dr Rani Dhavan Shankardass has been appointed Chairperson of Penal Reform International, a prestigious international non-governmental organisation based in London, U K. This was disclosed in a statement issued by the PRI on Sunday.

Videos
The Pakistani Government postpones trial run of Nankana Sahib-Amritsar bus due to religious festival.
(28k, 56k)
The Chinese community celebrates New Year with traditional fervour.
(28k, 56k)

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Saddam leaves court in protest

Baghdad, January 29
The trial of Saddam Hussein resumed today but was thrown into chaos when the former Iraqi leader, his lawyers and all high-profile co-defendants stormed out in protest against the proceedings.

The new chief judge in the case, Raouf Abdel-Rahman, told the defence team in opening remarks that he would not allow political statements: “This court is not a place for political speeches.”

He is under pressure to deal firmly with Saddam after his predecessor, who resigned two weeks ago, was accused by the government of being too soft on the former Iraqi leader and allowing his courtroom tirades to go unchecked.

Within minutes of the trial resuming, Abdel-Rahman ejected Saddam’s former intelligence chief, Barzan al-Tikriti, after he refused to keep quiet and called the trial “a daughter of a whore”. Barzan was dragged out by court guards.

The defence team protested that they were being treated unfairly and threatened to leave. “If you leave then you can’t come back for future sessions,” Abdel-Rahman told them.

“I want to leave,” Saddam, dressed in a dark suit and collared shirt, told the judge. “Then leave,” said Abdel-Rahman. “It is a tragedy. I had led you for 35 years. How can you lead me out of court?” Saddam asked. — Reuters

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65 die in Polish roof collapse

Chorzow (Poland), January 29
A roof collapsed at an exhibition hall in Poland packed with hundreds of people, killing at least 65, and trapping dozens more under the rubble in freezing conditions, officials said on Sunday.

The death toll in the roof collapse could go higher, the officials said.

“I can confirm that 65 persons have died and we are afraid that this might not be the final figure,” fire brigade spokesperson Jaroslaw Wojtasik said.

As temperatures plunged to -15 °C overnight, rescuers using floodlights fought through snow and debris to try to find survivors from Saturday’s disaster.

Around 140 persons were injured when the metal roof of the modern building, the size of a soccer field, collapsed during a gathering of pigeon enthusiasts from across Europe. — Reuters

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Naga truce in trouble
Jaishree Balasubramanian

Bangkok, January 29
In a hardening of stance, the Naga insurgent outfit Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isaac-Muivah) said today that unless the Indian Government took “positive” steps on the Naga issue, it saw no need to extend the ceasefire which expires in two days.

“We very, very strongly told Indian Government negotiators that unless the Government of India took steps to control its armed forces, we will not extend the ceasefire agreement,” Samson Jajo, secretary of the Collective Leadership of the NSCN(IM), told PTI at the end of the second day’s talks between the two sides here.

“The Indian side is insisting on the extension of the ceasefire for another year,” Jajo said, adding that “why should we if the government is not taking any positive steps”. Asked what positive steps the Nagas were demanding, he said these were on a list of proposals already submitted to the government.

“On the first issue of integration (of Naga-inhabited areas of other adjacent Northeastern states), no ecision has been taken yet by the Indian Government,” he said. — PTI

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Tube killing: police ‘faked’ evidence

London, January 29
Undercover London police officers faked vital evidence to cover up their fatal role in the shooting of innocent Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes, mistaken for a suicide bomber, a newspaper alleged today.

Special Branch officers from London’s Metropolitan Police tried to change a surveillance log detailing the electrician’s movements to hide the fact that they had wrongly identified him, the News of the World weekly claimed.

The alleged cover-up meant the blame for the tragedy would have been pinned on senior Met Police commanders or the armed police who fired the bullets — leaving them open to murder charges, the newspaper said.

The revelations are apparently contained in the Independent Police Complaints Commission’s report into the death, which was delivered to the Crown Prosecution Service 10 days ago. — AFP

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News analysis
India needs to take reality check on China
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

It is a fact that India-China relations have entered the best phase since 1956. And yet, it is time for the Government of India and the foreign policy makers to take a reality check.

Sample these facts: China continues to proliferate to Pakistan to stymie India; constantly indulges in political and strategic tinkering in Nepal and Bhutan; quietly encourages and assists Bangladesh to stand up to India; has been ousting India from Myanmar and Bangladesh gas resources through politics rather than by competition. The list is long.

Regionally and internationally, China kept India out of APEC, trying to block India in the East Asia Summit; has repeatedly put roadblocks in the ASEAN; has launched a relentless propaganda warning all against India’s “hegemonist” and “imperialistic” ambitions from Central Asia to South-East Asia.

Internationally, China has been consistent in its efforts to force India to roll back India’s nuclear and missile programmes; warned against Theatre Missile Defence (TMD) system; and, even, opposed the proposed India-US civilian nuclear cooperation.

Bilaterally, Chinese arrogance and berating have gone uncontested by India, at least publicly. A lowly Chinese Consul General in Mumbai publicly berated Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee last year on the history of 1962 war.

The confidence building measures (CBMs) of 1996 on the border issue have been repeatedly violated with impunity by the Chinese, including when Prime Minister Vajpayee was in China in June, 2003.

The less said the better about Chinese official media warfare against India! What is inexplicable is why the Indian response has been jelly-kneed, brushing the attacks and insults under the carpet, blowing up some so-called friendly gestures beyond their merit, and allowing Beijing to dictate the pace and directions in the relationship and negotiations.

One does not have to look too far to see where Indian security and national perspectives lie. The security of the Indian Ocean sea lanes and entry waterways are vital. So is the security of Indo-Himalayan belt, and the information and telecommunication sectors.

In the rapidly opening commercial world and economic integration, India must get as large a piece of pie as possible. It is a tough playing field where the participants play hard.

China’s miracle economy is a phenomenon of envy the world over. Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar is determined to establish energy cooperation in spite of being outmanoeuvred by China in several recent bids. No responsible person appears to have seen the air bubbles in China’s economic construction, but President Hu Jintao labelled the Shanghai development projects as “vanity projects”, and applied the guillotine.

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Hamas not to recognise Israel

London, January 29
Mahmoud Zahar, the joint leader of Hamas that has been voted to power in last week’s Palestinian election, has ruled out recognising Israel.

“We are not going to recognise Israel,” Zahar said in an interview published in the Sunday Telegraph today, putting to rest suggestions that Hamas may alter its 1988 charter calling for the destruction of the Jewish state.

But he added: “We can reach out to them with a long-term hudna (truce).”

In the interview given in Gaza city, Zahar also called on the world to recognise Hamas.

“The outside world must not fear us,” he said, adding that while Hamas did not yet have official contact with the West, “we have channels of communication”.

“We meet all the time,” said Zahar, who first rose to power in Hamas in 1989, a year after Ahmed Yassin was jailed by Israel for ordering the execution of alleged collaborators with the Jewish state. — PTI

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Indo-Pak ties better than before: Pervez

Washington, January 29
Observing that Indo-Pak relations have never been as good as now, President Pervez Musharraf has, however, said he was disappointed with the lack of forward movement on the resolution of Kashmir issue.

“Relations with India have never been as good as they are today. We have no tension, and there is no firing in the Line of Control....My disappointment is that we are not going forward on the dispute resolution, especially on Kashmir,” he told the ‘Washington Post’ in an interview published today.

Musharraf claimed New Delhi had made no effort to respond to repeated proposals from Pakistan on how to advance the resolution of on the issue. “I give proposals, and they (India) don’t give counterproposals. They don’t comment on my proposals”, he told the paper on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos. — PTI

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Shankardass is penal reform chief
Tribune News Service

Dr Rani Dhavan Shankardass has been appointed Chairperson of Penal Reform International (PRI), a prestigious international non-governmental organisation based in London, U K. This was disclosed in a statement issued by the PRI on Sunday.

Having been Vice-Chairman of PRI for the past six years, Dr Rani Dhavan Shankardass become the first women chairperson, heading a board of 13 distinguished members from 13 countries. Dr Shankardass has been working with the penal reform movement nationally and internationally for over 15 years seeking to improve standards of Indians particularly of women prisoners and their children, attending to their mental health and promoting alternatives to imprisonment for vulnerable sections.

PCI has a consultative status with the United Nation and Council of Europe, having 90 member countries.

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