Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Daily Bulletin

France to 'accept fair share of blame'

The AFP is reporting that Rwanda's Foreign minister Charles Murigande is claiming that French FM Michel Barnier assured him during a meeting in Pretoria that Barnier was ready "ready to accept a fair share of the blame."

"He also said France was not ready to accept an overstated role," said Murigande.

NP readers will remember that the Rwandan government announced plans on Friday to establish a commission to determine France's measure of responsibility in the 1994 genocide.

Lawyers to Seek Release of Guantánamo Four

The AFP is also reporting that a Paris appellate judge will hear arguments by lawyers representing the four men who are seeking their release.

The four are being held for "association with wrongdoers as part of a terrorist enterprise" and Mourad Benchellali and Nizar Sassi are also being investigated for "possession and use of false documents" after phony passports were discovered in their possession. They used the passports to gain entry to Afghanistan in 2001.

In particular, the four are suspected of having participated in a Jihadi training and recruitment network.

The judge's decision is expected in the coming hours.

Sassi and Benchellali spent six months in Afghanistan. Brahim Yadel and Imad Achab Kanouni spent a year and a half there. The four were detained by American forces on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border in December 2001. They returned to France last Tuesday after being released from the Guantánamo and were placed under police observation and then transfered to prison in the night of Saturday to Sunday.

The four have told their lawyers that they suffered treatments in Guantánamo similar to that visited on prisoners by US soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Bank Robberies Drop by Half in 10 Years

Le Figaro reports that armed robberies of banks are down a whopping 50% since 1994, representing a drop from 1,122 to only 589 armed bank robberies in 2003, when the crimes represented only 9.3% of all armed robbery in France. The total is seven and a half times fewer than occured in 1977.

Le Figaro claims the drop is due to improved security

200 Gather at Defiled Saverne Cemetery

The AFP reports that two hundred people have held a ceremony at the Jewish cemetery in Saverne that was found vandalized last Wednesday.

Local elected officials and representatives of several religions were present for the ceremony called by the main Israelite Consistory of France and that of Bas-Rhin.

"Nazism began with acts of this nature. Vigilance is necessary more than ever," said Alain Kahn, whose father's tomb was among those defaced. Mr. Kahn's father survived internment at Auschwitz.

The Saverne prosecutor's office is expected to open an investigation.
Lebanese Committee Seeks to Save Al-Manar in France

The Daily Star is reporting that a six-member committee has formed in Beirut with the intention of traveling to France to seek prevent the government from banning Hizbullah's satellite channel al-Manar from broadcasting over Paris-based satellite operator Eutelsat.

Last month, France's High Council on Broadcasting (CSA) decided to ban the channel from broadcasting in France due to the violent and anti-Semitic nature of its programming. Last October, the channel ran a miniseries entitled Al-Shutat (diaspora) which purported to depict the history of the Jews from 1812 to 1948, including dramatizations of ritual murder. Following complaints lodged by the Representative Council of France's Jewish Institutions (Crif), CSA issued a finding that the broadcasts could constitute incitation to racial hatred and notified France's attorney general.

Al-Manar, which has an estimated viewership of 200 million worldwide, famously broadcast a report making the slanderous assertion that Israel had supposedly had foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks and, according to al-Manar, forewarned 4,000 of its nationals who allegedly worked at the Twin Towers and who, the report claimed, failed to show up for work that morning.

French Troops Seal off Darfur

The AFP reports that French troops have secured the Chadian/Sudanese border and have begun flying in relief supplies to the town of Abeche. Two hundred French troops are to patrol the border in cooperation with Chadian troops.

French ambassador to Chad Jean-Pierre Bercot told the AFP that should the Janjaweed engage French troops, the former will be splattered on the desert. "Our capacity to react will be jointly decided with our Chadian partners. With our presence on the ground, we want to show we will be there to attest to any incursions by the Janjaweed before the eyes of all the world."

NPR also reports.

France has also expressed its condolences to the Paraguayan people following Sunday's deadly fire at a mall in the capital Asunción, which at last count had killed 340 people. French authorities announced that they would be extending unspecified aid to Paraguay in response.

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