Ahmad Chalabi and his nephew Salem Chalabi said yesterday that warrants issued for their arrests by Iraq's Central Criminal Court were part of a political conspiracy trumped up by former president Saddam Hussein loyalists. \nAhmad Chalabi, a former Gov-erning Council member with strong US ties, was wanted in Iraq on counterfeiting charges, while Salem Chalabi, head of the special tribunal in charge of trying Saddam, faced an arrest warrant for murder, Iraq's chief investigating judge said on Sunday. \nBoth men, who were abroad, strenuously denied the charges and attacked Judge Zuhair al-Maliky, the man who signed the warrants on Saturday. \n"He has consistently attempted to manipulate the justice system for political purposes," Ahmad Chalabi said in a statement yesterday. \nAl-Maliky, he said, "is not a bona fide Iraqi judge but rather an unqualified person who was put in his position by the American occupation authorities." \nAl-Maliky said on Sunday that the two men should be arrested and questioned. \n"If there is enough evidence they will be sent to trial," he said. \nSalem Chalabi said the murder charge would play into the hands of former Baathist officials, including Saddam, who is facing trial for war crimes before his nephew's tribunal. \n"They can easily make allegations that this whole process is fraud because the director of the tribunal has all these charges against him. Initially I suspected that these charges were trumped up by Baathists," he said by telephone from London. \nIn Washington, the Bush administration had no comment about the charges against the Chalabis. \nThe warrant was the latest blow against the elder Chalabi, who has been pushed from the centers of power. A longtime exile opposition leader, he had been a favorite of many in the Pentagon but fell out with the Americans in the weeks before the US occupation ended. \nMeanwhile, a firebrand Shiite cleric yesterday defied demands from Iraq's interim government that his militia pull out of Najaf, after days of fierce fighting with US Marines who claim to have killed 360 of his fighters. \nHeavily armed Marines backed by aircraft tightened their noose around the holy city in heavy battles yesterday, but a senior US military official denied coalition forces were hunting the young cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr. \nSadr thundered defiance during a news conference at Najaf's holiest shrine, the Imam Ali mosque. \n"The Mehdi Army and I will keep resisting. I will stay in holy Najaf and will never leave," Sadr said. "I will stay here until my last drop of blood." \nThe fresh Shiite uprising poses the most serious test yet for interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi since he took over from US-led occupiers on June 28. \nThe US military official said Marines had killed at least 360 loyalists from Sadr's Mehdi Army militia since the uprising in Najaf erupted on Thursday. \nFresh clashes broke out in a Shiite district of Baghdad named after Sadr's father yesterday as well. The government imposed a curfew from 4pm until 8am until further notice in the sprawling Sadr City slum, home to 2 million people. \nExplosions and gunfire echoed from the heart of Najaf. Smoke rose from near an ancient cemetery, scene of hand-to-hand combat in recent days, as US aircraft flew overhead. \nAllawi visited the shell-scarred city on Sunday and demanded Sadr's militia back down. Sadr, a hero to Iraq's downtrodden Shiite youth, rejected the order to quit his hometown. \n"In the presence of occupation, there are no politics," he said. "You can't twin democracy and occupation, you can't twin freedom and occupation."
FORCED LABOR: Customs officials have seized a 11.8 tonne shipment of products made from human hair on suspicion they were produced by people facing human rights abuses Federal authorities in New York City on Wednesday seized a shipment of weaves and other beauty accessories suspected to be made out of human hair taken from people locked inside a Chinese internment camp. US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) officials said that 11.8 tonnes of hair products worth an estimated US$800,000 were in the shipment. “The production of these goods constitutes a very serious human rights violation, and the detention order is intended to send a clear and direct message to all entities seeking to do business with the United States that illicit and inhumane practices will not be tolerated in
JUST QUESTIONS: Expelled reporter Ai Kezhu said that every member of Southeast Television had complied with the law and had not appeared on any talk shows Two Chinese reporters yesterday left Taiwan after the government revoked their accreditation and ordered them to leave amid a probe into allegations that several Chinese media outlets have set up studios and produced political talk shows in Taiwan. The two reporters — Ai Kezhu (艾珂竹) and Lu Qiang (盧薔) — worked for Fujian Province-based Southeast Television and arrived in Taiwan in December last year. The Mainland Affairs Council has launched an investigation after local media reported that Chinese broadcasters — including China Central Television, Southeast Television and FJTV — had set up studios in Taipei and produced political talk shows. Council Deputy Minister
UPTICK IN NUMBERS: The Taipei deputy mayor said the city has services to assist new immigrants, but has established an office specifically to help those from Hong Kong The Taiwan-Hong Kong Services and Exchanges Office today officially opens, where it is to provide humanitarian assistance to Hong Kongers, after Beijing yesterday passed a controversial national security law for the territory. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) expressed dismay over China’s passage of the law, saying that Beijing has broken its pledge to allow Hong Kong to maintain a high degree of autonomy for at least 50 years following its handover from the UK. “I feel extremely disappointed [about the law’s passage], which means China did not keep its promise to Hong Kong,” Tsai said in Taipei. Beijing’s “broken promise” also
‘SIGNAL TO ALLIES’: The US Navy’s exercises are not in response to those carried out by China, the commander of the strike group led by the USS ‘Ronald Reagan’ said Two US aircraft carriers were yesterday conducting exercises in the disputed South China Sea, the US Navy said as China also carried out military drills that have been criticized by the US Department of Defense and neighboring states. China and the US have accused each other of stoking tension in the waterway at a time of strained relations over everything from COVID-19 to trade to Hong Kong. The USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan were carrying out operations and exercises in the South China Sea “to support a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the navy said in a statement. It did not say exactly