Mon, Dec 27, 2004 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Germany

Dwarves downsized

Snow White had to make do with just four dwarves rather than the usual seven due to cost-cutting at a theater in the eastern German town of Stendal. The Altmark Stendal theater said it could afford only six actors for its Christmas rendition of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, which led to protests from theater-goers from the nearby western city of Hanover who wanted to see seven dwarves. The theater said it had attached two puppets in dwarf outfits to a background wall to give the production six dwarves. The actor playing the prince was supposed to double as the seventh dwarf but only made one brief appearance on stage. "The seventh dwarf wasn't on stage the whole time because he was stuck down in the mine working overtime," theater spokeswoman Susanne Kreuzer said.

■ United Kingdom

Prince Harry not charged

Prince Harry, who has gained the reputation as Britain's most unruly royal, has gotten off without charges after his scuffle with a photographer outside a nightclub in October, according to a report yesterday. The Sunday Express tabloid said that public prosecutors had intended to give him a "criminal caution" but that the decision was overturned through an administrative error. Harry's file referred to the fact that he was third in line for the throne -- after his father Prince Charles and elder brother William -- instead of merely mentioning his name. A Crown Prosecution Service spokeswoman, while admitting that Harry's file had accidentally mentioned his status as a royal, said his case had been "reviewed according to the code in a similar way to any other."

■ United Kingdom

Troops headed to Darfur

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has ordered the deployment of up to 3,000 soldiers to the conflict-torn Sudanese region of Darfur, the Independent reported. Fewer than 1,000 peacekeepers are on the ground in Darfur as part of an African Union force dispatched to help monitor a ceasefire between rebels and government troops. But their presence has had little impact so far, amid continued violence between the two sides. Darfur has been embroiled in conflict since February, when two rebel movements launched a revolt against Khartoum, charging the Arab-led government had marginalized and persecuted the region's black African tribes. In the subsequent crackdown, pro-government militias have driven more than 1.6 million from their homes, according to the UN.

■ France

Thieves drop heavy safe

Five intruders tried to steal a safe from a fashionable private address west of Paris but left empty-handed when it proved too heavy to handle, police said. The five succeeded in getting the safe out of its mounting during a Christmas Eve raid in Neuilly while the apartment's occupants were out celebrating. But they left in a hurry after deciding they would need too much time to shift the safe, which weighed too much for them -- 180kg. Neighbors, alerted by the noise called the police, who chased the gang into the nearby Bois de Boulogne park, making one arrest.

■ Colombia

Marxists abduct 10 tourists

Marxist rebels have abducted up to 10 tourists celebrating Christmas at a lakeside spa in northwestern Colombia, officials said. Fighters of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, raided a cluster of bungalows late Friday near San Rafael, 230km northwest of Bogota, and herded between 8 to 10 vacationers into vehicles, Jorge Mejia, deputy governor of Antioquia state, said the kidnapped tourists were all from Colombia. Mejia said"This is a criminal action. The victims were middle-class families enjoying a Christmas break," Mejia said. He said the FARC probably seized the group for ransom.

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