Mladic trial witness ready
The Yugoslav war crimes tribunal says the first prosecution witness will testify on July 9 in the genocide trial of former Bosnian Serb military commander General Ratko Mladic. Witness testimony has twice been delayed in the long-awaited trial due to problems with disclosure of evidence. The UN court announced on Friday that the trial will run from July 9 to 20, then pause for three weeks during the tribunal’s summer recess. Mladic faces 11 charges, including two of genocide, for allegedly masterminding atrocities by Serb forces throughout the 1992-1995 Bosnian war. He denies wrongdoing. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Mladic was arrested last year in Serbia after 15 years as one of the world’s most-wanted fugitives.
Wrongful arrest in drug case
The government on Friday admitted it had mistakenly claimed to have captured a son of Mexico’s most-wanted drug lord, Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman, which the ruling party had hailed as a major victory in its war on cartels. Marines said they apprehended the man with an arsenal of rifles, pistols and grenades and about US$160,000 in cash. They then paraded him in front of the media and identified him as Jesus Alfredo Guzman, alias “El Gordo” or “The Fat One.” The man’s lawyer, Veronica Guerrero, told a news conference earlier on Friday her client’s real name was Felix Beltran and that he was an innocent car dealer. The federal Attorney General’s Office confirmed that the man arrested was indeed Beltran, without giving further details. The mix-up is a major embarrassment for the government, which has been heavily criticized for failing to contain the violence and flow of drugs since President Felipe Calderon sent in the military to fight the cartels shortly after taking office in December 2006.
Dali watercolor stolen
An audacious thief posing as an art lover snatched a Salvador Dali watercolor and ink painting worth an estimated US$150,000 from a New York private art gallery this week, police said on Friday. The man walked into the Venus Over Manhattan art gallery on Madison Avenue on Tuesday afternoon, posing as a potential customer. Video surveillance cameras showed the man, in his mid-30s to mid-40s, wearing a black and white shirt and jeans, casually walking out with the painting sticking out of a shopping bag.
Twist in rabbi abuse case
Four men have been indicted for trying to bribe and threaten a victim into dropping a case against a rabbi accused of sexually molesting her in a close-knit Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn. The alleged victim, now 17, filed a complaint against Rabbi Nechemya Weberman, 53, for molesting her for three years when he acted as her therapist. She was 12 when the alleged assaults started. One of the four men indicted, Abraham Rubin, 48, is accused of trying to buy the victim’s silence by offering her US$500,000, according to prosecutors. The four men pleaded not guilty at a Brooklyn criminal court. Brothers Joseph, Jacob and Hertzka Berger stand accused of threatening the victim and witness. The Bergers vowed to revoke the rabbi-issued kosher certification for the witness’ cafe.When the witness would not cave in to the pressure, Jacob Berger went to the restaurant and tore down the certification, according to the indictment.