Miners’ release demanded
Lawyers are threatening court action against President Jacob Zuma unless 270 miners, charged with murdering 34 colleagues shot dead by police, are released this weekend. Prosecutors charged the workers on Thursday, based on a rule used by the former apartheid regime, in connection with the deaths two weeks ago at a platinum mine. Funerals are due to be held on Saturday for many of the workers killed at the Marikana mine, which lies outside Rustenburg, northwest of Johannesburg. On Friday, the justice minister demanded that the prosecutors explain why the arrested miners had been charged with murdering their colleagues, a move widely denounced by legal experts.
Thalidomide firm apologizes
The German firm that made thalidomide has issued its first apology in 50 years to the thousands born disabled as a result of the drug’s use, drawing stinging criticism from advocates for some survivors. Grunenthal chief executive Harald Stock said in a speech on Friday his firm was “very sorry” for its silence toward the victims of the drug, which was sold to pregnant women to cure morning sickness in the 1950s and early 1960s. An estimated 10,000 children worldwide were born with defects — including missing limbs — after their mothers took thalidomide, which was sold in nearly 50 countries before being pulled from the market in 1961.
Armenia breaks ties
Armenia broke off diplomatic ties with the country after an Azerbaijani military officer sentenced to life in prison in Budapest for killing an Armenian officer was sent back to his homeland on Friday and, despite assurances, immediately pardoned and freed. Lieutenant Ramil Safarov was given a life sentence in 2006 by the Budapest City Court after he confessed to killing Lieutenant Gurgen Markarian of Armenia while both were in Hungary for a 2004 NATO language course. Azerbaijan and Armenia are ex-Soviet neighbors who have been locked in a long-standing conflict over the mountainous territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Strauss-Kahn film planned
The disgraced power couple of former IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Anne Sinclair will be played by two of France’s best-known actors, Gerard Depardieu and Isabelle Adjani, in an upcoming movie about sex, politics and love on the rocks. Rape charges in New York, later dropped, against Strauss-Kahn in May last year shocked the world and shattered the reputation of the former IMF head, costing him his job and his marriage to Sinclair, a popular TV journalist. “It should be fascinating because we have a director who isn’t French in charge and he’s going to go where it hurts,” Adjani said in a recent interview with the weekly Journal de Dimanche, speaking of US director Abel Ferrara. Sinclair — who separated from Strauss-Kahn earlier this year and is thriving in a new job as a news editor of the Huffington Post’s French edition — responded: “I’m doing very well, thank you,” when asked how her life has been since the split. Strauss Kahn, however, is said by people who know him to be dejected and frustrated following his fall from grace. He has kept a low profile in the past year, but is currently the target of a French judicial investigation to determine whether he knew sex parties he attended were organized by pimps and frequented by prostitutes.