Guatemala ex-cop arrested
Swiss authorities said they had arrested Guatemala’s former chief of police on Friday in connection with a series of murders committed in the Central American country between 2004 and 2007. Erwin Sperisen resigned in 2007 after eight murders raised fears that senior officials were linked to drug gangs. Geneva prosecutor Olivier Jornot said that Sperisen, who was arrested five years after criminal complaints were first lodged in the Swiss city for killings in Guatemala, is to be questioned over his alleged role in the killing of prisoners at the El Infiernito and Pavon prisons. Criminal proceedings will take place in Switzerland and there is no chance of extradition as Sperisen also has Swiss nationality and Switzerland does not extradite its own nationals, Jornot added.
US marines aid drug war
Nearly 200 US marines are patrolling Guatemala’s Pacific coast alongside local armed forces to fight drug traffickers in the first operation of its kind, officials said on Friday. The troops were deployed a week ago under Operation Martillo (“Hammer”), which targets drug trafficking in Central America and the Caribbean. The operation aims chiefly “to combat drug trafficking” operating via the Pacific coast of Guatemala to Mexico, Guatemalan presidential spokesman Francisco Cuevas said. The US military presence marks a milestone for Guatemala, where the CIA ran a covert operation that overthrew leftist president Jacobo Arbenz Guzman nearly 60 years ago. Guatemala then plunged into a 36-year civil war that ended in 1996. An estimated 200,000 people were killed or missing during the war.
Ex-Milan archbishop dies
Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, former archbishop of Milan and a favourite of Vatican progressives to succeed Pope John Paul II in 2005, died on Friday aged 85, the Milan diocese said on its Web site. A Jesuit intellectual, Martini was reported to speak 11 languages, but his liberal opinions sometimes sent chills down the spines of church conservatives. He once told an interviewer that even issues as controversial as birth control and women priests could be seen in a different light in the future. “Certainly the use of condoms in particular situations can constitute a lesser evil,” Martini said in an interview with the Italian magazine l’Espresso in 2006.
Maple syrup disappears
Police in Quebec are on the scent of something sweet — millions of dollars’ worth of maple syrup missing from a large warehouse stocking over US$30 million worth of the amber nectar. The theft puts a cavity-sized dent in Quebec’s syrup stock, considered to be a global strategic reserve of the sweet stuff that is often used to replenish markets during disappointing seasons. Quebec produces up to 80 percent of the world’s maple syrup. Quebec Provincial Sergeant Claude Denis said on Friday it was too soon to determine the exact quantity or value of the maple syrup stolen from the St Louis-De-Blandford facility where more than 4.54 million kilograms is stored. The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers said it discovered the disappearance of the syrup last week during a routine inventory where empty barrels were found at the site. Officials initially kept the news quiet, hoping it would help police solve the crime.