Brothers plead not guilty
Two Pakistani-born brothers pleaded not guilty on Friday to charges of plotting to obtain a weapon of mass destruction and conspiring to support terrorism with money, communications equipment and other means. The pleas were entered at a brief federal court hearing by lawyers for 30-year-old Sheheryar Alam Qazi and 20-year-old Raees Alam Qazi. The Qazi brothers, who were arrested last week, wore tan prison jumpsuits and shackles in court and did not speak during the hearing. No family members were present. A bail hearing was set for Friday for Raees Qazi during which prosecutors are likely to reveal some details of the case. Sheheryar Qazi’s attorney, Ronald Chapman, said his client will not seek bail for now. Few details have emerged about the alleged plot, although law enforcement officials have said the charges were not the result of an FBI sting operation.
Archeologist sues studios
A Belize archeologist is suing the makers of a blockbuster Indiana Jones film for using a likeness of a so-called crystal skull, which he says is a stolen national treasure. Jaime Awe claims the skull was stolen from Belize 88 years ago, and that filmmakers had no right to use a model of it in 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, according to the Hollywood Reporter. In a lawsuit filed in Illinois this week, Awe is demanding the return of the crystal skull, which he says is a national treasure, from a treasure-hunting family who allegedly stole it, the industry journal said on Friday. However, the legal action also targets Lucasfilm, its new owner, the Walt Disney Co, and Paramount Pictures, which released the film by Steven Spielberg, for allegedly using a replica “likeness” of the skull. Awe, head of the Institute of Archeology of Belize, claims that the skull was found by the daughter of an adventurer named F.A. Mitchell-Hedges under a collapsed altar in temple ruins in Belize, and taken to the US in 1930.
Thirteen charged with fraud
The government has charged 13 people with fraud for operating two secret telephone networks that let people make cheaper calls and cheated the state-run monopoly, a newspaper said on Friday. The official daily Granma said the suspects will be tried for “illicit economic activity,” which carries a maximum jail term of three years, and fraud, which can land them in prison for four to 10 years. Six of the 13 suspects are in custody as the investigation proceeds. All are accused of using the state-owned telephone company Etecsa to make money. One of the networks, linked to a telecommunications company owned by a Cuban living in Canada, used a computer program and Etecsa’s cellphone grid so that text messages sent to Cuba were charged at a lower rate, Granma said.
Suspect to face tests
The man suspected of shooting one person dead at an election victory rally for Quebec separatists will undergo a psychiatric exam to determine if he is competent to stand trial, his lawyer said on Friday. Richard Henry Bain, 62, is accused of opening fire at the Sept. 4 rally outside a Montreal concert venue as the newly elected prime minister of the French-speaking Canadian province, Pauline Marois, was speaking. The gunman, the English-speaking owner of a hunting and fishing business, was masked and dressed in a bathrobe and screamed anti-French slogans as he fired shots, killing a bystander.