Presidential poll scheduled
The country is to hold a presidential election on July 28, according to a draft law adopted by the Cabinet as the nation struggles to move on from war and an 18-month political crisis. A Cabinet communique on Monday marked the first official confirmation of the date of the poll, seen as essential to restoring democratic rule after a coup last year paved the way for Islamist rebels to seize control of the north. Acting president Dioncounda Traore has said that neither he nor his ministers will stand in the polls, which will go to a second round on Aug. 11 if required.
Child abductors jailed
An Algiers criminal court has sentenced to 12 years in jail a doctor accused of kidnapping children born to single mothers and selling them for adoption in France. Khelifa Hanouti, accused of illegally shipping the children abroad with the help of a notary, must also pay a fine of 1 million dinars (US$12,900), the court ruled late on Monday. Six French suspects of Algerian origin living in the French city of Saint-Etienne were sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison. A notary accused of writing “disclaimer documents” signed by single mothers was sentenced to five years in prison. Four defendants were sentenced to three years suspended, while another was acquitted. The prosecution had requested a 20-year jail sentence and a fine of 5 million dinars for the main suspect, Hanouti.
Corpse van thieves jailed
A court has imprisoned three men who stole a van in Germany that contained 12 bodies in coffins. The court in Poznan on Monday ordered the men to serve between two and four years in prison for the theft of the van in October last year in the Berlin suburb of Hoppegarten. The court said the men were not aware that the bodies were inside and that they were scheduled to be taken to a crematorium. The verdict is subject to appeal. A fourth man was previously given an 11-month term, and another one is being sought in the case. Two weeks after the theft, the coffins with the bodies were found in a wooded area near Konin, in western Poland, where the thieves had dumped them.
Amos Oz wins Kafka award
Amos Oz, Israel’s best-known writer, was on Monday named the winner of this year’s international Franz Kafka literary prize for his imaginative tales of life in the Jewish state. Oz, 74, will receive the award and a US$10,000 check at an October ceremony in Prague, the Franz Kafka Society, which organizes the annual award, said in a statement. Oz is known for his use of humor and imagination in work that has been translated into more than 40 languages.
Rob Ford aides resign
Two senior aides to embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford resigned on Monday as a controversy over a video purportedly showing him smoking crack cocaine showed no signs of abating. The departure of Ford’s press secretary and his assistant brought the total number of top aides to leave in recent days to three, after the firing of his chief of staff on Thursday. Ford has for more than a week battled allegations of illicit drug use that first surfaced in the Toronto Star. In the latest twist in the saga, the daily Globe and Mail, citing unnamed sources, reported the mayor’s brother, Toronto City Councilor Doug Ford, dealt hashish in his teens and early 20s. He quickly denied the allegation.