Zimmerman fees sought
George Zimmerman’s attorney has told a newspaper that he plans to ask the state of Florida to cover US$200,000 to US$300,000 of his legal expenses. The Orlando Sentinel said Mark O’Mara told the newspaper on Monday evening that because Zimmerman was acquitted, state law requires Florida to pay all his legal costs. The 29-year-old Zimmerman was acquitted last month of all charges including second-degree murder in the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, last year.
Al-Qaeda denies US claims
Al-Qaeda has denied US allegations that it is plotting massive attacks that prompted the closure of Western missions in the country this month, in a statement posted online. The extremist network also denied reports confirmed by President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi that US intelligence services had intercepted a conversation between al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri and Nasser al-Wuhayshi, head of the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. A source close to Hadi quoted him as saying on Friday that in the alleged conversation between the al-Qaeda leaders al-Wuhayshi told al-Zawahiri he would be hearing of something “that will change the course of history.”
US pastor’s appeal rejected
A court has rejected an appeal by a US pastor to reduce his eight-year prison sentence, a human-rights group representing his family in the US said on Monday. The decision by a two-judge panel on the Tehran Court of Appeals came on Sunday, but the panel refused to provide Saeed Abedini’s lawyer with a copy of the ruling, the Idaho Statesman reported. Abedini is of Iranian origin and had lived in Boise, Idaho, with his family since 2006. He has been jailed in Iran since September last year on charges that he attempted to undermine state security by creating a network of Christian churches in private homes, charges he rejects.
Gay blood ban proposed
Parliamentarian and Moscow mayoral candidate Mikhail Dyegtyaryov has said parliament should ban blood donations from homosexuals, news agencies said on Monday, upsetting activists angry at a nationwide ban on gay “propaganda.” Dyegtyaryov said the proposed move would help staunch Russia’s HIV-AIDS epidemic. However, many experts say Russia’s high drug addiction rates pose a greater HIV threat. Gay activists say that the propaganda law has increased discrimination and emboldened vigilante-style attacks. Gay rights advocate Yelena Kostyuchenko, who said she regularly gives blood, said on Twitter on Monday that she had been asked to donate that day. “Next time I’ll say: ‘I’m sorry, I’m a lesbian, I don’t deserve to give blood for your family members. Keep looking,’” she wrote.
Illegal migrants rescued
The military yesterday rescued 84 migrants from a large dinghy that was adrift and sinking about 18 nautical miles (33km) from the island, a spokesman said. The migrants, who had alerted the authorities by satellite phone, were transferred onto a patrol boat in rough seas and taken into port. Most of the arrivals are African refugees and migrant workers who crossed the Mediterranean from Libya. This was the first arrival after a lull of almost three weeks. More than 1,000 migrants arrived last month over just a few days, prompting the government to pressure the EU for assistance.