The top-selling Dutch newspaper has apologized for a story on its Web site that linked the death of anti-apartheid icon former South African president Nelson Mandela with a controversial black-face character in the traditional Dutch celebration of Sinterklaas. In the opening sentence of an article collating reactions to Mandela’s death, De Telegraaf said on Friday that Mandela “died on the very night of St. Nicholas (with Black Pete).” Black Pete is the helper of Saint Nicholas, known in the Netherlands as Sinterklaas, who brings children gifts on Dec. 5. The Telegraaf blamed the “tasteless link” on “an unfortunate convergence of circumstances.”
Art theft suspect caught
British police have arrested the final suspect in the theft of paintings by Matisse, Picasso and Monet from a Dutch museum. In a statement on Friday, prosecutors said Adrian Procop, one of two thieves who allegedly carried out the heist at Rotterdam’s Kunsthal Museum in October last year, was arrested on Thursday in Britain. British police confirmed that Procop appeared at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court and has been remanded in custody until his next court appearance Dec. 13. London’s Metropolitan Police said Procop was originally arrested for allegedly possessing a false identity document. He was arrested again on a European warrant issued by authorities for suspicion of professional theft relating to the paintings.
‘Muslim Patrol’ gets jail
Three members of a self-styled “Muslim Patrol” in London who threatened strangers for holding hands, drinking alcohol and other behavior they deemed “un-Islamic” have been sentenced to jail. Nineteen-year-old Jordan Horner, 26-year-old Ricardo McFarlane and a third man who cannot be named for legal reasons pleaded guilty to a variety of charges, including actual bodily harm and affray. They were sentenced on Friday at London’s Central Criminal Court to jail terms of between 24 weeks and 17 months. London’s Chief Crown Prosecutor, Baljit Ubhey, said the trio “aggressively intimidated a couple who were holding hands in the street, a group of friends who were drinking alcohol and a girl whom they deemed to be dressed provocatively.” He said the trio’s “bullying behavior” would not be tolerated in London.
Protest over Putin talks
Outraged citizens rallied in central Kiev yesterday after President Viktor Yanukovych discussed a new strategic partnership agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin upon rejecting a historic EU deal. About 1,000 supporters of Western integration braved swirling winds and a heavy snowfall early yesterday as they maintained control of the capital’s iconic Independence Square for the seventh successive day. Protest organizers expect up to 300,000 to turn out today for the largest demonstration since the 2004 pro-democracy Orange Revolution first nudged the former Soviet nation of 46 million closer to the West. The embattled president held unannounced talks with Putin in Russia on Friday after completing a mission to China aimed at drumming up backing for his cash-strapped government. Yanukovych’s official Web site said the meeting at Putin’s Black Sea retreat in Sochi focused on “trade and economic cooperation ... and preparation for the future treaty on strategic partnership.”