Court convicts 170
A pair of courts on Sunday convicted 170 suspected supporters of toppled president Mohamed Morsi on charges related to violent attacks last year, in the country’s latest mass trials ahead of this month’s presidential elections. The convictions in the courts in Cairo and in the Nile Delta city of Kafr el-Sheikh are the latest in a series over recent months that saw hundreds of people whom prosecutors identified as Morsi supporters sentenced to death or imprisonment. The Kafr el-Sheikh court convicted 127 people of storming and torching a church, a police station and a sports stadium to avenge the killing of hundreds of Islamists when security forces ended two sit-in protests in Cairo by Morsi supporters in August last year, according to a statement by the office of Egypt’s top prosecutor. They were sentenced to 10 years in prison each. Five minors, all 17 years old, each received a one-year suspended sentence in the same case, the statement said. The second court in Cairo sentenced 37 people to 15 years in prison each for their part in an attempt to blow up a subway station in Cairo last year, in addition to charges of vandalism, illegal possession of explosives, arms and ammunition, along with disrupting public and private transport, the chief prosecutor’s office statement said.
Senior general killed
The air defense chief was killed during an offensive by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces against rebels east of Damascus, Islamist rebels and a monitoring group said. They said General Hussein Ishaq died on Sunday from wounds suffered on Saturday during the assault by al-Assad’s forces on the town of Mleiha, which appears aimed at expanding the president’s control around the capital before a June 3 election. The air defense forces, which have a large base in Mleiha and are responsible for defending against air attacks, have played little part in the war with rebels who have no air power. However, Ishaq is one of the most senior military officials to be killed in three years of conflict.
Prison guard hostage freed
Negotiators persuaded inmates holding hostages seized during a prison riot to free a guard on Sunday, but were still working to free three more guards and 118 prisoners’ relatives. A prison spokeswoman called the guard’s release a sign of progress after a riot at the maximum-security Advogado Jacinto Filho prison in Aracaju, the Sergipe state capital. “Negotiations are also continuing on the relatives’ release. We hope this will be resolved today,” spokeswoman Sandra Melo said, adding that a military police captain is leading the negotiations, and a judge and representatives of the state human rights commission are also present at the prisoners’ request.
Smokes purchase age now 21
New York has raised the minimum age to buy cigarettes to 21. “Under 21, no tobacco,” warned a small sign at the entrance of a small shop that sells smokes, newspapers, candy, coffee and cakes, in the Nolita neighborhood. No tobacco, either, for anyone who cannot present a valid ID proving their age. The measure — unprecedented among the US’ big cities — raises the legal age to buy cigarettes from 18. It also applies to other forms of tobacco and to e-cigarettes. Bans apply to cigarettes and, as of April 29, e-cigarettes in restaurants and bars, in parks or squares, and at the city’s public beaches. Some private residential buildings have also banned smoking.