A Milan court acquitted Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on corruption charges that have dogged him throughout his term, a ruling he said was "better late than never." \nBy clearing the billionaire politician of charges he bribed judges in the 1980s, the three-judge panel's verdict Friday deprived the center-left opposition of fodder in the run-up to 2006 elections. It also spared the country the potential embarrassment of having its leader convicted and capped a trial that began four and a half years ago, before Berlusconi took office. "Better late than never," Berlusconi said in a statement after the verdict. "I was right to be serene because my conscience was clear that I'd done nothing wrong." \nIn a related development, an Italian court yesterday found a close political ally and business associate of Berlusconi guilty of colluding with the Mafia, and sentenced him to nine years in prison. \nThe verdict came less than 24 hours after Berlusconi escaped conviction. \nMarcello Dell'Utri, a senator in Berlusconi's Forza Italia party and a former chairman of the prime minister's advertising firm Publitalia, had been accused of acting as a link between the mob and Italy's business and political elite. The verdict comes a week before Berlusconi's planned trip to Washington for talks with US President George W. Bush. \nAfter the case went to the panel, Judge Francesco Castellano read the verdict: acquittal on one count and a ruling that the statute of limitations had run out on the second corruption charge.
China has possibly committed “genocide” in its treatment of Uighurs and other minority Muslims in its western region of Xinjiang, the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China said in a report on Thursday. The bipartisan commission said that new evidence had last year emerged that “crimes against humanity — and possibly genocide — are occurring” in Xinjiang. It also accused China of harassing Uighurs in the US. China has been widely condemned for setting up complexes in Xinjiang that it describes as “vocational training centers” to stamp out extremism and give people new skills, which others have called concentration camps. The UN says that
A racing pigeon has survived an extraordinary 13,000km Pacific Ocean crossing from the US to find a new home in Australia. Now authorities consider the bird a quarantine risk and plan to kill it. Kevin Celli-Bird yesterday said he discovered that the exhausted bird that arrived in his Melbourne backyard on Dec. 26 last year had disappeared from a race in the US state of Oregon on Oct. 29. Experts suspect the pigeon that Celli-Bird has named Joe — after US president-elect Joe Biden — hitched a ride on a cargo ship to cross the Pacific. Joe’s feat has attracted the attention
Australian scientists have raised questions over the efficacy of the AstraZeneca and University of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine in establishing herd immunity, calling for a pause on its widespread rollout as the country recorded one new case of the virus yesterday. Opposition to the vaccine casts a cloud over Australia’s immunization plans, with 53 million doses of the AstraZeneca jab already on hand. “The question is really whether it is able to provide herd immunity. We are playing a long game here. We don’t know how long that will take,” Australian and New Zealand Society for Immunology president Stephen Turner said. Turner added
The Polish Supreme Court on Friday quashed a lower court’s green light for the extradition of a businessman to China for alleged fraud, a charge he has denied, saying that he is being targeted for supporting Falun Gong. Polish authorities took Chinese-born Swedish citizen Li Zhihui, now 53, into custody in 2019 on an international warrant issued by China for alleged non-payment in a business deal, Krzysztof Kitajgrodzki, his Polish lawyer, told reporters. Following the Supreme Court ruling, the case would return to a lower appellate court for review. Kitajgrodzki told reporters that it was still not a given that his client