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Preview: Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Europe Europe News from the Associated Press


Ugandan rebel pleads not guilty to rape, murder charges

Tue, 6 Dec 2016 10:18:52 UT

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — An alleged senior commander in the militia of fugitive warlord Joseph Kony pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 70 charges including murder, rape, forced marriages and using child soldiers during the group's insurgency in northern Uganda. Dominic Ongwen, whom prosecutors say is a commander in the Lord's Resistance Army, listened intently as an official at the International Criminal Court in The Hague read out 70 charges. Earlier, the three-judge panel had rejected a last-minute defense motion seeking to postpone the trial and order psychological tests to determine if Ongwen understood the charges and was mentally fit to enter pleas.

German court paves way for nuclear compensation claims

Tue, 6 Dec 2016 10:15:42 UT

BERLIN (AP) — Germany's highest court opened the way on Tuesday for potentially costly compensation claims from electricity companies over the government's abrupt decision in 2011 to shut down several nuclear reactors and accelerate the closure of the rest. The court rejected that claim Tuesday, but found that the operators — E.On, RWE and Vattenfall — were entitled to "appropriate" compensation given that the government didn't foresee recompense for planned investments or guarantee that their plants could generate the quantities of electricity plants set out in earlier plans.

UK finance chief doesn't rule out paying to tap EU market

Tue, 6 Dec 2016 10:14:16 UT

BRUSSELS (AP) — Britain's finance chief has refused to rule out the possibility that the country may continue paying into European Union coffers for access to the single market after leaving the bloc. In a rare appearance for the regular meeting of the EU's 28 finance ministers, Philip Hammond stressed Tuesday that he wants to minimize the economic disruption from Britain's exit. Though there's been a degree of understanding across European capitals about the constitutional arrangements that have to play out in Britain, there's also been discontent over the approach the British government has taken so far.

French premier steps down to focus on presidential election

Tue, 6 Dec 2016 10:14:09 UT

Valls hopes to unite Socialists and give the left a chance to stay at the Elysee Palace despite current opinion polls suggesting the second round of the election could pit Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front, against conservative Francois Fillon. The 53-year-old Cazeneuve is a close ally of Hollande and became a popular figure in French politics as the champion of measures tackling extremism in his interior minister role. A leading yet divisive figure of the Socialist party, Valls is known for his outspoken, authoritarian style and his tough views on immigration and security.

In Denmark, officer hit by shooting outside police station.

Tue, 6 Dec 2016 10:10:05 UT

Danish media showed footage of police officers in bulletproof vests with handguns and automatic weapons outside the police station. In September, a man shot two police officers — seriously wounding one — and a bystander in a Copenhagen neighborhood known for its thriving hashish trade.

Amnesty slams lasting, forced displacement of Turkey's Kurds

Tue, 6 Dec 2016 09:53:58 UT

Amnesty's Europe Director, John Dalhuisen, said that "a year after a round-the-clock curfew was imposed in Sur, thousands of people remain displaced from their homes, struggling to make ends meet and facing an uncertain future in an increasingly repressive atmosphere." The rights group says it estimates more than 500,000 people have been displaced in east and southeast Turkey as a result of unlivable curfews and sweeping crackdowns which used a level of military force deemed disproportionate for the security threat posed by Kurdish militants. Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International's Turkey researcher, told The Associated Press that the unnecessary extension of the curfew in Sur and the authorities' failure to facilitate the return of residents suggests a "premeditated plan" to achieve security "through changing the structure and infrastructure of these areas." Displaced families have received insufficient compensation from the government for property damaged during security operations and inadequate information on how emergency expropriation measures affect their homes, limiting their ability to take legal action in time. The prosecution of leading Kurdish politicians and lawyers coupled with the closure of Kurdish media outlets has left displaced families with few champions to fight their cause or sources of information.

Longtime Lego CEO to be replaced

Tue, 6 Dec 2016 09:15:31 UT

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Lego, the Danish company famous for its popular colored toy blocks, says its top boss for the past 12 years will be replaced by the group's current chief operating officer. Padda, the current chief operations officer, joined Lego in 2002 in Enfield, Connecticut.

French president appoints Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve as new prime minister

Tue, 6 Dec 2016 08:19:44 UT

PARIS (AP) — French president appoints Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve as new prime minister.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls steps down to focus on running for president in next year's election

Tue, 6 Dec 2016 08:16:21 UT

PARIS (AP) — French Prime Minister Manuel Valls steps down to focus on running for president in next year's election.

Ransomed: The race to free 226 Christian hostages in Syria

Tue, 6 Dec 2016 08:07:48 UT

SAARLOUIS, Germany (AP) — Deep inside Syria, a bishop worked secretly to save the lives of 226 members of his flock from the Islamic State group — by amassing millions of dollars from his community around the world to buy their freedom. On Feb. 23, 2015, IS fighters attacked 35 Christian towns simultaneously, sweeping up scores of people. Paying ransoms is illegal in the United States and most of the West, and the idea of giving money to the Islamic State group is morally fraught, even for those who saw no alternative. If we give them money we're just feeding into it, and they're going to kill using that money, said Aneki Nissan, who helped raise funds in Canada. When the villages were attacked, fleeing residents phoned cousins, sons, daughters, friends — Assyrians who had left the region in waves for the West. Four female captives would remain, and one of the men had to deliver a message to their bishop in the town of Hassakeh about 40 miles away, and return with an answer. In Germany, Assyrian entrepreneur Charli Kanoun persuaded the government to accept the Tal Goran hostages, and then he began fundraising for the others. The Islamic State group has made a fortune off the desperation of hostages. A United Nations resolution from December 2015 called on governments "to prevent kidnapping and hostage-taking committed by terrorist groups and to secure the safe release of hostages without ransom payments or political concessions." [...] while no government appeared to stop the fundraising, the Assyrians say no country stepped in to free the captives either.

Turkish, US military chiefs meet at Incirlik air base

Tue, 6 Dec 2016 08:01:32 UT

A brief military statement Tuesday said the meeting took place Monday at Incirlik Air Base where U.S. Gen. Joseph Dunford was paying a "Christmas visit" to American military personnel serving there.

Ransomed: The freeing of 226 Christians from Islamic State

Tue, 6 Dec 2016 08:00:37 UT

The donations, raised from church offerings, a Christmas concert, and the diaspora of Assyrian Christians on Facebook, landed in a bank account in Iraq. Deep inside Syria, a bishop worked around the blurred edges of international law to save the lives of more than 200 people — one of the largest groups of hostages yet documented in IS's war in Syria and Iraq. If we give them money we're just feeding into it, and they're going to kill using that money, said Aneki Nissan, who helped raise funds in Canada. In a single night of horror on Feb. 23, 2015, IS fighters attacked the Christian towns simultaneously, sweeping up scores of people and sending everyone from 35 towns and villages fleeing for their lives. Around 4 a.m. Islamic State group fighters streamed in, firing their guns and kicking at doors. Fearing for their lives, Marza and his neighbors obeyed the rough commands and stomped on their icons of the Virgin Mary, their pictures of Jesus. Months later, recounting that night to The Associated Press from the safety of a German sidewalk cafe, Marza's hands trembled at the memory. The extremists gave Marza a scrap of paper signed and stamped by the Islamic State group, allowing him safe passage: The infidel Christian Abdo Marza wants to negotiate between us and their church for money. [...] he gave Marza a sealed envelope to take back to IS. When Marza returned and handed the envelope to the IS leader, he said, he had no idea of the message inside or what it would mean for his fate and his daughter's. In Canada, after an emergency meeting, Canadian Assyrians pooled around $100,000 to help the Khabur Christians and sent it off to the church to use wherever it could do the most good, Nissan said. Al-Jeloo spent his childhood in Australia hearing about the trials inflicted upon the Assyrian people, how they managed to stick together, keeping the same dialects, the same customs, and even the same village nam

German factory orders beat forecasts, up strongly in October

Tue, 6 Dec 2016 07:47:47 UT

BERLIN (AP) — German factory orders were up a far stronger-than-expected 4.9 percent in October compared with the previous month, led higher by orders for cars and vehicle parts. The figure released by the Economy Ministry on Tuesday compared with economists' forecast of a modest 0.6 percent gain.

Merkel seeks new term as leader of German conservatives

Tue, 6 Dec 2016 07:21:51 UT

BERLIN (AP) — Angela Merkel is seeking a new two-year term as leader of her conservative party, following her announcement last month that she will run for a fourth term as German chancellor. The party has seen tensions in the past year over her approach to the migrant crisis and suffered a string of poor state election results.

Assyrian Christians describe to the AP a year-long campaign to win freedom for 226 members taken hostage by IS in Syria

Tue, 6 Dec 2016 06:09:08 UT

SAARLOUIS, Germany (AP) — Assyrian Christians describe to the AP a year-long campaign to win freedom for 226 members taken hostage by IS in Syria.

House where Austrian kept daughter as sex slave sold

Mon, 5 Dec 2016 23:25:57 UT

VIENNA (AP) — The liquidator of Josef Fritzl's estate says the house where the Austrian kept his daughter captive for 24 years and fathered seven of her children has been sold. State broadcaster ORF cites innkeeper Herbert Hauska as saying his wife and a business partner bought the building and will turn it into apartment units.

German chancellor denounces rape-killing of student

Mon, 5 Dec 2016 23:17:30 UT

BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday denounced the rape and killing of a university student as a "tragic event," responding for the first time to a case that has inflamed passions since police arrested a 17-year-old Afghan migrant last week. Joerg Meuthen, a co-leader of the nationalist Alternative for Germany party, argued Sunday that Merkel and Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel bear "a decisive share of the responsibility for this cruel act and many other 'isolated cases' that have happened daily in Germany since the unhindered entry of illegal immigrants." The nationalist party rose in polls following last year's migrant influx and hopes to enter the national Parliament in an election next year in which Merkel is seeking a fourth term. ARD, the public television station, drew criticism for not featuring the Freiburg arrest in its evening news bulletin Saturday, the day it was announced.

Greece gets short-term debt relief from eurozone

Mon, 5 Dec 2016 21:11:48 UT

At a meeting of the 19 eurozone finance ministers in Brussels that was largely overshadowed by the Italian referendum result that forced Premier Matteo Renzi to offer his resignation, Greece's creditors offered some immediate help to the cash-strapped Greek government. Among the measures offered were a smoothing of some of Greece's repayment profile in order to prevent debt repayment humps on the way and a waiving of an interest rate increase that was due to take effect next year. In return for successfully enacting a wide-ranging package of economic reforms and budgetary restraints, Greece's creditors have promised to offer some debt relief measures for both the short and long term. According to Klaus Regling, the head of the European Stability Mechanism, the body that releases the bailout funds to Greece, Monday's package of measures will reduce Greece's debt burden by around 20 percentage points by 2060. The Greek government is looking for much more help over the years ahead from its creditors so it will be able to stand on its own feet, but it still has further hurdles to clear before longer-term assistance is offered — perhaps in the form of longer repayment timetable for Greece's loans or further reductions in the interest rates payable on those loans.

Renzi told to stay put a bit more; foes press for vote

Mon, 5 Dec 2016 21:10:45 UT

ROME (AP) — Calls mounted rapidly Monday from populist and other opposition leaders for quick elections in Italy, seeking to capitalize on Premier Matteo Renzi's humiliating defeat in a referendum on government-championed reforms. "With the referendum vote, the Italians have expressed a clear political signal — the desire to go as soon as possible to elections," wrote Vito Crimi and Danilo Toninelli, two of the top leaders of the populist, anti-euro, 5-Star Movement in a piece accompanying the blog of Movement founder, comic Beppe Grillo. With the defeat plunging Europe's fourth-largest economy into political and economic uncertainty, and financial markets seeking reassurances, President Sergio Mattarella asked Renzi to hold off on leaving until the budget legislation is passed. Renzi called on Mattarella at the Quirinal Palace Monday evening and told the head of state it was not possible to continue in his post, after putting the fate of his nearly three-year-old center-left government on the line in the referendum vote and losing, a palace statement said. While Italy's opposition parties were united in antipathy for Renzi's policies and reform course, they have little else in common and have already begun vying to position themselves for eventual campaigning for Parliament. Since the Italian president tries to ensure Parliament can carry out its full five-year term, analysts expect that Mattarella will appoint a transition government to draft a new election law that could satisfy parties worried the way the rules now stand, their forces might be at a disadvantage.

Top US diplomat tells anxious allies: 'We're going to be OK'

Mon, 5 Dec 2016 20:03:49 UT

Speaking in the German capital Monday, the U.S. Secretary of State sought to reassure an audience of senior diplomats that the values they share with the United States will prevail. "There is obviously an anxiety playing out in the body politic of countries on a global basis," Kerry said, citing the weekend referendum in Italy, Britain's decision to leave the European Union and Donald Trump's victory in the U.S. presidential elections.