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    IN BRIEF (Page: 7, Date: 03/18/2006)

2006-03-18 07:16

United States

Marines investigated

About a dozen US Marines are being investigated for possible war crimes in connection with the deaths last year of 15 Iraqi civilians who were initially reported killed by a roadside bomb.

The Navy has opened a criminal investigation into the November 2005 bombing and subsequent gun battle between Marines and insurgents that led to the deaths of the Iraqi citizens, defence officials said on Thursday.

The inquiry will attempt to determine whether the Marines acted appropriately when they fired back at insurgents following a roadside bomb attack in Haditha, 220 kilometres northwest of Baghdad, said a military official who requested anonymity because the investigation has not been announced yet. The civilians were hit during that battle.

United Kingdom

Journal case to go to trial

Prince Charles won a court judgement on Friday to block publication of further extracts from his journal, but the High Court ordered a trial to determine whether the journals should stay private a decision that could compel Charles to testify.

Judge William Blackburne said Charles could claim damages for the publication of the Hong Kong journal, and to seek a permanent injunction on the contents of his Hong Kong journals.

However, the judge said he was unwilling to bar publication of the other journals without knowing what they contain.

Charles sued the publisher of The Mail on Sunday newspaper, which in November published portions of the diary kept during a 1997 trip to mark the return of Hong Kong to China.

United States/Japan

US faults Japan over bases

The United States is unhappy that Japanese officials involved in talks to relocate American troops are putting priority on assuaging local opposition, a senior US official was quoted as saying in a major daily on Friday.

Washington is concerned that many Japanese officials are not focused on the importance of the security alliance, US Deputy Undersecretary of Defence Richard Lawless was quoted as saying in an interview with the Asahi Shimbun.

The two sides are working to seal a deal on the realignment of US forces in Japan by the end of March, but talks have been bogged down by opposition from Japanese communities concerned about noise, accidents and crime associated with US bases.


H5N1 virus kills fowl

Israel's agriculture ministry said on Friday that thousands of turkeys and chickens found dead at two collective farms near the Gaza Strip had been infected with the H5N1 bird flu virus.

Officials said the results were still being checked for final confirmation.

The Palestinian Authority had also been informed and asked to inspect chicken coops in Gaza and the West Bank, he said.

Israel is testing dead fowl found in the West Bank and Gaza on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in rare co-operation as agriculture officials attempt to control the spread of the virus.

South Korea

No-summit vow over shrine

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun will not hold a summit with Japan's prime minister unless Junichiro Koizumi promises not to visit a shrine that honours war criminals, Roh's spokesman said on Friday.

"A summit will be held only when Koizumi says he will not visit the Yasukuni shrine," Kim Man-soo said.

Roh and Koizumi have met twice since 2004 under what officials dubbed a "shuttle summit." Roh had been scheduled to visit Japan in December but cancelled the trip due to Koizumi's visit to the shrine, which honours convicted World War II war criminals.

Cloning scientist faces panel

Disgraced scientist Hwang Woo-suk appeared before his university's disciplinary committee for the first time on Friday, a day after the government revoked permission for him to conduct embryonic stem cell research.

Hwang came to the university to explain the scandal surrounding faked stem cell research. The university, which said in January that Hwang fabricated articles in 2004 and 2005, has said it will decide whether to take disciplinary action against Hwang.

(China Daily 03/18/2006 page7)


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