independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

In Brief: Berlusconi lawyer denies sex tape claims of hidden ancient ruins

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's lawyer denied the premier hid archaeological ruins at his Sardinian villa and said tapes purporting to show him boasting to a call girl were fake, newspapers said yesterday.

The recordings, allegedly of Mr Berlusconi and a call girl, riveted Italy by revealing details of their purported sexual liaison. On Friday L'Espresso released a further transcript in which the billionaire politician appeared to boast about tombs in the grounds of his island residence.

Under Italian law archeological discoveries made on private property must be reported to authorities.

Ousted president makes border trip

PRESIDENT Manuel Zelaya made a second, largely symbolic trip to the Honduran border yesterday, despite foreign leaders urging him not to force a confrontation with the government in power since last month's coup.

Mr Zelaya is demanding he be reinstated as president following the June 28 coup, which has been condemned by the EU, the US and the UN.

UK police foil ATM 'grab arm' robbery

British flying squad detectives foiled a robbery yesterday after a lorry with a mechanical arm was used to rip a cash machine from a bank, Scotland Yard said.

The robbers struck at Barclays Bank in Finchley Road, north London, at 3am, using the grab-arm to hoist the ATM onto the vehicle. The driver refused to stop and rammed a number of police vehicles during a four-mile pursuit. The lorry was eventually stopped and the 39-year-old driver arrested and taken to hospital.

Boss dies in China steelworks clash

The general manager of a steelworks was beaten to death as 30,000 Chinese workers clashed with police in protest over plans to merge their mill with another firm in the north-east city of Tonghua, a human-rights monitor said.

Conjoined twins born in Indonesia

Indonesia's state news agency says conjoined twins have been born in a single body with two heads.

Antara reported yesterday that the baby boys share all of their vital organs, except that each has his own heart. They weighed seven pounds and were otherwise healthy.

Thieves steal German minister's Merc

Thieves have stolen German Health Minister Ulla Schmidt's official limo from the Spanish town of Alicante while she was on holiday. "Her chauffeur's accommodation was broken into and the keys stolen," said a spokeswoman.

Ms Schmidt, a Social Democrat in Dr Merkel's coalition, was using the car for official appointments in the area, which is popular with retired Germans.

Iranian opposition seeks clerics' help

IRAN'S opposition urged senior clerics yesterday to help secure the release of people arrested following June's disputed elections, after a protester died in prison.

A reformist website said the son of an adviser to a defeated conservative candidate had been killed in a Tehran prison after being detained in post-election unrest.

US envoy Mitchell returns to Syria

PRESIDENT Obama's special Mideast envoy arrived yesterday on his second visit to Syria since he took up his post in the latest US diplomatic outreach to a country deemed a state sponsor of terrorism.

Last month, George Mitchell, who helped broker the Good Friday Agreement, became the highest-level US administration official to visit Damascus since 2005. He acknowledged Syria's clout, declaring Damascus has a key role to play in promoting Mideast peace.

Kyrgyzstan's opposition alleges fraud

Kyrgyzstan's opposition presented video recordings yesterday claiming to show widespread fraud in the recent presidential election and announced plans for anti-government demonstrations.

President Bakiyev won a second term in Thursday's election, taking 83 per cent of the vote in the Central Asian country located near Afghanistan.

But the opposition is crying fraud, and the election has come under sharp criticism from EU agencies.

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