SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Two Orthodox archbishops have been kidnapped by foreign-sponsored militants in Syria in the northern governorate of Aleppo.
Syriac Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo Yohanna Ibrahim and Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo Paul Yazigi were captured by "a terrorist group" as they were "carrying out humanitarian work" in a village in Aleppo governorate on Monday, the official news agency SANA reported.
"Terrorists intercepted the bishops' car in Kafr Dael village, took the driver out of the car and kidnapped the bishops," SANA said.
According to Aleppo residents, Ibrahim went to pick up Yazigi from the rebel-controlled Bab al-Hawa crossing with Turkey. Their car was intercepted on the way back by militants who kidnapped the archbishops and killed their driver.
The Syria crisis began in March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of soldiers and security personnel, have been killed in the violence.
The Syrian government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals.
In an interview recently broadcast on Turkish television, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that if the militants take power in Syria they could destabilize the entire Middle East region for decades.
“If the unrest in Syria leads to the partitioning of the country, or if the terrorist forces take control… the situation will inevitably spill over into neighboring countries and create a domino effect throughout the Middle East and beyond,” he added.-www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Press TV
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Mexico's top court has freed a French woman convicted of kidnapping, ruling that her trial was tainted and ending a seven-year prison ordeal that strained diplomatic ties.
Florence Cassez, 38, was serving a 60-year sentence that opened up a rift between France and Mexico after she was arrested in 2005 at a ranch near Mexico City with her former boyfriend, who led a kidnapping gang called the Zodiacs.
Supreme Court Judge Jorge Pardo ordered her release during a televised court session on Wednesday. Hours later, Cassez was driven from a Mexico City prison in an SUV flanked by police vehicles.
Guards said she left for the airport en route to France.
"It's an explosion of joy. It's wonderful," Charlotte Cassez, her mother, told French television. "It's not far from being the best day of my life. We've been waiting for so long. She deserves it. She is innocent and has fought to prove that. It's a victory for her."
Outside the prison, relatives of kidnap victims wept. One person screamed "murderer" as Cassez drove past.
Al Jazeera's Adam Raney, reporting from outside the court, said the ruling "will not go down so well in Mexico".
"This case has divided the country, as many believe she is guilty. Many believe she has received special attention only because she is a high-profile foreign prisoner," he said.
The Supreme Court justices ruled that the police violated her rights by staging her arrest in a live national television broadcast in December, 2005.
It showed police storming Cassez's former boyfriend's ranch, where they detained her and freed three hostages as cameras rolled.
It was later revealed that Cassez had actually been arrested on a road hours before the raid. The federal police said the re-enactment was made at the request of the media.
A judge sentenced her in 2008 following a closed-door trial with no jury, typical of most cases in Mexico.
In March, Mexico's Supreme Court rejected a bid to release Cassez immediately but opened the door to a review on Wednesday, which had initially been intended to discuss a motion to throw out some of the evidence used to convict her.
Cassez's fate appeared to be hanging in the balance for much of the hearing, when a majority of the five-judge panel said they would vote against the wording of Justice Olga Sanchez's proposal to discard testimony against Cassez.
Two judges dismissed Sanchez's motion on the grounds it was too lenient on Cassez, while two others rejected because it did not go far enough, instead arguing she should be released.
Then Sanchez, the last judge to speak, took up the objections and proposed a modified motion to liberate the Cassez. Moments later she was declared a free woman after a majority of the panel backed Sanchez's plan.
Critics of Mexican justice saw her release as a test of the system's ability to rectify its faults.
French President Francois Hollande welcomed the court's ruling, saying it marked "the end of a particularly painful period".
"France thanks all those who, in Mexico and elsewhere, were committed to ensure that truth and justice prevail," he said.
But some Mexican rights groups said the victims were forgotten in the case. Thousands of serious crimes have gone unpunished by Mexico's justice system.
"Today the Supreme Court is freeing the guilty, only respecting their rights, while those of the victims have been thrown under the Arc de Triomphe," said Isabel Miranda de Wallace, a rights activist who helped to convict her son's kidnappers and killers in the face of police inaction.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Abdelsalam al-Mahdawi was abducted at traffic lights on his way to work. It is not known who was behind the attack.
Interior Minister Ashour Shwayel promised to find the officer and the perpetrators, news agency AFP reported.
Libyan authorities have been struggling to provide security since the Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown in 2011.
Last November, Benghazi's police chief was assassinated in a drive-by shooting.
More than a dozen other security officers were killed last year in Benghazi, the city where the uprising began.
AFP news agency quoted a security official as saying that the investigator "had many enemies".
"He had files on everyone - Gaddafi loyalists, hard-line Islamists and common criminals," said the unnamed official.
A group of police officers has staged a protest against the kidnapping.
One held a banner asking: "Where are the men of Benghazi?"
There has been a series of attacks against diplomatic missions and aid agencies in the city.
They included a deadly assault on the US embassy in Benghazi in September last year.
There have also been attacks against Sufi shrines and mosques.
Witnesses say the attacks were carried out by militant Islamists.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - A Canadian who was sentenced to death in absentia Wednesday in Cairo over an anti-Islam movie that caused deadly riots in parts of the Muslim world said he’s terrified of being kidnapped and spirited to Egypt.
In an interview with The Canadian Press, Nader Fawzy denied any involvement in the Innocence of Muslims, saying the Egyptian government has long been out to get him because of his Coptic Christian activism.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — The foreign-backed insurgents in Syria have killed four pro-government residents and abducted 50 more in Ghasania village near the western city of Homs,Press TV reports.
The Arab country has been experiencing unrest since March 2011. Damascus says outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorists are the driving force behind the unrest and deadly violence while the opposition accuses the security forces of being behind the killings.
The Syrian government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the armed militants are foreign nationals.—www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Press TV
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Pirates have kidnapped 24 Russian sailors in an attack on a Greek-owned oil tanker off the coast of Togo. The crew alerted the Togolese Navy, but the tanker managed to escape amid an exchange of fire with a patrol boat.
The tanker “Centurion Energy” was seized by pirates roughly 30 kilometers off the coast of Togo’s capital Lome on Tuesday morning. It was not immediately clear if anyone was hurt during the attack.
The crew managed to trigger an alarm and alert the Coast Guard patrol of Togo. The patrol boat, however, failed to release the captives, and the seized tanker escaped after a short gunfight.
The pirates are likely to detain the sailors until they’ve stolen all the cargo aboard the ship, Noel Choong of the International Maritime Bureau told the AP.
The ship, registered in the Isle of Man to a company called Energy Centurion, was operated by a Greek firm called Golden Energy Management, Greece's Merchant Marine Ministry confirmed. It has a crew of 24 Russian sailors.
The attack comes about a week after a similar attack on another tanker in the region. In that attack, the crew was released after the pirates stole the oil onboard.—www.shafaqna.com/English