World in brief
Ambassador says suspect isn’t spy
Russia’s ambassador to Canada on Thursday dismissed suggestions that a man arrested on espionage charges was a Russian agent, saying “I don’t run a spy shop here.”
Ambassador Georgiy Mamedov, in the first Russian comments on the issue, told CBC Newsworld that he didn’t “see anything that pins him to our door.”
The man identified as Paul William Hampel was taken into custody by the Canada Border Services agency on Nov. 14 and accused of being a foreign spy deemed threatening to Canadian security.
Canadian Security Intelligence Service officials said in court documents that they believed Hampel is a member of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR, a successor to the KGB.
Prosecutors recommended that Hampel be deported. A federal court granted a defense request Wednesday to postpone Hampel’s case until next week.
Senate makes changes to rape law
Pakistan’s Senate overcame opposition from hardline Muslim lawmakers and amended its rape law on Thursday to make it easier to prosecute sexual assault cases.
Human rights activists have long condemned the rape law for punishing – instead of protecting – rape victims while providing legal safeguards for their attackers.
The amended law would drop the death penalty for people found to have had sex outside of marriage, though they still would be subject to a five-year prison term or $165 fine.
Judges also will be able to choose whether to try a rape case in a criminal court or Islamic court, which should make it easier to convict rapists.
The bill now goes before President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who is expected to sign it into law.
CAPE TOWN, South Africa
Gay partners given inheritance rights
South Africa’s highest court ruled Thursday that gay partners must have the same inheritance rights as married couples, a decision in line with its 2005 judgment that same-sex marriages should be legalized.
The 10-member Constitutional Court ruled unanimously that existing succession laws were illegal because they excluded gay partners from provisions giving spouses automatic inheritance rights if a partner dies without leaving a will.
The order was to have immediate effect.
The ruling was a further victory for gay-rights activists, who are anticipating the same-sex marriage ruling taking effect on Dec. 1, making South Africa the first nation on the continent to legalize same-sex marriages.