December 6, 2007 in Nation/World

World in brief: Mass exhumations, DNA tests planned

The Spokesman-Review
 
Associated Press photo

A forensic expert puts together a human skeleton in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on Wednesday. Associated Press
(Full-size photo)

Authorities in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez said Wednesday that they plan to exhume the remains of more than 4,000 unidentified people buried in common graves and take DNA samples in an attempt to identify them.

Rene Medrano, a spokesman for the Chihuahua state attorney general’s office, said the bodies were being exhumed “to bring order and clarity to past police practices.”

Authorities said the project was not directly related to the cases of 360 women killed over the past 14 years. Victims’ relatives have long demanded that independent investigators take part in the probes, saying efforts by state officials have been tainted by inept officers.

MANILA, Philippines

Militants convicted for abductions

A Philippine court convicted 14 Muslim militants today and sentenced them to life in prison for abducting a U.S. missionary couple and 18 others in a 2001 kidnapping spree that left one of the missionaries and another American dead.

Most of the top leaders of the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf group, which orchestrated the abductions at a resort island, have been killed in clashes since the trial opened in 2003.

Americans Gracia and Martin Burnhams, missionaries for the Florida-based New Tribes Mission, were celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary when they were snatched on May 27, 2001.

Fellow American Guillermo Sobero and 17 Filipinos also were kidnapped. Sobero, from Corona, Calif., was among several hostages beheaded by the rebels. Martin Burnham and a Filipino nurse were killed during a military rescue raid on June 7, 2002.

HAVANA

Bishop complains about police actions

A Roman Catholic bishop said Wednesday he complained to Cuban authorities this week after police forced their way onto the grounds of a church in the eastern city of Santiago to detain a group of dissidents.

Bishop Dionisio Garcia Ibanez said that police damaged St. Teresita Church’s door during Tuesday’s detention of an unspecified number of protesters, but did not enter the sanctuary itself, instead staying on the grounds.

The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and Reconciliation said about two dozen dissidents dressed in black were marching outside St. Teresita church to protest the arrest of a colleague several days before when police arrived. But neither the commission nor the bishop could say exactly how many protesters were detained.

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