PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – A U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal sentenced the former Khmer Rouge chief jailer today to 35 years in prison – the first verdict involving a leader of the genocidal regime that destroyed a generation of Cambodia’s people.
Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, listened impassively as the chief judge read out the verdict, convicting him of crimes against humanity and war crimes. He will serve only 19 years of the sentence, because Judge Nil Nonn said the court shaved off the 11 years he’s already spent in detention and five more for being illegally detained in a military court. He had faced a maximum sentence of death.
CARACAS, Venezuela – President Hugo Chavez threatened on Sunday to cut off oil sales to the United States if Venezuela is attacked by its U.S.-allied neighbor Colombia in a dispute over allegations that Venezuela gives haven to Colombian rebels.
Chavez made his warning in an outdoor speech to thousands of supporters, saying: “If there is any armed aggression against Venezuela from Colombian territory or anywhere else supported by the Yankee empire, we … would suspend shipments of oil to the United States!”
If actually carried out, such a threat would be a titanic economic blow for Chavez’s government, which depends heavily on oil sales. The U.S. is the top buyer of oil from Venezuela, which is the United States’ fifth biggest foreign supplier.
But Colombia has not threatened military action, and it’s likely Chavez made the warning in part to put Washington and Bogota on notice that he will not stand for a more aggressive international campaign to denounce allegations that leftist Colombian rebels are finding refuge in Venezuela.
CAIRO – The leader of al-Qaida’s offshoot in North Africa said in a message broadcast Sunday that the group has killed a French engineer taken hostage in Niger in April.
In an audio message broadcast on Al-Jazeera, Abdelmalek Droukdel said the group killed the 78-year-old French hostage in retaliation for the killing of six al-Qaida members in a recent raid by Mauritanian forces aided by the French military.
The hostage, Michel Germaneau, was abducted April 22 in Niger and officials believed he was subsequently taken to Mali. Al-Qaida demanded in several Internet messages addressed to French President Nicolas Sarkozy that France help negotiate the release of the group’s prisoners in countries in the region. Sarkozy’s office would not confirm the death Sunday night.