In brief: Bolshoi Theater open after restoration
Moscow – Russia’s Bolshoi Theater reopened Friday after a massive reconstruction effort that restored it to its original imperial splendor.
The $700 million, six-year effort meticulously re-created the opulent 19th-century decor, many elements of which had been simplified or removed during communist rule.
Russian and international celebrities, including former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, opera diva Galina Vishnevskaya, ballerina Maya Plisetskaya and Italian actress Monica Bellucci, filled the grand gold-and-red, 1,743-seat hall in Moscow for Friday’s gala opening led by Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev.
NATO air campaign over Libya to end
Brussels – NATO has announced it will end its air campaign over Libya on Monday, following the decision of the U.N. Security Council to lift the no-fly zone and end military action to protect civilians.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Friday that the operation was “one of the most successful in NATO history,” one which was able to wind down quickly following the death of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
NATO’s 26,000 sorties, including 9,600 strike missions, destroyed about 5,900 military targets since they started on March 31.
Earthquake sends Peruvians into streets
Lima, Peru – A magnitude-6.9 earthquake centered off Peru’s central coast sent people running panicked into the streets Friday in cities badly damaged by a killer quake four years earlier. There were no reports of damage or injuries.
People who had lost loved ones and homes in the earlier quake were badly shaken and some broke into tears.
Friday’s quake was considerably less violent in Lima, a city of 8.5 million people. The capital shook for about 30 seconds in a series of moderate, swaying movements.
Rights activist chosen as Ireland’s president
Dublin – Human rights activist and poet Michael D. Higgins headed for victory Friday in Ireland’s presidential election as the Irish picked a left-wing idealist to be the new face of a debt-struck nation.
Higgins’ main challenger, business guru and reality TV celebrity Sean Gallagher, conceded defeat in a telephone call to Higgins.
Higgins, 70, was mobbed by well-wishers and journalists as he arrived at the Dublin Castle count center. Minutes later, electoral officials announced he had received 39.6 percent of all first-preference votes to take an unassailable lead atop the field of seven candidates to be Ireland’s head of state.
Final results are expected today because of Ireland’s complex voting system, which permits voters to rank candidates in order of preference.
Defendants convicted in bombing of cafe
Rabat, Morocco – A Moroccan court on Friday convicted all defendants for their role in a cafe bombing that killed 17 people, mostly tourists, sentencing the chief suspect to death.
The court erupted into chaos with the reading of the verdicts following five hours of deliberation. Families of the defendants shouted that they were unjust while relatives of the victims wept and hugged each other.
Prosecutors had accused Adel al-Othmani of dressing like a tourist and planting the bomb in the Argana cafe, before setting it off with his mobile phone. He was convicted of premeditated murder and building explosives, among other charges.
The April 28 blast killed eight French tourists in addition to British, Swiss, Moroccan and Portuguese victims.
The court handed down a life prison term for al-Othmani’s associate, Hakim Dah, and gave four-year terms for four other defendants charged with having knowledge of the crime. Three were given two-year prison terms.