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In brief: Mandela in hospital for stomach ailment

JOHANNESBURG – Former South African President Nelson Mandela was hospitalized for a test to determine what is behind an undisclosed stomach ailment, and the country’s current leader said the much beloved 93-year-old icon was in no danger.

Mandela, a Nobel peace laureate who spent 27 years in prison for fighting racist white rule, has officially retired and last appeared in public in July 2010. He became South Africa’s first black president in 1994 and served one five-year term.

Mandela “has had a long-standing abdominal complaint and doctors feel it needs proper specialist medical attention,” President Jacob Zuma said in a statement Saturday morning.

Zuma said Mandela was expected to be discharged from the hospital today or Monday.

Fire destroys Brazil’s base in Antarctica

SAO PAULO – Brazil’s base in Antarctica was destroyed Saturday by a fire that killed two navy personnel and forced the evacuation by helicopter of 44 people, the Brazilian navy said.

The blaze broke out in the morning in the machine room that houses the energy generators of the Comandante Ferraz station, the navy said in a statement.

The Brazilian navy said it was “extremely dismayed” by the accident at the base, which has been active since 1984. The station is on King George Island in Admiralty Bay, about 80 miles from the Antarctic Peninsula.

Berlusconi outlasts corruption charges

MILAN, Italy – Silvio Berlusconi’s corruption trial ended Saturday with a court ruling that the statute of limitations had run out, handing the former premier another victory in a long string of judicial challenges.

Berlusconi, who stepped down as premier in November as the sovereign debt crisis flared, was accused of paying a British lawyer, David Mills, $600,000 to lie during two 1990s trials to protect the politician and his Fininvest holding company from charges related to offshore companies Mills helped set up.

The billionaire media mogul wasn’t in the Milan courtroom when the chief judge, Francesca Vitale, read out the verdict after 2  1/2 hours of deliberations. He told reporters at a football game in Milan later that it was “half justice.”

Berlusconi’s lawyer Niccolo Ghedini said the defense had hoped for a full acquittal, leaving open the possibility of an appeal. In Italy, both sides can appeal court decisions.