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In brief: President’s whereabouts unknown after Mali coup

Fri., March 23, 2012, midnight

Bamako, Mali – Drunk soldiers looted Mali’s presidential palace hours after they declared a coup on Thursday, suspending the constitution and dissolving the institutions of one of the few established democracies in this troubled corner of Africa.

The whereabouts of the country’s 63-year-old President Amadou Toumani Toure, who was just one month away from stepping down after a decade in office, could not be confirmed.

The mutineers said they were overthrowing the government because of its mishandling of an ethnic Tuareg insurgency in the country’s north.

The soldiers said they intended to hand over power to an elected government, though they made no mention of the fact that elections were supposed to be held on April 29.

Irish commission finds Ahern got secret payments

Dublin – Former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern received at least $276,000 in secret payments while in office and repeatedly lied about it under oath, a mammoth fact-finding judicial investigation ruled Thursday in a long-awaited verdict.

The three judges stopped short of finding Ahern guilty of corruption, because they couldn’t prove that Ahern gave favors to any of his cash donors when he was finance minister in the 1990s.

The judges did find two other former lawmakers in Ahern’s Fianna Fail party guilty of corruption for soliciting payments from property developers for personal use.

Ahern resigned from office in 2008 after 11 years in power. He issued a lengthy rebuttal Thursday night, vowing to clear his name.

Two fined, leave country after sex in plain view

Roseau, Dominica – Two California men pleaded guilty on Thursday to indecent exposure in Dominica after they were arrested during a stop on a gay cruise of the Caribbean.

John Robert Hart, 41, and Dennis Jay Mayer, 43, of Palm Springs, apologized in court. Police said they were seen having sex in plain sight of people on land, prompting officers to board the ship and arrest them on Wednesday.

The two initially were arrested on suspicion of the local equivalent of sodomy in the eastern Caribbean island, which prohibits sex between two men.

A magistrate ordered the men to pay a nearly $900 fine. They made no comment after the hearing and police drove the men to the airport after they were released.


 

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