Egyptian judge dismisses ElBaradei ‘betrayal of trust’ case

A judge dismissed a lawsuit against Egypt’s former interim vice president for “betrayal of trust” in quitting the army-backed government in protest against its bloody crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. Cairo’s Misdemeanours Court judge Wael El-Mahdi yesterday threw out the case against Mohamed ElBaradei, saying it lacked sufficient grounds. ElBaradei was out of the country. Anti-Morsi Egyptian law professor Sayyid Al-Ateeq brought the suit against ElBaradei in August. ElBaradei, former head of the UN nuclear agency, had been the most prominent liberal to endorse the military’s overthrow of former president Morsi on July 3. He resigned Aug. 14 after security forces attacked protest camps set up by Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Cairo, killing hundreds. (Reuters)

Groups: Egyptian satirist defamed military

 An official in Egypt says complaints already have been filed against a popular television satirist, less than 24 hours after returning to air following a coup. Bassem Youssef, often compared to U.S. comedian Jon Stewart, mocked the new pro-military fervor gripping Egypt in his program aired Friday night. By yesterday, an official said at least four complaints had been filed with the country’s top prosecutor, accusing Youssef of defaming the military in his show. The official said no investigation into the complaints had started yet. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to journalists. Youssef used satire to criticize Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, ousted by the military following popular protests in July. Morsi supporters also sued Youssef, leading to his brief detention. (AP)

Report: Iran hangs 16 to avenge ambush

Iran hanged 16 “rebels” of an unspecified armed group yesterday in retaliation for the death of 14 border guards in clashes near the frontier with Pakistan, a semiofficial news agency reported. The executions took place hours after the rebels ambushed the border guards near the town of Saravan in southeast Iran, Fars agency quoted local judicial official Mohammad Marzieh as saying. State TV said that rebels had crossed the border from Pakistan and fled back there after the clash. Drug smugglers have occasionally ambushed Iranian troops in the mountainous area. The report provided few other details of the hangings. It did not mention a trial. (AP)

Mount Etna erupts; airspace briefly closed

Mount Etna, Europe’s most active volcano, has erupted, sending up a towering plume of ash visible in much of eastern Sicily. Etna’s eruptions aren’t infrequent, although the last major one occurred in 1992. Catania airport said the eruption yesterday forced the closure of nearby airspace before dawn, but authorities lifted the order in early morning. Several villages dot the mountain’s slopes, but evacuations weren’t necessary despite the lava. (AP)

Clerics in Lebanon to discuss Christians’ woes

The state of Middle Eastern Christians - many threatened by Muslim radicalism and political violence - was the topic of a two-day conference starting yesterday in Beirut, attended by regional politicians and clergymen. Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, himself a Christian, opened the conference, warning that Christianity would be in limbo if Christians disappeared from the Middle East due to regional turmoil. “Dangers threatening Christians in the Orient are known. They are mainly changes in demography, migration and dwindling participation in decision making.”Suleiman lamented that the proportion of Christians in the Middle East has dropped from 25 percent of the overall population to 6 percent. (DPA)

Kosovo issues arrest warrant for Serb minister

Kosovo has issued an arrest warrant for a Serbian minister who entered the country illegally, a police spokesman said yesterday, a move that may hamper implementation of a deal to normalise ties between Pristina and Belgrade. Pristina authorities said Aleksandar Vulin, the Serbian minister in charge of Kosovo, had visited ethnic Serbs living in northern Kosovo last week during campaigning for local elections on November 3. “We have received an arrest warrant on Vulin and we will act accordingly,” Kosovo police spokesman Brahim Sadriu said. Serbia and Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008, signed a landmark deal in April under which Belgrade agreed to cede its de facto hold over a small Serb-populated pocket of Kosovo, whose majority is ethnic Albanian. (Reuters)

Tens of thousands march for same-sex marriage in Taiwan

Tens of thousands of demonstrators, many displaying rainbows and glitter, thronged the centre of Taiwan’s capital yesterday to press demands to legalize same-sex marriage amid an increasingly tolerant environment on the island nation. Organizers and participants said they were heartened by the prospect of same-sex marriage becoming a reality, despite enduring traditional attitudes among many residents. (Reuters)