A change of judges in Saddam Hussein's genocide trial Wednesday disrupted the proceedings and ultimately led to an angry Saddam being ordered from the Baghdad courtroom. The session began with his lawyers walking out in protest after chief judge Abdullah al-Amiri was replaced because of accusations that he was too soft on the former Iraqi leader. The government named Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa, a Shiite Muslim Arab, to preside. When the defense team exited, the bench said it would appoint new counsel, but an outraged Saddam refused to go along with the decision, pounding his fist on the podium and saying, "You must deal with us as the law dictates."
With an overwhelming victory as the new leader of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party Wednesday, Shinzo Abe has virtually ensured his selection as prime minister when parliament convenes on Sept. 26. In succeeding the colorful and popular Junichiro Koizumi, Abe will become Japan's first prime minister born after World War II. He has pledged to rewrite Japan's pacifist Constitution, forge even stronger security ties with the US, and seek a thaw in relations with China and South Korea, which grew tense after Koizumi's visits to a Tokyo war shrine.
By Wednesday morning, thousands of protesters who gathered in Budapest for two nights of antigovernment demonstrations were off the streets, but Hungarian police said they were on alert for more possible clashes. On Tuesday, more than 200 people were injured when police fired water cannon and tear gas to disperse crowds that police said turned violent when hijacked by hard-core hooligans. Opponents have called for Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany to resign after he admitted to lying about the economy to win April's election.
The International Committee of the Red Cross, the only neutral agency with full access to detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, said Wednesday that it expects to meet next week with 14 high-level terrorism suspects recently transferred there. The prisoners, who've been held in secret overseas detention centers, include 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was arrested in Pakistan in 2003. The Red Cross wants to register the detainees and provide them with a means of communicating with their families.
During his weekly audience at the Vatican Wednesday, Pope Benedict XVI said that the words of a Byzantine emperor he cited last week when he accidentally enraged many Muslims were not his own words, and that the quote "unfortunately lent itself to be misunderstood." Benedict also underlined his "deep respect" for Islam.
Home Secretary John Reid, Britain's top law-and-order official, warned Muslim parents to watch out for signs of extremist influence on their children, according to the Associated Press, which obtained advance copy of his Wednesday remarks in London. "Fanatics," he said, "are looking to groom and brainwash children ... for suicide bombing."
Vietnam's security agencies said Wednesday that a Vietnamese-born US citizen, detained since mid-August, was being held on suspicion of plotting a terrorist attack to destroy the US Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City. Human-rights activists and relatives of Cong Thanh Do, a computer engineer in San Jose, Calif., countered that Do was arrested for using the Internet to call for alternatives to one-party Communist rule.