Nine days after he was sent to the gallows, all legal action against former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was dropped while a trial against six codefendants continued. Hussein's seat was left empty as the others, charged with crimes during the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war, silently entered the Baghdad courtroom one after another. Hussein Rashid Muhammad, former deputy of operations for the Iraqi Armed Forces, was among the senior members of the ousted regime in the dock.

The Vatican said Monday that it didn't know anything about Monsignor Stanislaw Wielgus's collaboration with Poland's former communist secret police when Pope Benedict XVI nominated him to become an archbishop last month. Wielgus resigned as archbishop Sunday, and the Rev. Janusz Bielanski, the head priest of Krakow's prestigious Wawel Cathedral, followed suit on Monday, the day the pope delivered his annual New Year's state of the world address at Vatican City. In it, he called for a "global approach" to resolving the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, urged nations to open up to Cuba, and warned against dictatorial rule in Latin America.

Nearly a decade after the death of Princess Diana in a Paris car crash, a British inquest began Monday into the matter in London. At preliminary hearings, the Royal Courts of Justice ruled that all sessions would be open to the public and that the deaths of Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed would be examined together. Police investigations and legal actions have held up the inquest.

Dispelling rumors of his death, Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei emerged Monday to say that Tehran would never yield to international pressure applied by the UN to stop enriching uranium. Khamenei has final say on all state matters in the Islamic Republic. On Dec. 23, the UN Security Council unanimously imposed sanctions on Iran's trade in nuclear materials and technology.

Japan celebrated Coming of Age Day on Monday, a public holiday that raised concerns about the country's low birthrate and rising elderly population. As is traditional, hundreds of thousands of young people who turned 20, the legal voting age, during the preceding year dressed up in kimono and tuxedos. Altogether, 1.39 million Japanese reached the age of adulthood, but they constitute only 1.09 percent of Japan's 127.3 million people, the smallest percentage ever, the government announced.

Rescuers found 15 more people alive late Sunday who'd been on board a storm-battered Indonesian ferry that sank nine days earlier. One of the survivors died shortly afterward, rescue officials said Monday. The survivors had drifted 370 miles on a life raft before being picked up by a passing cargo ship. Meanwhile, searchers for a plane that disappeared in Indonesia a week ago found an undersea metal object that could possibly be part of the Adam Air jetliner that was carrying 102 people. No confirmation was available at press time.

Jaime Razuri, a Peruvian photographer who works for the French news agency AFP, was released Sunday by Palestinian militants in Gaza who had held him captive for almost a week. No one has yet claimed responsibility for his abduction, the latest in a series of kidnappings of foreign journalists and aid workers in Gaza in the past year. All have been released unharmed.

The UN refugee agency made an emergency appeal Monday for $60 million to help the 40,000 to 50,000 Iraqis who flee their homes every month and the 3.7 million who have already been displaced. Some 1.7 million are displaced within the country.

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