Thousands protest against evictions

MADRID - Demonstrations are being held across Spain to protest harsh repossession laws that have led to hundreds of thousands of evictions.

In Madrid - one of 50 cities where such protests were planned Saturday - thousands of people marched to demand that the government amend the laws.

More than 350,000 Spaniards have received eviction orders since 2008 because they were unable to make mortgage payments.

Most of those evicted remain liable to repay the sum originally borrowed, even as the value of their homes plunges, rendering them hard to sell.


4 guilty in collapse of dorm in earthquake

ROME - A court in L'Aquila has convicted four people in the collapse of a university dormitory during the 2009 earthquake in that Apennine Mountains town. Eight students died in the collapse during the powerful quake, which struck early April 6.

The four who were convicted Saturday are technicians accused of carrying out shoddy reconstruction work in 2000. Three were sentenced to four years in prison while the fourth man received two years.

Four other defendants were acquitted.

The quake killed more than 300 people in the tremor-prone area.


4 accused of breaking anti-Christianity law

TRIPOLI - Four foreigners were arrested in Libya on suspicion of distributing books about Christianity and proselytizing, a police spokesman said Saturday.

Hussein bin Hamid said the suspects were from South Africa, Egypt and South Korea, and one held both Swedish and U.S. nationalities. The Swedish Foreign Ministry confirmed that a dual national Swedish-American citizen was arrested while traveling on a U.S. passport. The U.S. Embassy in Libya declined comment.

Spreading Christianity is a crime in the predominantly Muslim North African county.

The four were arrested in the eastern city of Benghazi on Tuesday and are under investigation for printing and distributing books that proselytize Christianity. Police said they found 45,000 books in their possession and that another 25,000 have already been distributed.


Welder is arrested in massive wildfire

SANTIAGO - Police have arrested a man they say is responsible for the worst forest fire in decades in the hills above the port of Valparaiso.

Police say Carlos Rivas, 27, a mason, confessed early Saturday to accidentally igniting the blaze with a welder's torch.

"He's a worker from the RVC (construction) company who was cutting steel panels with a welder's torch," police Gen. Julio Pineda told State TV.

"We arrived at his home, and he confessed," Pineda said. "Everything points to an accident, but we'll need to determine if someone else is responsible."

The RVC construction company has issued a statement denying any wrongdoing. But Rivas said in a written statement that his boss asked him to lie and cover up his role in the fire.


Belly-dancing station is ordered off the air

CAIRO - A court has ordered a TV channel that airs belly dancing clips off the air for showing "sexually explicit" content and operating without a license.

The judge Saturday said ElTet airs ads that are "offensive" and can "arouse" viewers. The station carries advertisements for sexual- enhancement products and matchmaking services. It is broadcast out of a Cairo apartment that airs videos 24 hours a day of scantily clad belly dancers.

The satellite channel's owner was briefly arrested last year and accused of facilitating prostitution.

Another court upheld a decision Saturday to keep religious channel al-Hafez off the air for 30 days for slandering an Egyptian actress over her views in support of the former regime.

The Associated Press