Around the world

2013-03-26T00:00:00Z Around the worldFrom Wire Reports From Wire Reports Arizona Daily Star
March 26, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Venezuela

Leader sounds alarm on sabotage plans

CARACAS - Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro said Monday that government opponents are planning to sabotage the country's power grid and interrupt food distribution ahead of the April 14 presidential election.

Maduro's comments come amid growing concerns about sporadic shortages of some basic foods and occasional power outages in several regions of Venezuela.

Government foes have rejected similar allegations about planned sabotage in the past.

Opposition politicians argue that the government is to blame for shortages because it has not allotted sufficient U.S. dollars to businesses that import food. They also say the government is responsible for the blackouts because it has not made investments required to maintain the power grid.

Britain

Russian tycoon died from hanging

LONDON - A post-mortem examination found that self-exiled Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky died from hanging, and there was nothing pointing to a violent struggle, British police said Monday.

Thames Valley Police said that further tests, including toxicology examinations, will be carried out. The force did not specify whether the 67-year-old businessman hanged himself.

A forensic examination of Berezovsky's home will continue for several days, police added.

Once one of Russia's richest men and a Kremlin powerbroker, Berezovsky fled to Britain in 2001 and claimed political asylum in the country after a bitter falling out with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He had since been a vocal critic of the Kremlin.

5 jailed for inventing movie in tax scam

LONDON Five people were jailed Monday in Britain for pretending to make a Hollywood movie in a scam to defraud tax authorities of millions of pounds.

The fraudsters were convicted earlier this month of attempting to bilk the government of 2.8 million pounds ($4.2 million) in a plot reminiscent of the Academy Award-winning hit "Argo" - but without that movie's heroic hostage rescue.

Bashar Al-Issa, described as the leader of the fraud, was jailed for six and a half years on Monday. The four others in the group were sentenced to about four years each.

Prosecutors said the fraudsters claimed to be producing a made-in-Britain movie with unnamed A-list actors and a budget of 19 million pounds.

But officials say the project was a sham to claim almost 1.5 million pounds in goods-and-services tax for work that had not been done.

Italy

Knox retrial decision to be revealed today

ROME - Italy's highest court delayed until today a decision on whether American student Amanda Knox will face a new trial in the murder of her British roommate - an unusual but not unprecedented move.

The court heard six hours of arguments Monday and spent several hours deliberating before announcing it would issue a decision this morning on whether the 2011 acquittals of Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito will stand.

Italian prosecutors have asked the high court to throw out the acquittals of Knox and Sollecito in the murder of 21-year-old British student Meredith Kercher and order a new trial.

West Bank

Israel to resume money transfers

RAMALLAH - Israel said Monday it would resume regular monthly transfers of about $100 million in taxes and customs it collects for the Palestinian Authority, a step bound to ease but not end the protracted cash crisis of the self-rule government in the West Bank.

Israel has repeatedly halted the money transfers over political disputes, most recently after the Palestinians' successful bid in November to win U.N. recognition of a state of Palestine in lands Israel captured in 1967.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad accused Israel of withholding the funds illegally, saying the money belonged to the Palestinians.

The Associated Press

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