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The World in Brief

by Compiled by Democrat-Gazette Staff From Wire Reports | February 24, 2021 at 4:32 a.m.

Greek students rally against security law

THESSALONIKI, Greece -- More than 5,000 university students and other protesters gathered outside a courthouse Tuesday in Greece's second-largest city to rally against a new campus security law.

Tuesday's protest in the northern city of Thessaloniki, a gathering banned under pandemic restrictions, was held in support of 31 people arrested Monday when a demonstration against the law turned violent.

Under the new measures approved by parliament this month, police can begin patrolling university grounds and make arrests. Police access to universities had previously been restricted for decades, causing a long-running political debate over on-campus freedoms.

The current conservative government argues that previous rules had allowed criminal activity and violent protests to occur on university grounds. But political opponents accuse the government of using the lockdown to sanction expanded police powers without a proper debate.

Some of the political controversy is rooted in the 1967-73 military dictatorship in Greece, when universities were an important source of political dissent. A bloody student-led revolt in 1973 helped topple the country's military regime.

Greeks harassed vessel, Turkey claims

ANKARA, Turkey -- The Turkish government accused Greece's military Tuesday of harassing a Turkish research vessel in the Aegean Sea and said Turkey's military had responded to the alleged intimidation.

Four Greek F-16 fighter jets harassed the TCG Cesme west of the Greek island of Lemnos, with one of them dropping a type of flare used to deceive enemy radar 2 nautical miles from the vessel, Turkish Defense Ministry officials said.

Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told reporters that Turkey's military retaliated, but he did not say how. He said the incident took place Monday.

"It was an act of harassment, which our Greek neighbors carry out frequently," Akar said. "We gave the necessary response in line with rules."

Turkey dispatched the TCG Cesme in international waters of the Aegean until March 2 to do hydrographic surveying. Greece had protested the deployment, saying it ran counter to a spirit of renewed dialogue the neighboring nations had established and to Turkey's effort to improve relations with the European Union.

Mob storms Iran office after shootings

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- A mob stormed a district governor's office in southeastern Iran on Tuesday, footage widely circulating on social media showed, a day after shootings at the border left at least two dead and six wounded.

After two violent incidents near the Pakistani border, dozens of protesters descended on the Iranian governors' office in Saravan, one of the major cities in Sistan-Baluchestan, a desert province that is one of the most restive and least developed parts of Iran.

Videos showed the men screaming "Allahu Akbar" as they punched through glass doors, yanked out air-conditioning units and smashed office furniture against the walls. Once inside, protesters waded through piles of overturned chairs and shattered glass, throwing objects all over the place.

Mohammad Hadi Marashi, deputy governor of the Sistan and Baluchestan province, told Iranian state TV on Tuesday that the anger at the governors' office stemmed from the shooting of several fuel smugglers on the Pakistani side of the border near Saravan the day before.

Marashi pointed a finger at Pakistan, saying its forces had opened fire on a gathering of fuel smugglers that had been trying to cross back into Iran, killing one and wounding four.

Priest starts trial in E. Timor abuse case

OECUSSE, East Timor -- A defrocked American priest went on trial Tuesday to face charges he sexually abused young girls at his shelter for orphans and children from impoverished families, in the first clergy sex case to emerge in East Timor -- the most Catholic place in the world outside the Vatican.

Richard Daschbach, 84, a former missionary from Pennsylvania, is facing 14 counts of sexual abuse of children under 14 years old, as well as one count each of child pornography and domestic violence, according to the country's prosecutor general.

He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Police presence was heavy at the small courthouse near the beach, as about 100 supporters of the former priest showed up but were denied entry to the courtroom for the closed proceedings.

Devout followers in the young country of 1.3 million -- 97% of whom are Catholic -- have been sharply divided by the case, with some families and politicians pitted against one another and tensions so high accusers fear they will be targeted by violence if publicly identified.

The alleged abuse occurred for years at Topu Honis, a children's home that Daschbach founded and ran, taking in hundreds of disadvantaged youth, providing them with food, clothing, shelter and schooling.

At least 15 females have since come forward, according to JU,S Juridico Social, a group of human-rights lawyers representing the accusers.

-- Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports

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