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The world in brief

by Compiled Democrat-Gazette Staff From Wire Reports | February 25, 2021 at 4:17 a.m.

Nepalese celebrate return of legislature

KATHMANDU, Nepal -- Thousands of anti-government protesters threw confetti and chanted slogans Wednesday in Nepal's capital to celebrate Parliament's reinstatement by the Supreme Court.

The court order was major blow to troubled Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli, who dissolved the legislature in December because of a feud within the governing Nepal Communist Party.

The jubilant demonstrators applauded the court's decision and demanded Oli's immediate dismissal. The court ruled Tuesday that the dissolution was unconstitutional and that a meeting of the reinstated body must be called within 13 days.

Oli has not made any public comments since the ruling, which has put him in a difficult position because he will not have the support of a majority of lawmakers.

The Nepal Communist Party won a majority of the seats in 2017 elections, but has split after a feud between Oli and co-leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

No party holds a majority to form a new government, which is likely to lead to a political crisis.

Germans seize 17-ton cocaine shipment

BERLIN -- German customs officials have found more than 17.6 tons of cocaine in containers that arrived in Hamburg from Paraguay, authorities said Wednesday. Another 7.9 tons of cocaine were seized in Belgium and a suspect was arrested in the Netherlands.

The Hamburg customs office described the find in the German port as the biggest quantity of cocaine ever seized in Europe and one of the biggest single seizures worldwide. The Dutch national prosecutors' office, referring to the overall haul, said that "never before has so much cocaine been intercepted" in a single operation.

The drugs were found in a search Feb. 12 of five containers from Paraguay that had been flagged as suspect in a risk analysis by several European customs authorities, the Hamburg office said. They had detected "clear irregularities" in three containers, which were loaded with putty in tin cans but appeared also to contain other wares.

Customs officers found the cocaine hidden in more than 1,700 cans.

The freight document linked to the shipment was addressed to a 28-year-old man in the Dutch town of Vlaardingen, who was arrested Wednesday, prosecutors in the Netherlands said.

Political bias denied in corruption case

MEXICO CITY -- Mexican Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero denied Wednesday that corruption accusations against the opposition governor of the border state of Tamaulipas are politically motivated, but did not specify what is behind the case.

The attorney general's office filed a request Tuesday to the Congress to remove the governor's immunity from prosecution, equivalent to a kind of impeachment proceeding.

Gov. Francisco Garcia Cabeza De Vaca is accused of organized crime, money laundering and tax evasion. He has denied any wrongdoing and claimed the accusations are politically motivated.

Media outlets have reported that some of the accusations are related to movements of millions of dollars between front companies. Other accusations may be related to bribes that purportedly were paid to lawmakers in 2013 to approve an energy sector overhaul that President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador opposes. Garcia Cabeza De Vaca was a senator at the time.

But Gertz Manero did not confirm any of those accounts Wednesday.

Lopez Obrador said "we do not persecute anyone."

Cabeza De Vaca, from the opposition National Action Party, sent a tweet insisting he was innocent and complaining of a political attack.

Prison brawls kill 79 inmates in Ecuador

QUITO, Ecuador -- The number of inmates who have died in riots at prisons in Ecuador this week increased to 79 on Wednesday after authorities regained control of the facilities in three cities.

Hundreds of police officers and military personnel converged on the prisons after apparently coordinated fights broke out in the maximum-security wings as rival gangs fought for leadership within the lockups. Authorities have said the clashes that began Monday night were precipitated by a search for weapons.

The national agency responsible for the prisons said 37 inmates died in the Pacific coast city of Guayaquil, 34 in the southern city of Cuenca and eight in the central city of Latacunga. Some 70% of the country's prison population lives in the centers where the unrest occurred.

Prisons Director Edmundo Moncayo said Tuesday that two groups were trying to gain "criminal leadership within the detention centers."

Police said inmates in two prisons in Guayaquil tried to continue fighting Wednesday. At least 400 officers reinforced security there and blocked traffic.


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