The world in brief: EU talks new sanctions against Russia

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (right) greets NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg prior to a meeting of the College of Commissioners at EU headquarters in Brussels, on Wednesday. (AP/Virginia Mayo)

EU talks new sanctions against Russia

BRUSSELS -- The European Union's executive said Wednesday it proposed to the member states a new package of sanctions targeting the Kremlin and its associates, seeking to tighten previous measures approved since the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine as well as adding dozens of economic operators.

The proposal sets in motion final talks between the 27 member states to reach the necessary unanimity on the issue and officials have said they hope to have the 12th package operational by the end of the year.

Even though Wednesday's statement did not go into details, preparatory talks centered on imposing export restrictions on Russia's lucrative diamond industry.

"The proposals for listings include actors from the Russian military, defense and IT sectors, as well as other important economic operators," the EU Commission statement said. It said that the latest package would target more than 120 individuals and entities.

Because the EU needs to get everyone on board, the outcome is not fully set yet. In the past, Hungary, which still has close relations with Moscow, has been able to delay and water down some sanctions packages.

Reparations order in poison gas case

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- A Dutch court on Wednesday ruled that a company must pay compensation to five Iranian victims of chemical weapons attacks by Iraq in the 1980s after the company did not show up in court to defend itself against civil claims it supplied raw materials for poison gas.

The court in The Hague cleared a second company of liability in the same case, ruling that the company was not aware when it sold chemicals to the government of Saddam Hussein that they would be used to make mustard gas.

The five Iranians were left permanently injured after three Iraqi mustard gas attacks in 1984 and 1986 during the Iran-Iraq war, the court said in a statement. They argued that the two companies "knew or should have known" that thionyl chloride sold to Iraq would be used to make mustard gas.

The court upheld the claim against Forafina Beleggingen I B.V., formerly known as KBS Holland, after the company did not appear. The amount of compensation was not immediately determined.

Lawyers for the company cleared, now called Otjiaha B.V., denied that the company, formerly known as Melchemie, had any knowledge that the chemical would be used by Iraq to make mustard gas.

U.S. tourist dies in Bahamas sinking

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- A U.S. tourist died in the Bahamas after a catamaran carrying more than 100 people sank while traveling to a private island, police said Wednesday.

Chief Superintendent Chrislyn Skippings told The Associated Press that the unidentified 74-year-old woman was from Broomfield, Colorado and was on a five-day vacation with her family when the catamaran sank late Tuesday morning.

The rest of the passengers and crew members were rescued. Two other unidentified people were taken to a medical facility, police said, but their conditions were not immediately known.

It wasn't immediately clear how the 74-year-old woman died.

Police said in a statement that the woman was found unresponsive as they helped pull the passengers and crew members from the water. They said she was given CPR and then taken to a dock where she was declared dead.

Life vests were available, and those aboard were wearing them, according to authorities.

Police said the double-deck catamaran began taking on water after departing Paradise Island with a group of tourists headed to Blue Lagoon Island, a popular destination located just northeast of the capital of Nassau.

Acquittal in Swedish spy case appealed

STOCKHOLM -- Sweden's prosecution authority on Wednesday appealed a ruling that acquitted a Russian-born Swedish businessman who had been accused of collecting information for Russia's military intelligence service for almost a decade.

On Oct. 26, the Stockholm District Court said advanced technology had been acquired and delivered to Russia but that Sergey Skvortsov's activities were "not aimed at obtaining information concerning Sweden or the United States that may constitute espionage."

"The man has been a procurement agent for Russian military intelligence in Sweden for almost 10 years," prosecutor Henrik Olin said in a statement. "Both the district court and I have found that behavior proven. I think there is room for the legislation on illegal intelligence activities to be interpreted a little more extensively than the rather cautious district court reached in its ruling."

Skvortsov was arrested in November with his wife in Nacka, outside Stockholm. He denied wrongdoing, His wife was released without charge following an investigation by Sweden's security agency.

Skvortsov had obtained information via two companies about items that Russia cannot otherwise acquire due to export regulations and sanctions. The prosecutor says he helped to buy and transport the goods, providing false or misleading information and acting under false identities.

  photo  European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, right, speaks with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as they arrive for a meeting of the College of Commissioners at EU headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
  photo  European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, left, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg arrive for a meeting of the College of Commissioners at EU headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)