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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Release Order Frozen

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Switzerland's highest court late last week suspended the imminent release of a North Ossetian convicted of stabbing to death an air traffic controller he blamed for the death of his wife and two children in a plane collision.

The Swiss Federal Tribunal approved a prosecutor's appeal and temporarily suspended the early release of Vitaly Kaloyev, which was set for Friday by a court in the canton of Zurich.

Seventy-one people, mostly schoolchildren on a holiday trip to Spain, were killed in the July 1, 2002, crash of a Bashkirian Airlines plane and a DHL cargo jet. (AP)

Tajik-Afghan Bridge Opens

PYANJ, Tajikistan -- Tajikistan and Afghanistan opened a U.S.-funded bridge over the Pyanj River on Sunday to increase trade, but Tajik President Imomali Rakhmon expressed concern that it might become a route for illegal drugs.

The U.S. government, with contributions from Norway, Japan and the European Union, has invested $37 million in the 600-meter bridge linking the Tajik town of Lower Pyanj and Afghanistan's Sherhan-Bandar.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez attended the ceremony .

"It will become the widest connection between Afghanistan and the rest of the world," he said.

Afghanistan and Tajikistan have agreed to create free economic zones on both sides and ease customs and visa regimes to promote trade. (AP)

Genocide Charge for Meri

The cousin of Estonia's late president, Lennart Meri, committed genocide by helping deport his countrymen to Siberia in the 1940s, prosecutors said.

Arnold Meri, 88, said he had always acknowledged participating in the deportations, but he downplayed his role, claiming he was just a civil servant. And he said his poor health meant he was unlikely to survive his trial.

State prosecutors said last week that Meri was accused of genocide for having "participated in the preparations of the March 1949 deportations."

At the time, Meri -- a decorated Soviet army veteran -- was based in Tallinn, but was sent on a temporary assignment to the island of Hiiumaa, about 140 kilometers west of the capital. (AP)

Homeless Numbers Revised

An earthquake this month on Sakhalin island left 8,000 people homeless, four times more than initially announced, the local administration said late last week.

Officials previously said the quake on Aug. 2, which was also felt in nearby Japan, left 2,000 people unable to return home to the worst hit town, Nevelsk.

Alexei Bayani, spokesman for the Sakhalin administration, said 2,000 families had now applied for housing rehabilitation certificates.

"We are looking at housing around 8,000 people," he said, adding that 3,478 apartments were destroyed. (Reuters)

Plane Collides With Tractor

A plane collided with a towing tractor at Domodedovo Airport over the weekend, Interfax reported Sunday. No one was injured.

The collision occurred while a Yak-42 passenger plane was being towed from its departure gate Saturday. It is unclear how the collision occurred.

The plane, which belongs to the carrier Tsentr Azia, suffered light damage. It was unclear how many passengers were on board. (MT)