Frontline Club week ahead briefing 16 – 22 April

A weekly round up of world events from Monday, 16 to Sunday, 22 April from Foresight News

By Nicole Hunt

The week kicks off with a bang as the trial for the newly-sane Anders Behring Breivik gets underway in Oslo on Monday. Breivik has admitted to carrying out the 22 July Oslo bombing and Utoya shootings, killing 77 people, but has pled not guilty to criminal responsibility for the attacks, saying he carried them out to ‘save Norway’.

After last week’s Abu Hamza and Babar Ahmad decision, the European Court of Human Rights is back in the news as it issues a judgement on a case brought by relatives of victims of the 1940 Katyn massacre, who say Russian police have failed to adequately investigate the killings. The Court also rules on whether the way Russian authorities reacted to requests for further investigations into the massacre amounted to inhuman or degrading treatment.

Over 21,000 people were killed in April and May 1940 following the Red Army’s invasion of Poland seven months earlier. Following initial polls on 17 March, which saw incumbent President Jose Ramos-Horta fail to garner enough support for another term, opposition leader Fransisco ‘Lu Olo’ Guterres and former armed forces leader Taur Matan Ruak face off in the second round of voting in East Timor.

Monday also marks the possible deportation date for Osama bin Laden’s three widows, Amal Ahmed Abdul Fateh, Khairiah Sabar and Siham Saba, and two of his daughters. The five women, who lived with bin Laden in his Abbottabad compound until his death on 2 May, 2011, were convicted on 2 April of impersonation, illegal entry into Pakistan and staying illegally in Pakistan, and sentenced to 45 days imprisonment. The back-dated sentence ends on Monday, which is also when the women’s lawyer predicted they would be deported.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad meet in Jerusalem on Tuesday, the first direct talks between the two parties since September 2010. Fayyad is expected to deliver a letter to Netanyahu from President Mahmoud Abbas, outlining the PA’s conditions for resuming stalled peace talks, with the issue of continued Israeli settlement activity expected to be high on the agenda. The meeting comes on the same day that Palestinian hunger striker Khader Adnan is scheduled to be released from prison in Israel.

Meanwhile, members of Syria’s National Coordination Committee are due in Moscow for talks with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, a week after Foreign Minister Walid al Muallem made the same trip. The Russians have been more reluctant than their western counterparts to criticise Syrian President Bashar al Assad, and talks are likely to focus on the next steps in the political process after a fragile ceasefire was put into place on 12 April (assuming, of course, that it is still in place by the time the two parties meet). NATO Defence and Foreign Ministers begin a two-day ‘jumbo’ meeting in Brussels on Wednesday.

While regular talks with other ISAF members and a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council feature, the real news is likely to be reaction to Turkey’s recent assertion that NATO should be responsible for protecting its borders after stray Syrian gunfire wounded four people in a refugee camp on the Turkish side of the border.

At the court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, former head of the Asian Football Confederation Mohammed Bin Hammam appeals against a lifetime ban from all football activities issued by FIFA in July 2010. Bin Hammam was found guilty of attempting to bribe members of the Caribbean Football Union during his FIFA presidential campaign.

And in Strasbourg, King Abdullah II of Jordan makes his fourth address to a formal sitting of the European Parliament. In his 2007 speech, the King focused on the Middle East peace process, which is likely to feature again this time around alongside remarks about the Arab Spring.

Jailed former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko goes on trial again in Kharkiv on Thursday, this time on charges that she embezzled some $405 million in state funds through the United Energy Systems of Ukraine (UESU) in the 1990s. In October, Tymoshenko was convicted of abuse of power and sentenced to seven years in prison, a move that further chilled relations between Ukraine and the rest of Europe.

The IMF/World Bank annual Spring Meetings in Washington begin on Friday, marking the formal three days of seminars in what is actually a week of economic reports, speeches, and, in all likelihood, hand-wringing about the state of the global economy. G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors hold their meeting on the first day, following the welcome news from IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde that the IMF would require less new funding than previously thought.

The long-awaited memorial service for Christopher Hitchens, who died on 15 December following a battle with cancer, takes place in New York. Hitchens’ body was donated to medical science shortly after his death, and no funeral took place, ‘partly because of his religious (or rather non-religious) opinions, and partly because…he disliked what he regarded as the excesses of the American funeral industry’, according to his brother Peter.

Friday also marks six months since the death of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was killed during a firefight between supporters and rebels on 20 October. The anniversary comes as Libya argues with the International Criminal Court over who should prosecute Gaddafi’s son and presumed successor Saif al Islam Gaddafi, who has been indicted by the ICC but not yet handed over by Libyan officials, who insisted he should be tried in the country.

Two very different protests scheduled for Saturday: in Warsaw, supporters of the conservative Law and Justice party and Catholics hold a march to defend traditional family values and the Catholic church, with organisers hoping to attract up to 100,000 participants. In Prague, trade unions and opposition parties hold demonstrations to protest against new austerity measures recently approved by Prime Minister Petr Necas’ government, despite threats from his junior coalition party to walk out in opposition.

After what has felt like the longest presidential campaign outside of the United States, France finally goes to the polls on Sunday in what is likely to be the first of a two-round election. While incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy showed hope for a comeback following strong polling over his handling of the Toulouse shootings, recent polls have stretched front-runner François Hollande’s lead.

It looks like the F1 Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead as scheduled on Sunday, despite concerns about continued unrest and the human rights situation in the country.