In brief | Nation & World, December 10, 2013


South Africa prepares for massive memorial where world leaders will eulogize Nelson Mandela

JOHANNESBURG — An eclectic mix of world leaders including President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro will eulogize Nelson Mandela before a crowd of nearly 100,000 mourners at a massive memorial service Tuesday in the World Cup soccer stadium where the anti-apartheid champion made his last public appearance.

“What a fantastic gift God gave to us in this Mandela, who quickly became an icon, a global icon of forgiveness, of generosity of spirit,” Archbishop Desmond Tutu told a gathering Monday at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory.

“He really was like a magician with a magic wand, turning us into this glorious, multicolored, rainbow people.”

Nearly 100 world leaders and tens of thousands of South Africans of all races and backgrounds were expected to pay their respects to the man who bridged this nation’s black-white divide at the FNB stadium in Soweto — a locale heavy in symbolism as the black township that was at the center of the violent struggle against apartheid.

The 95,000-capacity soccer venue was also the spot where Mandela made his last public appearance at the closing ceremony of the 2010 World Cup. His body will then lie in state for three days at the Union Buildings in Pretoria — once the seat of white power — before burial Sunday in his rural childhood village of Qunu in Eastern Cape Province.

US attorney: 18 current, former L.A. sheriff’s deputies face array of criminal charges

LOS ANGELES — Federal officials on Monday unsealed five criminal cases filed against 18 current and former Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies as part of an FBI investigation into allegations of civil rights abuses and corruption in the nation’s largest jail system.

The charges were announced at a press conference after 16 of 18 defendants were arrested earlier in the day. They were expected to be arraigned later in U.S. District Court.

“These incidents did not take place in a vacuum — in fact, they demonstrated behavior that had become institutionalized,” said U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. “The pattern of activity alleged in the obstruction of justice case shows how some members of the Sheriff’s Department considered themselves to be above the law.”

Four grand jury indictments and a criminal complaint allege unjustified beatings of jail inmates and visitors at downtown Los Angeles jail facilities, unjustified detentions and a conspiracy to obstruct a federal investigation into misconduct at the Men’s Central Jail.

The FBI has been investigating allegations of excessive force and other misconduct at the county’s jails since at least 2011. The official said the arrests were related to the abuse of individuals in the jail system and also allegations that sheriff’s officials moved an FBI informant in the jails possibly to thwart their probe.

US veteran held in North Korea says video confession was coerced with threat of long jail term

SAN FRANCISCO — The 85-year-old U.S. veteran who was detained for weeks by North Korea said Monday that the videotaped confession in which he apologized for killing North Koreans during the war was given involuntarily and under duress.

In a written statement issued Monday, Merrill Newman, of Palo Alto, Calif., said he tried to show that the words he read on the recording were not his own by emphasizing the apology’s awkward phrasing and poor English grammar.

“Anyone who has read the text of it or who has seen the video of me reading it knows that the words were not mine and were not delivered voluntarily,” Newman said. “Anyone who knows me knows that I could not have done the things they had me ‘confess’ to.”

The former Army lieutenant said that while the North Koreans treated him well during his detention at a Pyongyang hotel, an interrogator told him repeatedly that if he did not apologize for his alleged crimes during the Korean War and during his visit to the communist nation, he would be sentenced to 15 years in jail for espionage.

“Under these circumstances, I read the document with the language they insisted on because it seemed to be the only way I might get home,” he said.

By wire sources