UN concludes crimes against humanity committed in N. Korea
WASHINGTON — A U.N. panel has found that crimes against humanity have been committed in North Korea and will call for an international criminal investigation, The Associated Press has learned.
The report, to be released Monday, is the most authoritative account yet of rights violations by North Korean authorities, and it is bound to infuriate the country’s unpredictable leader. But justice remains a distant prospect, not least as North Korea’s ally, China, would be likely to block any referral to the International Criminal Court.
The commission, which conducted a yearlong investigation, has found evidence of an array of crimes, including “extermination,” crimes against humanity against starving populations and a widespread campaign of abductions of individuals in South Korea and Japan.
Its report does not examine in detail individual responsibility for crimes but recommends steps toward accountability. It could also build international pressure on North Korea, whose dire rights record has drawn less censure at the U.N. than its nuclear and missile programs have. North Korea’s hereditary regime has shrugged off years of continuous outside pressure, including tough U.N. and U.S. sanctions directed at its weapons programs.
An outline of the report’s conclusions was provided to the AP by an individual familiar with its contents who was not authorized to divulge the information before its formal release and who spoke on condition of anonymity. A U.S. official, speaking anonymously for the same reason, confirmed the main conclusions.
Princes help set sandbags in village on Thames hit by floods
LONDON — Prince William and Prince Harry helped flood-hit British villagers protect their homes Friday, unloading sandbags alongside soldiers in a River Thames village.
The princes, who have both served in the armed forces, joined a work crew In Datchet, west of London, from about 6 a.m. on what aides said was a private visit.
The princes were not the only royals helping out. Their grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, has sent feed and bedding from the royal farms at Windsor to farmers whose land has been inundated.
England, which has been lashed by wind and rain since December, had its wettest January since records began in 1766, and the rain has continued this month. Storms this week have brought wind gusts of more than 100 mph.
Floods have drenched the southwestern coast of England, the low-lying Somerset Levels and the Thames Valley west of London, where hundreds of properties have been swamped after the river burst its banks.
Car bomb explodes in rebel-held Syrian village killing dozens
BEIRUT — A car bomb blew up outside a mosque in a rebel-held village in southern Syria as worshippers were leaving after Friday prayers, killing dozens of people and filling clinics and hospitals with the wounded, anti-government activists said.
The explosion in Yadouda charred vehicles parked nearby and damaged the mosque, which has a white dome, according to video images posted by activists who are fighting to oust President Bashar Assad.
Yadouda is in the southern province of Daraa, the birthplace of the uprising against Assad that began with peaceful protests in March 2011 and morphed into a civil war that has killed more than 130,000 people.
The motive for Friday’s blast could not immediately be determined and activists provided varying death tolls ranging from 29 to 43. State-run TV confirmed the bombing but said only 3 people were killed.
Car bombs have frequently been used by Islamic extremists both against the government and against moderate rivals in the Sunni-led opposition movement. Government forces also have been known to use explosive-packed vehicles and the two sides frequently trade blame in attacks targeting mosques.
By wire sources