Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 31st 2016 Contents A25
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BOGOTA---Colombia will hold formal
peace talks with the country's second-
largest rebel group, heightening
expectations for a definitive end to a half-
century of political violence in the Andean
The government has held exploratory
talks in Ecuador with the National
Liberation Army, or ELN, for more than a
year. Negotiators for the two sides
announced yesterday at a press
conference in Caracas that those talks will
now be formalised, though a start date
has not yet been set.
Talks will kick off in Ecuador and then
continue in Venezuela, Brazil and Chile and
Cuba. The five countries along with
Norway will sponsor the talks.
The government has been negotiating
for three years in Havana with the largest
Colombian rebel group, the FARC, or
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
The smaller ELN, which the US
government classifies as a terrorist group,
has an estimated fighting force of around
1,500 and relies on extortion and
kidnapping to fund its insurgency. Its main
base of operations is eastern Colombia,
along the border with Venezuela, where it
frequently bombs a major oil pipeline.
BRUSSELS---A laptop used by one of the
Brussels bombers contained images of the
Belgian prime minister s home and office,
an official said yesterday, heightening fears
after last week s attacks on the airport and
A government official, who spoke on con-
dition of anonymity because the investiga-
tion is ongoing, said that "it is alarming
that they were apparently scouting the ter-
rain" around the lush Royal Park where both
his office, "Le 16," and his Lambermont
residence are located.
Security around Prime Minister Charles
Michel has increased since the November
13 attacks in Paris and in Brussels last week.
Michel also has had several unspecified
death threats over the past years, the official
A laptop found near the hideout of the
suspects of the March 22 airport bombing
first gained notoriety because it contained
a sort of will of suicide bomber Ibrahim El
Bakraoui, in which he spoke of being "in a
haste" and "no longer know what to do."
The computer was also "full of stuff" on
many locations around Brussels in infor-
mation garnered from the Internet, said an
official linked to the investigation.
The official said that at the moment there
were "absolutely no" specific indications
that Michel was under threat from the
The report was first published by De Tijd
and L Echo newspapers.
In propaganda material distributed Tues-
day, the Islamic State group described the
Brussels attacks as part of "a war against
all their tyrants and pagans; a war against
secularism." The material showed a cropped
still of surveillance footage showing the two
airport bombers. The attacker who escaped
with his life, wearing a dark hat, was cropped
"Its most important results are that it
showed the fragility of the security systems
of the European states that claim they are
the strongest in the world, and this was
through the type of operation, its timing,
its place, and the circumstances surrounding
it, and the nature of those who executed
it," the material said, according to a trans-
lation yesterday by the SITE Intelligence
In all, 32 people died in the attacks on
Brussels international airport and the Mael-
beek subway station and 87 remained in
hospital. Three attackers were killed when
their bombs exploded and police are looking
for at least one more suspect. (AP)
Colombia seeks peace talks with rebel group
TORONTO---Mourners paid their respects yesterday
to infamous ex-Toronto mayor Rob Ford, who died
last week at age 46 after fighting cancer.
His tenure as mayor of Canada s largest city was
marred by revelations about his drinking problems
and illegal drug use. As he sought a second term in
2014, his cancer diagnosis forced him to do what
months of scandals could not---drop his bid for re-
He had been lying in repose at City Hall the last
two days, an honour only granted a few times in the
past. A procession yesterday started from City Hall
and ended with a funeral at St James Cathedral.
His young daughter Stephanie paid tribute to her
dad in a speech.
"I remember at the hospital he smiled at me and
he said, Stephanie, I may not be here for too much
longer, but I want you to remember that I will always
love you. I need you and your brother to be strong
for your mom, " she said.
"I know my dad is in a better place now and that
he s the mayor of heaven now."
Ford was loved by some and loathed by others
during his four years as mayor.
The international spotlight fell on Ford in May
2013, when Toronto Star and the US website Gawker
reported the existence of a video that appeared to
show the mayor inhaling from a crack pipe. Although
he became the subject of a police investigation and
admitted to reporters that he had smoked crack
cocaine, Ford was never charged with a crime. (AP)
BUCHAREST---A Romanian court has sentenced a
former prison commander to 20 years in prison
for the deaths of 103 political prisoners while he
was commander of a communist-era labour camp.
The Bucharest court yesterday handed the sentence
to Ion Ficior, 87, who was commander at the Periprava
labour camp from 1958 to 1963. He has ten days to
Former detainees accused Ficior of beatings, a lack
of food and medicine, and unheated cells. He denies
wrongdoing and says he was merely following orders.
Last month, in the first case of its kind in Romania,
a court upheld a 20-year sentence for Alexandru
Visinescu, 90, for the abuse and deaths of prisoners
while he was commander at the Ramnicu Sarat prison
from 1956 to 1963. (AP)
Ex-prison chief gets 20
years for 103 deaths
Belgian probers find startling photos on laptop
Belgium Prime Minister Charles Michel, second right, and India Prime Minister Narendra Modi inspect the troops prior to a
meeting at the Egmont Palace in Brussels, yesterday. Modi is in Belgium for an EU India summit where discussions will
focus on the EU-India agenda for action 2020 and the ongoing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations. AP PHOTO
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