China execution outrages Britain

LONDON - China's execution of British citizen Akmal Shaikh on drug-dealing charges early yesterday has provoked an outcry of revulsion around Britain.

Chinese Ambassador Fu Ying was summoned to the British Foreign Office yesterday for a terse 45-minute meeting with Foreign Office Minister Ivan Lewis. A statement said the ambassador was called "to hear of the government's regret that Akmal Shaikh's mental health had been ignored by the Chinese judiciary despite repeated interventions by those with an interest in his case."

British officials said that over the last few weeks a flurry of pleas that China consider the mental stability of the 53-year-old prisoner were ignored. Shaikh's family had repeatedly said his behavior clearly showed he suffered from bipolar disorder.

The family's assertion was backed up by independent assessments from social workers in Poland, where Shaikh had lived before his trip to China in September 2007, where he was caught carrying nearly 9 pounds of heroin into the country. He was executed in Urumqi, in China's far northwestern Xinjiang province, the first European to be executed in China in half a century, activists say.

- Los Angeles Times

War-criminal hunter gives up

BELGRADE, Serbia - A Serbian official in charge of capturing war criminals resigned yesterday because his team has failed to arrest Ratko Mladic, who allegedly orchestrated the massacre of more than 7,000 Muslims in Bosnia.

Rasim Ljajic submitted his resignation letter to Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic, who is expected to formally accept it. Ljajic had pledged earlier this year to quit if Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb army commander, is not captured by the end of 2009, and Ljajic apparently concluded there is little chance of that happening by tomorrow.

Mladic has been at large since he was indicted in 1995 by the tribunal in the Hague, Netherlands. He had lived freely in Serbia before going into hiding a few years ago. Serbia's pro-Western government officials have insisted that they don't know where Mladic is hiding.

- AP

Mexico City open to gay weddings

MEXICO CITY - Mexico City enacted Latin America's first law recognizing gay marriage yesterday and said it hopes to attract same-sex couples from around the world to wed.

The law, approved by city legislators Dec. 21, was published in Mexico City's official register yesterday and will take effect in March. It will allow same-sex couples to adopt children, and municipal officials say it will make Mexico's capital a "vanguard city" - and attract extra tourism revenues.

"We are already in talks with some travel agencies that are planning to offer package tours that include flights, hotels, guides, and everything they need for the wedding, like banquets," said Alejandro Rojas, the city tourism secretary. "We are going to become a city on a par with Venice or San Francisco" - the current leader in the gay travel-market segment.

- AP