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Police are cleared in Norway attack

OSLO, Norway - A police committee on Friday cleared Norwegian officers of major failures in response to the massacre of 77 people this summer, but families of the victims called the inquiry too weak.

Police have been criticized for a series of mishaps that slowed them down as they tried to reach the island where killer Anders Behring Breivik slaughtered dozens of youths.

It took 90 minutes for police to reach the island. Officers struggled after a boat broke down because it was overloaded, and all police helicopter pilots were on vacation at the same time.

Olav Soenderland, head of the committee that evaluated police action during the attacks, defended their response, saying they acted as quickly as possible.

- AP

Kabila is named victor in Congo

KINSHASA, Congo - Congo's supreme court on Friday upheld President Joseph Kabila's victory after a contested election, raising fears of more violence.

The November election was the second democratic vote in Congo's 51-year history. Observers expressed concern about irregularities, saying voter turnout results were impossibly high in some districts.

Kabila had faced 10 candidates, including Etienne Tshisekedi, 79, a longtime opposition leader who is enormously popular with the country's impoverished masses.

Observers fear unrest if Tshisekedi orders his supporters to take to the streets. So far, Tshisekedi has called for calm, telling his supporters to await his instructions.

Earlier, U.S. observers from the Carter Center founded by former President Jimmy Carter issued a statement saying the vote lacked credibility.

- AP

Court dismisses Rwandan charges

THE HAGUE, Netherlands - International Criminal Court judges dismissed charges Friday against a Rwandan rebel accused of involvement in the murder, rape, and torture of Congolese villagers by a Hutu militia in 2009.

The judges ordered the release of Callixte Mbarushimana, saying there was not enough evidence to support the charges against him. Prosecutors said they would send the case to appeals judges.

Mbarushimana was accused of being a senior member of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda. The group is accused of unleashing savage attacks on civilians in the North and South Kivu provinces of Congo as a "bargaining tool" to win power.

If freed, Mbarushimana would be the first suspect released from custody since the court's inception in 2002.

- AP


Ukrainian pilgrims

sang folk songs and carols and recalled the late Pope John Paul II's visit as the Vatican lit its Christmas tree in St. Peter's Square, an 82-foot pine from the Carpathian Mountains in their country. The ceremony Friday included a folk choir with children carrying giant pinwheels, a Christmas tradition in Ukraine. Polish-born John Paul began the tradition of erecting a tree in the square in 1982; the Bavarian-born Pope Benedict XVI has continued it.