Sex-slave case stokes outrage

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - The acquittal of 13 people accused in the disappearance of a young woman who was allegedly kidnapped and forced into prostitution for VIP clients spread shock and outrage across Argentina on Wednesday, prompting street protests and calls by political leaders to impeach the three judges who delivered the verdict.

Many called the ruling a setback for Argentina's efforts to combat sex trafficking, which began largely as a result of Susana Trimarco's one-woman, decade-long quest to find her missing daughter, Maria de los Angeles "Marita" Veron. Her attorneys said that she would pursue appeals.

Trimarco's search exposed an underworld of organized crime figures who operate brothels with protection from authorities across Argentina.

Security Minister Nilda Garre called the verdict "a tremendous slap in the face for the prospect of justice."

- AP

Paris celebrates cathedral at 850

PARIS - Dignitaries, tourists, and Parisians gathered in the thousands Wednesday for a ceremony and Mass marking the beginning of year-long commemoration of Notre Dame Cathedral's 850th anniversary.

The 12th-century Gothic cathedral looming over the heart of the French capital will get a set of new bells in February, one of the highlights of a year's worth of planned events including seminars, concerts of sacred music and the issuance of commemorative stamps.

Archbishop Andre Vingt-Trois and Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe were among the civil and religious dignitaries taking part in Wednesday evening events marking the beginning of the cathedral's construction in 1163.

Notre Dame's new bells will go on display in February and are scheduled to be rung for the first time on March 23, 2013.

- AP

Christian guilty of blasphemy

CAIRO - A Cairo court on Wednesday convicted a Coptic Christian blogger who shared an anti-Islam film on social networking sites and sentenced him to three years in prison for blasphemy and contempt of religion.

The case of Alber Saber is one of several seen by rights advocates as a campaign led by Egypt's ultraconservative Islamists to curb free expression. Many of those targeted in the campaign are Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population of 85 million.

Saber was arrested Sept. 13, after neighbors complained that he had shared on Facebook the amateur film made in the United States that sparked protests across the Muslim world. His arrest came during a wave of public outrage over the film, produced by an Egyptian American Copt.

- AP