Cruise captain ordered to trial
ROME - An Italian judge has ordered the captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship to stand trial for manslaughter in the vessel's shipwreck off the coast of Tuscany, which killed 32 people.
Judge Pietro Molino, at a closed-door hearing Wednesday in the town of Grosseto, agreed to prosecutors' request that Capt. Francesco Schettino of Italy be tried on charges of manslaughter, causing the shipwreck and abandoning the vessel while many of its 4,200 passengers and crew were still aboard.
On the night of Jan. 13, 2012, the Concordia hit a jagged reef, which gashed its hull on one side, causing the ship to rapidly take on water just off the island of Giglio in the Mediterranean Sea. Passengers said the ship's evacuation was delayed and chaotic.
Schettino will be the only defendant in the trial, which begins on July 9. The five other defendants successfully sought plea bargains. Schettino risks up to 20 years in prison if convicted. He contends he is innocent and is being made a scapegoat, insisting that the reef wasn't marked on the ship's navigational charts.
U.N. cites Iran's nuclear gains
VIENNA, Austria - The U.N. atomic agency on Wednesday detailed rapid Iranian progress in two programs that the West fears are geared toward making nuclear weapons, saying Tehran has upgraded its uranium enrichment facilities and advanced in building a plutonium-producing reactor.
In a confidential report obtained by the Associated Press, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Tehran had installed close to 700 high-tech centrifuges used for uranium enrichment, which can produce the core of nuclear weapons. It also said Tehran had added hundreds of older-generation machines at its main enrichment site to bring the total number to more than 13,000.
Iran denies that either its enrichment program or the reactor will be used to make nuclear arms. Most international concern has focused on its enrichment, because it is further advanced than the reactor and already has the capacity to enrich to weapons-grade uranium.
Man who defied Taliban is killed
KABUL, Afghanistan - A suicide bomber on foot killed an anti-Taliban village elder and at least three other people in a busy marketplace Wednesday in central Afghanistan, the latest in a wave of assassinations and bombings.
Habibullah Khan was killed along with two bodyguards and a civilian bystander in the afternoon attack in Ghazni province's Moqur district, police said.
Deputy Provincial Police Chief Asadullah Insafi said Khan led an uprising last year against the Taliban's shadow government in his district, driving the insurgents out.