World news briefs: 11/10/12

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Harsh penalty for activist

MOSCOW -- A participant in a May 6 anti-Putin demonstration was sentenced Friday to four and a half years in a prison colony for fighting with riot police officers in the first adjudication of 18 similar cases that have sent a shudder through the city's new ranks of middle-class political activists.

The defendant, Maksim Luzyanin, was captured on film as he grappled with a riot policeman, his hands gripping the officer's neck.

The sentence was two years short of the six and a half years prosecutors had sought, but still a very tough penalty for a brief melee that resulted in no serious injuries.

Islamists rally in Cairo

CAIRO -- Over 10,000 ultraconservative Muslims demonstrated Friday in downtown Cairo to demand that Egypt's new constitution be based on the rulings of Islamic law, or Shariah, in the latest tussle over the role of religion in the country's future.

The writing of the constitution has been fraught with controversy since last year's political uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak and ushered in the rise of formerly repressed Islamists to power. But Islamists themselves are not in agreement over the interpretation of Shariah and its place in the document.

Demonstrators in Tahrir Square demanded that the panel tasked with writing the constitution override liberal and secular objections and include language that could see religious scholars influencing legislation. The panel is led by the Muslim Brotherhood, the powerful Islamist group from which the country's new President Mohammed Morsi hails.

Motive in reporter's death

MOSCOW -- The motive behind the 2006 murder of Anna Politkovskaya, a reporter who was a critic of the Kremlin and its policies in Chechnya, was to instill fear in the country's journalists, a top criminal investigator said in an interview published Friday. It was a bleak assessment of a case that remains unsolved six years after Politkovskaya was shot.

"I believe the person who ordered this pursued not only retaliation against Anna Politkovskaya for critical publications," Petros V. Garibyan, who headed the investigation, told the daily newspaper Kommersant. Referring to the killer, Mr. Garibyan said, "He sought a demonstrative and resonant act aimed at intimidating all [journalists] as well as society and the authorities."

Charges in Mexico assault

MEXICO CITY -- Fourteen Mexican federal police have been charged with the attempted murder of a pair of American CIA operatives who were attacked in their armored SUV in August as it moved through dangerous countryside south of the Mexican capital, federal prosecutors said Friday.

However, the charges against the officers, which were widely anticipated, did little to clarify the motives behind a violent attack that has raised troubling questions here about the competence and trustworthiness of the federal police force.

Kenya illegal wildlife trade

NAIROBI, Kenya -- Alarmed that rebel militias could be profiting from a sharp increase in the poaching of elephants and rhinos, the U.S. plans to step up efforts to build a global coalition to combat the illegal wildlife trade, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says.

Ms. Clinton told a crowd in Washington on Thursday that she wants world leaders to increase their focus on combating the problem and said that she and President Barack Obama will speak to Asian leaders about it next week at the East Asia Summit.

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