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Algerians in Guantanamo Could Return Home Soon

Published: February 29, 2008 (Issue # 1352)


ALGIERS The United States may soon sign an agreement with Algeria on the possible return home of Algerian prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, the official Algerian APS news agency reported Wednesday.

Visiting Assistant U.S. Secretary of State David Welch told Algerian reporters that Washington hoped to conclude soon an accord with Algeria on the issue, APS reported.

Algerian newspapers have said there are believed to be between 17 and 25 Algerians held at the facility on Cuba.

U.S. President George W. Bush has said he would like to close the camp, which holds about 275 detainees and he calls a necessary tool in the war on terrorism.

Human rights groups and foreign governments have said holding suspects for years without trial violates basic international legal standards.

The question is to know if we have prisoners who ought to be prosecuted, APS quoted Welch as saying. Even if that is not the case, that does not mean that they are not dangerous.

We want to send prisoners back to their countries of origin, but we must assure ourselves that they do not represent a danger, because we have seen examples of prisoners returning to their countries and who were later released.

U.S. officials say some governments will not take custody of their citizens held at Guantanamo, others would not treat their citizens humanely and still others are not willing to provide security guarantees Washington believes are necessary.

Algerian President Bouteflika offered an amnesty for Islamist rebels in 2006 as part of a reconciliation policy aimed at ending years of violence in the north African country.

As part of the reconciliation drive he authorized the release from jail of more than 2,000 former members of an Islamist armed rebellion that aims to overthrow the government.

Algerian newspapers say some of the released former fighters rejoined the rebellion after they were freed and have taken part in attacks on government targets in recent months.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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