World briefs – July 15

Former U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney says he underwent heart surgery last week and is recuperating.

Cheney has heart surgery

WASHINGTON — Former U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney says he underwent heart surgery last week and is recuperating.

In a statement, Cheney said he had been experiencing increasing congestive heart failure and after consulting with his doctors, he had received an implantable pump to improve heart function. He said the operation went well and he is recuperating.

The 69-year-old Cheney has a long history of heart disease. Cheney’s heart attack earlier this year was his fifth since age 37.

Officer avoids jail time

NEW YORK — A former New York City police officer is getting no jail time for lying about a confrontation with a bike-riding demonstrator that millions of people saw when a video of it was posted online.

Patrick Pogan received a conditional discharge at his sentencing Wednesday. He had faced up to four years behind bars or probation.

Jurors acquitted Pogan of assault and harassment following his July 2008 encounter with cycling activist Christopher Long in Times Square.

But Pogan was convicted of lying in a court document that said Long steered into him and knocked him down. A witness’ video contradicting his account was posted on YouTube.

The 24-year-old Pogan resigned from the New York Police Department last year.

Mexico’s new security head

MEXICO CITY — President Felipe Calderon has accepted the resignation of Mexico’s top domestic security official, Interior Secretary Fernando Gomez Mont.

Calderon says he has named Baja California state official and former congressman Francisco Blake to replace Gomez Mont.

Wednesday’s announcement comes after a highly publicized disagreement between Gomez Mont and Calderon over electoral alliances with other parties.

Tape of Times Square bomber aired

CAIRO, Egypt — The man who pleaded guilty to carrying out the attempted Times Square car bombing vowed in a video recorded before the failed attack that he would strike the U.S. to avenge the deaths of Muslims killed by American forces.

The Dubai-based television station Al-Arabiya broadcast excerpts Wednesday of a 40-minute video featuring Faisal Shahzad that it said was released by the Pakistani Taliban. The station did not say how it got hold of the video.

In excerpts aired on Al-Arabiya, Shahzad is sitting on the ground in a black turban and military fatigues, with a gun next to him as he recites verses from the Qur’an.

He says he will carry out a “revenge attack” against the U.S. to avenge the deaths of Muslims killed in Afghanistan and Pakistan by the U.S., and that he hopes his actions will touch the hearts of Muslims.

Al-Arabiya said the full tape shows Shahzad meeting with a prominent Pakistani Taliban figure, Faqir Mohammed, the deputy leader of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, along the Afghan border.

Shahzad was arrested days after the failed May 1 bombing in Times Square.

He pleaded guilty in June to carrying out the attack, and admitted to attempting to establish contact with the Taliban while on a trip to Pakistan. He also told the New York court that he considers himself “a Muslim soldier.”

He said he sought and received five days’ training in explosives before returning to the United States in February to carry out the bomb plot with funding from the militant group.

The indictment said he received $5,000 in cash on Feb. 25 from an unnamed coconspirator in Pakistan and $7,000 more on April 10, sent at the coconspirator’s direction.

Wife of hotel heir linked to second murder

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A woman already accused of orchestrating the slaying of her wealthy hotel-heir husband also plotted the earlier beating death of her elderly mother-in-law in hopes of reaping millions of dollars from their wills, a federal prosecutor said Wednesday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Elliott Jacobson said at a hearing that Narcy Novack, 53, and her brother, 56-year-old Cristobal Veliz, hired two men to assault 86-year-old Bernice Novack at her Fort Lauderdale home last year, three months before Ben Novack Jr. was slain in a Rye Brook, N.Y., hotel room.

Jacobson said she was beaten with a monkey wrench. Neither Narcy Novack nor her brother have been charged with the elderly woman’s killing and state officials have called her death an accident.

“Narcy Novack was complicit in the homicide of Bernice Novack,” Jacobson said at a bail hearing for Narcy Novack, who is charged in New York with plotting the July 2009 murder of her 53-year-old husband.

Ben Novack’s father founded Miami Beach’s famed Fontainebleau Hotel, where the family lived in the penthouse and hobnobbed with movie stars, singers and even gangsters.

Despite a bloody scene and mysterious circumstances, Bernice Novack’s death had twice previously been ruled an accident by the Broward County medical examiner. Jacobson said federal investigators asked the Westchester County, N.Y., medical examiner to look at the evidence, and the new conclusion was reached that she was slain.

“She died after she was struck several times,” Jacobson said.

Westchester County officials declined Wednesday to discuss the new report or release it.

Narcy Novack’s lawyer, Howard Tanner, insisted that his client was innocent of her husband’s killing and had nothing to do with her mother-in-law’s death.

“They want to strengthen their case by implicating her in a so-called homicide that has no basis in fact,” Tanner said.

Narcy Novak, her brother and two other men are charged in New York with conspiring to commit interstate domestic violence and stalking in Ben Novack’s death. All face a potential life sentence if convicted.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Narcy Novack was ordered held without bail until trial and agreed to be transferred to New York to face the charges.

Jacobson said at the hearing that a still-unidentified accomplice in Ben Novack’s killing has already pleaded guilty to the domestic violence charges and is co-operating with investigators. That informant, he said, implicated Narcy Novack in both her husband’s and her mother-in-law’s deaths.

Ben Novack’s mother left her estate to him, and Narcy stood to inherit about $10 million after her husband’s death. Ben Novack had one of the world’s largest collections of Batman memorabilia.

A few new details about Ben Novack’s killing and the investigation also emerged. According to Jacobson:

— Narcy Novack gave police a misleading account about a piece of sunglasses found at the crime scene, saying they were hers when they belonged to the confidential informant.

— Ben Novack was beaten to death with dumbbells carried by the assailants, one of whom also gouged out his eyes with a utility knife on Narcy Novack’s orders. “In Spanish, she urged them to cut out his eyes and finish him,” Jacobson said.

— Cellphone records establish that all the suspects were present at the hotel the day Ben Novack was slain.

— After her husband’s death, Narcy Novack attempted to access a Florida bank safe-deposit box by claiming that he would come by later to authorize it.

Two of the other suspects are being held in New York without bail. The third, 25-year-old Joel Gonzalez, turned himself in last week in Miami and faces a bail hearing Thursday. Jacobson said Gonzalez confessed to taking part in the Ben Novack killing and implicated Narcy Novack.