World briefs – July 21

An 8-year-old boy who was abducted off a Brooklyn street last week, killed and dismembered had been drugged with painkillers and muscle relaxants before he was smothered, the medical examiner said Wednesday.

Boy drugged, smothered

NEW YORK — An 8-year-old boy who was abducted off a Brooklyn street last week, killed and dismembered had been drugged with painkillers and muscle relaxants before he was smothered, the medical examiner said Wednesday.

Leiby Kletzky got lost leaving day camp and asked a man, Levi Aron, for help, police said. Detectives later found the boy’s severed feet, wrapped in plastic, in Aron’s freezer, as well as a cutting board and three bloody carving knives. The rest of the body was discovered in bags inside a red suitcase in a trash bin elsewhere in Brooklyn.

Aron has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and kidnapping. Chief police spokesman Paul Browne said Wednesday that detectives believe the boy was killed sometime late Tuesday afternoon or early Tuesday evening after Aron returned home from work — which means the boy was likely alive for about a day after he disappeared.

Leiby’s death was officially ruled a homicide Wednesday. It was caused by intoxication from the combined effects of cyclobenzaprine, a muscle relaxant; quetiapine, an antipsychotic; and the pain medications hydrocodone and acetaminophen, followed by smothering.

U.S. fears captured Hezbollah commander will be freed

WASHINGTON — A Hezbollah commander held in Baghdad by the U.S. military and considered a threat to American troops could be transferred soon to Iraqi authorities, and U.S. security officials worry he could escape or even be freed.

Ali Mussa Daqduq worked with Iranian agents to train Shiite militias who targeted American soldiers in Iraq, according to the U.S. military. He was captured in 2007.

The U.S. planned to try Daqduq in an American court, but that stalled as the White House and Congress clashed over how to prosecute suspected terrorists.

Iraqi Justice Ministry spokesman Haidar al-Saadi said Wednesday that Daqduq will be transferred to Iraqi custody at week’s end. U.S. officials said the handover probably wouldn’t happen this week.

Daqduq is one of about 10 remaining U.S. prisoners who, under a 2008 agreement between Washington and Baghdad, must be transferred by the end of 2011. U.S. officials acknowledged that his transfer is required.

Jailed Palestinian leaders call on millions to protest

An imprisoned Palestinian uprising leader held by Israel called Wednesday for “millions” of people to take to the streets in support of a Palestinian independence bid this fall — a scenario that Israeli officials warn could spin into a new wave of violence.

With peace talks stalled since 2008, the Palestinians have said they will instead ask the United Nations to recognize their state during the General Assembly session in September.

In an effort to avert a showdown over the issue, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made his first Arab media appearance to appeal for a return to negotiations. He told Al-Arabiyah TV that he would be willing to travel to Ramallah in the West Bank, if needed, for face-to-face talks.

Netanyahu’s interview and the appeal by imprisoned Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti illustrated the wide gap between the positions of the two sides.

Israel wants peace talks but refuses to stop West Bank settlement construction first and makes demands the Palestinians reject — like recognizing Israel as a Jewish state and maintaining an Israeli military presence in the West Bank —while the Palestinians appear to be giving up on negotiations.

Barghouti, the most prominent Palestinian prisoner held by Israel and a potential future presidential candidate, dictated the message to his lawyers.

during a recent visit to his cell, according to his wife Fadwa. It was published in Palestinian newspapers, and a copy was sent to The Associated Press.

He called on Palestinians in the occupied territories as well as those in other countries to “peacefully march in their millions during the week of voting in the U.N.”

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