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Pussy Riot member's plea fails

BEREZNIKI, Russia -- A Russian court on Wednesday turned down an attempt by an imprisoned Pussy Riot band member to defer serving her sentence for hooliganism until her preschool son becomes a teenager.

Maria Alekhina asked the court in Berezniki, a Urals Mountain city near her prison, to let her serve the rest of her two-year sentence after her five-year-old son turns 14. She argued that separation from her young child now would do irreparable psychological damage to him.

Alekhina and two other female members of the punk band were convicted last year of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after their anti-Vladimir Putin protest in Russia's main cathedral. One of the women has had her sentence suspended on appeal.

Judge Galina Yefremova rejected Alekhina's petition, saying the court that sentenced her had already taken the child's existence into account.

Mubarak, family to repay $3M

CAIRO, Egypt -- In a settlement agreement prosecutors announced Wednesday, ousted president Hosni Mubarak and his family will repay about $3 million for gifts they received from a state newspaper while he was still in office.

The settlement resolves a side case that opened against the 84-year-old Mubarak just as he was granted a retrial last week on charges of a role in killing protesters in the 2011 uprising that led to his downfall.

Last summer, Mubarak was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for failing to stop the killings, but a court last week threw out the conviction because of shoddy procedures.

Mubarak, currently held in a military hospital, is not expected to walk free pending his new trial.

Iranian, UN officials in nuke talks

TEHRAN, Iran -- Senior UN investigators opened a new round of talks Wednesday with Iranian officials in Tehran in hopes of restarting a probe into allegations the Islamic Republic carried out atomic-bomb trigger tests and other suspected weapons-related studies.

The semi-official ISNA news agency reported negotiations started at the headquarters of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization.

The UN meetings are considered an important test of Iran's willingness to address western concerns before the possible resumption of a wider dialogue with the U.S. and other world powers. Negotiations with the six nations -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany -- fell apart more than six months ago. Iran has proposed getting them back on track, perhaps as soon as later this month.

-- from the news services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 17, 2013 A15

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