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Conscientious objectors file petition with presidential office

SEOUL, Aug. 26 (Yonhap) -- Nearly 500 men who were criminally punished for refusing to serve compulsory military service due to religious or moral beliefs submitted a petition with the presidential office Monday, calling for the recognition of their right to conscientious objection. In South Korea, all able-bodied men are required to serve about two years in the military, and conscientious objectors who refuse to serve without justification face up to three years in prison if convicted.

Mauritania postpones elections after opposition boycott threat

Mauritania announced a six-week postponement of its October 12 elections on Thursday after a coalition of opposition parties said it would boycott in a bid to cause the vote to fail. The west African nation's election commission said the first round of the parliamentary and local elections would now take place on November 23 while a second round would go ahead if required on December 7. The move follows an announcement by the Coordination of Democratic Opposition (COD) group of ten opposition parties on August 12 that they would "boycott this electoral masquerade".

Swiss government urges voters to keep military conscription

The Swiss government on Friday urged voters to maintain the country's compulsory military service when they head to the polls next month for a referendum on the issue. If the Swiss approve a motion to end conscription in the September 22 vote, they will be putting Switzerland "in great peril," the government warned in a statement. It said that without compulsory service the Swiss military "will no longer be able to fulfil its current tasks," pointing out that what gets done will depend on how many "skilled people volunteer to serve in the army."

Mauritania outlines conditions for joining UN force in Mali

Mauritania said Wednesday it would send soldiers to the United Nations peacekeeping force charged with ensuring security after elections in conflict-scarred Mali -- but only to areas near their shared border. The MINUSMA force has replaced an African military mission which had been supporting French soldiers who entered Mali in January to halt an Islamist advance and to help the government re-establish its authority over the vast country. Mauritania has promised to provide up to 1,800 soldiers to the mission, which is made up of around 6,300 mostly African troops.

Hungarian top Nazi war crimes suspect, 98, dies

A 98-year-old Hungarian who topped the dwindling list of surviving Nazi war crimes suspects has died in hospital while awaiting trial for allegedly sending 12,000 Jews to the death camps. Laszlo Csatari "died on Saturday morning. He had been treated for medical issues for some time but contracted pneumonia, from which he died," his lawyer Gabor Horvath told AFP on Monday. Csatari was alleged to have been a senior police officer actively involved in the deportations from the Jewish ghetto in Kassa, now known as Kosice in present-day Slovakia, during World War II.

Legal tangles foil Slovak Jews' quest for Holocaust justice

For Holocaust survivors and their families in Kosice, a once bustling town in eastern Slovakia turned wartime ghetto, bringing the world's most wanted Nazi collaborator to justice is a slow and painful task. The town's small Jewish community welcomed Laszlo Csatary's arrest in his native Hungary last year, after he was tracked down via information from the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Centre.

ThyssenKrupp patriarch who saved wartime Jews dies at 99

Berthold Beitz, the patriarch of German heavy industry giant ThyssenKrupp, who saved hundreds of Jews from Nazi persecution, has died aged 99, the company said Wednesday. The industrialist, who died Tuesday, became supervisory board chairman in 1970 of Friedrich Krupp which merged in 1999 with Thyssen to form ThyssenKrupp, one of the emblems of Germany's technological prowess. After studying to be a banker, Beitz became a manager at an oil company in Boryslav, now in Ukraine but during World War II part of Nazi-occupied Poland.

Seven celebrity soldiers sent to military prison for scandalous outing

By Kim Eun-jung SEOUL, July 25 (Yonhap) — Seven celebrity soldiers who were caught on camera drinking and entering a massage parlor were sentenced to several days in a military prison for violating the military code of conduct, the defense ministry said Thursday. The soldiers faced unprecedented tough disciplinary actions after a local TV network last month secretly taped a group of soldiers on a night out.

Nazi-themed cafe in Indonesia sparks global outrage

From a painting hung high on a blood-red wall, Adolf Hitler peers down on young students eating schnitzel and slurping German beer in Indonesia's Nazi-themed cafe. The SoldatenKaffee ("The Soldiers' Cafe") opened its doors in the western Javanese city of Bandung in 2011, named after the popular hangout for soldiers in Germany and occupied Paris during World War II. Eerier than the gas mask canisters and battle flags bearing swastikas is the more than two years' silence that has followed the cafe's grand launch.

Not entertaining the troops: South Korea scraps pop-star soldiers

The so-called "entertainment soldiers" serve in the Defense Media Agency (DMA), a unit that has provided programming for TV and radio broadcasts to promote a positive image of the military since 1997.
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