Iranian Lawmakers Call for Execution of Opposition Leaders, Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi to Stand Trial

BY Francine Uenuma  February 15, 2011 at 7:37 AM EST


Lawmakers in Tehran have called for the execution of two opposition leaders in response to growing protests, according to Iran’s state-run television. Mehdi Karrubi and Mir Hossein Moussav, both former presidential candidates, were denounced by parliament after calling for protesters to gather in Tehran in the largest protests the country has seen since the summer of 2009.

Iran’s leaders had praised the revolution in Egypt but sternly warned of a harsh reaction to any unrest at home. Despite the warnings, tens of thousands gathered on Monday, clashing with police forces who used tear gas to try to disperse the crowds.

Egyptian Army Gives Constitution Deadline, Tries to Halt Strikes

Egypt’s military rulers, who have been in power since former president Hosni Mubarak stepped down on Friday, have announced a 10-day window in which a committee tasked with reforming the country’s constitution must be completed. The amended constitution would then be put before a public referendum.

The military council has also called for an end to strikes, which have further dented the nation’s economy, already hit hard by the 18 days of protests that led to Mubarak’s departure. Civilian employees, tourism workers and others have been demanding higher wages.

Stay with the NewsHour for continuing coverage of the events in Egypt, Iran and elsewhere in the region, including news updates and expert analysis.

Berlusconi to Stand Trial in Sex Charge

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will stand trial beginning in April on charges he had sex with a minor and then used his influence to free her when she was jailed on a separate charge. Berlusconi denies all of the charges. The scandal-plagued prime minister said the charges were “groundless.”

Prosecutors contend the 74-year-old prime minister had sex with Karima El Mahroug, who was then 17, also known as Ruby. Berlusconi said he intervened on her behalf when she was detained because he had been told that she was the granddaughter of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

Afghanistan-Pakistan Envoy to Replace Holbrooke

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to formally announce later this week that Marc Grossman, who was formerly undersecretary for political affairs during the George W. Bush administration and is now an international business consultant, will replace the late ambassador Richard Holbrooke. Grossman spent 30 years in the foreign service.

Of the appointment, Grossman said he was “”not in a position to comment.”

The expected appointment comes at a critical time in the region, with U.S. troops planning to scale back in Afghanistan during a continuing Taliban insurgency and a recent flare up with Pakistan over a U.S. embassy employee accused of murdering two Pakistanis.