Isabel Peron

is ordered arrested

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - A judge yesterday ordered the arrest of former Isabel Peron, wife of the late Argentine strongman Juan Peron, for questioning into alleged links to a right-wing death squad before she was ousted in a 1976 coup.

Isabel Peron - whose marriage to the Argentine populist came years after the death of his first wife, Eva Peron - is wanted for questioning in connection with three decrees she signed calling on the armed forces to crack down on "subversive elements," a judicial spokesman said.

Judge Raul Acosta also ordered her detained for questioning into the disappearance of leftist Hector Aldo Fagetti Gallego in early 1976.

There was no immediate reaction from Peron, 75, who goes by the name Maria Estela Martinez de Peron and has lived in Spain since 1981. - AP

Group says Chavez eroding freedoms

CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuela's press freedoms and the independence of its courts have eroded under President Hugo Chavez, a human-rights group said yesterday.

Human Rights Watch said that Venezuela's judiciary had been stacked with Chavez allies and noted with concern that about 20 percent of the country's judges are provisional appointees, who could be susceptible to political pressure because they risk being stripped of their appointments for ruling against the government.

Chavez and his supporters "have sought to consolidate power by undermining the independence of the judiciary and the press, institutions that are essential for promoting the protection of human rights," the New York-based rights group said in its world report.

The government did not immediately respond to the report. - AP

Bad hygiene found in Italian hospitals

ROME - Expired drugs, unlicensed nurses, stray cats and scuttling rats were among the horrors that emerged from police inspections of Italian hospitals, health officials said yesterday. Health Minister Livia Turco promised swift action but insisted that Italians could still trust their health system.

Special health units from the Carabinieri paramilitary police inspected 321 of Italy's 672 public medical centers this week, reporting shocking instances of poor hygiene, officials said at a news conference at the Health Ministry.

About 17 percent of hospitals, mostly in southern and central Italy, had problems serious enough to recommend possible judicial investigations against 111 people, the Health Ministry said. - AP

Elsewhere:

Sudan's government said yesterday that it was willing to hold a new round of peace talks with Darfur rebels, a day after it agreed in principle to a cease-fire in the western region.

Jury selection began yesterday in the trial of six men accused of trying to bomb London's transit network. The defendants have denied charges of conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to cause explosions in connection with failed attacks July 21, 2005.