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World in brief: November 28, 2023

FRANCE: Smoking will be banned on all beaches, in public parks, forests and on some other kinds of public land including near schools, Health Minister Aurelien Rousseau said today.

Regional experiments had shown a positive impact and the legislation will be introduced early next year, he said, adding that smoking causes 75,000 avoidable deaths in France each year.

RUSSIA: Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich’s detention was extended until January 30 today.

He has been held since March on espionage charges, which he and the newspaper deny.

The International Federation of Journalists has demanded his release, saying Russia is “holding the press hostage” for political reasons.

Russia has previously exchanged jailed US citizens for Russians imprisoned in the US, but says it will only consider a swap for Mr Gershkovich after his trial concludes.

PANAMA: The Supreme Court ruled today that a 20-year copper-mining concession to a Canadian firm is unconstitutional.

Demonstrators celebrated outside the court, with one, Raisa Banfield, saying: “The president has to suspend operations today.”

Environmental protesters say the mine contaminates the country’s water supply. Protests have included blocking supplies to it. But it employs thousands and accounts for 3 per cent of the nation’s GDP.

PAKISTAN: Former PM Imran Khan’s trial must be held publicly though in prison, a court ruled today.

The decision means access to media and some supporters. His request for a trial in an ordinary courtroom was denied, with authorities claiming this would be too dangerous due to the polarisation between his supporters and opponents nationally.

Removed last year in a parliamentary no-confidence vote he blames on the US, Mr Khan is charged with revealing official secrets and could face the death penalty.

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