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World in Brief: Saturday March 10

JAPAN: Finance Minister Taro Aso said yesterday that he had no plan to quit following the resignation of tax agency chief Nobuhisa Sagawa, whom he had appointed in July, over a cronyism scandal involving Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Mr Sagawa had been accused of trying to hush up claims that a private school linked to Mr Abe’s wife got a sweetheart deal on land in Osaka.

As financial bureau chief, Mr Sagawa falsely claimed that documents relating to the sale had been destroyed, other papers appear to have been doctored.

ARGENTINA: Right-wing President Mauricio Macri has asked that 96 torturers, jailed for crimes against humanity committed during the country’s dictatorship, be released to house arrest.

The men were all spies or interrogators at the infamous Navy Mechanics School detention camp in Buenos Aires, where 5,000 people were killed for opposing the military government.

Mr Macri’s prisons director Fernando Martinez said the men, all sentenced within the past decade, should be let out as Argentina’s prisons are overcrowded and the torturers are old.

BOLIVIA: Vice President Alvaro Garcia has called on Latin American countries to strengthen their solidarity with Cuba.

“There is a continental injustice with Cuba because … every time any Latin American country needed something, Cuba gave it to them,” Mr Garcia said.

President Evo Morales said he would boost economic and solidarity ties with the socialist island. Next Monday marks the 22nd anniversary of the US Helms-Burton Act, which strengthened the illegal US blockade.

NETHERLANDS: A power cut in Amsterdam yesterday morning left 28,000 homes without electricity, caused trams to grind to a halt in the streets and forced the Rijkmuseum to close for hours.

Liander, the privatised electricity utility, said that the disruption started at about 11am when an underground cable was hit during construction work.

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