Munich (Germany) (AFP) - Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone went on trial in Germany Thursday accused of bribery in a case which threatens a jail term for the Briton who has controlled the motor sport for four decades. Ecclestone, 83, has denies charges of bribery and abetting breach of trust over a $44 million (31.8 million euro) payment he made to former German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, who has since been jailed. Prosecutors charge the money was a bribe meant to ensure the German bank BayernLB sold its shares in Formula One to Ecclestone’s preferred bidder, CVC Capital Partners, to maintain his control over the sport. At the start of the Munich trial, watched by dozens of journalists, the diminutive Formula One magnate, wearing a dark suit, confirmed his name, date of birth, and occupation as Formula One manager.
Slavyansk (Ukraine) (AFP) - Kiev claimed it inflicted stinging defeats on pro-Kremlin rebels in east Ukraine on Thursday, as US President Barack Obama accused Russia of not abiding by a deal to defuse the escalating crisis in the ex-Soviet country. Shooting was heard in the rebel-held flashpoint town of Slavyansk, where a roadblock manned by insurgents was in flames, according to an AFP journalist. Ukrainian special forces retook control of the town hall in the southeastern port city of Mariupol and an army base in the eastern town of Artemivsk repelled an attack by heavily-armed rebels, Kiev's interior and defence ministries said. They were the first military successes announced by Ukraine's Western-backed government since pro-Russian militants seized control of a string of towns in the country's southeast over the past several weeks.
BAGHDAD (AP) — A suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into a police checkpoint south of Baghdad on Thursday morning, killing at least 11 people, officials said, the latest episode in an uptick in violence in the run-up to next week's parliamentary elections.