Italy seizes billions in Qaddafi assets

Turns out Libya's former ruling family was pretty heavily invested in Italy:

The most valuable single item seized was a 1.26% interest in Italy's biggest bank, Unicredit, worth more than €600m (£502m). Other significant shareholdings included stakes in the oil and gas giant, ENI, the defence firm Finmeccanica and two companies in the Fiat motor group.

All the assets were held through Libya's sovereign wealth fund, the Libyan Investment Authority, which was set up in 2006, ostensibly to manage Libya's oil revenues and diversify the country's income. LIA's stake in Unicredit was its biggest single investment.

Several bank accounts holding cash and shares were destined to be put under temporary, special administration as a result of Wednesday's operation. Also put under sequester was a flat in the centre of Rome, close to the Via Veneto. The Harley-Davidson was one of two motorcycles confiscated by the revenue guard.

It was not immediately clear which of the assets belonged to Colonel Gaddafi, which to his son, Saif Al-Islam and which to his former head of intelligence, Abdullah Senussi.

The Qaddafis also had a 1.5 percent stake in the Juventus football club.

Senussi was arrested in Mauritania earlier this month in an operation involving French intelligence, setting the stage for a custody battle between Libya, France and the ICC -- all of whom want to try him. According to Reuters, the prevailing rumor among Arab intelligence agencies is that the French want to try him in order to prevent information about the Qaddafi's financing of Nicolas Sarkozy's election campaign from going public. 

That sound like a bit of a stretch, but it's safe to say there are quite a few government that would probably prefer to keep Senussi quiet. 


The death penalty outliers: Japan carries out execution, India stays one

Japan is often cited as the only industrialized democracy other than the United States that retains the death penalty, though a few other places -- notably South Korea and India -- retain capital punishment on the books but almost never carry it out. Today, Japan carried out its first execution since 2010

The men—Yasuaki Uwabe, 48, Tomoyuki Furusawa, 46, and Yasutoshi Matsuda, 44—were hanged in three different prisons in Tokyo, Hiroshima and Fukuoka. Uwabe drove his car into Shimonoseki Station in Yamaguchi Prefecture and then knifed people nearby, killing five, in 1999. Furusawa murdered his in-laws and stepson in Yokohama in 2002, while Matsuda killed two women in southern Miyazaki prefecture in 2001.

Following Japan's last execution in 2010, Justice Minister Keiko Chiba -- a longtime death penalty opponent who briefly suspended the practice after coming into power in 2009 -- ordered a nationwide review of the practice. While the ruling Democratic Party is generally opposed to the death penalty, polls show a majority of Japanese still support it. 

Meanwhile in India, the execution of Balwant Singh Rajoana -- a Sikh militant convicted of the 1995 assassination of the chief minister of Punjab -- has been put on hold following a clemency petition by a Sikh religious group to President Pratibha Patil. His hanging had been scheduled for Saturday. 

While a handful of people, including convicted Mumbai attacks gunman Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab are on death row in India, the practice is so rare that state governments don't even have executioners on staff.