Spanish court orders 1st probe of civil-war crimes


A Spanish court ordered an investigation into the Italian military's 1937-1939 aerial bombardments of Barcelona, the first such judicial probe of Spanish Civil War-era crimes.

The ruling overturns a lower court's decision to reject the case, which was brought by the Barcelona chapter of the Italian anti-fascist group L'Altra Italia and two victims of the airstrikes.

The bombings of densely populated neighborhoods "are notable because it was a civilian target, since the battlefront was very far away" and they served as a "testing ground" for similar, subsequent crimes, the Barcelona Provincial Court said.

The court's acceptance of the case, filed with it a year ago after Spain's National Court ruled it lacked jurisdiction to investigate the matter," marks the first time a Spanish court has applied international law on war crimes and crimes against humanity in ordering an investigation into alleged atrocities committed during the 1936-1939 civil war.




Dismembered bodies found in central Mexico


Plastic bags containing dismembered bodies were found in the central Mexican city of Toluca, sources in the Mexico state government told Efe.

Several suspected members of the La Familia Michoacana drug cartel have been arrested in connection with the gruesome discovery, the sources said.

Investigators suggest the suspects may also have been responsible for the deaths of the more than 30 people whose bodies were found over the course of Jan. 12-14 at various spots in the Valley of Mexico, which encompasses Mexico state and the Federal District.




EU regulators fine Telefonica, Portugal Telecom


The European Commission imposed a 79-million-euro ($104.96-million) fine on Spain's Telefonica and Portugal Telecom for agreeing not to compete against each other in the Iberian market.

The bulk of the fine, 66.8 million euros, was levied against the Spanish giant, the European Union's executive arm said in a statement.

The EC said a non-compete clause was included in the sales contract for Telefonica's July 2010 acquisition of Brazilian wireless operator Vivo, until then jointly owned by the two European telecom incumbents.

The two companies terminated the clause in early February 2011 after the commission launched anti-trust proceedings, the statement said.




Mexican Supreme Court orders Frenchwoman's release


The Mexican Supreme Court ordered the immediate release of Florence Cassez, a Frenchwoman convicted of kidnapping and other crimes in Mexico and sentenced to serve 60 years in prison.

The decision was approved by a majority of the members of the First Chamber of the high court, which changed an initial opinion that called for the case to be sent back to a lower court due to irregularities in the prosecution and trial.

The high court voted 3-2 to release Cassez without any conditions.

Earlier Wednesday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told France Info radio that the government was confident that the Mexican Supreme Court would throw out Cassez's prison sentence.




Stephens knocks Serena Williams out of Australian Open


American teenager Sloane Stephens produced the biggest upset of the 2013 Australian Open, knocking fellow American Serena Williams out of the tournament with a 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 win in the quarterfinals.

"Today, I just really didn't have anything to lose. I mean, you're playing for the semis of a Grand Slam. You just got to go out and do it really," the 19-year-old Stephens said after the match.

The 31-year-old Williams, who was the No. 3 seed, had not lost a set in the tournament and coasted to a 6-3 win in the first set.

"This morning when I got up, I was like, look, dude, like, you can do this. Like, go out and play and do your best," Stephens said in response to a question about whether she believed she could win the match.




Spain's economy contracts 1.3 pct


The Spanish economy contracted 1.3 percent in 2012, with the recession intensifying in the last quarter of the year and the gross domestic product falling 0.60 percent, compared to the previous quarter, while the unemployment rate neared 26 percent, the Bank of Spain said.

The drop in the GDP was due to a decline in domestic consumption and investment, the Bank of Spain said.

Employment fell last year at a faster rate than in 2011, with the drop estimated at 4.3 percent, due in large part to cuts in public sector jobs, the central bank said.

Public sector employment fell last year for the first time since the recession started as Spain's regional governments implemented austerity measures, the Bank of Spain said.