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Snakes and reptiles found in man's bags

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- Surprised airport workers found hundreds of poisonous snakes and endangered reptiles inside the baggage of a Czech man who was about to board a flight to Spain.

Karel Abelovsky, 51, was ordered to open his bags at Buenos Aires' international airport after police spotted reptiles in the X-ray scanner. They found 247 exotic and endangered species, packed in plastic containers, bags and socks, each labeled in Latin with their scientific names.

Authorities believe Abelovsky was a courier for a criminal organization that smuggles exotic species, a judicial source said.

Officials said the boa constrictors, poisonous pit vipers and coral snakes, lizards and spiders could have escaped the cloth suitcase in the unpressurized cabin of the Dec. 7 Iberia flight to Madrid and attacked people there or at his final destination in Prague, where antidotes for South American snakes aren't common.


Court orders end to 'virginity test'

CAIRO (AP) -- An Egyptian court Tuesday ordered the country's military rulers to stop the use of "virginity tests" on female detainees.

The virginity test allegations first surfaced after a March 9 rally in Cairo's Tahrir Square that turned violent when men in plainclothes attacked protesters, and the army cleared the square by force. The rights group Human Rights Watch said seven women were subjected to the tests.

"This is a case for all the women of Egypt, not only mine," said Samira Ibrahim, 25, who was subjected to the test and filed two suits against the practice, one demanding it be banned and another accusing an officer of sexual assault.

The three-judge panel said the virginity tests were "a violation of women's rights and an aggression against their dignity."

They also said a member of the ruling military council admitted to Amnesty International in June that the practice was carried out on female detainees in March to protect the army against possible rape allegations.


Detained American could face death

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- An American man accused by Iran of working for the CIA could face the death penalty, the semiofficial Fars news agency reported Tuesday.

In a closed court hearing, the prosecution applied for capital punishment, the report said, because the suspect, Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, "admitted that he received training in the United States and planned to imply that Iran was involved in terrorist activities in foreign countries" after returning to the United States.

Hekmati, 28, was born in Arizona. His family is of Iranian origin. His father, who lives in Michigan, said his son is not a CIA spy and was visiting his grandmothers in Iran when he was arrested.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner demanded Hekmati's immediate release.


Prince Philip at home after heart treatment

LONDON (AP) -- Britain's Prince Philip returned to the royal family's country estate Tuesday, after spending four nights in the hospital undergoing treatment for a blocked coronary artery.

Philip, Queen Elizabeth II's 90-year-old husband, underwent a coronary stent procedure at Papworth, a specialist heart hospital in Cambridge where he was taken Friday after complaining of chest pains.

For the first time in years he was forced to miss the royal family's traditional Christmas festivities.