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Door to be unveiled after 27-year rehab

ROME (AP) -- An 8-ton gilded bronze door so splendid Michelangelo dubbed it the "Door of Paradise" will be unveiled to the public again after 27 years of restoration work.

But Lorenzo Ghiberti's 15th century door -- which bears scenes from the Old Testament -- won't be going back in its place on the baptistery of Florence's duomo, or cathedral. Instead, starting on Sept. 8, it will go on display in a case at a Florence museum, the Museo dell'Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore, to preserve it from renewed damage.

Culture Minister Lorenzo Ornaghi announced the destiny of the baptistery's east door at a news conference in Rome on Thursday.

During World War II, the "Door of Paradise" was temporarily removed from the baptistery to spare it from damage, only to see it battered by the raging, muddy waters of the Arno River during the 1966 flood that devastated much of Florence.

Six of its 10 panels were ripped away by the force of the flood. The panels were reattached, only to be ravaged over time by pollution. A copy was put in its place in 1990 after the original was sent off for restoration.


Rulers execute Saddam's secretary

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Saddam Hussein's trusted personal secretary, once No. 4 on the U.S. most-wanted list in Iraq, was executed by hanging on Thursday, the Iraqi Justice Ministry said.

Abed Hamid Hmoud was the latest in a series of former senior regime officials to be executed by Iraq's new rulers since the toppling of Saddam during a U.S.-led invasion nine years ago.

Hmoud, a distant cousin of Saddam, was captured by U.S. forces in June 2003, three months after the invasion. At the time, he was No. 4 on the list of wanted regime officials, after Saddam and sons Qusai and Odai. He was known as the "ace of diamonds" on the U.S. deck of cards that ranked leaders of Saddam's government.

Hmoud, in his mid-50s, was executed for persecuting members of the Shiite opposition and religious parties that were banned under Saddam, a court official said.


Prince Charles pays visit to Transylvania

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) -- Britain's Prince Charles is relaxing in one of his favorite places, Transylvania, immediately after celebrating Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee.

Charles arrived for a private visit Wednesday in Targu Mures, a town in the heart of Transylvania, about 100 miles south of where Bram Stoker's 1897 novel "Dracula" is set. Stoker based Dracula on Vlad the Impaler, whom Charles calls a distant relative.

Images were broadcast Thursday of Charles waving to locals in the picturesque village of Miclosoara, where he sometimes stays. Locals said that Charles was looking for some down time after the Jubilee festivities in Britain. The prince owns property and supports traditional farming methods in Transylvania, which he calls "the jewel in Romania's crown."

In another development, royal officials said Charles' son, Prince William, has qualified as an operational search and rescue captain in the Royal Air Force. William will now be able to command search and rescue operations in Sea King helicopters. Previously, he had only co-piloted the aircraft.