|Arab League urges
justice for ‘crimes’ revealed by WikiLeaks
CAIRO (AFP) - The Arab League has called for those behind
the “crimes against humanity” contained in leaked Iraq war
documents published by the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks
to be brought to justice.
“These documents and what they have unveiled... constitute a
crime equivalent to crimes against humanity and violations
against the Iraqi people,” said Ahmed ben Helli, the
Cairo-based organisation’s deputy security general.
“We must pursue those who committed this crime,” in
cooperation with the Iraqi government, he said, quoted by
Egypt’s official news agency MENA. Ben Helli called for more
documents to be released.
WikiLeaks last week published nearly 400,000 secret US
military documents which offer a grim snapshot of the
conflict from 2004 to 2009, especially of the abuse of
civilians by Iraqi security forces.
The heavily abridged logs appear to show that the US
military turned a blind eye to evidence of torture and abuse
of civilians by the Iraqi authorities.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said the documents reveal
about 15,000 more civilian deaths in Iraq than were
In another development, US military officials in Los Angeles
said the last Marine officer charged in the 2005 killings of
24 civilians in the central Iraqi city of Haditha will be
court-martialled starting Tuesday.
Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich, 30, will face charges of
voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, reckless
endangerment, dereliction of duty and obstruction of justice
for his alleged involvement in the killings.
Wuterich, the squadron leader, is the only one who still
faces charges in the killings, which took place after a
roadside bomb killed a Marine.
The other seven accused have either been acquitted or had
the charges against them dropped.
All of the officers were initially handed murder or failure
to investigate charges, but Wuterich is the last to face
reduced voluntary manslaughter charges.
His trial will begin at 8:30am (1500 GMT) on Tuesday at Camp
Pendleton, the sprawling Marine base outside Los Angeles.
The highest ranking Marine officer charged and later cleared
in the killings, former lieutenant colonel Jeffrey Chessani,
left the service in July.
The Marines said in a press release issued after the
violence in Haditha that 15 Iraqis had been killed by the
roadside bomb that killed the Marine.
But a subsequent investigation by Time magazine showed most
of the dead were killed as Marines swept through three
houses near the site of the bombing.
Lawyers for the Marines said insurgents hid behind civilian
homes and began shooting on the officers, sparking a
shootout that would fall within legal rules of engagements.
But the plaintiffs said there were no such insurgents and
the Marines initiated a bloody, three-hour rampage in
revenge for the death of their comrade, even killing five
taxi cab riders who were approaching the neighborhood.
Among the victims, 10 were women or children, killed at
‘face possible collapse’: Group
NEW DELHI (AFP)
- India may have to step in to avert collapse of the
$6.7-billion microfinance industry, a leading ratings body
warned this week, as lenders once hailed as saviours of the
poor faced a major crisis.
The Microfinance Institutions Network or MFIN, which
represents 44 leading Indian microfinance lenders, has said
commercial bank loans to the sector are drying up and
borrowers are reneging on their debts.
Pioneered on the sub-continent by Nobel prize winner
Muhammad Yunus, microfinance was conceived to free the poor
from the clutches of greedy moneylenders by giving them
small, cheaper loans, but has been hit by sharp criticism
from politicians and scrutiny of its loan recovery methods.
“It could come to a systemic banking crisis -- that is
why I feel the central government won’t let it go that far,
it will have to take action,” said Sanjay Sinha, managing
director of M-CRIL or Micro-Credit Ratings International
Ltd, a New Delhi-based leader in rating the sector.
“The financial numbers involved are too great,” he said.
The warning came as the Reserve Bank of India announced a
committee to examine the debt recovery methods of
microfinance institutions and their interest rate charges.
The head of MFIN, Vijay Mahajan, warned the industry “could
face collapse” and was “not at all out of the woods”.
“The commercial bankers and everyone else are hoping
against hope that things will improve,” said Mahajan, a
pioneer of lending to the poor who also heads a top
microfinance institution, BASIX.
The sector was thrown into turmoil when the southeastern
state of Andhra Pradesh, the hub of small loan activity,
cracked down on microfinanciers.
The state government said Thursday it was investigating 56
suicides blamed by local politicians on aggressive debt
collectors and high interest rates of up to 36 percent.
After news of the suicides surfaced in mid-October, India’s
leading microlender SKS said 17 were among its borrowers,
but rejected responsibility, saying “our ethical way of
doing microfinance has not caused these tragedies.”
SKS staged a share offer in August which focused the
spotlight on the millions of dollars being made in the
sector by microfinance companies.
The Andhra Pradesh government introduced a measure earlier
this month aimed at halting ‘harassment’ of borrowers,
imposing penalties of up to three years in jail and 100,000
rupees ($2,000) in fines for attempting to coerce borrowers.
The state also ordered the suspension of debt
collections. The order was later overturned by a court but
industry officials said debt recovery agents were still
Andhra Pradesh’s share of outstanding microfinance loans
accounts for around 35 percent of the sector’s total
Before the crisis, the sector boasted loan repayment
rates of 99 percent.
Critics of the for-profit microfinanciers say borrowers
should go to state-sponsored self-help groups which offer
subsidised loans for as low as three percent.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said this week the
government was in talks with the state to ease the situation
in Andhra Pradesh for microlenders but also urged the
industry to develop a code of conduct to help curb interest
rates and prevent the use of coercive recovery methods.
M-CRIL’s Sinha pointed to pressure from opposition parties
in Andhra Pradesh which have started a campaign to ask for
“This situation is tailor-made for populist sentiment
against the microlenders,” Sinha said. “The commercial banks
have been shutting down loans given what is happening in
Andhra Pradesh and current repayments are running at 20
percent of what they should be.”
A senior executive of a leading Indian bank said: “The push
for waivers by some may change the credit discipline of
borrowers who will think they don’t have to pay.”
|Lebanon braces for worst as Hezbollah
UN Hariri probe
BEIRUT (AFP) - Lebanon braced
for a fresh crisis after Hezbollah urged a boycott of a
UN-backed probe into the murder of Rafiq Hariri and the UN
warned of a ‘hyper-dangerous’ situation.
Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the militant Shiite party, this
week called on all Lebanese to end cooperation with
investigators probing the ex-premier’s 2005 assassination,
warning ‘citizens and politicians alike’ that further
collaboration would be tantamount to an attack on Hezbollah.
That warning further set him at odds with Prime Minister
Saad Hariri, son of the slain Sunni former premier, who has
vowed to see the international investigation through.
The prime minister’s office responded to Nasrallah’s call by
saying there was no turning back on the Special Tribunal for
Lebanon (STL) after a meeting by Hariri’s bloc, which with
its allies holds the majority in parliament.
“The bloc emphasises its adherence to the tribunal, which
has received consensus among the Lebanese as a form of
protection of political pluralism,” it said in a brief
statement released after a meeting headed by Hariri.
Nasrallah’s comments also sparked fears of the collapse of
Lebanon’s hard-won government, in which Hezbollah has two
The Shiite leader has repeatedly said he expects his
Iranian- and Syrian-backed movement to face STL accusations
and warned that such an outcome would have repercussions,
which he did not specify.
His latest comments, which came hours after the United
Nations warned that Lebanon had entered a ‘hyper-dangerous’
state, sparked the ire of Hariri’s pro-Western allies.
Tensions have been rising in the turbulent Mediterranean
country ever since reports emerged that the STL could point
to high-ranking Hezbollah figures in the Hariri murder.
|UN rights chief slates Myanmar
GENEVA (AFP) - UN human rights chief
Navi Pillay said Myanmar had failed so far to meet
international standards for ‘genuine elections’, a few days
ahead of the poll.
“On November 7, Myanmar’s electoral process will culminate
in voting and counting at polling stations around most of
the country,” the High Commissioner for Human Rights said in
“However, conditions for genuine elections that meet
international standards have so far not been reached,” she
Pillay reiterated calls by the UN for the release more than
2,000 political prisoners, and for the military junta to
respected freedom of assembly and expression.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said earlier that it was
not too late for a ‘credible, democratic’ transition, ahead
of the much-criticised November 7 election.
Myanmar’s Supreme Court on Friday heard democracy leader
Aung San Suu Kyi’s final appeal against her house arrest,
due to end days after the controversial elections.
The detention of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate has kept her
off the scene for the country’s first polls in 20 years,
which have been dismissed by critics as a charade aimed at
putting a civilian cloak over military rule.
Suu Kyi’s lawyers presented their argument to a panel of
judges in the capital Naypyidaw in a hearing that lasted for
about two and a half hours.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner did not attend herself and it
was unclear when the judgement would be announced.
“We are hoping for the best,” one of her lawyers, Nyan Win,
said after the hearing. “We have to wait for the verdict and
I hope it will not be long.”
The democracy icon’s term of detention is due to end on
November 13, although some fear Myanmar’s ruling generals
may find an excuse to extend it.
Suu Kyi lodged the last-ditch appeal in May. She has already
had her appeal rejected twice, most recently by the Supreme
Court in February. Court verdicts in the army-ruled country
rarely favour opposition activists.
Suu Kyi’s lawyers say the current period of detention
started with her imprisonment on May 14 last year and expect
her to be freed next month, but even so they are continuing
their efforts in the aim of clearing her name.
Myanmar’s Foreign Minister Nyan Win told his Southeast Asian
counterparts at a meeting in Hanoi this week that Suu Kyi
may be released after the November 7 poll.
There was a cautious response to his comments from the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) but the US
accused Myanmar of ‘craven manipulation’ of its election.
|Gunmen in deadly attack on Nato trucks
QUETTA (AFP) - Gunmen in southwest
Pakistan set ablaze two trucks carrying supplies for NATO
troops in Afghanistan, killing one person and wounding a
child, police said.
There was no claim of responsibility but the Taliban have
mounted similar attacks to avenge US drone strikes killing
militant commanders in Pakistan’s northwest and to protest
against the US-led war effort in Afghanistan.
The first vehicle was attacked in the Mangochar area, 20
kilometres (12 miles) south of Quetta, capital of oil and
gas rich Baluchistan province, which borders Iran and
“Two gunmen riding a motorbike stopped a NATO container,
ordered the driver and his helper to leave the vehicle and
then opened fire on it,” local tribal police official Aziz
In Baghbana, 280km south of Quetta, gunmen opened fire on
another NATO container, killing the driver and wounding a
“The gunmen also torched the container and escaped,” another
tribal police official, Muhammad Azam said.
Police confirmed Friday’s attacks, which came weeks after
Pakistan on October 10 reopened the main northwestern land
crossing into Afghanistan used by NATO supply convoys.
The border had been shut on September 30 after a
cross-border NATO helicopter strike killed two paramilitary
soldiers in northwest Pakistan, but a second crossing at
Chaman in the southwest remained open.
Muscovites read out
names of Stalin repression victims
MOSCOW (AFP) - Hundreds of people gathered in central
Moscow this week to solemnly read out lists of names of
victims of Stalin-era repressions, most of whom were shot in
the late 1930s.
Standing outside the headquarters of the FSB secret police,
the successor to the KGB and dictator Josef Stalin’s NKVD,
activists read out brief biographical details of victims,
compiled by Russian rights group memorial.
“Vasily Tarasovich Ababko, 50, worker in the collective farm
of Yershovo village, shot September 2, 1937,” one read from
a list. “Riza Kouli Abdulayev, 46, printer, shot April 8,
One reader, Yevgeniya Smirnova, 83, finished her list with
the name of her own father, shot in 1937.
“I take part in this ceremony every year. People need to
know more about things from this period,” Smirnova told AFP,
adding that she was happy to see people braving cold and
falling snow to take part.
“It’s our history that we are reading, with the names of all
these people who were murdered. As we call them by name,
these people live inside us and we feel all this tragedy
deeply,” said Oksana Bocharova, 39, a marketing manager.
The victims whose names were read over the course of several
hours ranged from municipal workers such as bus drivers to
the Communists’ ideological foes, such as priests, and
members of the ruling elite.
The readers stood in a small park around a stone brought
from the island of Solovki in the far north of Russia, where
the first prison camp in the notorious Gulag system was set
up under Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union and Stalin’s
Memorial was founded at the end of the Soviet Union to
publicise the fate of repression victims. It later expanded
its role to gather information on rights violations across
Russia, particularly in the troubled Caucasus region.
It was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize this year.
|ASEAN meets amidst
tensions with China
Leaders of the Association for South East Asian Nations
(ASEAN) met last week in Hanoi amidst growing tensions with
regional giant China over disputed territories, currency
devaluation and imposing growth of China’s economic and
military dominance in the region.
ASEAN was established on August 8, 1967 in Bangkok, by the
five original Member Countries, namely, Indonesia, Malaysia,
Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Brunei joined in 1984,
Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia joined later.
Since then, the regional bloc has been emerging as a
regional power base working as a single entity, mostly in
their interactions with the rest of the world.
ASEAN has concluded Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with China,
Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and, most recently,
India. In addition, it is currently negotiating a FTA with
the EU. Taiwan has also expressed interest in an agreement
with ASEAN, but needs to overcome diplomatic objections from
The 10 leaders of the group meet at a time when most of the
countries in the region has in some way or another felt the
tensions of more assertive China.
In recent months, China has reasserted its claims to a group
of islands in the South China Sea which are also claimed by
several ASEAN nations.
The Diaoyu/Senkaku islands, situated in the East China Sea,
are believed to be rich in oil and gas reserves and fish
The islands are also close to important sea lanes. China,
Japan, and Taiwan each claim sovereignty over the islands.
Several weeks ago, China and Japan were involved in a
diplomatic spat when several Chinese fishermen were detained
by Japanese authorities in the disputed waters.
The detention generated vituperative reactions from Beijing,
out of character from its traditional policy of quiet
insistence on territorial claims while building naval
This episode, in conjunction with China’s continuing claim
of primacy in the South China Sea as a ‘core interest’, is
encouraging increased discussion among its regional
neighbours regarding naval collaboration.
Sino-Japanese tensions regarding the detention were inflamed
by the location of the incident. After the release of the
captain of the Chinese fishing boat on September 24, Chinese
Premier Wen Jiabao told Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan
that “the Diaoyu Islands have been Chinese territory since
A similarly robust claim is being made for the South China
Sea, which borders Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines,
Singapore, and Vietnam among other states. A group of nine
Vietnamese fishermen operating off the Paracel Islands in
the South China Sea were detained by Beijing for four weeks.
The fishermen were released on October 11, as the unresolved
issue threatened to overshadow the ASEAN Defence Ministers
At the ASEAN Ministerial meeting this year, the tone of
nervousness from China’s immediate neighbours were apparent.
At that meeting which also saw the participation of US
Secretary of State Hilary Clinton the foreign ministers of
ASEAN nations called on the peaceful resolution to all
territorial disputes in the region.
ASEAN and the East Asia region is now emerging as a bulwark
against the growing Chinese dominance, which sees the region
as being part of its sphere of influence.
Since the end of the Second World War the US, has remained
the most dominant power in the region, with military bases
in South Korea, Japan and a protective umbrella over Taiwan.
The US seventh fleet is based in the region and remains one
of the most powerful projections of military power anywhere
in the globe.
As the US and East Asia scramble to cope with the rapidly
shifting balance of power in the region, Washington is
expanding consultations with India on Asian security and is
extending strong support to New Delhi’s own ‘Look East’
The US is intensifying its engagement with East Asia amidst
the rise of China, Beijing’s new tensions with Japan and the
Southeast Asian nations, and the search for stronger
As it does so, the Obama administration is encouraging India
to play a larger role in Asia and the Pacific.
This new emphasis will be underscored in President Barack
Obama’s coming visit to India in a few weeks’ time.
India too believes that the distinctions between East and
South Asia can no longer be sustained. Its top officials
argue that if a larger role for a rising China is inevitable
in the subcontinent, so too is a bigger Indian footprint in
the Western Pacific.
CHINA AND INDIA CAN
GROW TOGETHER: WEN
HANOI (AFP) - Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said he would
visit India later this year, stressing there was “enough
space in the world” for both the giant nations to prosper
despite a backdrop of frosty ties.
“I will pay a visit to India by the end of this year,” Wen
said during talks with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh
on the sidelines of a Southeast Asia summit in the
Border disputes, a short war in 1962 and the presence in
India of Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama have all
contributed to an atmosphere of suspicion between India and
India is also watchful of China’s growing presence in the
region, including investments in ports in Bangladesh, Sri
Lanka and Pakistan.
But Wen told Singh, according to comments posted on China’s
foreign ministry website, that the two nations should
“steadily ensure friendship” and “increase mutual trust in
“There is enough space in the world for China and India to
develop themselves at the same time, and there are enough
sectors for China and India to cooperate,” he said.
Wen said China was willing to work with India to “jointly
promote continuous increase in trade and investment”.
Singh has sounded a similar note this week, playing down
simmering tensions and saying there is huge scope to work
“Are India and China in competition? I sincerely believe
that there are enormous possibilities of our two countries
to work together,” he told a gathering of business leaders
“I look upon the world as a large enough place to
accommodate the growth and ambitions of both India and China
and it is in that sense that we approach India-China
relations,” he said.
On a visit to Japan this week, Singh pledged that India
would provide a stable supply of rare earth minerals to
Tokyo amid a diplomatic row between China and Japan.
China has built up a near-monopoly on the minerals, which
are needed in many hi-tech industries.
its political clout at UN
NEW YORK: When a US
delegate once confronted a Chinese diplomat about Beijing’s
uncompromising support for Pakistan, the Chinese reportedly
responded with a heavily-loaded sarcastic remark: “Pakistan
is our Israel”.
But judging by China’s unrelenting support for some of its
allies, including North Korea, Burma, Zimbabwe and Sudan,
its protective arm around these countries is no different
from the US and Western political embrace of Israel - right
While China is battling the West over exchange rates, import
tariffs and its territorial claims in the South China Sea,
Beijing is also lobbying furiously to stall a
Western-inspired proposal for a Commission of Inquiry on
possible war crimes by the military junta in Burma
“Such a commission should not be seen as a way to punish the
government, but to prevent impunity and help prevent further
abuse,” says the UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, Tomas
But China, which in January 2007 exercised its veto, along
with Russia, to prevent Security Council sanctions against
Burma, has not shown any willingness to back the proposal -
even for a watered-down commission.
“Clearly,” says one Asian diplomat, “China is trying to
reassert its political clout at the UN as a counterweight to
its defensive stand on currency and trade issues.”
The New York Times newspaper said this week that the US
administration is facing a “confrontational relationship”
with an assertive China and is trying to respond to “a surge
of Chinese triumphalism” by strengthening Washington’s
relationship with Japan and South Korea.
US President Barack Obama is planning to visit four Asian
countries next month - Japan, Indonesia, India and South
Korea - while bypassing China.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who needs
China’s support in the Security Council if he decides to run
for a second term next year, is currently on his fourth trip
to China, having visited the country in May and July 2008,
and in July 2009.
In recent months, China has prevented a Security Council
resolution against North Korea over the sinking of a South
Korean ship and also tried to suppress a UN report alleging
the use of Chinese-made bullets in attacks on UN
peacekeepers in Darfur, Sudan.
“China sees value in promoting its image as the Security
Council member defending the rights of the developing world,
and China sees value in relying on the UN to counter US
power,” said Linda Jakobson, director of the programme on
China and Global Security at the Stockholm International
Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
Jakobson, an in-house China expert at SIPRI, points out that
Beijing also sees value in participating in UN peacekeeping
operations “both because this enhances the image of China as
a responsible power but also because it gives Chinese
Still, China relented to US and Western pressure in
supporting four Security Council resolutions imposing
sanctions against Iran, one of Beijing’s staunchest
political, economic and military allies. Justifying his
country’s support for the resolution, Chinese Ambassador Li
Baodong was quoted as saying that Beijing wanted to make
sure that sanctions would not affect the Iranian people or
its normal overseas trade.
Jakobson said China agreed to these sanctions after much
deliberation and on the condition that the energy sector was
Jakobson also pointed out that China wants to protect the
massive investments by Chinese energy companies already in
Iran or under negotiation with Tehran, and China wants to
ensure that its long-term strategic plans for energy
security are not threatened.
She said China attaches great importance to the UN and would
like to see the role of the UN strengthened - though Beijing
is wary of many proposals that want to expand Security
Council membership and/or give power to members other than
the present five permanent members.
(Al Jazeera News)
|Shanghai World Expo a roaring success
SHANGHAI (AFP) - Shanghai today shuts the gates to the World
Expo -- a six-month exhibition of culture and technology
that saw record attendance, a parade of foreign leaders and
a display of China’s growing power.
Organisers say Expo has been a roaring success, pointing to
the more than 71 million visitors who toured the massive
site and the 189 countries that took part, and could have
far-reaching benefits for the city and the nation.
“This Expo could be a landmark for the process of Chinese
modernisation,” Expo Assistant Secretary General Xu Bo said.
“The Expo gave us a wonderful opportunity to learn how to be
a global citizen. This learning process is just a start, but
it will have a very profound influence on the behaviour of
For China, the World’s Fair offered an opportunity to
showcase its growing economic and political clout -- an
opportunity it considered to be on a par with its successful
hosting of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was due to be the final
major guest today, joining a line of foreign VIPs that has
included kings, presidents and military strongmen.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, French President Nicolas
Sarkozy and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were among
those who toured the 5.3-square-kilometre (two-square-mile)
site -- more than twice the size of Monaco.
Also on the list were leaders rarely seen at international
events including Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Myanmar’s military ruler
Senior General Than Shwe.
Fewer than five percent of Chinese have opportunities to
travel abroad, and the Expo -- the theme of which was
“Better City, Better Life” -- allowed them to connect
firsthand with the world like never before, Xu said.
Nations showed off treasures both old and new. Denmark
allowed its prized Little Mermaid statue out of the country
for the first time, while France brought a priceless set of
seven 19th-century masterpieces.
No sedition charges for
NEW DELHI (AFP) - India has decided against prosecuting
award-winning author and activist Arundhati Roy for sedition
after she spoke out about the disputed region of Kashmir, an
Roy, winner of the prestigious Booker award for her novel
The God of Small Things in 1997, is a fierce critic of
India’s tactics in Kashmir, where protests against New Delhi
have claimed more than 100 lives since June.
She shared a stage with hardline Kashmiri separatist leader
Syed Ali Shah Geelani last week and backed the idea of
“azadi” or freedom for Kashmir, leading New Delhi police to
look into charging her with sedition.
But the police have been instructed to “avoid pursuing the
issue and consider it as a closed chapter,” said a senior
official in the Indian interior ministry, who asked not to
“No criminal case has been registered against her. Therefore
there is no question of slapping sedition charges,” the
The Bharatiya Janata Party objected to Roy’s remarks,
calling them “seditious” and demanding legal action against
Kashmir has been beset by anti-India violence, curfews and
strikes since early June, when a 17-year-old student was
killed by a police tear-gas shell. Since then, a total of
111 protesters and bystanders have died.
A poll published last month showed that a majority in
Kashmir favoured independence for their region.
TOKYO (AFP) - Japan will test new
“walk-through” bomb detectors that can pick up minute traces
of explosives when the country hosts an Asia-Pacific summit
next month, government officials said.
The system, still in the development and test phase, will be
installed on November 12-14 at a train station in Yokohama
near Tokyo, the venue for the Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation (APEC) summit, officials said.
Passengers will be alerted by signs and given the choice of
whether to help trial the Hitachi-made system, or whether to
pick another gate, under a test that is meant to check for
However, police also hope the new device will act as a
deterrent against terrorist attacks during the summit, a
police official said.
The walk-through gate works by blowing a stream of warm air
that brushes the passing passenger before it is captured by
a suction device for chemical analysis of any airborne
|Swiss solar plane
confirmed as multiple record-breaker
(AFP) - Aeronautical authorities confirmed world records for
a Swiss solar-powered aircraft that flew around the clock in
July, including those for the longest and highest flight by
such an aircraft.
Solar Impulse was credited with the longest flight in the
category of solar powered aeroplanes, by staying aloft for
26 hours, 10 minutes and 19 seconds, the International
Aeronautical Federation (FAI) said.
It also set an altitude record by flying at 9,235 metres,
and a record for the biggest height gain (8,744 metres)
during the pioneering flight.
“The FAI congratulates (pilot) André Borschberg and the
whole team involved in Solar Impulse on these splendid
The experimental single-seater with solar panels cast across
a wingspan matching that of a large airliner flew in 14
hours of sunshine to power, also allowing it to charge up
its batteries and fly on through darkness.
FAI official Marcel Meyer said that it was also the first
time in the four-year history of the solar-powered category
that such feats had officially been endorsed.
“There have not been any previous records,” he said, adding
that records had been claimed for solar flight before but
without sufficient proof.
The Solar Impulse team is planning to fly even further,
including possible manned transatlantic and round-the-world
flights in 2013-2014.
The pioneering flight in Switzerland was monitored by
observers from the Swiss Aero Club, an FAI member.