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The Republican candidate for the US senate in Indiana caused outrage by saying that if a woman is raped it is part of God’s will.
Richard Mourdock, who is a favourite of the conservative Tea Party movement, made the comments during a debate on abortion.
He had been locked in a close battle with Democratic candidate Joe Donnelly but these remarks could amount to political suicide:
“I believe that life begins at conception,” Mourdock said. “The only exception I have, to have an abortion is in that case of the life of the mother. I struggled with it, myself, for a long time, but I came to realise life is a gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape that it is something that God intended to happen.”
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who on Monday launched state-wide ads endorsing Mourdock, immediately distanced himself from the comments.
The Republicans need a net gain of four seats in the elections on November 6 to take control of the US senate.
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Mothers of prisoners were joined by thousands of protesters on Thursday, after a video emerged showing guards torturing and raping inmates at a prison. They called for the resignation of the Interior and Justice Ministers.
One mother said: “I can not bear this any more, I fainted three times yesterday. I didn’t know that such things happened at the prison. At least I did not believe it.”
In an effort to diffuse tensions President Mikhail Saakashvili has accepted the resignation of the minister in charge of penitentiaries, and completely reshuffled prison personnel.
Georgian prosecutors have arrested 12 prison officials and Saakashvili has vowed to punish those responsible.
The video comes at a sensitive moment for the president, who has led Georgia since 2004, just ahead of parliamentary elections on October 1.
The video showing guards torturing prisoners and raping them with truncheons and broom handles was broadcast by two opposition TV channels on Monday, leading the government to claim that it was staged for political reasons.