Suspect Admits Frankfurt Airport Shooting

FRANKFURT, Germany, Sept. 1 (UPI) — A Kosovo man admitted in court he killed two U.S. airmen in an attack at a Frankfurt, Germany, airport but said he doesn’t know why he did it.

Arid Uka, made the admission as his trial began in Frankfurt Wednesday. He told the court he had been radicalized by jihadist propaganda he had been exposed to on the Internet, the BBC reported.

“What I did was wrong, but I cannot undo what I did,” Uka told the court.

Prosecutors called Uka, 21, an Islamic “lone wolf” who had no contact with any known militant groups, and said he had been enraged by footage of U.S. servicemen raping a Muslim girl in Iraq. The footage in question turned out to be a scene from a movie by Hollywood director Brian De Palma, the BBC said.

“I thought what I saw in that video, these people would do in Afghanistan,” Uka said Wednesday.

Prosecutors alleged Uka wanted to kill the airmen because they were going to join coalition forces in Afghanistan. They said Uka confessed at the scene.

Two other U.S. airmen were seriously injured in the attack in March.

The indictment said Uka entered the airport terminal and then followed U.S. military personnel to their military bus. It said he asked one for a light and inquired where the bus was going, and then fatally shot him.

The indictment said Uka then boarded a military bus, shouting “Allah-u akbar” (God is great), and shot and killed a second victim.

Prosecutors said the gun jammed and Uka fled into the terminal where he was captured.

Police Officer Charged With Squad Car Rape

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 1 (UPI) — A Philadelphia police officer was charged Wednesday with raping a woman after offering her a lift from the stop where she was waiting for a bus at 3:30 a.m.

Keith Corley II, 27, who has been with the police department for four years, was arrested and suspended, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. He was charged with rape and a number of related counts.

Corley was on duty at the time of the alleged rape, investigators said. A woman told police he offered to drive her home but instead sexually assaulted her in the back of his squad car and then dropped her at a mass transit station.

The woman reported the assault that morning.

Corley is the third Philadelphia police officer to be arrested in two weeks. The other two were charged with assaulting their girlfriends.

Double Trouble For Washington Monument

WASHINGTON, Sept. 1 (UPI) — Hurricane Irene revealed new cracks in the Washington Monument, which was already closed following the Virginia earthquake, the National Parks Service said.

Spokeswoman Carol Johnson told CNN Wednesday Parks Service employees found standing water in the monument when they inspected it Monday. She said engineers tried to find holes following last week’s 5.8 magnitude earthquake and in advance of the hurricane.

“There were some leaks that we were not able to identify or able to plug,” Johnson said. “What happened was a lot of mortar popped out, so much so that you can see sunlight above 450 feet in the monument.”

The monument has been closed until all damage is repaired. Johnson said engineers determined the earthquake caused no structural damage.

The 555-foot memorial to George Washington, the first U.S. president, was built over several decades in the mid-19th century.

N.Korea, Russia Consider Naval Cooperation

PYONGYANG, North Korea, Sept. 1 (UPI) — North Korea and Russia plan to increase their naval cooperation, a Russian military spokesman said.

Senior commanders from the two nations have been considering such steps and the issue was discussed during the current North Korea visit of Adm. Konstantin Sidenko, commander of Russia’s Eastern Military District, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported, quoting Sidenko spokesman Lt. Col. Igor Muginov.

Sidenko and senior North Korean military commanders also discussed the possibilities of holding joint search and rescue exercises and humanitarian drills in the open sea, Muginov told reporters.

Among those Sidenko met was Ri Yong Ho, chief of the general staff of the Korean People’s Army, the spokesman said. Sidenko also visited a KPA unit.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il visited Russia for a week last month, and later visited China.

Nurse Pleads Guilty To Medicare Fraud

MIAMI, Sept. 1 (UPI) — A Miami-area nurse pleaded guilty Wednesday to billing Medicare $118,000 for home health services that were unneeded or never provided.

Farah Maria Perez, 40, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud before U.S. District Judge Joan A. Lenard.

Perez, who worked for Florida Home Health Care Providers Inc., and co-conspirators at the company billed Medicare for costly physical therapy and home health care services that were medically unnecessary or never provided from about January 2006 until about March 2009, plea documents indicate.

A U.S. Justice Department news release said Perez recruited Medicare beneficiaries who allowed Florida Home Health to bill Medicare for the services. In exchange, the release said, she solicited and received kickbacks and bribes from the owners and operators of Florida Home Health.

Court documents indicate Perez and co-defendants falsified patient files so it appeared they qualified for home health care and therapy services from Florida Home Health. Perez, the release said, admitted she knew the beneficiaries didn’t qualify or didn’t receive the services.

She and other nurse co-defendants listed symptoms including tremors, impaired vision, weak grip and inability to walk without assistance when the patients didn’t have the symptoms, the Justice Department said.

Perez is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 14.

Ex-senator Pleads Guilty To Wire Fraud

BOSTON, Sept. 1 (UPI) — Former Massachusetts state Sen. Bernard Joseph Tully pleaded guilty to a bribery scheme in which he and a co-conspirator split about $12,000 from a landlord.

In exchange for the payments, Tully, 84, told the landlord he would pay off state lawmakers to ensure the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles did not discontinue the lease of Lowell, Mass., space the landlord owned, court documents and testimony at a plea hearing indicated.

The RMV had announced in July 2009 it needed to discontinue the lease because of a lack of funds, federal prosecutors and the FBI said in a news release.

Tully pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of wire fraud. As part of a plea deal, he will receive a maximum penalty of home confinement, three years of supervised release, a fine and restitution, the release said.

Tully, who served as Lowell city manager from 1979 to 1987 and a state senator representing Lowell before that, had contacted the landlord, who was not identified, and said he would need to pay $20,000 to keep the RMV in the leased space, the news release said.

Unknown to Tully, the landlord became a prosecution witness.

Tully admitted he never actually paid any off any legislators and said he and the co-conspirator split the estimated $12,000 in cash and checks from the businessman, Tully told FBI agents in May 2010, the release said.

Aquino, Hu Discuss Sea Dispute

BEIJING, Sept. 1 (UPI) — China and the Philippines agreed to find a peaceful resolution to a South China Sea dispute that has raised international concerns.

The issue was discussed by visiting Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and his Chinese host, President Hu Jintao. The two leaders stood firm about their countries’ territorial claims in the Spratlys, but decided to resolve the dispute peacefully, the Philippine Star reported Thursday.

The official Chinese news agency Xinhua reported Hu and Aquino agreed to strengthen economic and trade cooperation while minimizing the impact of the sea disputes.

Xinhua quoted Hu as saying China’s stance on the South China Sea issue has been consistent and explicit.

“The South China Sea disputes should be resolved peacefully through consultation and negotiation” between the two countries, Hu said.

Hu also was quoted as saying China is ready to work with the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), including the Philippines, to develop the waters jointly into “a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation.”

The sea dispute has become tense, as China repeatedly asserts its “indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands [Spratly Islands] and the surrounding waters” of the South China Sea, and has asked all other claimant countries to stop drilling there for oil and gas. Those countries include Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan.

The U.S. Senate has passed a resolution deploring the recent use of force by Chinese maritime security vessels against a Vietnamese exploration ship, and calling for a peaceful resolution of the dispute through multilateral efforts.

The Philippine Star quoted Aquino spokesman Edwin Lacierda as saying it was Aquino who raised the Spratlys issue, saying as the issue was a regional problem, it required a regional solution.

“So both sides were very positive in addressing the issue in the South China Sea,” the Star quoted Lacierda as saying.

Aquino and Hu also attended the signing of nine agreements on a number of issues regarding economic, cultural and friendly ties.

Xinhua reported the two sides have pledged to double their trade volume to $60 billion in five years. The report said Aquino was accompanied by a 300-strong delegation that included more than 200 business executives.

Jamaican Drug Kingpin Pleads Guilty

NEW YORK, Aug. 31 (UPI) — Christopher Coke, who prosecutors said led a violent international drug and arms trafficking enterprise, pleaded guilty Wednesday to racketeering conspiracy.

Coke, whose June 2010 arrest in Kingston, Jamaica, followed a battle between his supporters and police and military troops that left 73 people dead, also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering before U.S. District Judge Robert P. Patterson in New York, the U.S. Justice Department announced.

“For nearly two decades, Christopher Coke led a ruthless criminal enterprise that used fear, force and intimidation to support its drug and arms trafficking ‘businesses,'” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a news release. “He moved drugs and guns between Jamaica and the United States with impunity. Today’s plea is a welcome conclusion to this ugly chapter of criminal history.”

Coke, the Justice Department said, led the “Shower Posse” organization, also known as “Presidential Click.”

Since the early 1990s, members of Coke’s organization in the United States and other countries controlled the Tivoli Gardens neighborhood in inner-city Kingston, guarded by gunmen, and trafficked drugs including marijuana, cocaine and crack cocaine, the news release said. Members sent the proceeds back to Coke in Jamaica and supplied him with firearms they obtained in the United States, the release said.

Coke, 42, faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on the racketeering conspiracy charge and three years on the conspiracy to commit assault in aid of racketeering charge when he is sentenced Dec. 8.

China Says Sabotage Thwarted

BEIJING, Aug. 31 (UPI) — Police in northwest China’s Xinjiang-Uighur region, home to Muslim Uighurs, thwarted attempts to sabotage public safety, a local Communist Party official said.

The report by China’s official Xinhua news agency comes as Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari was visiting Urumqi, capital of the violence-hit region, where the Turkic-speaking Muslim Uighurs resent being ruled by Han Chinese.

Speaking on the reported sabotage attempts, Zhu Hailun, party chief of Urumqi, told reporters Wednesday separatists, religious extremists and terrorists have been plotting to sabotage the China-Eurasia Expo trade fair opening Thursday, Xinhua said.

Zhu said Urumqi airport security staff had recently arrested a man who attempted to take a knife on board a plane.

“There have been many similar cases of attacks being blocked by police,” Zhu said. “Hopefully we have intervened in time to nip the violence in the bud.”

Xinhua said authorities have tightened security in Urumqi and at airports including in Beijing and Shanghai to screen flights bound for Urumqi.

Xinjiang was rocked by violence in August that left at least 40 people dead in the cities of Kashgar and Hotan, the report said. The Kashgar violence was blamed on Islamic extremists trained in Pakistan, which is a close ally of China.

Official Chinese media have reported suspects captured after the attacks had said their group’s leaders learned how to make explosives and firearms in camps run by the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, a terrorist group in Pakistan.

Xinjiang-Uighur is close to Pakistan and several central and west Asian countries. China describes Pakistan as its “all-weather friend.”

Zardari, accompanied by several of his top officials, described China as Pakistan’s closest friend and a strategic partner, the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan reported.

Zardari “expressed his confidence that the government and the patriotic people of China would succeed in frustrating designs of the evil forces of terrorism, extremism and any attempt to undermine territorial integrity” and said Pakistan is “committed to fighting terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.”

Ex-Canadian Official’s Son Sent To Prison

OTTAWA, Aug. 31 (UPI) — John “Jack” Tobin, the son of ex-Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Brian Tobin, was sentenced to three years in prison Wednesday for a drunken driving death.

The 24-year-old also was banned from driving for seven years, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Tobin pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing death in the Dec. 24 incident in which his friend, Alex Zolpis, 24, was fatally pinned under a truck in an Ottawa parking garage.

Authorities say the two had been drinking with friends at a bar before going to the parking garage where Tobin began driving a pickup truck in wild 180-degree turns and hit Zolpis. Another man also was hit but survived.

In sentencing Tobin, Judge Lise Maisonneuve said he had been “gravely irresponsible.”

Prosecutors sought at least five years in prison and a 10-year driving ban, noting Tobin had a history of driving offenses and license revocations.

Tobin’s attorney requested his client receive no more than 30 months behind bars and his license lifted for five years.

Father Suspects Son’s A Killer

FORT BRAGG, Calif., Aug. 31 (UPI) — The father of a man suspected in the slaying of a Northern California city councilman said he believes his son likely committed another killing 30 miles away.

The suspect, Aaron Bassler, 35, allegedly was guarding two small opium poppy fields he cultivated on private wooded land when he ambushed Fort Bragg City Councilman Jere Melo and a friend Saturday, authorities said.

Melo died after being shot with a high-powered rifle near Fort Bragg, and his friend escaped and gave a description matching that of Bassler, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday.

James Bassler said his son had moved to the woods four months ago and suffered schizophrenia but refused professional treatment.

After briefly emerging from the woods, Aaron Bassler had been dropped off by his mother, James Bassler’s ex-wife, near the Westport site where the body of a property manager was found Aug. 11, the father said.

“It’s clear in my mind, he’s involved with both shootings,” the elder Bassler said. “It’s my only hope they catch him before some other family gets dragged into this tragedy.”

Mendocino County Sheriff Sgt. Greg Van Patten said authorities were attempting to determine whether the two slayings are connected.

“In both cases, the victims were struck by high-caliber rifles,” Van Patten said. “There are some similarities, so we’re continuing to look at everything.”

James Bassler said his son had bought guns with profits from growing marijuana.

15 Killed In Six Days In Tijuana

TIJUANA, Mexico, Aug. 31 (UPI) — Authorities say they’re investigating 15 slayings that occurred in Tijuana, Mexico, in a six-day span.

The killings brought the number of homicides in the city this year to 341, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Tuesday.

All the killings occurred on the city’s east side, three of them Monday, the newspaper said

One victim, Noe Sobrevilla Alvarado, 28, was found with three gunshot wounds on a sidewalk in the El Florido Primera Seccion neighborhood Monday, authorities said. Investigators found five spent 9mm shells.

The body of an unidentified man who appeared to be 30 to 35 years old was found in weeds in the Hacienda Las Delicias neighborhood later Monday, officials said.

The day’s third victim, Francisco Javier Martinez Arenas, 36, was fatally shot about 8:50 p.m. in the driver’s seat of a green Nissan Maxima in the Licea Cardenas Alley in the Manuel Paredes neighborhood, authorities said. Seven spent .45-caliber shells were found.

As of Tuesday, the state Attorney General’s Office said, the number of killings had declined by 180 compared with the same period a year ago.

Report: Cantor Softens On Disaster Relief

RICHMOND, Va., Aug. 31 (UPI) — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., seemed Wednesday to soften his insistence that Hurricane Irene disaster aid be offset by cuts in other spending.

Cantor had told Fox News Channel this week the federal government would “find the money if there is a need for additional money but those monies are not unlimited,” and it would be necessary to “find other places to save so that we can fund the role the federal government needs to play.”

Speaking Wednesday with reporters in his Virginia district, Cantor repeated his assurance that disaster relief will provided but did not say whether congressional Republicans will insist on offsetting spending cuts, the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch reported.

“I believe there’s an appropriate federal role, and the monies will be there,” Cantor said.

Following Cantor’s previous comments, Rep. David Price of North Carolina, the top Democrat on the Homeland Security appropriations subcommittee, suggested insisting on offsetting spending cuts to pay for disaster relief amounted to “budget politics.”

Cantor said Wednesday the controversy was “an attempt to try and make a political story out of it.”

Irene, which has been blamed for at least 43 deaths, is likely to be one of the costliest disasters in U.S. history, analysts say. Insurance company officials say the cost could amount to $7 billion to $10 billion.

Suspect In U.S. Woman’s Disappearance Held

ORANJESTAD, Aruba, Aug. 31 (UPI) — A Maryland man arrested in Aruba after his traveling companion, Robyn Gardner, vanished can be held for another 60 days, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Gary Giordano, 50, has not been formally charged with anything, although he was jailed soon after Gardner vanished Aug. 2, ABC News reported. He told police Gardner disappeared while they were snorkeling, but investigators said his statements have been inconsistent.

Both the prosecutor’s office in Aruba and Gardner’s mother, Andrea Colson, released statements after the hearing urging anyone with information on what happened to the missing 35-year-old woman to come forward.

“We have faith and confidence in the Aruban authorities and FBI, and know that they will fervently continue their efforts to find Robyn,” Colson said.

Police interviewed witnesses who said Giordano seemed oddly calm when he asked for help in finding Gardner.

Gardner and Giordano met through a Web site called “Adult Friend Finder,” a friend of the missing woman told ABC. The friend said Giordano sent Gardner abusive messages after she backed out of plans to go on a cruise together.

Woman Charged With Molesting Kid Relatives

WINCHESTER, Ky., Aug. 31 (UPI) — A Kentucky woman has been charged with sexually molesting a boy and girl, both relatives of hers.

Juanita Fisher, 34, of Charlestown. Ky., appeared in court Tuesday in Clark County, WLKY-TV, Louisville, reported. Bail was set at $75,000.

Fisher has been charged with incest and molesting children. She was arrested Friday.

Police in an affidavit said two children between the ages of 7 and 11 were molested, The Louisville Courier-Journal reported.

The alleged offenses included performing sexual acts on them, forcing them to perform sexually and having sex with men in front of them.

“The longer I do this job the more resigned I am that women act out sexually and make bad choices just the way men do,” Deputy Prosecutor Brittany Blau said.

An adult relative of the suspect told WLKY the charges are untrue.

Court Case Provides Rendition Details

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 (UPI) — Details of the CIA’s rendition program became public because of a money dispute between two U.S. contractors involved in a flight to transport a terror suspect.

A British organization, Reprieve, discovered 1,500 pages of legal documents filed in Columbia County in upstate New York, The Washington Post reported. Reprieve alerted the Post and other news organizations to the information.

The legal dispute involved SportsFlight, a broker who contracted with the CIA to supply planes for the rendition program, in which terrorism suspects are sent to another country for interrogation, and Richmor Aviation, a company that arranges charters for planes owned by others, the Post said. In 2009, a judge ordered SportsFlight to pay Richmor more than $1 million.

The court documents detail a flight in a Gulfstream IV owned by Philip Morse, vice chairman of Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Boston Red Sox. The plane left Columbia County on Aug. 12, 2003, and returned four days later after a flight with stops that included Thailand, Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan and Ireland and cost the CIA $339,228.05. During the flight, Riduan Isamuddin, an Indonesian terror suspect arrested in Thailand, was taken into U.S. custody, leading to three years in secret CIA prisons.

The documents also include phone logs of calls from the plane to CIA headquarters and a top CIA official, the Post said.

Woman Sues Over Jail Delivery 14 Years Ago

SEATTLE, Aug. 31 (UPI) — A Seattle woman suing King County is to soon get her day in court to air allegations she had a baby in 1997 while locked in a county jail cell by herself.

Her lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial Sept. 12 in U.S. District Court, the online newspaper Seattlepi.com reported Tuesday.

Imka Pope, who has been diagnosed with a schizoaffective disorder, waited more than 10 years to sue. A judge found this year that the statute of limitations did not apply in this case.

Pope, then 27, was pregnant and homeless when arrested for trespassing after she fell asleep on a bench. Her lawyers say she was both visibly pregnant and visibly mentally ill.

“Once booked, the jail engaged in a pattern of deliberate indifference towards Ms. Pope,” a brief filed last week said.

Pope said guards ignored her pleas for help when she went into labor on her sixth day in jail. A guard finally got involved when he heard her baby crying.

Lawyers for King County say Pope hid her pregnancy and was verbally abusive to jail staff.

An article published at the time she sued four years ago said Pope’s son was living in Washington.

Black Death Confirmed As Bubonic Plague

HAMILTON, Ontario, Aug. 30 (UPI) — The Black Death that decimated the population of Europe in the 14th century was definitely caused by bubonic plague, a DNA analysis of medieval bones has shown.

While some researchers have suggested the epidemic was in fact caused by a virus such as Ebola, the analysis of DNA from a London plague burial has confirmed the “plague” bacterium Yersinia pestis was responsible, NewScientist.com reported Tuesday.

Researchers from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, looked for Yersinia DNA in the bones of Black Death victims, a task complicated by possibility of contamination, they said.

“When we extract DNA from the skeletons, we also get DNA from their environment,” researcher Hendirk Poinar said.

But careful sampling of bones and teeth using a molecular “probe” found DNA belonging to a strain of Y. pestis unlike any known today, and not found in skeletons buried elsewhere in London before the Black Death.

The findings are the first confirmation that these Black Death victims were infected with Y. pestis, Poinar said

Further study could uncover the full genetic sequence of the bacterial strain behind the Black Death, which could help explain both why it was so virulent and how it evolved, researchers said.

It might also predict if similarly devastating strains might appear in the future, they said.

Twin Spacecraft Prepared For Moon Mission

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Aug. 30 (UPI) — NASA says final preparations are under way for a launch of twin satellites intended to study the moon in greater detail than ever before.

The space agency’s Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission is set for a scheduled Sept. 8 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, a NASA release said. During a planned nine-month mission, the twin GRAIL spacecraft will explore Earth’s nearest neighbor in unprecedented detail, surveying its structure from crust to core.

The two satellites have sealed atop the launch rocket, ready for liftoff.

“Our two spacecraft are now sitting comfortably inside the payload fairing which will protect them during ascent,” said David Lehman, GRAIL project manager for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.. “Next time the GRAIL twins will see the light of day, they will be about 95 miles up and accelerating.”

Once in lunar orbit, GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B will transmit radio signals precisely defining the distance between them while regional gravitational differences on the moon expand and contract that distance.

GRAIL scientists will use the accurate measurements to define the moon’s gravity field to understand what goes on below the surface of our orbiting companion.

Britain Had Cool Summer

LONDON, Aug. 31 (UPI) — The summer of 2011 was the coolest in Britain in almost two decades, preliminary figures reported Tuesday by the Meteorological Office showed.

The summer was also wetter than usual, The Independent reported. Meteorologists said rainfall from Aug. 1 to Aug. 29 was at 126 percent of normal, while sunshine was 76 percent of normal.

The average temperature for the month was 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) below normal, meteorologists said. This makes 2011 the chilliest summer since 1993.

The Met plans to release its full report on the meteorological summer of June, July and August Thursday.

Brian Gaze of TheWeatherOutlook said Britain’s last run of high temperatures occurred in 2006.

“During the 1990s and 2000s, summer heat waves were more frequent than usual, and perhaps some people began to think this was the norm,” he said. “During the last few years the run of poor summers has coincided with colder weather during the winter months.”

The summer now coming to an end was wetter than last year although drier than those from 2007 to 2009.

Gold Mine Backers Hail Romania President

ROSIA MONTANA, Romania, Aug. 31 (UPI) — Supporters of an effort to build a one of the world’s biggest gold mines in Romania say they’re encouraged by the public backing of President Traian Basescu.

A pro-mining industry and trade group said Monday it is thrilled with comments made last week by Basescu, who seemed to indicate the chronic waffling of the Romanian government on the controversial Rosia Montana Project is turning into qualified support more than a decade after the $1 billion project was announced.

“We hail the statements for support of the mining project in Rosia Montana made by the president of Romania,” a statement from the Group for the Support of the Rosia Montana Project said.

The Romanian group, composed of local public authorities, universities, non-governmental organizations, mining industry associations and trade unions, the project is needed in country’s Apuseni Mountains region, the English-language Romanian news Web site ACTMedia reported.

“The reality of Rosia Montana is that it is an underdeveloped area, with mining its only industry,” the group said. “(There is a large) unemployed population and 80 percent of its people live at subsistence levels, with youth lacking any perspective.”

The project, spearheaded by the Canadian mining company Gabriel Resources Ltd., has encountered stiff resistance from environmentalists and others, mainly because of its massive scale and the use of cyanide.

Rosia Montana, considered a world-class reserve, is estimated to hold gold resources of 10 million ounces and Gabriel has said it plans to produce an average 500,000 ounces a year at a cash cost of $400 an ounce, The Globe and Mail newspaper in Toronto reported.

With price of gold at an all-time high of $1,800 per ounce, the Romanian government is seeing its potential in a different light but is also responding to calls that it get a better deal from the investors.

A mine’s controlling company, Rosia Montana Gold Corp., is 19.3 percent-owned by Bucharest through its Minvest Deva while Gabriel Resources holds 80.5 percent and other minority with shareholders control 0.23 percent of the company.

Basescu told an audience at the Danube Delta town of Sulina last week he backed the Rosia Montana gold and silver mining project, given that the world gold prices had risen so high, but that the state’s profit-sharing arrangements with Gabriel need to be changed, ACTMedia said.

“I think the Rosia Montana project must be made,” he said. “Romania needs it, on condition that the terms relating the sharing of the benefits from the operation of the gold and silver reserves of Rosia Montana be renegotiated.”

Romanian Prime Minister Emil Boc also has stated his preference to have the terms of the deal revisited, saying last week he’s awaiting the results of an environmental impact assessment as well as legal opinions on its EU aspects.

“I am no fan of this project for various reasons,” he told Radio Romania Actualitati Friday. “In my opinion, the benefits to the Romanian government are not yet sufficient within the project framework the government has negotiated with the entrepreneurs, and surely it should be revisited.”

Meanwhile, Gabriel Chief Executive Jonathan Henry said he’s encouraged Bucharest seems to be moving ahead with the project.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” he told The Globe and Mail. “If the Romanian government did not want this project, we’d know by now.”