Brazil: Ferryboat sinks

SAO PAULO — A ferryboat carrying more than 100 passengers collided with a barge carrying fuel tanks and sank to the bottom of the Amazon River on Thursday, officials said. At least three people died, and another 20 were missing and feared dead.

The Almirante Monteiro capsized at dawn near the isolated Brazilian town of Itacoatiara in the jungle state of Amazonas, state fire spokesman Lt. Clovis Araujo said.

He said 92 people were rescued by several small boats and the state's floating police station, a 32-foot vessel that travels up and down the river and was in the area at the time of the accident.

Czech Republic: Life sentence

PRAGUE — A Czech court convicted a former hospital worker Thursday of murdering seven patients and attempting to kill 10 others and sentenced him to life in prison, an official said.

Judge Jiri Vacek said former nurse Petr Zelenka, 31, was found guilty of the crimes against patients in a hospital in the town of Havlickuv Brod, 65 miles southeast of Prague.

Between May and September 2006, Zelenka injected the patients with a drug that caused massive bleeding, Vacek said. The patients had been recovering from serious accidents or operations.

Puerto Rico: Gitmo defense

SAN JUAN — In a stunning turnaround, the former chief military prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay said Thursday he would be a defense witness for the driver of Osama bin Laden.

Air Force Col. Morris Davis, who resigned in October over alleged political interference in the U.S. military tribunals, told The Associated Press he will appear at a hearing for Salim Ahmed Hamdan.

"I expect to be called as a witness. ... I'm more than happy to testify," Davis said in a telephone interview from Washington. He called it "an opportunity to tell the truth."

At the April pretrial hearing inside the U.S. military base in southeast Cuba, Hamdan's defense team plans to argue that alleged political interference cited by Davis violates the Military Commissions Act, Hamdan's military lawyer, Navy Lt. Brian Mizer, told the AP.

Davis alleges, among other things, that Pentagon general counsel William Haynes said in 2005 that any acquittals of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo would make the United States look bad, calling into question the fairness of the proceedings.

Venezuela: Airliner missing

CARACAS — A commercial airliner with 46 people on board was reported missing Thursday over western Venezuela, officials said.

Rescuers rushed to a mountainous region of Merida state as authorities struggled to confirm reports that the aircraft had been located.

The twin-engine plane owned by Venezuelan airline Santa Barbara failed to contact control towers as expected after it took off from Merida en route to Simon Bolivar International Airport outside of Caracas, said Gen. Antonio Rivero, Venezuela's emergency management director.