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The Fate of Ratko Mladic; Interview with Safia Gadhafi; Report on Crash of Air France Flight 44; Saudi Woman Jailed for Getting Behind Wheel; Allegations of Corruption at FIFA; Europe's Super Bowl; Week on the Web

Aired May 27, 2011 - 16:00:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: This is the first image we've seen of him in years. Now, a medical team gives the green light for Ratko Mladic to stand trial for war crimes. For survivors or Srebrenica, his arrest brings hope for justice, but not closure.

Three-and-a-half minute free-fall -- terrifying new details about what happened to Air France 447.

And flouting tradition but paying the price -- a woman in Saudi Arabia sitting behind bars for getting behind the wheel.

These stories and more tonight as we connect the world.

Well, first up, Ratko Mladic may be ill and frail, but he is fit to stand trial. A court in Belgrade today cleared the way for the war crimes suspect to be extradited to the Hague. But he's not a plane -- not yet, at least. The lawyers for the former Bosnian Serb general say the plan -- they plan to appeal. This picture of Mladic was taken soon after his capture on Thursday.

Now, he was arrested in a town near Belgrade after nearly 16 years in hiding. Mladic came to symbolize a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing during the 1990s Bosnia civil war.

A U.N. tribunal in the Hague wants him to face charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

His family, though, says he's innocent and belongs in hospital, not in jail.

Our Ivan Watson is following all these developments from Belgrade and this is his report.


IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the courthouse where the most wanted war criminal in Europe is currently being held. And on Friday, the debate was about the medical status of the man who's been on the front page of all the Serbian newspapers. The defense and the prosecutors offering diametrically opposed opinions and views about his health.

First, his son...

DARKO MLADIC, RATKO MLADIC'S SON: He's in very bad shape. His health is very deteriorating. We are asking the court to send him to hospital.

WATSON: But court officials ruled on Friday that Ratko Mladic is fit for extradition to the Hague.

MAYA LOVACEVIC, COURT SPOKESWOMAN (through translator): We have an official statement by doctors that he has a list of chronic diseases, but he is medically capable of attending the hearing. After the hearing, the court has delivered the decision that he is of sane mind and body and that he fulfills all the requirements to be delivered to the Hague tribunal.

WATSON: Defense attorneys have three days to file an appeal for Ratko Mladic. In the meantime, the deputy prosecutor of the court, who spoke with CNN, told us that on Thursday night, shortly after his arrest, when he first appeared before a judge here, Mladic was angry, abusive. He accused the deputy prosecutor of being a CIA agent.

On Friday, his manner changed. The deputy prosecutor said he received an apology from Ratko Mladic and also several requests from court officials. Mladic asked for books by the Russian authors Leo Tolstoy and Nikolai Gogol, not Dostoevsky and his famous novel, "Crime and Punishment." He also made a request some might not expect from a man who is described by some observers as the butcher of Bosnia. He asked for fresh strawberries.


ANDERSON: Ivan Watson for you.

And he is on the line for us from Belgrade -- Ivan, some 24 odd hours on after this story broke, what is the mood in Belgrade?

WATSON: Well, I think it's pretty much life as usual. I mean people are going about their business. You have to remember that this man, he's been wanted for crimes that were committed more than 15 years ago. Many Serbians were -- were children when some of these atrocities were taking place.

There is discomfort, I'd say, among Serbs that I talked to, some of the -- nobody is celebrating, that's for sure. And there is a hard core group of -- of nationalists, of supporters of Mladic, some of whom have been voicing this support for him as they drive past the courthouse where he has been detained now from more than 24 hours.

But for the most part, you get the sense of kind of discomfort, people not really wanting to be reminded about a dark and bloody chapter of history and the shame at Serbia's role in that history -- that it brings with it -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Ivan Watson in Belgrade for you this evening.

Well, those who suffered under this man are relieved by his capture. But they also realize it's only the first step on what is a long road to justice. Remember, Mladic is one of three high profile men charged with ethnic cleansing during the Bosnia war. Former Serbian president, Slobodan Milosevic, died during his trial at the Hague, escaping any punishment. And the trial of Ratko Mladic still drags on today, years after the former Bosnia Serb president was arrested.

And perhaps nowhere in Bosnia does the trauma of ethnic cleansing run deeper than in Srebrenica.

Frederik Pleitgen visited the town where nearly 8,000 people lost their lives.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A memorial to the worst single act of genocide in post-World War II Europe -- Hida Abdulrahmanovic says she lost many family members in the Srebrenica massacre. She wouldn't tell me how many because she says all of those killed here in 1995 are like family to her.

"I never even tried to count the whole number of my relatives who were killed," she says, "because I'm afraid i would forget someone. You would not find a single family in Srebrenica that has lost less than 10 members."

Hida tells me she's relieved Ratko Mladic, the man in charge of the Serbian forces who perpetrated the crimes, is finally in custody.

"I am both happy and sad," she says. "I am sad because all of those killed here, this is all Mladic's crime. But now that he's in custody, we want him to live long enough to receive judgment for his crimes."

In July 1995, Serbian forces under Mladic's command moved into Srebrenica, a safe haven for Bosnia Muslims under the protection of the U.N., with Dutch peacekeepers on the ground.

(on camera): This old factory was the headquarters for the Dutch peacekeepers in the Srebrenica area. Now, many people from Srebrenica fled into this area, trying to escape from the advancing Serbian forces. However, when the Serbs under Ratko Mladic moved in here, they turned the place into a detention facility.

What followed were summary executions of Bosnian men and boys on a massive scale. In the end, more than 8,000 were killed. Even today, not all of the victims have been identified.

This woman says she saw Ratko Mladic here many times.

"He tried to appear pleasant," she says, "but you could see that he despised us."

She says about 200 members of her extended family were killed in the Srebrenica massacre and she has only one wish for Mladic.

"He will never be punished enough," she says. "the only just punishment would be to leave him with Srebrenica's mothers so they could take revenge."

More than 15 years after the Srebrenica massacre, the arrest of the man allegedly responsible for the crimes has brought this town no closure and those who lost loved ones struggle to move on.

Frederik Pleitgen, Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina.


ANDERSON: Ratko Mladic was a fugitive for nearly 16 years, yet at least in the early days, he was spotted openly in Serbia. Many people later accusing Serbian authorities of not trying hard enough to hunt him down -- or, rather, not trying at all.

Well, last night, I asked Serbian President Boris Tadic about those accusations. This is what he said.


BORIS TADIC, SERBIAN PRESIDENT: I don't know exactly. I don't know exactly. I mean from the beginning of -- of -- of that process, I -- I'm totally sure that people from the armed forces have been protecting him. But after that, he changed the people that were protected him. And on the end of the day, I mean that he was protected by a very small group of the people from his family.

But we'll check everything. We'll investigate everything...


TADIC: -- and we'll announce what happened in the past 16 years.

ANDERSON: Do you believe the military may have been involved?

TADIC: On the beginning, I truly believe that is the case. But on the end of that process, I don't believe that.


ANDERSON: Boris Tadic speaking to me last night.

And a footnote to all of this. The capture of Mladic may help close a dark chapter in history, but the feelings of his supporters die hard and Ivan was alluding to this.

This is the road leading into Lazarevo, where Mladic was apprehended. Look at this sign. Someone taped up the words, "Ratko, hero."

A Serbian radio station reports residents are starting a petition to have the village renamed, or at least the street where Mladic was hiding, to honor the former general charged with genocide.

You're watching CNN.

I'm Becky Anderson in the States for you this evening at the CNN Center.

Up next, will have an exclusive interview with someone very close to Libya's embattled leader, Moammar Gadhafi. And he's speaking to his wife.

And we look at the final moments of Air France 447. New data is answering questions but raising some disturbing ones, as well.

And when European football giants collide -- find out all the latest on a game that stopped a continent -- standard's Champions League final.

That is all after this very short break.

Don't go away.


ANDERSON: It rolled, it stalled and then it plunged -- Air France Flight 447 literally fell out of the sky. Well now, investigators are closer, at least, to knowing why. We've got full coverage of that coming up shortly.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN.

I'm Becky Anderson at CNN Center.

Here's a look at the other stories that we are following for you this hour.

And amid a fresh round of NATO air strikes, CNN's Nima Elbagir conducted an exclusive phone interview with Safia Gadhafi, wife of the embattled Libyan leader Colonel Gadhafi. She's never spoken to the foreign or Libyan meda - - media before.

Now, CNN cannot 100 percent confirm that the interviewee was, indeed, Mrs. Gadhafi. We were unable to use our own phone to conduct the call because of the possibility that the call could be tracked. But the interview was arranged by someone CNN knows to be her office manager and by officials at the Libyan Foreign Ministry.

And this is what she had to say.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You say you want to respond to those who doubt the death of your son, Saif Al-Arab?

SAFIA GADHAFI, WIFE OF MOAMMAR GADHAFI: My son never missed an evening prayer. We had strikes every day and the strikes would start at evening prayer. Four rockets in one house! I was not there, but I wished that I was so I may die with him.

They are looking for excuses to target Moammar.

What has he done to deserve this?

ELBAGIR: Do you feel that you and the leader are personally targeted by NATO?

GADHAFI: My children are civilians and they have been targeted.

What did they have to do with this?

I want them to prosecute NATO. They killed my son and the Libyan people. They are defaming our reputation. They are committing war crimes and accusing us of embezzling billions from the Libyan people. My conscience wouldn't allow such things.

Forty countries are against us. Life has no value anymore.

What would I want with life now?

All I want out of life now is that the truth be heard. By the will of God, we will be victorious. We will live or die alongside the Libyan people. In the end, history will judge us.


ANDERSON: Nima Elbagir interviewing Gadhafi's wife over the phone.

Well, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with the Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari in Islamabad on Friday in an attempt to improve relations following the death of Osama bin Laden.

Now, the raid on the al Qaeda leader's compound has strained the relationship between the two countries. Well, officials say Clinton was pushing for Pakistan's support in pursuit of senior Al Qaeda targets.

U.S. President Barack Obama is in Poland tonight. Defense issues are expected to top the agenda while he is there.

Well, earlier, Mr. Obama laid a wreath at the Warsaw Ghetto Memorial.

His visit to Poland's capital comes just hours after the president met with other world leaders at the G8 summit in France.

Well, the fighting in Yemen is escalating, with that country's air force dropping bombs on opposition forces. You are about to look at some pictures from Sanaa, where there have been street battles between government forces and anti-regime tribesmen.

A senior defense official says air force jets are bombing tribal forces in Naham Province, northeast of the capital. The tribesmen took over two military compounds there, saying soldiers attacked their village.

Well, thousands of protesters packed Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday, demanding faster reforms and a speedy trial for the ousted Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak. Well, the former leader has been charged with the premeditated killing of protesters during uprisings in the country earlier this year. If found guilty, he could face the death penalty.

Well, former IMF chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn briefly left the townhouse where he's serving house arrest on Friday morning. New York media reports say that Strauss-Kahn went to a doctor's appointment. He is under house arrest as he battles sex assault charges.

Now, under his bail conditions, he can only leave in certain situations, including medical visits. His next court appearance is on June the 6th.

Coming up on the show, we are counting down to the big kick-off -- the Champions League final is less than 24 hours away at London's Wembley Stadium. We are with the football fans in the British capital.

First, though, details on the Air France crash. A flight data recorder sheds new light on the last moments of Flight 442 -- 447, sorry.

You are 60 seconds away.

Stay with us.


ANDERSON: "We lost the speed" -- some of the pilots' last words as we approach the second anniversary of the crash of Air France Flight 447. A new report says that the cockpit was getting that information just before the jet plunged into the Atlantic Ocean. But investigators say that the crew may have added to the problem.

Senior international correspondent Jim Bittermann has the details from Paris.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The report describes a rather horrifying plunges toward the ocean from 38,000 feet, the plane falling at 10,000 feet a minute, the pilots desperately struggling to bring the plane under control, but never succeeding. It was always in a full stall configuration, what they call a power on stall, with the engines at full thrust and the nose pitched up slightly and the plane not able to pick up any speed.

In a way, the report seems to cast a shadow over the actions of the pilots, the procedures they followed. But, in fact, an aviation expert we talked to said it's too soon to lay the blame on the pilots.

MICHEL POLACCO, AVIATION JOURNALIST: It is not possible to say the crew was not a good crew or the aircraft is a bad aircraft. I think that there are lots of problems and I think that the authorities, which have certified this aircraft, in the United States, in Europa, have certified something which is not always good or well. And it is a problem of the icing of the props, the pedo props (ph). It is a problem of the flight in very high altitude. It is a problem of the stall of an aircraft in very high altitude. You are seeing all of that is a problem.

BITTERMANN: Some family members of the victims of Flight 447 got a briefing from accident investigators before they released their report to the public. And for the family members, they said it found -- they found it at least somewhat helpful to understand how the last few moments of the flight unfolded.

CORRINE SOULAS, FAMILY MEMBER OF CRASH VICTIM: It's very difficult to -- to live with this kind of situation, you know?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it a measure...

SOULAS: Very difficult. My daughter was 24. She was my friend as well my child. And -- and it's -- I -- I can't believe she's not there, you understand?

Every -- every second she is with me. In every kind of situation, she is with me. So I survive.


BITTERMANN: Family members of the victims of Flight 447 say it's too early to cast blame on any of the parties involved in the crash. They want to hear more from the accident investigating team before they draw any conclusions. There will be another report, an interim report coming in mid-July and a final report is expected before the end of the year.

Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.


ANDERSON: Well, aviation experts are asking why the pilots responded to the stall by pulling the nose up instead of pushing it down to recover.

Well, our Richard Quest went in search of some answers with a flight simulator trainer in London.

Have a look at this.



RICHARD QUEST, HOST, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS": OK, 35,000 feet. Take it away.

CORBETT: You can.

OK, so we're at 35,000 feet and the nose is coming up here if we reduce all of our power.

QUEST: So we do it until the speed goes down to about -- the speed is coming off quite quickly.


QUEST: And the speed has to come down to about -- now, at this point, what's happening?

CORBETT: At this point, what's happening is the plane is climbing. And the -- the red in -- the red bar here, up to about 100 knots, indicates that we're at an under speed stall situation. Notice where the speed is so low, the nose now begins to drop because the plane can't maintain any lift. And what happened is we're now at a 7,000 feet per minute descent, now a 10,000 feet per minute.

QUEST: OK, hold it at 10,000. The stall effect -- the plane is now stalled.

CORBETT: The plane has now stalled.

QUEST: So what -- what -- what did this captain -- pilot do?

What did this pilot do?

CORBETT: He brought it -- the nose up.

QUEST: Show me what would happen.

CORBETT: And what would happen is then the plane will just re-stall, back down to where he's stalling again. And we're now doing 10,000 feet and then it's back down to the ground. The nose is going up in the air and essentially what happens now is the plane now drops and falls to the ground.

QUEST: And what's the conventional wisdom for -- in a stall situation, if you're the

CORBETT: It's to tip the nose back down toward the ground at flight full power and climb back out.

QUEST: Show me.

CORBETT: OK. Only we're upside down, so at flight full power, push the nose back down, air speed increases and we're no longer in danger. We'll drop the nose a bit more and let the air speed increase. And there we go with -- now we're flying back. Let's bring the nose back up slightly. And we're now flying along level flight accelerating away.


ANDERSON: All right. Well, the pilot went on to tell Richard that if the instruments aren't doing what they should, it is a different story. So still plenty of questions surrounding this tragedy.

We're going to go now to a former commercial planet, Jim Tilmon, who flew with American Airlines for almost three decades, joining us out of Scottsdale, Arizona this evening.

Thank you, sir, for joining us.

We've just seen Richard's report there. We're learning about what may have gone on that day.

Put yourself in the cockpit.

What's the atmosphere?

JIM TILMON, FORMER COMMERCIAL PILOT: Well, the atmosphere, depending upon when we're looking at it -- if the atmosphere prior to the time that they entered the storm area was one where they had storms from horizon to horizon, it was one slide line of squall line storms, a very serious situation. The atmosphere, once they got into this mess, was awful, chaotic, confusing, very difficult to figure out the right thing to do.

ANDERSON: You've -- we're learning more, although the -- the full report won't be released for some weeks, if not months.

What was your response when you first learned of at least the -- this early data today?

TILMON: Well, first of all, I -- I want to make sure that I don't fall victim to jumping to conclusions. I was not in that cockpit and a lot of people will have attitudes about this. I guarantee you, they have to temper that with the fact that they were not there. And we -- we have to do the best we can with the information we've been given.

First of all, I -- I think there were some mistakes made.

Were the mistakes all the pilots' mistakes?

No, they were not. I think the first mistake was made probably before they left flight operations in Rio, that was it really a good idea to fly this trip, and particularly to fly a direct flight right through that squall line to Paris?

Were there some alternative routes they could have taken?

They had enough fuel on board. They could have flown -- gone east all the way to Africa and gone north. They had a lot of choices.

But it's very simple and easy to do that from where I'm sitting in this chair.


TILMON: It's a lot more difficult to do that when you're on the scene.

ANDERSON: Jim, we've all flown through storms. You must have flown aircraft through hundreds of storms.

For those who are watch tonight who will be, frankly, petrified at the idea of flying through a storm again, as we learn what we are learning today, what do you say to them?

Are we safe, Jim?

TILMON: I say to them that this was a very unusual situation. These are not inexperienced pilots. This is not an old, outdated airplane. We're looking at a very, very unusual combination of events. And remember, there has, in my view, never been an aviation accident where one thing made the difference in whether they crashed or not. It's always been a series of events that lined up just exactly right to make this thing happen.

You know, when you -- when you combine -- look -- look at this. When you combine the fact that it was a dark night, not a moonlit night, you combine that with the fact that the airplane was being flown properly, not a problem, but for about four hours, into the middle of the night. So fatigue.

Well, was that a major factor?

It was something, because that's why the captain was not in the cockpit. And when you combine all that with the fact that you had a few events take place, like, for example, the -- the pedo tubes (ph), perhaps, freezing over -- we don't know that fact, but it sounds like they froze over. What that does is it robs the crew and the -- and the airplane of some very critical information, air -- air data that tells a lot of the instruments on that airplane what to do and what that -- what they should reveal.

Then, there is some question about why did the nose come up after the stall?

Well, first of all, we want to make sure that there was a stall. And if there was a stall, was it a realistic stall or was it a stall based upon poor data coming into the cockpit instruments from those frozen pedo tubes?

If that's -- if that was the case, they wouldn't even have stalled at all. But they -- they thought they were in a stall. Or maybe it could have gone the other direction. It could have been one where that they got an over speed warning. An over speed warning, in that particular airplane, which is a very sophisticated cockpit, it tells the cockpit instruments and everything else that, hey, we're going too fast. So if that's the case, it raises the nose so it has the possibility of slowing down and saving the airplane.

That's wonderful stuff if that's what happened. But that may be not what - - may not be what happened.

Now, the nose comes up, that aggravates the stall -- let me say this to you. There is something called a coffin corner, something no pilot wants to get into. That's where you have -- let's use this finger and say that finger represents the high speed indicator. You don't want to go over that speed. Here's a finger that represents the low speed or the stall warning.

When that -- that begins to close and those two limits begin to approach each other, you're in the coffin corner. You don't want to go too slow, you don't want to go too fast.

Let's say that the -- the nose comes up, the airplane thinks it's going too fast, the throttles go back or they are pulled back, whatever, to slow down, but you also have a stall warning. And there's nothing more confusing to have those two warnings going off at the same time -- I'm going too fast, I'm going too slow.

Which one do I believe?

ANDERSON: All right...

TILMON: What do I do as a result of this?

ANDERSON: Jim, an absolute pleasure.

Thank you very much, indeed, for joining us this evening with some expert insight into just what may -- may have happened.

TILMON: Thank you.

ANDERSON: Well, coming up on the show, she dared to get behind the wheel in Saudi Arabia. Well, now she is behind bars. But that hasn't stopped other women. Up next, why this woman's detention has ramped up a campaign for the right to drive.


ANDERSON: You're back with CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. I'm Becky Anderson at CNN Center for you this evening.

Coming up, jailed for getting behind the wheel. The female activist who defied authorities in Saudi Arabia and now could risk losing her five-year- old son.

Plus, let's call it Europe's Super bowl moment, shall we? More on the football game that brings a continent to a standstill.

And it's Friday, and that means we are taking a look at which videos you've been clicking onto. How Lady Gaga brought down a website. That story is just ahead.

That's the next 30 minutes for you. Before that, let's get you, as ever at this point, a quick check of the headlines here on CNN.

A Serbian court has cleared the way for war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic to be extradited to the Hague. Doctors say he's ill and frail, but fit enough to stand trial. The former Bosnian-Serb leader was detained on Thursday, and this is the first photo we've seen of him in years.

A combination of human error and equipment failure may be to blame for the 2009 crash of Air France Flight 447. A new report out indicates pilots were getting bad information on air speed and made the problem worse by attempting to pull out of what's known as a stall.

In a diplomatic shift, Russia's president has called on Moammar Gadhafi to give up power. Speaking at the G-8 summit in France, Dmitry Medvedev says that the Libyan leader will not be given shelter. Moscow has been a strong critic of the NATO-led mission, arguing that the scope of the air campaign exceeds a mandate approved by the United Nations.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the strained ties between Washington and Pakistan have reached what she calls a "turning point." In a brief visit to Islamabad, she emphasized that it is up to Pakistan's government to take decisive steps against insurgents.

And the former IMF chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, briefly left his Manhattan apartment on Friday. New York media say that he was attending a doctor's appointment. He's under house arrest, of course, out on bail as he faces sexual assault charges.

And those are your headlines this hour.

Women's rights around the world was just one of the many issues US president Barack Obama raised in his foreign policy speech last week. Here's a reminder of what he had to say.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: History shows that countries are more prosperous and more peaceful when women are empowered. And that's why we will continue to insist that universal rights apply to women as well as men.


ANDERSON: Right now in Saudi Arabia, universal rights do not apply to women as well as men, and it's a sad fact that has been highlighted well through the story of Manal al Sharif.

Now, earlier this month, CONNECT THE WORLD brought you a special report on Saudi women drivers. Manal is just one of many who've recently joined a campaign for women to be able to drive.

While there are no traffic laws that make it illegal in Saudi Arabia, there are religious edicts that are often interpreted as a ban.

Well, Manal wasn't afraid to stand up for her rights. She filmed herself driving and posted the video online. But now, she is paying the price. Atika Shubert following her story for you.



ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was this image that put Manal al Sharif in jail. The single mother and IT specialist did something most women take for granted. She drove her car.

In Saudi Arabia, driving as a woman is a revolutionary act. Manal was part of Women 2 Drive, an initiative demanding the right for women to drive and travel freely in Saudi Arabia.

She posted this video on the web and spoke to CNN just before her arrest.

MANAL AL SHARIF, WOMEN 2 DRIVE: We have a saying in Arabic. (Speaks in Arabic) "The rain starts with a drop." So, this thing is a really symbolic thing for us women, driving. A very basic need, very insignificant right for us.

SHUBERT: An "insignificant right" that landed Manal in jail for more than a week. Police will not say how long she will be held. She has not been charged. Her lawyer has been barred from seeing her.

Human rights campaigners say she is being threatened with losing her job and worse, losing custody of her five-year-old boy.

DINA EL MAMOUN, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: We would like to see Manal al Sharif released immediately, unconditionally. Any charges against her should be dropped, and no other women should be arrested simply for challenging a discriminatory practice.

SHUBERT: If the arrest was intended to stop women to drive, it has not. Several Saudi women have followed Manal into the driver's seat and uploaded their videos onto the web.

Facebook and Twitter accounts in support of Manal have bloomed, with thousands of supporters, many of whom are men, tired of being the only transportation available for their wives and daughters, sisters, and mothers.

But her opponents have also taken to cyberspace. This Facebook page urges men to beat any women they see driving.

But the most serious denouncements have come from the mosques. In this address, posted on YouTube, Sheif Abdul-Rahman al-Barrak, one of Saudi's top clerics, condemned women drivers as, quote, "opening the wide door of evil."


SHUBERT: He concluded his remarks by saying, quote, "God willing, these women will die."

There is now a petition signed by hundreds of Saudis urging Saudi's king Abdullah to release Manal. So far, the king has stayed silent.

But it was this interview with ABC's Barbara Walters in 2005 that inspired many Saudi women to believe that the monarch supported their right to drive.

ABDULLAH BIN ABDUL-AZIZ AL SAUD, KING OF SAUDI ARABIA (through translator): Women -- I believe strongly in the rights of women, because women -- my mother is a woman, my sister is a woman, my daughter is a woman, my wife is a woman. And I was born of a woman, just as a woman emerged out of a man at the time of creation.

I believe the day will come when women drive.

SHUBERT: Six years since those words, and nothing has changed. Manal al Sharif may be in jail, but as these homemade videos show, it has not stopped the demand and the determination for change. Atika Shubert, CNN, London.


ANDERSON: We spoke with several women, today, who were too fearful to be interviewed about this subject, but my next guest is not one of them. Eman al-Nafjan is a teacher and PhD student in Riyadh who writes a blog under the name "Saudiwoman." Like many in Saudi Arabia, she, too, has a driver, and she joins me now on the phone.

First, your reaction to Manal's story.

EMAN AL-NAFJAN, BLOGGER, "SAUDIWOMAN": I feel bad for Manal, and I don't think that she should be in prison. She didn't do anything. We were a country based on Islam, and she didn't do anything against Islam by driving.

When she drove, she drove with her brother, and she was decently dressed. There's nothing, nothing in Islam that says she can't do that.

ANDERSON: Would the majority of men, do you think, really object to women driving in Saudi Arabia?

NAFJAN: Actually, I don't believe so. Maybe 20 years ago, yes, when the first protests began. But now, things have changed. The economy has changed. People have opened their eyes to the rest of the world. The mentalities have changed.

I think that most Saudis would -- men and women --

ANDERSON: Listen --

NAFJAN: -- would love to be able to have women drive.

ANDERSON: Listening to the king in Atika's report, there, being interviewed by Barbara Walters, you'd be forgiven for being confused. He says the day will come when women will drive in Saudi. Do you believe that?

NAFJAN: I remember when it was first shown, the interview. There was a lot of hope and optimism. People were talking about it, and they were saying, "Oh, the decision is going to come, it's going to come! We're just waiting for the announcement."

And then, we waited one year. A second year. And it just didn't come.

ANDERSON: Documents given to WikiLeaks earlier show that the Obama administration actually pushed Saudis to give female citizens more rights.

When you heard Obama's speech last week, talking about -- lauding the rights of women, but making absolutely no reference to Saudi Arabia nor to human rights there or the denial of right for anybody, what did you think?

NAFJAN: I didn't think anything. I mean, we live in a global community. And supporting each other is part of that. But really, I believe this is an internal issue that needs to be resolved internally.

Giving it media attention might help it come up -- rise up to the top, and that's good. But no outside sources will be able to resolve this. This is something for Saudis.

ANDERSON: Eman, we absolutely appreciate you being with us this evening and listening to your words. You're making a lot of sense. Thank you for that.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. When we come back, one of the most powerful people in sport is included in a bribery probe as football's governing body confirms its chief, Sepp Blatter, has a case to answer. We take a look at what the timing of this investigation could mean for the president's chances of reelection. Football's shame, that coming up.


ANDERSON: At 42 minutes past the hour here in the States, you're back with CONNECT THE WORLD.

Corruption, collusion, double-dealings. It may have all the makings of an excellent novel but, in fact, it's just football. The crisis-torn body that runs the world's biggest sport has been plunged into yet another scandal. This time, it's bribery allegations, which run all the way to the top.

Now, FIFA's ethics committee is opening proceedings against its chief, Sepp Blatter. Now, what's also interesting is a new call for football's most powerful man to be investigated. For more on this, let's bring in a "World Sport" anchor, Patrick Snell.

What an organization this is. We cannot forget how powerful it is around the world. So, what's going on?

PATRICK SNELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is FIFA, the global force, really, behind world football. And all kinds of sort of goings-on in the buildup to the forthcoming FIFA presidential elections.

Mohammed bin Hammam, who's going to contest the FIFA presidentship, basically going up against the current incumbent, Sepp Blatter, early in the last few days been reporting that facing his own allegations, Becky, these bribery allegations against him.

He is now calling for Sepp Blatter himself, the current FIFA president, to be included into the investigations, basically into the dealings himself, calling for Blatter to become part of the whole process. And this is the last thing that people want, basically, in these crucial days.

ANDERSON: And how does this affect this presidential election? There's only two candidates, after all, and both of them now seem to be embroiled in this.

SNELL: Right. We're now getting claim and counter-claim. And as Sepp Blatter has said, it's only football, the global family of football, if you like, that is suffering.

The reputation of the game has taken one knock after another, and FIFA really just needs to get through this. This mess needs to be sorted out, because it's the whole image that has been so sadly tarnished. It's been one allegation, one claim, counter-claim, after another.

ANDERSON: Isn't it -- there's only going to be a certain period of time before the public's confidence in this organization collapse -- collapses completely, isn't it?

SNELL: Right. I mean, we are just, what? Less than a year since South Africa staged its first ever World Cup, something that Sepp Blatter takes enormous personal pride in, bringing the World Cup, the FIFA World Cup to Africa.

We're less than a year on from that, and now, this. This embroilment, if you like, of the game, for the good of the game, President Blatter's always talking about that. This is certainly not for the good of the game. This is for -- to the detriment of the game.

And people -- yes, you look on the social websites, Twitter, all around the world, people are suffering. They just want to look forward to what is -- look, on the European calendar, at least, a hugely significant weekend. I know, we're getting to that in just a moment.


SNELL: The European Cup final between United --

ANDERSON: Don't step on my perch.

SNELL: -- and Barcelona, but this is -- this is meant to be a weekend of celebration playing out against this backdrop of what's going on at FIFA house.

ANDERSON: Yes. It's all about the beautiful game at the end of the day, isn't it? Patrick, it's a pleasure. Thank you.

Football politics aside, then, what many of you do want to hear about is that game and, this Saturday, two iconic teams, each boasting a history and tradition that stands generations, will go head-to-head for European club football's biggest prize.

"World Sport's" Alex Thomas takes a look at just what is at stake.


ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Barcelona versus Manchester United is a dream final for European football bosses. Two of the sport's biggest brands contesting its most-prestigious club competition at an historic and world-famous venue.

GEOFF HURST, 1966 WORLD CUP WINNER: It's a really fantastic venue for a fantastic gaming prospect.

RAY WILKINS, FORMER MIDFIELDER, MANCHESTER UNITED: There's some really, really talented footballers in there, so, I think we're in for one of the best games we've seen for a while, there.

THOMAS: This will be a battle between the champions of Spain and England. The tournament's highest scorers against the side with the best defensive record.

The strength of both Barcelona and Manchester United is their teamwork. But each side has individual stars.

Barca's biggest is Lionel Messi, the 23-year-old from Argentina, current world player of the year, and top scorer in this season's Champions League.

Manchester United's match winner could be Wayne Rooney, the 25-year-old England striker has only three goals in the competition so far but, like Messi, can turn a game with one moment of brilliance.

ANDREW COLE, FORMER STRIKER, MANCHESTER UNITED: Messi's in a league of his own. We all sit there and we watch him play on a Saturday in the league or we draw just how good he is.

And that's what special players are. You look at it and say, "Oh. I wish I was as good as that one, maybe." And Wayne Rooney's definitely out there.

THOMAS: Wembley is a fitting venue for the final, arguable the most famous football stadium in the world and a special place for both clubs.

THOMAS (on camera): This is where Manchester United were first crowned kings of European football back in 1968. And 24 years later, it's also where Barcelona won the tournament for the first time in their history.

LUIS FIGO, FORMER WINGER, BARCELONA: This is beautiful. To play the best club competition in a cathedral of sports.

PETER CECH, GOALKEEPER, CHELSEA: I think the special thing about Wembley is, obviously, the size and the history.

THOMAS (voice-over): As a sporting spectacle, the champions league varies year to year, but its commercial value is on a definite upward curve. Global companies are cuing up to sponsor a tournament with an estimated worldwide TV audience of more than 300 million people. And that's just for the final.

ALEXIS NASARD, CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SPONSORS, HEINEKEN: We get awareness and we get brand image, which ultimately reflects itself in sales. This property, which is the Champions League, is broadcasting to 120 countries, and about 4 billion people seek every season.

That is quite a lot of footprint, and ultimately translates itself into these measures.

THOMAS: The Champions League is profitable for the teams, too. They receive around $70 million in prize money, while other research suggests the total value to the champions is more than double that amount. Although the most important number is all is the final score. Alex Thomas, CNN, London.


ANDERSON: All right. Well, it's being called the most lucrative final in European Cup football history, and here is why. The viewership. Think bigger than the Super bowl. It beats figures for America's iconic football event back in 2009, and this year UEFA hopes it will top 300 million viewers.

Popularity. It's thought a quarter of the Spanish population follow Barca, they've got about 1300 registered supporters globally, as well.

And Man U have long been recognized as the most supported football team in the world, its Facebook page being the fastest growing of any sports site, reaching 2.4 million followers in just two months.

Now, all of this adds up to money, money, money for the advertisers, the clubs, and the players, of course. A sponsor report estimates that the teams will collectively scoop up around $285 million based on a combination of prize money, increased sport value, media rights, and branding.

And that is critical, given the pallor state of many clubs' finances, not least those of Man U. But instead of just telling you how hot this game is going to be, let's show you what the football fanatics really think of it. Alex Thomas is down at the fan zone in London's Hyde Park. How's the atmosphere there, young man?

THOMAS: Yes, Becky, I can't claim to be a football fanatic, but I've got one other number for you, and that's 100,000. It's the estimation by UEFA, the organizers, as to how many people have flooded into London ahead of this huge, huge match.

It looks stark behind me, but if you tuned into CNN earlier, you'll see the UEFA Champions festival was lively. There are still people around, it doesn't close for another three quarters of an hour. I've dragged Ivan and Ian out, two lifelong Barcelona and Manchester United fans who spoke to me.

Ivan, you've not had to come far, because you lived in London anyway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's correct, East London.

THOMAS: But you must be excited about this match as much as the rest of us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very, very excited.

THOMAS: What's going to happen?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we probably, on a good day, we're going to have it. But I think it's going to be the closest match we'll ever have for a final.

THOMAS: Ivan, giving Manchester United respect, here. And you come up from the south coast to enjoy the atmosphere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I had to come down, see what was going on, take in all the sights, just get the party atmosphere going.

THOMAS: But neither of you have got tickets, but what do you expect to see wherever you'll be watching it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I'm hoping Vidic and Ferdinand can keep their forwards a bit quiet, and then Hernandez can pop up with a goal. Lovely sport, frugal by Valencia, think he'll get on the end of it, pop it in the back corner, and that'll win it.

THOMAS: Obviously, I expect you both to go for your two teams, fair enough. You played in 2009. How are these sides different?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they're both much, much better than they were. I think they both became much stronger times. But I've got a feeling that Barcelona's a step ahead of everybody else at the moment.

THOMAS: And Ivan, you've seen English football, you used to be living here. What's the --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love English football.

THOMAS: -- atmosphere going to be like? Because --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they're going to be crazy.

THOMAS: -- the Barca fans --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the English fans are probably the best in the world. I totally admire them. They travel everywhere they go. And it's just going to be amazing tomorrow.

THOMAS: And United supporters will hold their own, won't they, Ian?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes. They -- it's mental. The crowd, the noise they can generate. I mean, just even at the weekend, it was against Blackpool. Blackpool fans are really loud because they're going down, but the United fans still managed to drown them out. Big party atmosphere there at Old Trafford on Sunday.

THOMAS: That's right. Manchester United, English champions, of course, Becky. We know Barcelona, Spanish champions --


THOMAS: -- again. Guardiola, when he won in 2009, won every competition going. It's all set up for a mouthwatering prospect, isn't it?

ANDERSON: Yes. Absolutely. And I've got to give you a metaphorical wager. I think Chicharito, he's a Mexican, of course, who plays for Man U, I reckon he's going to score first. And I'm wagering Man U to win this, but it's going to be a fantastic match.

Thank you very much, indeed, Alex Thomas with some fanatics, there. They call it "mental."

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. Coming up after the break, a force so strong she brought down one of the world's largest websites. Phil Han explains all in our Week on the Web. That is up next after this.


ANDERSON: From pop stars to puppies and even popping the question, Phil Han takes a look for us at what is hot online.


PHIL HAN, CNN DIGITAL PRODUCER: It's been another great week across social media, and this is the place where we want to bring you up to date with everything from the Week on the Web.

HAN (voice-over): First up, though, we all know how powerful Lady Gaga can be, but her force was so strong, it brought down Amazon.


HAN: Lady Gaga's new album, "Born This Way" was available for download on the site for just 99 cents, but demand was so high that it brought crashing down.

Gaga fans, or little monsters as they're known, berated Amazon for failing to keep up with the demand.

Lady Gaga was also in the news for teaming up with Google. The singer appeared in this ad to promote the Chrome browser. There's also reports that Lady Gaga might be in talks to be the new face of Google Chrome laptop.


HAN: A new trailer has just been released for the new "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III." The first-person shooter game is one of the most successful series on the planet. Last year, "Call of Duty: Black Ops" was released and broke nearly every gaming record.

Now, onto something a bit lighter. This video on YouTube is getting lots of attention. It shows the first year of a German Shepherd named Dunder from eight weeks old to one year. And that's all in just 40 seconds.


HAN: This video was just uploaded yesterday and it's gotten nearly half a million hits in just 24 hours. Now, it doesn't show anything special or different. All it shows is the love between a mother cat and her kitten.

HAN (on camera): Now, we've all seen our fair share of original and weird wedding proposals online, but I think this one takes the cake for being one of the most original.

Now, Ginny is taken to the movies to see "Fast Five." But after a preview for "The Hangover II," a trailer that seems to include her boyfriend Matt suddenly pops on.

He decides to propose by first showing a video asking for her father's permission.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- you know that I love her, too, and I am by no means trying to steal her away from you.

HAN (voice-over): And then promptly rushes into the theater in real time. In front of 100 strangers, Ginny says yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you marry me?


HAN: And finally, this video is your everyday cooking show and tell with two little kids. Now, they're trying to do something as simple enough as making a fruit salad, and they seem to have all the ingredients. Well, except almost forgetting the blueberries.

Now, things are going well and good, and then, all of a sudden, this happens.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Blueberries, blueberries --


HAN: Not to worry, though. She was all right. Phil Han for CNN in London.


ANDERSON: That's sweet. All right. Now, in the US and Britain, many people are just hours away from a long weekend. Monday is a bank holiday in the UK, and it is Memorial Day here in the US.

One of the touching traditions that is associates with the American holiday is what the team and I decided should be our Parting Shots for you this evening.

Now, this was the scene at Arlington National Cemetery this week as US soldiers carefully placed a small American flag at each of the 260,000 gravestones there.

It's a ritual known as Flags In, and it's performed each year just before Memorial Day weekend. Well, the flags are placed exactly one foot in front of each grave. According to the cemetery, the process takes about three hours, and every available soldier from the 3rd Infantry participates.

The soldiers will stay in the cemetery through the weekend to guard the flags. A tribute to departed soldiers in our Parting Shots for you this evening.

I'm Becky Anderson. That is your world connected this Friday. Thank you for watching. World news headlines and "BackStory" will follow this short break, so don't go away. Good evening.