This Day in History - July 20
Bosnian Serb cousins Milan (left) and Sredoje Lukic are convicted on this day, 2009, by a UN war crimes court for a 1992 killing spree that included locking scores of Muslims in two houses and burning them alive.


1968: The first International Special Olympics Summer Games, organised by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, are held in Chicago.


1402: Timur, his army, and 32 elephants win the battle of Ankara during his invasion of Anatolia, capturiing the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid I.

1712: The Riot Act takes effect in Great Britain.

1741: Italian composer Antonio Lucio Vivaldi dies on this day. Lovers of Baroque music came to regard July 28 as a black day because the other master of the form, Johann Sebastian Bach, departed precisely nine years later — on July 28, 1750. Incidentally, both men were also born in the month of March.

1808: Napoleon decrees that all French Jews adopt family names.

1810: Bogota rises against Spanish rule. The day is now recognused as Independence Day in Colombia.

1811: The Reverend Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a hero of independence, is executed by firing squad in Chihuahua, Mexico.

1855: First train runs from Rotterdam to Utrecht in Netherlands.

1861: Congress of the southern Confederate States convenes in Richmond, Virginia, after seceding from the US.

1868: Tax stamps are first used on cigarettes.

1871: British Columbia enters Confederation as a Canadian province.

1878: The first telephone in Hawaii is introduced.

The telephone is first introduced in Hawaii on this day, 1878.

1880: The second British invasion of Afghanistan ends; Abdur Rahman proclaims himself the new Afghan ruler.

1881: Sioux leader Sitting Bull, a fugitive since the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, surrenders to US troops.

1894: The Pullman Strike, a widespread railroad strike in the United States, ends shortly after President Grover Cleveland orders federal troops to Chicago.

1913: Turkey recaptures Adrianople from Bulgaria during Balkan War, regaining Ottoman Empire's most important Balkan city.

1921: Congresswoman Alice Mary Robertson becomes the first woman to preside over the floor of US House of Representatives.

1924: Tehran, Persia, comes under martial law after the American vice-consul, Robert Imbrie, is killed by a religious mob enraged by rumours he had poisoned a fountain and killed several people.

1926: Convention of the Methodist Church votes to allow women to become priests.

1928: The Government of Hungary issues a decree ordering Gypsies to end their nomadic ways, settle permanently in one place, and subject themselves to the same laws and taxes as other Hungarians.

1932: Franz von Papen launches a coup against the Prussian Government.

1933: Vatican State Secretary Pacelli (Pius XII) signs accord with Adolf Hitler. In London 500,000 march against anti-Semitism. In Germany 200 Jewish merchants are arrested in Nuremberg and paraded through the streets.

1935: In Switzerland a Royal Dutch Airlines plane, en route from Milan to Frankfurt, crashes into a mountain, killing 13.

1940: Billboard publishes its first singles record chart. (The number one spot is held by I'll Never Smile Again by Tommy Dorsey.)

1944: During World War II, German military leaders attempting to assassinate Adolf Hitler in the July Plot succeed only in injuring him with a bomb in an attaché case — an assassination attempt by German officers that leads to a brutal purge. US President Franklin D Roosevelt is nominated for an unprecedented fourth term at the Democratic convention. Death March of 1,200 Jews from Lipcani, Moldavia begins.

The death march of 1200 Jews from Lipcani, Modavia, begins on this day, 1944.

1945: US flag is raised over Berlin as US troops prepare to occupy Germany after World War II.

1948: Syngman Rhee elected as the first president of South Korea.

1951: Jordan's King Abdullah is assassinated in Jerusalem by a Palestinian nationalist after Jordan annexed West Bank territory.

1954 American tennis champion Maureen Connolly's right leg is crushed in a horse riding accident, ending a brilliant career at just 19.

1958: United Arab Republic, the brief union of Egypt and Syria, severs relations with Jordan.

1968: At Chicago's Soldier Field the first Special Olympics begins, and some 1,000 athletes — all of whom have intellectual disabilities — participate.

1969: US astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin become the first men to walk on the moon after reaching the surface in their Apollo 11 lunar module.

1976: US spacecraft Viking I lands on Mars after 11-month flight and begins sending back clear pictures of the red planet.

1985: Treasure hunters begin hauling off US$400 million in coins and silver ingots from the wreck of the Spanish galleon, Nuestra Senora de Atocha, which sank off the coast of Key West, Florida, in 1622.

1991: Russian Federation President Boris N Yeltsin bans political activity in Russian government offices and republic-run businesses.

1992: Vaclav Havel, the playwright who led Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution against communism, steps down as president after failing to halt the country's break-up into separate Czech and Slovak nations.

1999: After 38 years at the bottom of the Atlantic, astronaut Gus Grissom's 'Liberty Bell 7' Mercury capsule is lifted to the surface.

2004: The UN General Assembly demands that Israel tear down the barrier it is building to seal off the West Bank; Israel vows to continue construction.

2005: Hurricane Emily slams into north-eastern Mexico, knocking out power and forcing thousands to flee small fishing villages after leaving hundreds homeless and destroying luxury hotels in the Yucatan Peninsula.

2007: The Pakistani Supreme Court rules that President Pervez Musharraf had no authority to suspend Pakistan's top judge, and orders Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry reinstated.

2009: A UN war crimes court convicts two Bosnian Serb cousins for a 1992 killing spree that included locking scores of Muslims in two houses and burning them alive.

2012: A gunman hurls a gas canister inside a crowded movie theatre in Colorado during a midnight showing of the new Batman movie (The Dark Knight Rises) and then opens fire, killing 12 people and wounding nearly 60 others.

2013: Americans rally in dozens of US cities, urging authorities to press federal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman, the former neighbourhood watch leader found not guilty in the shooting death of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin. Five employees of an Italian cruise company are convicted of manslaughter in the Costa Concordia shipwreck that killed 32 people, receiving sentences of less than three years.


Francesco Petrarca, Italian poet (1304-1374); Alberto Santos-Dumont, Brazilian aviator (1872-1932); Theda Bara, US silent-film actress (1885-1955); Diana Rigg, English actress (1938-2020 ); Kim Carnes, US singer (1945- ); Carlos Santana, Mexican guitarist (1947- ); Judy Greer, actress (1975- ); Stone Gossard, US musician (1966-).

– AP

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