World

World NOTES

May 12 1997
World

World NOTES

May 12 1997

World NOTES

FREE AT LAST: Quebec City businessman Trân Triêu Quân is reunited with his wife, My Thu Nguyen, at Toronto’s Pearson airport after being imprisoned in his native Vietnam for three years. Now a Canadian citizen,Trân was sentenced to 20 years in jail for fraud after he arrived in Vietnam to check on a missing cotton shipment he had arranged. The American shipper, who was paid $1.4 million, disappeared. As Quebec City residents rallied to Trân’s cause—124,000 signed a petition—Ottawa asked Hanoi to free him. As part of his “humanitarian” release, he paid $140,000 and promised to try to come up with the remaining $1.26 million.

Sex, rape and the U.S. military

A drill instructor at a U.S. army base in Maryland was convicted of raping six female trainees in a sex scandal that has rocked the American military. Staff Sgt. Delmar Simpson, a 32-year-old native of South Carolina, was convicted of 18 counts of rape by a military jury of five men and one woman at the Aberdeen Proving Ground. Simpson faces up to life in prison when a separate sentencing phase of the trial begins this week.

Prosecutors portrayed Simpson as an aggressive sexual predator who victimized female trainees under his authority. But defence lawyers argued that the women involved had agreed to have sex. The army’s contention was

that under a concept known as “constructive force,” the unequal relationship between an instructor and trainee meant that Simpson could be found guilty of rape even if he did not use a weapon or threaten his victims.

The trial revealed widespread sexual activity at the Aberdeen base, with drill sergeants competing to have sex with as many recruits as possible. Eleven other instructors there face charges, and more face proceedings at other bases around the country. Pentagon officials worry that the publicity could affect their ability to recruit female soldiers. There are now about 192,000 women in the 1.4 million-member U.S. military, about 13 per cent of the force.

Mandela's Zaïre peace talks are all at sea

As South African President Nelson Mandela attempted to broker shipboard peace talks on Zaire, rebel leader Laurent Kabila moved his forces closer to Kinshasa, the capital. The talks stalled initially after Kabila, citing safety concerns, refused to fly to the South African naval ship, a former Russian icebreaker docked in Pointe Noire, Congo. On Saturday, officials said Zairean strongman Mobutu Sésé Séko would board the ship only after Kabila. Meanwhile, the United Nations prepared to airlift home up to 100,000 Rwandan Hutu refugees from northeastern Zaire. Foreign governments have accused Kabila’s forces of committing atrocities against the refugees.

DEEP BLUE: THE REMATCH

Fourteen months after beating an IBM computer named Deep Blue in a landmark chess tournament, world champion Garry Kasparov sat down again to match wits with the machine’s upgraded successor. The two were set to play six games over nine days in New York City for a prize of nearly $1 million. “The computer is better,” commented women’s champion Susan Polgar, “but Garry is also better.”

SIEGE IN TEXAS

A weeklong standoff by Texas separatists ended after the leader, his wife and several followers surrendered to police. Richard McLaren, 43, selfstyled head of the Republic of Texas secessionist movement, was among those who turned themselves in peacefully. The group had been holed up in a house in the west Texas mountains, 270 km southeast of El Paso.

CHELSEA PICKS STANFORD

After checking out Ivy League colleges, U.S. President Bill Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, chose California’s Stanford University to attend next fall. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton recently said Chelsea, 17, favored a career in medicine, for which Stanford is noted.

HONG KONG PLEDGES

There will be no Tiananmen-style crackdowns in Hong Kong after its return to China on July 1, its future chief said. Tung Chee-hwa told a TV interviewer that “demonstration is part of our culture-they will be free to demonstrate as they please.” Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen, meanwhile, said Hong Kong would retain an autonomy “unmatched in the world.”

EGYPTIAN SANDSTORMS

Fierce sandstorms engulfed Egypt, blinding drivers, grounding planes and killing at least 22 people. The storms, with winds reaching 95 km/h, were described as the worst in 30 years.

JONBENEFS PARENTS TALK

The parents of murdered six-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey broke a long silence to insist that they had nothing to do with the Dec. 26 killing. John and Patricia Ramsey held a tightly controlled news conference after giving separate interviews to police in Boulder, Colo. Prosecutors said they were the “focus” of the investigation.