WORLD

World NOTES

December 28 1998
WORLD

World NOTES

December 28 1998

World NOTES

WORLD

ISRAEL VOTE NEARS

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would call early elections if he lost a parliamentary vote on his decision to suspend the peace deal with the Palestinians. With pundits predicting a loss in the deeply divided Knesset, parties were gearing up for an expected April election. Officials said the peace process would likely be suspended until after the campaign. Netanyahu stopped a scheduled troop withdrawal, demanding the Palestinians fulfill all the terms of the pact.

FRENCH DENY GENOCIDE

A committee of French lawmakers concluded after a nine-month study that France was not culpable for the Hutu government’s slaughter of minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus in 1994. Rwandan President Pasteur Bizimungu insisted France had armed the Hutus despite signs of impending genocide.

KURDISH LEADER FREED

A Kurdish rebel leader was free to leave Italy after a court lifted restrictions on him-a decision condemned by Turkish leaders. Turkey, which considers Abdullah Ocalan a terrorist, wanted him sent back for trial, but Italy will not extradite people to countries with the death penalty. Ocalan’s group has been fighting for a homeland in southeast Turkey since 1984.

CHINA DISSIDENT TRIALS

China said it would put the leader of the fledgling China Democracy party on trial this week as part of an intensifying crackdown on dissidents. Xu Wenli, 56, faces 10 years to life in prison on subversion charges. Two other party activists went on trial last week. President Jiang Zemin reinforced a get-tough policy on dissidents, saying: “The Western mode of political systems must never be copied.”

GOD'S BANKER EXHUMED

The body of Roberto Calvi, the Vatican financier known as God’s Banker, was exhumed to determine whether his 1982 death was a murder or suicide. Calvi’s corpse was found hanging from a bridge in London after a bank with close links to the Vatican collapsed. Roman businessman Flavio Carboni has been charged with conspiracy to commit murder and his lawyers asked to have the body examined.

PEACE ON EARTH« Presidential bodyguards from the west African nations of Burkina Faso and Chad fight it out at the opening ceremony of a summit on—ironically—conflict prevention and resolution.The Organization of African Unity meeting was being held in the Burkina Faso capital Ouagadougou. The fistfight began during the arrival of African heads of state, when the two security teams got into an argument over access to the conference centre. The summit was attempting to broker a peace deal among warring parties in Congo and in other African conflicts.

Justice fails a murdered teen

A murder Bermudan of charged a vacationing with the Canadian horrific teenager walked out of jail a free man after the case against him was dismissed. Rebecca Middleton, 17, of Belleville, Ont., had been vacationing in Bermuda in July, 1996, when she was stabbed to death and sexually assaulted. Police charged Justis Smith, 20, with the murder largely on the basis of evidence given by his close friend Kirk Mundy. Mundy had been with Smith on the day of the murder and was sentenced to five years for being an accessory after the fact.

In a shocking turn of events, the court was told that subsequent DNA analysis revealed that semen found on Middleton’s body was Mundy’s, not Smith’s. And because Mundy struck a plea bargain with the Crown, he cannot be charged again. Ruling that evidence against Smith was too thin, Supreme Court Judge Vincent Meerabux ordered the jury to find Smith not guilty. Rebecca’s father David Middleton sat with his head cradled in his hands during the announcement of the verdict, which will be appealed. “I am very disappointed,” he said after the courtroom was cleared. “I think we know what happened and I think we know who did it.”

Pinochet gets a second chance on immunity

In an unprecedented move, Britain’s highest court set aside its own ruling against Gen. Augusto Pinochet because a judge failed to disclose his links with Amnesty International. The decision rattled the judiciary and stalled Spain’s efforts to extradite the former Chilean dictator on charges of murder and terrorism. The unanimous ruling by a five-judge tribunal means that a new House of Lords panel will rehear Pinochet’s claim that under British law his status as a former head of state gives him immunity from arrest. Pinochet, who was detained on Oct. 16 in London, cannot leave the country and remains under police guard at a rented mansion.