The shootout was brief—but it ended the life of a man whose reputation had been forged by violence. Armed attackers killed Zeljko Raznatovic, the Serbian paramilitary leader known as Arkan, in the lobby of Belgrade’s Hotel Intercontinental on the weekend. Thought to be one of Yugoslavia’s richest men, Arkan was indicted in 1997 by the United Nations war crimes tribunal for crimes committed in Bosnia.
A retiring Pope?
German Bishop Karl Lehmann’s suggestion that Pope John Paul II could retire if his health prevented him from doing his job fuelled a growing, if muted, debate over whether the 79year-old pontiff should continue. Italian newspapers said the frail Pope was willing to consider the idea in 2001, after the church’s Jubilee year, which will include a papal visit to the Holy Land.
Ocalan sentence suspended
Turkey temporarily suspended the death sentence against Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan. His lawyers appealed the penalty to the European Court of Human Rights, which asked Turkey to wait until it reviews the case. Ocalan renewed a call for peace.
Cubans march for Elián
Thousands of Cuban mothers marched on the American diplomatic mission in Havana to demand the return of Elián González. The six-yearold boy was rescued after his mother died in the boat in which they fled Cuba, and he is now living with relatives in Miami. U.S. authorities wanted the boy returned to Cuba by Jan. 14. But Attorney General Janet Reno lifted the deadline to give Elián’s Miami relatives a chance to fight for the boy in court.
Harrods loses royal label
Prince Philip withdrew his royal warrant from London’s Harrods department store in a snub of its owner, Mohammed AÍ Fayed. AÍ Fayed maintains the crash that killed his son Dodi and Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997 was the result of a conspiracy and suggested the Royal Family wanted to prevent Diana from marrying a Muslim.
Anger over letting Pinochet go home
Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, whose arrest in Britain energized human-rights activists around the world, received a last-minute reprieve on health grounds. Pinochet, 84, has been under house arrest since he arrived in London for medical treatment in October, 1998. He was held under an extradition warrant issued by a Spanish judge that currently charges him with 35 counts of torture and conspiracy to torture in the late stages of his 17-year rule. But British Home Secretary Jack Straw outraged Pinochet’s critics by announcing he felt the general should be allowed to return to Chile because a team of doctors found him mentally and physically unfit to stand trial. Straw, who would not release the medical report, told Spanish prosecutors and human-rights lawyers they had one week to make a legal case against Pinochet’s return.
By official accounts, more than 3,000 people died during and after the
military coup led by Pinochet that toppled Marxist president Salvador Allende in 1973. Thousands of others say they were tortured during his rule. Straw’s decision triggered protests in London and Santiago, and Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzón, who issued the arrest warrant, said he would ask Straw for more time. But Amnesty International lawyer Geoffrey Bindman held out little hope for a legal challenge because courts have long upheld the Home Secretary’s right to rule in such matters.
Ironically, plans for Pinochets return came just as Chileans were about to vote in a tight presidential election on Jan. 16. Both Socialist-Christian Democratic candidate Ricardo Lagos and right-winger Joaquín Lavin had previously tried to avoid the issue. Lagos, however, said Pinochet “should face trial” if he returns. Pinochet faces 51 charges in Chile, which could be prosecuted if he is stripped of the immunity he enjoys as a senator for life.
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