The Week That Was

The Week That Was

April 1 2002
The Week That Was

The Week That Was

April 1 2002

The Week That Was

Carnage at the U.S. Embassy in Lima

A car bomb exploded outside the U.S. Embassy in Lima, killing nine people and injuring dozens.

No Americans were hurt in the late evening blast, which ripped through a district of upscale shops and

restaurants, damaging nearby buildings and cars but not the fortress-like embassy itself, which is set back from the street. For many Peruvians, the explosion conjured up memories of the

guerrilla violence of the 1980s and ’90s, when rebels from the Maoist Shining Path and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement killed thousands. Last week’s attack occurred just three days before U.S. President George W. Bush’s scheduled March 23 visit, for

meetings with Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo and leaders from Colombia, Bolivia and Ecuador. Although no one claimed responsibility for the bombing,

Peru’s interior minister, Fernando Rospigliosi, said he was certain it was directly related to Bush’s trip.

Mideast bombings

With suicide bombers continuing their deadly work, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators struggled to implement a U.S.-brokered ceasefire agreement. But talks were suspended after a Palestinian blew himself up at an Israeli military checkpoint in the West Bank, wounding an Israeli officer. It was the third suicide bombing in three days; 10 Israelis died in the previous two. Israel is refusing to sign any agreement until the attacks stop, and the United States demanded that Palestinian leader

Yasser Arafat make a public statement in English and Arabic condemning the bombings.

The chips fly

After talks broke down in the Canada-U.S. softwood lumber dispute, Washington levied penalties of up to 29 per cent on timber imports from Canada. International Trade Minister Pierre Pettigrew called the move “obscene.” The new levies, effective in May, will bring little relief from interim penalties of 32 per cent. More than 20,000 workers have already been

laid off due to the dispute, which affects $10 billion in annual exports. The two sides kept negotiating in Washington until the last few hours before the U.S. Commerce Department decision. But Pettigrew said U.S. lumber interests remained unwilling to budge from a hard line requiring a high Canadian tax on timber exports, which they insist are priced below market value. Although talks will later resume, Pettigrew said Canada will challenge the U.S. position at the World Trade Organization and under NAFTA.

Burying Alexis

Peter Currie was charged with firstdegree murder in the death of his two-year-old daughter, Alexis. The toddler, whose body was found northeast of Toronto on March 14, three days after her mother, Maureen, reported her missing, was buried earlier the same day. The private funeral featured a police piper and uniformed officers serving as pallbearers for the tiny white casket.

Biting the hand

Amid sniping from critics, Ontario Premier Mike Harris announced

$91.2 million in infrastructure funding for six major Toronto-based arts organizations. Federal politicians, who had planned to make a joint announcement with the province once they had ironed out more details, accused Harris of stoking his ego just before handing over the reins of the province to his successor, who was to be chosen over the weekend. Meanwhile, the Royal Conservatory of Music ($7.2 million) and the Canadian Opera Company ($25 million) noted the money was less than needed.

Going, going, gone

Some 500 billion tons of Antarctic ice-about half the size of Prince Edward Island-collapsed into the sea. The Larsen B ice shelf on the east coast of the Antarctic Peninsula was about 12,000 years old, but it took little more than a month for it to disintegrate into icebergs. Scientists blame a local warming trend-the region is heating up five times faster than the rest of the world.

Guilty in Moscow

In the end, no one believed Andrei Knyazev’s story. The former Russian diplomat, who on Jan. 27,2001, killed one woman and badly injured another when his car swerved onto a sidewalk in a quiet Ottawa neighbourhood, always denied he’d been drinking that day. Instead, he maintained he’d skidded on an icy patch before hitting Catherine MacLean, who died instantly, and her friend Catherine Doré, who is still recovering from severe head and leg injuries. But Moscow judge Yelena Stashina rejected his defence and said he had clearly been “in a heavily drunk condition” that day. She convicted Knyazev of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced him to four years in a penal colony. Friends and family of the two women who attended the week-long trial in Moscow said they felt justice had been served. According to Doré’s husband Philippe, he and his wife wished Knyazev no ill and hoped

Spectator death

Brittanie Cecil, attending a Columbus Blue Jackets hockey game as an early 14th birthday present, walked away after an errant puck caromed into the stands and hit her in the forehead. But the Impact had snapped her head back, damaging an artery; two days later the West Alexandria, Ohio, eighth-grader died of blood clotting and swelling of the brain. Cecil was the first NHL spectator ever killed by a puck, and while many teams have increased warnings in response to the accident, the league itself has announced no new safety measures.

Guilty verdict

A Los Angeles jury found a San Francisco lawyer guilty of seconddegree murder, and her husband guilty of involuntary manslaughter, in the mauling death of their neighbour in January, 2001. Marjorie Knoller had testified that she and Robert Noel didn’t know that their two Presa Canario dogs were vi-

he becomes a better citizen. “With this verdict we can shut the door on ail this,” he said.

Evidence at the Moscow trial indicated Knyazev was so inebriated at the crash site he could barely stand. But he denied he’d been drinking, refused a breath test and invoked diplomatic immunity-the third time he had done so in the four years he worked at the embassy as first secretary to the ambassador. Amid an uproar in Canada, Knyazev was recalled to Moscow and subsequently charged under a section of Russia’s criminal code. Knyazev’s lawyer said he will appeal the sentence, but not the conviction.

cious. But the prosecution said the couple knew the animals were “time bombs.” What sealed the conviction, some jurors said, was the couple’s coldness in trying to blame the victim. Knoller claimed Diane Whipple -who weighed less than either dog-could have easily gotten away.

Co-pilot caused crash

Investigators with the Washington, D.C.-based National Transportation Safety Board said relief co-pilot Gameel el-Batouty was to blame for the crash of EgyptAir Flight 990 in October, 1999, that killed all 217 passengers and crew. According to the report, el-Batouty was alone in the cockpit when he deliberately sent the plaine plummeting into the ocean off Massachusetts’ Nantucket Island. Egypt’s Civil Aviation Authority rejected the report and suggested the crash may have been caused by a tail problem.

The Pope speaks out

Pope John Paul broke his silence on sex-abuse cases plaguing the Roman Catholic Church, saying they were casting a “dark shadow of suspicion” over all priests. The Pope made his comments as scandal continues to shake the church in the U.S. In the Boston area, ex-priest John Geoghan was recently sent to prison for up to 10 years for molesting a young boy. More than 130 others in the area have come forward with accounts of abuse. And in Palm Beach, Fla., Bishop Anthony O’Connell was forced to resign after admitting he molested a 15-year-old boy over 25 years ago.

Carly declares victory

Hard-driving Hewlett-Packard Co. CEO Carly Fiorina appeared to have won her high-stakes bid to take over rival Compaq Computer Corp. The merger was bitterly opposed by members of the Hewlett and Packard families. After shareholder voting ended last week, HP officials claimed their investors had approved the US$20 billion deal by a narrow margin of up to three per cent, although opponents said it could be as low as 0.5 per cent. The final count may take weeks.

More bloodshed in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe

In 1980, Zimbabwe was brimming with optimism. Peace reigned in the country formerly known as Rhodesia, after decades of white colonial rule and a bitter war. Robert Mugabe, a committed Marxist guerrilla, rode a wave of popular support into office as the independent country’s first president. But after 22 years in power, Mugabe retains a strong authoritarian streak and a deep distrust of opposition politicians. Last week, following elections on March 9-11 that Western observers say were fraudulent and marred by intimidation and violence, he moved to tighten his already firm grasp on power by arresting opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and charging him with treason.

The decision to arrest Tsvangirai came as the West stepped up its criticism of Mugabe’s continued

rule. Commonwealth leaders meeting in London moved to suspend Zimbabwe from the 54-country association for one year, while Switzerland froze bank accounts belonging to Mugabe and his closest advisers. There was also growing anger inside Zimbabwe, as protestors launched a strike against the government. Mugabe has dismissed criticism from the West, claiming whites were trying to reassert their colonial authority over the country. But the decision to suspend Zimbabwe was particularly stinging because it was handed down by a Commonwealth committee made up of Australia and two African nations, Nigeria and South Africa.

Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, was freed after he posted bail of

about $40,000. He stands accused of plotting to kill Mugabe-and there is a Canadian connection to the case. The allegations surfaced during the election campaign after Tsvangirai met with Ari BenMenashe, an Iranian-born Israeli who is now a landed immigrant in Montreal. Ben-Menashe, a Mugabe lobbyist, released a grainy videotape that he claimed showed him and Tsvangirai discussing a plot to kill

Mugabe. But the visual and sound quality of the tape is so poor that the identity of the other man is open to question. And Tsvangirai claims he left the meeting after Ben-Menashe brought up the idea of eliminating Mugabe.

Even as Mugabe moved against Tsvangirai, his controversial landredistribution program continued. The president has encouraged gangs of his supporters to occupy white-owned farms. In the two years leading up to the election, nine farmers died in the violence.

In the wake of the vote, another was shot and killed, 25 others were assaulted and 50 evicted from their land in apparent retribution for supporting the opposition. Mugabe says taking the land is part of his plan to keep Africa for Africans, a slogan echoing back to his days as a guerrilla in the country’s war for independence.