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MIDDLE EASTTwo Libyans accused by the United States and Britain in the December 1988 bombing of a Pan American World Airlines jet over Scotland are being detained in Tripoli, two Libyan officials told journalists. In Cairo, Arab League representatives met yesterday at Libya's request to discuss the Lockerbie bombing row.... A Frenchman was held hostage for 11 months by Lebanon's Hizbullah Shiite guerrillas without the abduction ever being made public, Radio France-Info reported from Beirut yesterday. Claude Girard was seized in October 1989 and released in September 1990 in exchange for two Hizbullah men held by the Christian Lebanese Forces militia, the report said.

JUSTICE The US Justice Department has asked an appeals court to delay a court order preventing the Coast Guard from repatriating Haitians fleeing poverty and military repression in their country.... The USSupreme Court was asked Wednesday to declare "hate crime" statutes, which are being enacted nationwide to curb intimidation of racial and ethnic groups, a violation of the First Amendment's freedom of speech protection. But in the St. Paul, Minn., cross-burning case, the American Civil Liberties Union argued th at laws punishing trespassing and vandalism are adequate to cover such situations. The ACLU says "hate crime" laws tend to incorrectly focus on the intended effect a person's speech or actions will have on the emotions of a minority, rather than on a particular action itself.... Charles Keating Jr., the former head of Lincoln Savings and Loan and a key symbol of the nation's savings and loan debacle, has been found guilty of securities fraud by a California court.

ECONOMY AND BUSINESS Key private companies in the crumbling empire of late media magnate Robert Maxwell applied to be placed in administration yesterday after the collapse of efforts to find new cash to pay off debts. This is a step before receivership and can sometimes help a company avoid bankruptcy. There was speculation that eventually the private companies as well as Maxwell Communication and Mirror Group may be sold to pay off more than $4 billion in debt. Up to $1 billion in funds is reported missing and Mirror's mana gement of its pension fund assets is under investigation, the Serious Fraud office said Wednesday in London.

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EUROPE Fighting continued yesterday in Yugoslavia while UN special envoy Cyrus Vance continued his efforts to clear the way for deployment of peacekeeping troops. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman flew to Germany the same day to ask Bonn to recognize his republic's independence. Also, the parliament of Croatia formally withdrew its representative, Stipe Mesic, as president of Yugoslavia, a formality after Croatia declared independence from the federation on June 25.

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