News In Brief

The establishment of a Palestinian state is acceptable to Israel's government, but only if it results from joint negotiations and not out of violence, Prime Minister Ehud Barak told other world leaders in a letter. Its contents, Barak's clearest offer yet of independence, were made public amid another day of heavy fighting in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that killed three more Palestinian teenagers and a Jewish woman. The government responded by ordering the closure of the Palestinian airport in Gaza until further notice, only one day after it was allowed to reopen. (Related opinion, page 13.)

Eleven Chinese, among them senior local government officials, were sentenced to be executed in the multibillion-dollar smuggling case that is considered the worst scandal of the communist era. In all, courts convicted 84 defendants in the first of a series of trials resulting from the illegal importation of luxury goods and other commodities in the 1990s. Below, in a still photo made from live TV coverage, the former head of customs in the eastern port of Xiamen stands between police guards as his death sentence is pronounced by a judge.

The Suharto family was at the center of two dramatic developments in Indonesia as an appeals court ruled the ex-president's corruption trial should resume and an order was issued to arrest his fugitive youngest son. The Jakarta High Court said a medical exam of the elder Suharto, in which he was found too ill to participate in the trial, provided no clues to "the permanent state" of his ailment, and thus his failure to attend meant only that he "lets go the right" to defend himself. Meanwhile, police raided several family residences in search of "Tommy" Suharto, who remained at large two days after his deadline to begin an 18-month prison term in another corruption case.

At least nine people died and four others were wounded by Army gunfire as they tried to reach the capital for a two-day independence rally in the volatile Indonesian province of Aceh. The demonstration, set for tomorrow and Saturday, is expected to be the largest since an estimated 1 million Acehnese gathered last Nov. 8 to demand a self-rule referendum. Angry organizers accused the troops of using excessive force and maintained that the rally would be peaceful.

A wave of inmate rioting was in its third day in prisons across Serbia despite a promise by the new government to improve their living conditions and seek an amnesty for their crimes. The unrest, reportedly involving at least one death and the rapes of women prisoners, is another in a series of challenges confronting new Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica.

Dressed in men's clothes, the female founder of the radical Japanese Red Army was captured by police as she and two companions left a hotel in Osaka. Fusako Shigenobu had been on the run since 1974 following a series of high-profile leftist terrorist attacks in Israel, Italy, Indonesia, Singapore, and the Netherlands.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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