News In Brief

A Chilean court ruled that Gen. Augusto Pinochet cannot be tried on charges of human-rights abuses because of the ex-dictator's deteriorating health. The three-judge panel of the Santiago Court of Appeals voted 2 to 1 to suspend legal action against Pinochet, who ruled Chile from 1973 to 1990. A trial could theoretically resume if the general's health improves, but that possibility is considered remote. Pinochet is charged in connection with a military operation that killed 75 political prisoners after the 1973 coup in which he ousted Marxist President Salvador Allende. Prosecutors plan to appeal.

Philippine officials arrested a leader of Muslim extremist group Abu Sayyaf, a man they say planned the kidnapping of 20 people, including three Americans, from an island resort May 27. Nadzmie Sabtulah's arrest was considered the biggest blow yet to the 1,100-member Abu Sayyaf, which is dodging some 5,000 troops on a Basilan island while dragging hostages along. The group is fighting for an independent Muslim state in the southern Philippines.

Israeli bulldozers, backed by hundreds of Israeli troops, leveled a dozen Palestinian homes under construction in Jerusalem in one of the largest demolition campaigns in years. The demolitions provoked outrage and protests in a refugee camp on the northern edge of Jerusalem. Meanwhile, a Palestinian suicide bomber blew up his explosives-laden truck near an Israeli outpost in the Gaza Strip, a day after militants warned that more suicide bombings were on the way.

In what it called a gesture of goodwill, India opened its heavily-guarded borders for Pakistani citizens, promising to ease travel rules, set up new visa offices, and possibly reopen a centuries-old highway that once was the lifeline of the disputed province of Kashmir. New visa regulations are expected to provide hope to thousands of families on both sides of the border, separated since the 1947 partition of the subcontinent by travel restrictions. The gesture comes days before Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf is to meet with Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The two leaders hope talks will break a 50-year deadlock over the disputed Kashmir territory that has sparked two wars.

Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid warned that unless lawmakers drop their impeachment drive against him by July 20, he'll declare a state of emergency and call new elections. Wahid set the deadline, the latest in a series of threats to close down Parliament and rule by decree, after the leaders of rival political parties failed to show up at peace talks he called to end a prolonged political crisis. The military has repeatedly warned that it won't enforce such a decree. Wahid faces impeachment proceedings Aug. 1 on charges of corruption and incompetence.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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