News In Brief

A Turkish court sentenced Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan to hang for orchestrating the murder of more than 29,000 people during his movement's 15-year separatist campaign. Ocalan had earlier warned of widespread violence by his Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) if he was executed. In response, security measures were stepped up in Turkey and other European capitals before sentencing. Ocalan's lawyers will appeal the decision in a process that could take up to 18 months. No one has been executed in Turkey since 1984.

The Ocalan sentence was quickly denounced by the European Union, which issued a statement urging Turkey not to proceed with the execution. It also said carrying out the sentence would cause further problems in Turkey's efforts to join the 15-member bloc. Turkey's application has been blocked by criticism of the Ankara government's record on human rights.

Today at midnight is the "absolute" deadline set by British Prime Minister Tony Blair for resolving the deadlock over the formation of a joint Protestant-Catholic government in Northern Ireland. Blair was expressing confidence that agreement would be reached as last-minute talks centered on Canadian envoy John de Chastelain's assessment of how ready rival paramilitaries are to disarm. The province's First Minister-designate, David Trimble, of the nationalist Ulster Unionist Party, reiterated his "no guns, no government" stand - continuing to demand that the Irish Republican Army surrender its weapons before its political ally, Sinn Fein, joins the executive body mandated by last year's Good Friday peace acoord.

Despite government efforts to block it , the pro-democracy Alliance for Change staged a massive anti-Milosevic protest in Cacak, 60 miles southwest of Belgrade, the Yugoslav capital. The rally, by an estimated 10,000 people, was the first against the Serbian president since NATO airstrikes ended. Shortly after the demonstration commenced, a pipe bomb exploded 50 yards from the podium, but no injuries were reported.)

Approximately 100 pro-Indonesia militiamen attacked UN staffers and damaged their offices in Dili, the capital of East Timor. Seven people were reported hurt in the first outbreak of violence since international police advisers arrived to supervise security for the scheduled August referendum on autonomy or continued integration with Indonesia.

At a Berlin news conference, Holocaust survivors and heirs of victims were briefed on how $1.25 billion in a special compensation fund set up by Swiss banks would be distributed. Among the benefactors of the 10-month-old fund are those whose slave labor profited Swiss companies and those whose valuables were seized by Nazis and subsequently relayed to Switzerland. This week, a full-page ad is to run in 500 newspapers in 40 countries with information on filing claims by the Oct. 22 deadline.

Edgar Degas's pastel painting of a ballerina massaging her weary feet fetched a record $28 million at a Sotheby's auction in London. Sold to an anonymous phone bidder, "Danceuse au Repos" (Dancer at Rest) went for three times the price of any prior painting by the French Impressionist.

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