News In Brief

At least three people died as new violence erupted in the capital of volatile East Timor, where pro- and anti-independence supporters were bracing for Monday's crucial referendum on the province's political future. Many others were hurt following a rally in favor of remaining allied with Indonesia. Meanwhile, Indonesia's justice minister said jailed separatist leader Xanana Gusmao would be released Sept. 15 for his "proactive cooperation in the settlement of the East Timor problem."

A potential showdown loomed between would-be reformers and the Congress of Venezuela. The latter vowed to reconvene today in defiance of a move by President Hugo Chavez's Constitutional Assembly to strip it of lawmaking powers and most other duties. Congressional leaders say the assembly lacks the authority to intervene in the legislative branch of government. Chavez, who led a failed military coup in 1992, says a major shakeup of public institutions is necessary to root out decades of bad government.

Local delegations of Serbs and Albanians met for the first time in the key Kosovo town of Orahovac, where Russian peacekeeping troops were prevented for a fourth day from taking up assigned posts. While the session was described as inconclusive, military sources said the Serbs apologized "in their own name for what other Serbs did to Albanians here" and that "both sides are considering future solutions."

Hard bargaining opened between UN negotiators and the government of Cambodia over how to conduct genocide trials for senior Khmer Rouge leaders in the latter's custody. The government has insisted that Cambodian judges should dominate any tribunal, although foreigners could serve in the minority and as prosecutors. UN experts say the Cambodian judicial system is weak and susceptible to political interference. The Khmer Rouge are blamed for the deaths of more than 1 million people in the late 1970s.

An expression of "deep and sincere regret" for 200 years of injustice to Aboriginal people was approved by Australia's Parliament on a motion presented by Prime Minister John Howard. It called the period "the most blemished chapter" in the nation's history. But some Aboriginal leaders called the apology halfhearted.

The last full-time crew aboard the space station Mir is scheduled to leave tomorrow, signaling the beginning of the end for the aging Russian orbiter. As they leave, the cosmonauts plan to switch it to auto-pilot. Over the next six months, the station is to sink into a lower orbit. A "cleanup" crew is to remove equipment and experiments in late winter before Mir plunges back into Earth's atmosphere, where most of it is expected to burn up.

All 92 people aboard a commercial passenger jet were reported safe after a lone hijacker using a fake gun diverted it from Morocco to Barcelona, Spain. The Royal Air Maroc flight was en route to Tunisia when the hijacker demanded to be flown to Germany once the plane was refueled at Barcelona. Police described him as "unstable."

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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