News In Brief

The only criminal appeals court in Turkey voted unanimously to uphold the conviction of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan on treason charges. But, led by President Suleyman Demirel, key politicians quickly sought to dampen the public's mood - noting that lawyers for Ocalan still can appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. That court announced it would open deliberations Tuesday on a stay of execution for Ocalan.

In Brussels, a spokesman for the European Union called the Turkish court's ruling "a disappointment." "We would like to remind Turkey that we expect" the death penalty to be rescinded if it wants to be admitted into membership, the spokesman said.

A phony letter to leadership council members of Northern Ireland's main Protestant political party was causing deep concern over the outcome of tomorrow's vote on last-ditch compromises in the peace process. The letter, purportedly from Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, seeks to undermine Protestant morale by telling the 860-member Ulster Unionist Council: "You know in your hearts that Britain wants out" of the province "as soon as possible." Sinn Fein, the political ally of the Irish Republican Army, denied sending it. Without Ulster Unionist, backing a plan to time IRA disarmament talks with the seating of a Protestant-Catholic self-rule government is unlikely to get off the ground.

A controversial referendum offered to the people of Aceh province will, at the most, allow them to choose greater autonomy under Islamic law, Indonesia's new president confirmed. Abdurrahman Wahid rejected calls by the military for martial law in the restive province, but said independence was the hope of a minority, which should not be listened to.

"Don't let's go back to yesterday," Prime Minister Jenny Shipley urged New Zealand voters in a final appeal for support before tomorrow's national election. Shipley, New Zealand's first woman head of government, pledged her center-right administration would deliver 4 percent economic growth and 115,000 new jobs if she was rewarded with a new term. But opinion polls indicate she's likely to lose to the left-leaning Labor Party of challenger Helen Clark. The latter has campaigned on pledges to expand social programs, which would be funded through tax hikes.

Plans were in place for the Speaker of parliament to assume the duties of head of state in Croatia as hospitalized President Franjo Tudjman's condition was pronounced grave by his physicians. Legislators amended the Constitution to allow Vlatko Pavletic to run the country temporarily, even though parliament's term expires tomorrow. The ruling Croatian Democratic Union refused to activate an existing "permanent incapacitation" clause that would strip Tudjman of his powers while he remained in intensive care.

A burning passenger ferry sank as pilots struggled to return it to the port of Yantai in eastern China, and only 36 of the 312 people aboard reportedly were found alive. High winds and waves were preventing rescue craft from reaching the scene.

Compiled by Robert Kilborn and Lance Carden

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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