News In Brief

Prosecutors notified the German parliament that former Chancellor Helmut Kohl was being investigated for accepting illegal donations in a campaign-funding scandal. Kohl has admitted receiving up to $1 million in cash contributions as leader of the Christian Democratic Union from 1993 to 1998. He has vowed to keep his word and not name donors, even though anonymous party contributions are illegal in Germany. As a member of the Reichstag, Kohl enjoys parliamentary immunity from criminal prosecution. Parliament President Wolfgang Thierse was consulting with other party leaders on whether to allow the probe to go forward.

Hijackers of an Indian Airlines aircraft have dropped demands for $200 million and the return of a Kashmiri militant's body, Afghanistan Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil announced at Kandahar Airport. He said Afghan officials convinced the hijackers to drop the demands because asking for the money and removing a body from its burial ground violate the tenets of Islam. Meanwhile, 160 people - 150 of them Indians - remained at risk aboard the aircraft for a sixth day, prisoners of hijackers who had already killed one of their fellow passengers and have steadfastly refused to release either women or children.

Some 2 million French homes - about 5 million people - were without power as France assessed its worst storm wreckage in at least 50 years. Officials of the national power company appealed for aid from their European counterparts. They said it was unlikely that all the affected households would have power - and therefore, in many cases, heat - restored before the new year.

Turkish officials said an ecological disaster might unfold in the Bosporus after a Russian-registered fuel tanker - driven by severe winds - split in two and sank in the sand near Istanbul. Russian transportation officials said 800 tons of fuel oil had spilled out of Volganest 248 . It was reportedly carrying 4,334 metric tons of oil. Most of the 18 crew members were removed from the tanker, and authorities said those who remained aboard were not in danger.

The Indonesian military took control of security in the strife-torn city of Ambon, as religious clashes between Christians and Muslims spread in the Moluccas Islands. The Antara news agency put the number of people killed in the fighting, which started Sunday, at 63.

A Bosnian Serb general accused of giving the orders to lay siege to Sarajevo in 1992 and to kill thousands of civilians with relentless sniping and shelling pleaded innocent to charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Gen. Stanislav Galic was brought before Judge Fouad Riad of Egypt in The Hague for his initial appearance at the UN war-crimes tribunal on Yugoslavia, following his Dec. 20 capture by NATO troops in his hometown of Banja Luka, Bosnia.

The joint commission supervising a cease-fire in the Democratic Republic of Congo said it had reached an accord the rebels there to lift a blockade around 2,000 allied soldiers at risk of starving in the town of Ikela. Brigadier-General Timothy Kazembe said some supplies would soon be airlifted to Zimbabwean, Namibian, and Congolese soldiers in the besieged town.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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