News In Brief
Describing his alleged war crimes as the worst since World War II, UN prosecutors at The Hague opened their case against Gen. Radislav Krstic, the highest-ranking Bonian Serb military officer to go before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Krstic is charged with ordering the execution of thousands of Bosnian Muslims after the July 1995 fall of Srebrenica, once a UN-designated "safe haven." If found guilty, Krstic faces possible life imprisonment. Analysts have said the case is a significant test for the tribunal, which has yet to secure a genocide conviction.
European Union nations gave unanimous backing to Horst Koehler for the top job at the International Monetary Fund after the US rejected their earlier, lukewarm choice of Caio Koch-Weser. Koehler runs the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and is widely respected for his role in paving the way for the euro currency. German officials said a lobbying effort to gain US support for the candidacy would begin imminently.
Underscoring Japan's difficulties in escaping its worst downturn in a half-century, the Economic Planning Agency reported that the country had slid into a recession after contracting for a second straight quarter. It said gross domestic product fell 1.4 percent in the October-December period, the third-largest drop on record. The Nikkei average subsequently plunged 560.47 points, or 2.8 percent, to close at 19,189.93 Monday, but that result mostly was attributed to heavy profit-taking in high-tech stocks.
Acting Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that a top Chechen warlord had been captured and was being held in a Moscow prison. The arrest of Salman Raduyev, if confirmed, would mark the first time Russian forces have captured a top rebel commander since Moscow began its campaign in September to retake control of the breakaway region of Chechnya. Meanwhile, the Council of Europe added its voice to Western criticism of Moscow's actions in Chechnya, accusing it of using indiscriminate force.
Surpassing the expectations of preelection polls, Spanish Prime Minister Jos Maria Aznar claimed a resounding victory over his Socialist-Communist competition. The centrist politician's Popular Party won an absolute majority of 183 seats in the 350-member parliament, which makes the government one of the few leaning to the right in the European Union. Analysts said Aznar, who had ruled without a clear majority for the past four years, now could press ahead with free-market policies.
An alleged leader of the Arellano Felix drug organization, which is reputed to be one of the most violent in Latin America, was under interrogation in Mexico City. The office of Mexico's attorney general said Jesus Labra was arrested during a routine check for weapons at a football game in the Mexican border town of Tijuana. Labra, whose son was playing, allegedly was carrying a pistol.
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