News In Brief

Chile's Supreme Court stripped ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet of immunity from prosecution for alleged human rights abuses, clearing the way for him to stand trial. The court voted 14 to 6 to allow Pinochet to be prosecuted on charges stemming from his 1973-90 rule, one of the justices said. But even his foes acknowledged that quick court proceedings would be unlikely. Since Pinochet is older than 70, he would have to undergo a medical examination to determine whether he is fit for trial. Pinochet's relatives and lawyers, however, have said the former ruler will not submit to the procedure.

A frontline militant group in disputed Kashmir ended a 15-day cease-fire against Indian troops. A leader for Hizbul Mujahideen leader said the decision was made after New Delhi refused to let Pakistan participate in talks aimed at resolving the situation. India has accused militants belonging to the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba of killing about 100 people, most of them Hindu pilgrims and laborers, in a night of violence in Kashmir last week.

Human rights groups, opposition politicians, and foreign governments poured criticism on a Malaysian court's decision to give former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim nine years in jail for sodomy. The sentence is to begin after Anwar finishes a six-year prison term for corruption that began in April 1999 - a timetable that effectively puts his political career in deep freeze. Anwar had testified during the 14-month trial that Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and his associates framed him in a sex scandal to stave off a possible leadership challenge. Mahathir denied the accusation.

Indonesian prosecutors filed a 45-page indictment against former President Suharto, clearing the way for a trial that is expected to begin by the end of the month. Suharto is accused of skimming $570 million from seven charities he controlled during his 32-year rule, which came to an end in May 1998. His legal team has said he is too ill to stand trial, but the attorney general has disputed that. Although some officials have said Suharto could be jailed for life, President Abdurrahman Wahid has said he may pardon him if convicted.

Under mounting opposition in and outside Sri Lanka's parliament, the government postponed - perhaps indefinitely - a vote on a new constitution. Parliament was seen to be about 12 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass the proposals, which could have devolved power to the Tamil regions of the island in an attempt to end a 17-year civil war. President Chandrika Kumaratunga was banking on the new constitution, which had been under discussion for five years, to bring peace to the country - the platform on which she won a second term in December.

In central Moscow, a bomb ripped through an underground walkway packed with hundreds of commuters and shoppers, killing at least six people, officials said. The blast came the day after security forces had been on alert in case of possible attacks by Chechen separatists to mark the Aug. 6, 1996, anniversary of the rebels' capture of the town of Grozny.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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