Top judge in Argentina fights calls to step down

Saturday, June 7, 2003

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- The Supreme Court's leading justice on Friday dismissed calls from Argentina's president to step down, accusing the new leader of undermining the country's democratic institutions.

The comments by Supreme Court president Julio Nazareno were the latest salvo in a showdown between the country's top justices and President Nestor Kirchner, who has urged lawmakers to resume impeachment hearings against the highly unpopular court.

Kirchner, who took office two weeks ago, has accused the court of political bias in its rulings as part of an effort to stave off congressional investigation into accusations of graft among the panel's nine members.

The president's appeal for reforming the Supreme Court has alarmed some legal experts, who have questioned his authority in making a public call for the resignation of Argentina's top justices.

Zimbabwe opposition leader jailed for treason

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Police arrested Zimbabwe's main opposition leader and charged him with treason Friday as hundreds of security forces took control of the streets of the capital and prevented marches demanding the resignation of President Robert Mugabe.

Morgan Tsvangirai was arrested just after he vowed to continue protests -- only now without warning.

But Tsvangirai acknowledged that the unprecedented security crackdown had thwarted huge street demonstrations his opposition movement had planned for Friday to cap five days of strikes and protests.

Government forces have resorted to beating protesters, firing warning shots in the air and opening fire with water cannons and tear gas to break up demonstrations this week. The strikes have ground the battered economy to a halt in the biggest opposition challenge to Mugabe's 23-year authoritarian rule.

Poles look likely to OK joining European Union

WARSAW, Poland -- No less a moral authority than Pope John Paul II has urged fellow Poles to support a weekend referendum on joining the European Union.

He's been backed by leaders of a half-dozen EU nations, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who have visited Poland urging a yes vote.

Even President Bush sought to reassure Poles during a visit to Krakow last week that joining the EU did not mean choosing between Europe and the United States, deeply divided over the war in Iraq.

The timely message -- a week before the referendum -- sent an important signal to Poles caught in the middle of trans-Atlantic tensions for sending troops to the Iraq war.

"I see absolutely no reason to choose between Mom and Dad. Mom and Dad are equally important in the family," former Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski told German radio this week.

Forced prostitution case draws criticism by U.S.

PODGORICA, Serbia-Montenegro -- The U.S. government criticized authorities in Montenegro on Friday for not indicting anyone in the case of a woman who alleged she was forced into prostitution by human traffickers with links to top officials in the republic.

A statement from the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia and Montenegro, said the American government was "deeply disappointed" and called for further investigation.

Last year, a woman from the former Soviet state of Moldova escaped from a brothel near the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica, and accused several prominent figures, including the brother of the president, of being involved in the network that forced her into prostitution.

The allegations shook the tiny Adriatic republic and authorities launched an investigation.

-- From wire reports

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