Families of '89 airplane bombing agree with Libya

Friday, September 12, 2003

PARIS -- Families of the 170 victims of a 1989 French airliner bombing said Thursday they signed a preliminary compensation deal with Libya, preparing the way for a U.N. resolution lifting sanctions against the North African country.

A final agreement will be signed in a month, according to terms of the deal.

The agreement, announced in Paris, is a follow-up to the $33 million Libya paid the families in a 1999 compensation package. But the French demanded more compensation after Libya paid $2.7 billion for the 1988 downing of a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people.

The wording of a joint statement by representatives of families of the French airliner victims and a Libyan charity handling negotiations for Moammar Gadhafi's government expressed the two sides' "common will to reach a definitive agreement."

It was not immediately clear whether a final compensation figure had been reached. No figures have been mentioned by either side.

Spanish judge orders Al-Jazeera reporter to jail

MADRID, Spain -- A Spanish judge on Thursday formally charged a top reporter for Al-Jazeera of being a member of al-Qaida, saying he carried out "support, financing and coordination" for the terrorist network.

Investigating judge Baltasar Garzon charged Tayssir Alouni, 48, with membership in an armed group and ordered him held in the high-security Soto del Real prison near Madrid after a 72-hour extension of his arrest expired, the National Court said. Alouni was not present during the hearing.

"Removed from his work as a journalist but taking advantage of it he carries out support, financing and coordination, which are the characteristics of a qualified militant of the organization," Garzon's statement read.

The charge will be followed by a more detailed indictment. In the Spanish legal system, investigating judges issue the indictments against defendants, who then go to a full trial.

Alouni's wife, Fatima Zohra Hamed Layesi, burst into tears upon learning the news.

Al-Jazeera has been criticized by some Western governments as being too biased toward Islamic militants, but the network's standing among Arab viewers also has given it remarkable access to extremist groups.

Study: Smoking equally kills in rich, poor nations

LONDON -- About as many people are now dying from smoking in the developing world as in industrialized nations, according to the most thorough estimate to date of global deaths caused by tobacco.

The research, published this week in The Lancet medical journal, concludes that 4.83 million people died from smoking worldwide in 2000 -- 2.41 million in developing countries and 2.43 million in rich nations.

Experts say the study will likely spur governments -- especially those in developing countries -- to pursue anti-smoking health policies.

"The policies and legislative activities within countries frequently only happen when it becomes obvious that the epidemic is actually happening in that country," said Dr. Michael Thun, head of epidemiology at the American Cancer Society, who was not involved in the study. "Things which happen elsewhere are easily dismissed ... This is an important early effort to develop these estimates."

-- From wire reports

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