World briefs 12/4/03

Thursday, December 4, 2003

N. Korea try at capitalism increases hunger, poverty

SEOUL, South Korea -- By dabbling with capitalism, North Korea is creating a new class of urban poor that is worsening its hunger problem, a top U.N. official said Wednesday. About 1 million urban workers have fallen victim as once centrally controlled industries have to cut costs and jobs amid free-market pressures, said Masood Hyder, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in North Korea. Hunger and health woes, traditionally a rural plight in North Korea, are an increasingly urban phenomenon that is likely to worsen, Hyder said.

Alleged cannibal says his victim wanted to be killed

KASSEL, Germany -- A German computer expert charged with killing, dismembering and eating the flesh of an Internet acquaintance made a detailed confession at the opening of his murder trial Wednesday. Armin Meiwes, 42, who lived in an ancient former manor house in Rotenburg, gave chilling testimony about how his fantasy of finding someone to become "a part of me" turned real. Rotenburg is a central German town about 20 miles southeast of Kassel. He described matter-of-factly how Bernd Juergen Brandes, 43, traveled from Berlin to visit him in March 2001 in reply to an Internet advertisement seeking a young man for "slaughter and consumption." He said he got more than 400 responses to his Internet solicitation from people who wanted to join him in acting out the fantasy.

Media workers convicted for Rwandan genocide

ARUSHA, Tanzania -- A U.N. tribunal convicted and sentenced a radio news director and a newspaper editor to life imprisonment Wednesday for their role in promoting the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the first trial of media workers by an international court in more than 50 years. A senior executive at the radio station, Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines, was also sentenced to 27 years in prison for his role in the government-orchestrated massacres of minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus that killed 500,000 people.

Queen Elizabeth, world leaders meet in Nigeria

ABUJA, Nigeria -- Queen Elizabeth II returned to Africa's most populous nation on Wednesday for the first time in nearly a half-century for a two-day state visit to Nigeria before a 52-nation summit of Britain and its former colonies. Conspicuously absent among arriving leaders was Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe -- his nation suspended from Commonwealth leadership councils, and Mugabe himself banned from the summit. Organizers said they want the four-day gathering to promote what they called the "twin engines" of society -- democracy and development.

Companies plan to fund HIV prevention, treatment

NAIROBI, Kenya -- Nine major international companies initiated an effort Wednesday to expand treatment and prevention programs for Africans with HIV, starting in some cases with their own employees. AngloAmerican, ChevronTexaco, Bristol-Myers Squibb, DaimlerChrysler, Eskom, Heineken, Lafarge, Pfizer and Tata Stee will run the programs with their own money and with funds from the Geneva-based Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

U.N. judges question plea bargains for war crimes

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- U.N. judges, handing down a tough 27-year sentence against a Bosnian Serb who pleaded guilty, raised a fundamental question: Are plea bargains appropriate for heinous war crimes? As part of a deal with prosecutors at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal, Capt. Momir Nikolic changed his plea to guilty and gave crucial testimony against his commanders and others accused of war crimes. Prosecutors had recommended a 15-20 year sentence and dropped charges of genocide in exchange for a guilty plea on persecution, a deal the judges treated with some disdain.

-- From wire reports

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