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World digest 08/11/04

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Terror tribunals to take longer than planned

GUANTANAMO NAVAL BASE, Cuba -- Faced with the task of re-examining the cases of some 585 terror suspects, the U.S. military says the proceedings will take longer than initially planned because of unexpected snags in the tribunal process. Officials had hoped to hear dozens of cases a week, with the aim of reviewing all prisoners within four months. But complexities -- having to work with interpreters, explaining the process to the prisoners, helping the men prepare their statements -- might push hearings into 2005. After only one hearing Monday, proceedings were on hold until a session set for today. All of the prisoners are accused of ties to the ousted Taliban regime in Afghanistan or the al-Qaida terror network.

Libya to pay victims of '86 Berlin disco bombing

BERLIN -- Libya agreed Tuesday to pay $35 million to some victims of a bloody terror bombing at a Berlin disco nearly two decades ago, making another step in Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's effort to rebuild relations with the West. The deal, coming after much larger settlements for the bombings of two U.S. and French airliners, does not cover American victims, including two soldiers who died in the blast at the La Belle disco on April 5, 1986. Attorneys are seeking separate compensation for them in U.S. courts. Agreed to by German attorneys and officials of a Libyan foundation run by Gadhafi's son, the settlement deals with 170 non-U.S. citizens, including Germans who were wounded and the family of a Turkish woman killed by the bomb.

Former Bobby Fischer rival asks Bush for mercy

TOKYO -- Former world chess champion Boris Spassky has written an appeal to President Bush asking that he show mercy for his former rival Bobby Fischer and not seek Fischer's extradition from Japan, according to a copy of the letter faxed to media. Fischer rose to chess stardom by defeating Spassky, formerly of the Soviet Union, in a series of games in 1972 to claim the world championship. Fischer is wanted by the United States for violating international sanctions by playing a rematch against Spassky in the former Yugoslavia in 1992. Japan detained Fischer last month. Fischer is currently fighting a deportation order. "He is an honest and good-natured man. Absolutely not social," Spassky said. "I would not like to defend or justify Bobby Fischer. He is what he is. I am asking for only one thing. For mercy, charity."

Arafat evades pledges for reforms, legislators say

RAMALLAH, West Bank -- Yasser Arafat is evading many of the promises of reform he made during a desperate effort to stave off a leadership crisis in the Palestinian Authority, disappointed legislators said Tuesday. Arafat showed no sign of relinquishing absolute control over Palestinian security forces, they said after twice meeting with the Palestinian Authority president. Giving up some control is a key demand from not only Palestinian reformers but also the United States, Egypt and Israel. Arafat's rule has long troubled foreign critics, and corruption and disarray in his Palestinian Authority are seen as stumbling blocks to peace. However, Palestinians note Arafat is the most recognizable symbol of their national cause, and even his harshest critics at home concede there's no one else with his stature in the Palestinian leadership.

-- From wire reports


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