World briefs 7/23/02

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Greeks stunned by suspects' ordinary lives

ATHENS, Greece -- Since police began hauling in suspected members of the November 17 terror group, Greeks have been stunned by the suspects' seemingly ordinary lives and jobs.

One was an electrician. One was a retired printer, another a beekeeper.

On Monday, a prosecutor charged 36-year-old bus driver Thomas Serifis for a number of felonies, including a bomb attack and the 1989 theft of dozens of anti-tank rockets from an army base.

Like most of the 10 other suspects in custody, Serifis, the father of two toddlers, admitted to participating in a bombing and armed robberies carried out by the terror group.

Afghanistan's drug purge program gains momentum

KABUL, Afghanistan -- About 200 spectators watched as soldiers burned a pyre topped with about 20 bags of poppies on Monday, a public display of the government's commitment to purge the country of drugs.

The destruction of the poppies, from which opium is derived, was the first in Kabul. Interior Minister Taj Mohammed Wardak, who organized two drug burnings when he was governor of Paktia province, said the drug destruction would be repeated as more drugs were seized.

German church to step up fight against pedophilia

BERLIN -- Germany will likely see more revelations of sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests, the German church's top official said in comments published Monday as diocesan officials said a priest was forced into retirement for abusing a boy 22 years ago.

Cardinal Karl Lehmann said the church must deal aggressively with sexual abuse and called for common guidelines to prevent and deal with abuse, as well as greater involvement by external experts.

Church officials said last week that four priests in Germany were being investigated on suspicions of abusing children. One priest was charged with sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy in 1998.

-- From wire reports

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