World digest 10/05/02

Saturday, October 5, 2002

Prosecutors: Terrorists planned to blow up jet

PARIS -- French prosecutors believe terrorists wanted to blow up a Moroccan passenger jet last week, judicial officials said Friday.

Anti-terrorism prosecutors opened a criminal investigation Friday following the discovery of explosives on a Royal Air Maroc airplane after it landed in eastern France on Sept. 25.

The inquiry is for "attempted murder and attempt to destroy an aircraft in relation with a terrorist network," the officials said, speaking on customary condition of anonymity.

There was no detonator attached to the 3 1/2 ounces of explosives. It remains unclear how or when the explosives were brought onboard.

Kurdish factions meet in rare show of unity

IRBIL, Iraq -- Lawmakers from rival Iraqi Kurdish factions met for the first time in eight years Friday in a rare show of political unity ahead of a possible U.S. attack on Iraq.

The Kurdistan National Assembly session brought together legislators from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Democratic Party, as well as representatives of northern Iraq's Christian minority.

The assembly was elected in 1992, but this was the first time the full 105-seat chamber has met since 1994, when political tension between the two parties' leaders exploded into a four-year civil war.

Northern Iraq has been under U.S.-British aerial protection since shortly after 1991 Gulf War, when the Iraqi army suppressed revolts by the Kurds and Shiites in the south.

Nepal's king fires prime minister, Cabinet

KATMANDU, Nepal -- Nepal's king fired the prime minister and disbanded his Cabinet on Friday -- the first time since the end of the absolute monarchy in 1990 that a Nepalese king has ousted an elected government and its leader.

King Gyanendra's announcement, made over state-run Radio Nepal, came a day after Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba asked the monarch to postpone November's parliamentary elections by one year because of concerns about attacks by rebels.

In his radio speech, the king said he also was postponing the Nov. 13 elections and would temporarily hold executive powers until a new government is formed.

The king normally holds little power to influence day-to-day affairs of the government. At times of political crisis, however, Nepal's Constitution allows him to overrule the recommendations of an elected government and even remove the prime minister and disband his Cabinet.

Trial of IRA-linked men in Colombia postponed

BOGOTA, Colombia -- The trial of three men accused of training insurgents in explosives and other terrorist techniques was delayed Friday, according to a Colombian prosecutor.

The men -- James Monaghan, Niall Connolly and Martin McCauley -- refused to be moved from their prison cells to the courthouse Friday, saying they feared for their safety, according to a prison spokeswoman.

Friday's hearing was postponed until Oct. 16, said prosecutor Carlos Sanchez. It was not immediately clear if the delay was linked to the defendants' refusal to appear at the trial.

U.N. says Britain should repeal spanking law

GENEVA -- Britain should repeal a 142-year-old law giving parents the right to spank their children because it violates an international treaty, a United Nations committee said Friday.

The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, which oversees a 1989 accord protecting youngsters, called for the repeal of an 1860 law that allows parents to use "reasonable chastisement" to punish their children.

In London, Britain's Home Office denied the law gave a green light to violence against children.

"The law only allows what is reasonable in terms of the physical punishment of children and does not permit child abuse," it said in a statement.

-- From wire reports

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