World briefs 11/28/02

Thursday, November 28, 2002

Former Italian policeman hijacks plane, surrenders

LYON, France -- A man who hijacked a French jet in 1999 struck again Wednesday, threatening to blow up a flight over Switzerland with 57 passengers aboard, police said. He surrendered after the plane landed in southern France and no one was hurt.

The man, identified by French police as Stefano Savorani, a former Italian policeman with a history of mental illness, claimed to be a member of the al-Qaida terrorist network and brandished a TV remote control he said was connected to a bomb, police said.

The Alitalia flight landed safely after Savorani, 29, demanded it be diverted to Lyon, France's second-largest city, and that he be allowed to speak to journalists.

Authorities said the hijacker released the passengers in two waves from the MD-80 jet, which had been flying from Bologna, Italy, to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. Savorani surrendered to a French SWAT team and no explosives were found on board.

New Russian pipeline would ease oil shipments

MOSCOW -- Four major Russian oil companies announced plans Wednesday to build a new pipeline system that would make it easier and quicker to ship large amounts of oil to the United States and Western Europe.

The multibillion dollar project would link remote oil fields of Western Siberia with a deep-water port, able to handle super-large tankers, on the Barents Sea, near the Arctic city of Murmansk.

"It will change the course of Russia's oil industry," said Lukoil Chief Executive Vagit Alekperov, who agreed to develop the project with Russian oil giants Yukos, Tyumen Oil, and Sibneft.

The network would begin operations in 2007.

Bodyguard: bin Laden warned of thousands dead

HAMBURG, Germany -- Osama bin Laden told followers months before the Sept. 11 attacks that "we must strike at America" and there would be "thousands of dead," a witness at the trial of an alleged plot member testified Wednesday.

Jordanian-born Shadi Abdellah, 25, told a Hamburg court he briefly served as bin Laden's bodyguard while attending an al-Qaida training camp in Kandahar, Afghanistan, from early 2000 until May 2001.

Mounir el Motassadeq, whose Hamburg trial is the first of a Sept. 11 suspect, also was at the camp and heard a speech in which the al-Qaida leader urged jihad, or holy war, Abdellah testified. El Motassadeq previously testified he attended an Afghan camp, but denied meeting bin Laden.

El Motassadeq, a 28-year-old Moroccan, is charged with more than 3,000 counts of accessory to murder and belonging to a terrorist group. German prosecutors allege he helped funnel money to the Sept. 11 hijackers in the United States.

Ivory Coast army says rebels broke truce

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast -- Ivory Coast's army said rebels attacked government positions in the country's cocoa heartland Wednesday, shattering a monthlong truce in the West African nation. Insurgents said they had no troops in the area.

A spokesman for the 1,000-strong French force monitoring an Oct. 17 cease-fire said his troops had investigated the allegations and found no sign of fighting.

"We flew over the area. There is no fighting or any traces of fighting," Lt. Col. Ange-Antoine Leccia said.

Army spokesman Lt. Col. Jules Yao Yao said the attack took place near Man, a key city in the government-held west of the former French colony.

Students who led protests over verdict released

TEHRAN, Iran -- Four student leaders who were arrested for organizing protests over a death sentence against a prominent university professor were released Wednesday but still face charges of endangering state security.

Saeed Razavi, Abdollah Momeini, Mehdi Aminizadeh and Akbar Atri were ordered to appear Saturday before the hard-line Tehran Revolutionary Court for further questioning, Atri's brother, Morteza, told The Associated Press.

The professor, Hashem Aghajari, has until Monday to file an appeal, but his attorney has said he refuses to do so.

-- From wire reports

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