Saturday, June 3, 2000,
Chandigarh, India






THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D
Puppets of Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, presidential chief-of-staff Alexander Voloshin, center, and U.S. President Bill Clinton, right, are in a storage room in the studio of a popular satirical television show, Kukly, in Moscow, Thursday. The episode featuring Clinton was to run Sunday to mark a Russian-U.S. summit this week
Puppets of Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, presidential chief-of-staff Alexander Voloshin, center, and U.S. President Bill Clinton, right, are in a storage room in the studio of a popular satirical television show, Kukly, in Moscow, on Thursday. The episode featuring Clinton was to run on Sunday to mark a Russian-U.S. summit this week. — PTI photo

Clinton, Schroeder differ on missiles
BERLIN, June 2 — President Bill Clinton and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder have pledged US and German support for new Russian President Vladimir Putin, as Mr Clinton visited Berlin before his first summit with the Kremlin leader.

Graft charges against Sharif
ISLAMABAD, June 2 — A Pakistani accountability court today formally charged deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a corruption case, even as the Sind High Court admitted an appeal by the prosecution seeking conversion of his life imprisonment sentence into death penalty in a hijacking and terrorism case.

A treasure trove of Nazi plunder?
VIENNA, June 2 — Legend has it that the Nazis stashed in an Alpine lake vast quantities of gold and other priceless booty plundered during their reign of terror.

8 Tibetan monks arrested
BEIJING, June 2 — China has arrested eight Tibetan monks on suspicion of plotting to kill a two-year-old boy whom Beijing enthroned as a reincarnation of a "Living Buddha," a Tibetan rights group said yesterday.

Court rules against Elian’s Miami relatives
MIAMI, June 2 — Elian Gonzalez isn’t entitled to an asylum hearing, a court ruled yesterday, in a victory for the Cuban boy’s father that shook protesters in Miami’s Little Havana who have been fighting to keep the 6-year-old in the USA.

Latin music giant Puente dead
NEW YORK, June 2 — Tito Puente, the exuberant percussionist and bandleader who rose to stardom during the mambo craze of the 1950s and paved the way for Latin musicians from Carlos Santana to Marc Anthony, has died. He was 77.



EARLIER STORIES
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President K. R. Narayanan embrassing young Chinese dancers after a cultural show at Dallan in China on Wednesday
President K. R. Narayanan embracing young Chinese dancers after a cultural show at Dallan in China on Wednesday. — Photo by Subhash Chander Malhotra

 

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Clinton, Schroeder differ on missiles

BERLIN, June 2 (Reuters) — President Bill Clinton and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder have pledged US and German support for new Russian President Vladimir Putin, as Mr Clinton visited Berlin before his first summit with the Kremlin leader.

"We have both agreed that America and Germany have a great interest in a stable partnership with Russia," Mr Schroeder told a brief news conference which followed some two hours of talks yesterday after Mr Clinton flew in from Lisbon.

"Both of us want to support Russia’s political and economic stabilisation and so make President Putin’s job easier.’’

Mr Clinton’s National Security Adviser Sandy Berger told journalists later that both leaders believed Mr Putin was committed to modernising the Russian economy and, if he succeeded, would help entrench democracy there.

But Mr Schroeder indicated that differences remained over US plans for a missile defence system which Europeans fear may upset disarmament pacts with Moscow and spark a new arms race.

"The President proceeded in a very frank way to present his views on the national missile defence programme and I have stated my concerns," Mr Schroeder said. "We have to be very careful that such a project does not retrigger a renewed arms race."

Mr Berger said Mr Clinton explained to Mr Schroeder he was concerned about how Europe viewed the missile plan, and was taking into account any impact on the arms control regime, but stressed he had to make a decision in terms of national security.

Mr Clinton praised Germany, Washington’s biggest European ally, as a loyal partner.

"The relationship of the USA with Germany has been profoundly important for the past 50 years," he said. "But I think it may well be more important for the next 50."

Addressing one minor thorn in relations, Mr Schroeder, who later continued the discussions with the President at an east Berlin restaurant, said they had agreed to form a task force to help US parents who had complained that German judges discriminated in favour of German ex-spouses in child custody cases.

Germany and other European powers have spoken out against the planned national missile defence (NMD) system for shooting down rogue rockets, arguing it could upset the existing disarmament accords — especially the 1972 anti-ballistic missile (ABM) treaty with Russia, which Moscow has said it threatens.

Mr Clinton, who arrived from Portugal after meeting European Union leaders and holding hastily arranged West Asia talks in Lisbon with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, is due in Moscow tomorrow for talks with Mr Putin.

"No one can dispute the Americans’ right to develop what they believe is right for national defence," Mr Schroeder had earlier told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper.

"On the other hand, we are partners in a common alliance."

The paper said the Chancellor was optimistic Washington would accommodate "its allies’ interests".

There was no mention of Mr Clinton’s offer, made on Wednesday, to share NMD technology — a move analysts have said is unlikely to assuage European fears of damaging relations with Moscow.

Mr Clinton, who promised Mr Barak he would send Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to West Asia next week to promote peace negotiations, will also have less controversial engagements on what is expected to be his last visit to Germany before ending a second and final term next January.

WASHINGTON (Reuters): Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested that the USA and Russia jointly develop a missile shield to protect against nuclear attacks by "rogue states.’’

Mr Putin told NBC News in an interview on Thursday that he intended to put the idea before President Bill Clinton when the two leaders meet in a summit on Sunday.

"Such mechanisms are possible if we pool our efforts and direct them toward neutralising the threats against the United States, Russia, our allies or Europe in general," Mr Putin told NBC anchor Tom Brokaw in an interview in Moscow.

"We have such proposals and we intend to discuss them with President Clinton," Mr Putin said.Top

 

Graft charges against Sharif

ISLAMABAD, June 2 (PTI) — A Pakistani accountability court today formally charged deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a corruption case, even as the Sind High Court admitted an appeal by the prosecution seeking conversion of his life imprisonment sentence into death penalty in a hijacking and terrorism case.

Mr Sharif was present in the accountability court which held its sitting in the heavily fortified historic Attock Fort, some 80 km from here, when charges were framed against him in connection with the private purchase of a Russian MI-6 helicopter in 1993.

The deposed Prime Minister and his former Accountability Bureau chief Saif-ur Rehman, who has also been named in the case, denied the charge on May 12 when they were produced before court.

The prosecution says Mr Sharif has not mentioned the purchase of the helicopter in his income tax returns.

There are 22 prosecution witnesses in the case. Statements of three prosecution witnesses — Lt Col Niaz Hussain Siddiqui (retd), Col Mohammad Zareef (retd) and helicopter pilot Sajid Latif — could not be recorded today and the judge Farooq Latif fixed June 9 as the next date of hearing.

In a related development, the Sind High Court in Karachi admitted for hearing the prosecution’s plea that the life imprisonment awarded to Mr Sharif in the hijacking and terrorism case on April 6 last be enhanced to death penalty.

The court also admitted another prosecution appeal against the acquittal of six others, including Mr Sharif’s brother Shahbaz in the case by the anti-terrorism court.

The three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice Syed Saeed Ashhad issued notices to Mr Sharif and the six acquitted persons.

"Both the appeals filed by the state are admitted", Mr Justice Ashhad said in his order. The court will start regular hearing from June 12.Top

 

Boat crew open fire, kill 5

BELIZE CITY, June 2 (AP) — Halfway through a commuter boat ride, three crew members suddenly opened fire on the captain and passengers, killing at least five persons and throwing surviving women and children overboard, the authorities said.

Three survivors said yesterday they spent 17 hours floating together in the Gulf of Honduras until a fisherman discovered them on Wednesday morning. Others drowned one by one as they waited for rescue.

"They just opened fire like nothing, like crazy. They just shot," said 21-year-old passenger Evelyn Rojas, describing the assault on the boat, "Maria Estela," which had been taking passengers from Guatemala to Belize.

Carrying 10 passengers and a crew of five, the 28-foot skiff left Guatemala’s Puerto Barrios on Wednesday afternoon for the trip through the Gulf of Honduras in the Caribbean Sea to Belize’s Punta Gorda.

Less than an hour into the voyage, as the light craft neared Guatemala’s maritime border, the three mutineers grabbed assault weapons they had hidden under boxes and turned them on the passengers, the authorities and survivors said.Top

 

A treasure trove of Nazi plunder?

VIENNA, June 2 (Reuters) — Legend has it that the Nazis stashed in an Alpine lake vast quantities of gold and other priceless booty plundered during their reign of terror.

Rumours that Lake Toplitz in central Austria also harbours the famed gleaming panels from Russia’s Amber Chamber as well as documents detailing the whereabouts of the Third Reich’s assets have long lured bounty hunters into its depths.

Some paid for the treacherous dive with their life. Not one has yet struck gold.

Now an expedition from the USA using the same expert diving outfit which recovered valuables from the Titanic will begin scouring the lake bed and its canyons next week.

The project is the brainchild of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, named after the Austrian who brought 1,100 Nazi war criminals to trial, including Adolf Eichmann, Chief of Operations in the Nazi plan to exterminate European Jewry during World War II.

"We approached the Austrian authorities for permission to dive and to clarify one very, very important issue," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean at the Los Angeles-based centre. "Namely that any documents found down there will become the property of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre."

The thrust of the dive, spearheaded by US broadcaster CBS for its "60 minutes" programme, is to find historical documents from the Nazi era, including fresh clues on the Reich’s hidden assets and lists of the whereabouts of Jews.

"We’re not in the treasure hunt business. The dive will be a success if we find historic documents — everything else will be secondary," the Rabbi added.

Toplitz is nestled in the picturesque Salzkammergut lake district in the province of Styria and within the Totes Gebirge, or dead mountains, range.

The lake is 2 km long, 400 metres wide and 103 metres deep. The water is devoid of oxygen after a depth of 20 metres and becomes increasingly saline while sunlight soon fails to penetrate the murky depths.

Between 1943 and 1945, the Germans exploited the lake’s secluded position and deep waters for secret underwater experiments with dynamite and rockets.

As the war drew to an end, the Nazis turned it into a rubbish tip. Treasure hunters have found counterfeit pound notes which were intended to weaken the British economy, as well as false stamps, dynamite, weapons and other war relics.

Rumours of sunken treasure were primed by locals who at the time were hired by the German army to transport heavy loads to the lake shore.

"Based on what they testified, something was definitely submerged in the lake — whether it’s a treasure remains to be seen," said Mr Albrecht Syen, landlord of the local Fischer Hut and custodian of memorabilia from past dives.

"There’s official documentation of a large delivery taken to the lake, but nobody knows what happened to it," he added.

The lake is completely closed to divers, but the government occasionally grants permission to professional organisations. The first official dive was by Germany’s Stern magazine in 1959, followed by the Austrian Interior Ministry in 1963.

A German scientific expedition in the 1980s found a treasure of sorts in the abyss — a hitherto unknown worm that survives without oxygen.

Photographs taken by divers showing a large crate with Russian script have fed speculation that it contains part of the Amber Chamber, known as the "Eighth Wonder of the World".

The Nazis carted it off to Germany during the war, but more than half a century later the famed gleaming panels of "Northern Gold" are still missing.

Technical expertise for this latest dive is coming from Oceaneering, the world’s biggest operator of remotely operated vehicles for underwater work in offshore oilfields. The deep sea experts provided much of the equipment to locate the Titanic.

According to a provisional schedule, the expedition is split into two parts. In the first a team of five will sketch a map of the lake’s bed using a video and sonar equipped remotely operated vehicles. If objects are sighted, then phase two will bring them to the surface.

Local Mayor Josef Amon is optimistic the divers will discover a fair amount due to their advanced technology, which allows them to explore parts of the bed that have yet to be seen and to retrieve any items.

"Past dives saw heaps of crates and war relics on the bed but the recovery has always been very difficult up to now because of the lack of the necessary technology," he said.

"Now we just have to wait and see what’s actually in those crates."Top

 

8 Tibetan monks arrested

BEIJING, June 2 (AFP) — China has arrested eight Tibetan monks on suspicion of plotting to kill a two-year-old boy whom Beijing enthroned as a reincarnation of a "Living Buddha," a Tibetan rights group said yesterday.

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said in a statement released in Beijing that the arrests happened on May 17, the same day monks of the Reting Monastery in Tibet protested against the illegal selection of the boy by Beijing.

The centre cited information from a former Monastery monk who fled Tibet and arrived in neighbouring Nepal recently.

Following the arrests of the monks, no tourists or other common people were allowed to enter the monastery, the centre said.

China in January enthroned Sonam Phuntsok as "Living Buddha."

The move was seen as an attempt by Beijing to increase its control over reincarnations of Tibetan lamas and to legitimise its rule over Tibet.Top

 

Court rules against Elian’s Miami relatives

MIAMI, June 2 (AP) — Elian Gonzalez isn’t entitled to an asylum hearing, a court ruled yesterday, in a victory for the Cuban boy’s father that shook protesters in Miami’s Little Havana who have been fighting to keep the 6-year-old in the USA.

The boy’s Miami relatives had requested that he be granted an asylum hearing with immigration officials. But a federal appeals court in Atlanta yesterday sided with the boy’s father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, who wants him to return to Cuba.

Under the Atlanta court’s ruling, Elian must remain in the USA for 14 days to give his Miami relatives a chance to appeal.

US President Bill Clinton was pleased with the ruling, saying the father is best suited to speak for the Cuban boy. "This is a case about the importance of family and the bond between a father and son," Clinton said in a statement from Berlin, where he was on a weeklong European tour.

In Miami, some in a crowd of about 100 outside the Little Havana home of Elian’s relatives fell to the ground sobbing after the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals decision was announced.

But many called for calm, noting that the decision could be appealed in the US Supreme Court.

Elian was rescued by two fishermen off the Florida coast in November. He was found clinging to an inner tube after his mother and 10 others drowned when their boat sank on the way to the USA from Cuba.Top

 

Latin music giant Puente dead

NEW YORK, June 2 (AP) — Tito Puente, the exuberant percussionist and bandleader who rose to stardom during the mambo craze of the 1950s and paved the way for Latin musicians from Carlos Santana to Marc Anthony, has died. He was 77.

Puente, who had undergone treatment recently for a heart ailment, died at a hospital on Wednesday.Top

 
WORLD BRIEFS

Ghai to make film on NRI family
LONDON: Film-maker Subhash Ghai proposes to produce his next movie based on an NRI family in Britain. The love story "Yaadey" (memories), will star new sensation Hritik Roshan, Kareena Kapoor and Jackie Shroff, Ghai said. Ghai, who flew in here on Thursday from New York to attend the launch of cdguru.com website focussing on the retail distribution of Asian entertainment products, said work on his movie would commence next month and most of the location shooting would be done in England. — PTI

Mother keeps son locked for 30 yrs
MADRID: A woman in a remote Spanish village kept her mentally ill son locked up in a tiny outhouse for 30 years until he was discovered earlier this week by the police, a newspaper has reported. Daily El Pais said on Thursday that the now 92-year-old woman told the police she had locked up her son, now 72, in the seven feet by seven feet building after a pyschiatrist told her he could not be cured of a mental disorder. — Reuters

Blair’s car on sale at a premium
LONDON: The Blairs’ run-of-the-mill people carrier is up for sale and is expected to fetch considerably more than other vehicles of its kind, but whether the reason is the cachet provided by the former owners or the multiplicity of extras to keep the kids happy is unclear. The Chrysler Grand Voyager is on the market for more than 30,000 ($ 48,000), compared with the 26,000 Prime Minister Tony Blair paid for it in 1997, The Times reported on Thursday. — DPA

Female piranha eats up mate
LONDON: A Welsh zoo is advertising for the services of a male piranha that must be large and able to look after itself in order to mate with a female who ate her previous intended mate overnight. Peaches had eaten Melba for dessert, even though she had known him for years, staff at the Anglesey Sea Zoo in northern Wales found when they went to feed the pair on Thursday morning. — DPA

Indian elephant in USA pregnant
WASHINGTON: Shanti, the 9,000-pound Indian elephant at the national zoo in Washington, is pregnant by artificial insemination, zoo officials have announced. It took six sessions of artificial insemination, the latest one in February, before the 24-year-old elephant got pregnant, the zoo officials announced after a difficult sonogram probe. The insemination involved, apart from Shanti, a Canadian bull elephant named Calvin and veterinary specialists from Germany. — PTI

Poland President in jammed lift
HANOVER: Poland’s President Aleksander Kwasniewski had to unceremoniously climb a ladder out of a jammed lift at the expo-2000 site here after technicians failed to rescue him, Poland’s radio Zet reported. The Polish President was on hand at the expo site to formally open the Polish pavilion. Joking about the incident, Kwasniewski said it proved that once Poland enters the European Union (EU) it will be impossible to get out. — DPA

Homeless man crushed by garbage truck
WARSAW: A homeless man sleeping in a rubbish dumpster died in Lodz, Central Poland, after being crushed by a garbage truck compactor, PAP news agency has reported. City sanitation workers heard screaming after they had dumped the contents of the rubbish dumpster into the garbage truck compactor, but were unable to stop the machine once it began crushing. — DPA

Kim Jong-II quits smoking
BEIJING: North Korean leader Kim Jong-II, once famous for his playboy lifestyle, has quit smoking and cut down on drinking, according to accounts of his secretive visit here. "In the past, I used to smoke and drink a lot. Now I’ve quit smoking and I only drink a little wine," Mr Kim was on Thursday quoted astyelling President Jiang Zemin. — Reuters

Balloonist misses North Pole
LONDON: A British adventurer fell agonisingly short of becoming the first person to fly over the North Pole in a balloon — but had the consolation of being able to claim a first by making it over the Arctic Ocean. David Hempelman-Adams, 44, was told by British flight controllers on Thursday to abort his mission while cruising above the Arctic Ring just 20.6 kilometers short of the pole because of winds — and exhaustion. — AP

Ukraine’ ex-PM indicted
WASHINGTON: Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko has been indicted in the USA on a total of 31 criminal charges, according to court documents released. Lazarenko is wanted in at least two European countries on corruption and embezzlement charges. — APPTop

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