Wednesday, February 16, 2000,
Chandigarh, India





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

Tribunal for East Timor not now: Annan
JAKARTA, Feb 15 — United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrived here today, one day after President Abdurrahman Wahid suspended former military chief Wiranto from the Cabinet over his alleged involvement in the bloodshed in East Timor last year.

Actress faces treason for pro-Indian song
ISLAMABAD, Feb 15 — Pakistan’s popular film actress Reema, facing a charge of treason for singing a pro-Indian song while in the USA, furnished a bond of Rs 20,000 ($ 400) to a court to assure that she will not run away from the trial, press reports said today.


LAHORE: Qazi Hussain Ahmed, left, chief of Jamat-i-Islami, Pakistan's right-wing religious party, hands over a cheque for Rs 10 million (about $ 185,000) in Lahore, on Monday, from the party fund to Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, former president of Chechnya, for the militants fighting against the Russian army. — AP/PTI

No-trust move fails against Barak
JERUSALEM, Feb 15 — Prime Minister Ehud Barak, with rare backing from the Right-wing Opposition, has defeated a no-confidence motion put forth by Israeli Arab parties in Parliament over retaliatory air strikes in Lebanon.



EARLIER STORIES
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  Cyanide waters reach Belgrade
BELGRADE, Feb 15 — A burst of cyanide-laced water that has flown into the Danube killing everything in its path reached Yugoslav capital Belgrade yesterday and was heading eastwards to where the Danube slices a path between Romania and Bulgaria.

US tornadoes kill 22
WASHINGTON, Feb 15 — Tornadoes ripped through Georgia and other states in the south-eastern USA killing at least 22, a spokesman for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency has said.

Strike in Dhaka despite new law
DHAKA, Feb 15 — Thousands of police and paramilitary forces today patrolled Dhaka as the Opposition launched another strike to try to bring down the government.


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Tribunal for East Timor not now: Annan

JAKARTA, Feb 15 (DPA) — United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrived here today, one day after President Abdurrahman Wahid suspended former military chief Wiranto from the Cabinet over his alleged involvement in the bloodshed in East Timor last year.

Mr Annan hailed Mr Wahid’s decision to suspend Wiranto, saying in Singapore yesterday that a global tribunal will not be set up “at this stage” to try those responsible for the East Timor atrocities.

“The Government of Indonesia has demonstrated its determination to put those accused on trial and if it does go through, I think it will make Indonesian stronger and it will be helpful for its own legal system,” Mr Annan said.

A U.N human rights commission investigation into the East Timor violence recommended an international human rights tribunal be set up to try those responsible for the bloodshed.

Mr Annan is scheduled to held talks with Mr Wahid and other leaders tomorrow with East Timor issue high on the agenda, officials said.

WASHINGTON (AFP): The USA has offered its firm backing for President Wahid’s suspension of General Wiranto from his Cabinet calling it a “significant step” for democracy.

“This action reflects President Wahid’s government’s intention to seriously address charges against individuals alleged to be responsible for human rights abuses in East Timor, State Department spokesman James Rubin told reporters.

“It is a significant step forward in development of democracy and the rule of law in Indonesia after decades of authoritarian rule and ignoring these key values,” Mr Rubin, said referring to the tenure in power of former President Suharto.

In addition to noting the positive human rights message sent by Mr Wahid’s suspension of the General, Mr Rubin said it also showed that Indonesia was moving toward a reform of the military which for long had been a force with little or no civilian oversight or control.
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Actress faces treason for pro-Indian song

ISLAMABAD, Feb 15 (DPA) — Pakistan’s popular film actress Reema, facing a charge of treason for singing a pro-Indian song while in the USA, furnished a bond of Rs 20,000 ($ 400) to a court to assure that she will not run away from the trial, press reports said today.

A citizen moved the court after she sang “Jan Jan Hindustan’’ (India is my life) at a concert in the USA last year. It was an altered version of a patriotic song entitled “Dil dil Pakistan, jan jan Pakistan’’, sung by a Pakistani pop group several years ago.

The complainant’s ire was aroused because Reema’s rendition was broadcast by an Indian television channel at a time when tensions between the two nations had touched a new height in the wake of the Christmas-eve hijacking of an Indian plane, allegedly by Pakistan-backed Kashmiri militants.

Reema appeared in “burqa’’ in the courtroom in Lahore, Pakistan’s film centre, yesterday. The prosecuting lawyer demanded that the veil be removed to establish that it was really Reema behind it.

But Judge Allah Bakhsh Ranjha did not agree, saying he was satisfied it was her, according to the mass-circulation Urdu-language daily Jang.

Reema’s lawyer called the charge of treason “blackmailing’’ and asked for protection for his client as her fans crowded the courtroom. Eventually the judge’s own bodyguards escorted her out safely.

If convicted Reema, who is known for her sexy roles in Pakistani films, could be sentenced to death or imprisonment.


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No-trust move fails against Barak

JERUSALEM, Feb 15 (Reuters) — Prime Minister Ehud Barak, with rare backing from the Right-wing Opposition, has defeated a no-confidence motion put forth by Israeli Arab parties in Parliament over retaliatory air strikes in Lebanon.

Briefing deputies of his one Israel alliance before the vote, the Labour Prime Minister said appeals for an immediate troop pullout from South Lebanon would have to wait.

A rare alliance between one Israel and the Likud opposition yesterday defeated the no-confidence motion by an overwhelming vote in a session raucous even by Parliament’s stormy standard.

Grassroots backing for an immediate pullout from Israel’s South Lebanon occupation zone soared after Hizbollah guerrillas killed seven soldiers in three weeks this year. Israeli bombings have wounded at least 20 persons and cut power to much of Lebanon.

Barak told one Israel deputies that he would exhaust all chances to clinch a deal with Syria and its ally Lebanon before ordering the pullout.

“I know that there is a question going around throughout the public: why don’t we do this immediately, tomorrow?,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, the Israeli President, Mr Ezer Weizman, will apparently not be indicted for his role in a financial scandal in which he received cash gifts from French millionaire Eduard Sarousi, Israeli television stations reported last night.

“I was asked if there was an indictment today. I said today it seems there is no indictment,’’ state prosecutor Edna Arbel told reporters.
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Cyanide waters reach Belgrade

BELGRADE, Feb 15 (DPA) — A burst of cyanide-laced water that has flown into the Danube killing everything in its path reached Yugoslav capital Belgrade yesterday and was heading eastwards to where the Danube slices a path between Romania and Bulgaria.

The European Union assured Hungary and Romania, which are both seeking EU membership, of technical help to fight the disaster.

The news agency Beta said officials in the northern province of Vojvodina were concerned that groundwater would be polluted if the dead fish were simply buried.

The mayor of Kanjiza, Istvan Bacskulin, said local authorities had been told by Belgrade to put any dead fish in landfills.

The cyanide, which is used to flush gold out of ore, was released from a basin at an Australian-owned goldmine in Baia Mare, Romania, two weeks ago. It first flowed west and entered the south-flowing Tisza, Hungary’s second-largest river. This empties into the Danube.

In Hungary, reports yesterday said there were tons of dead fish floating in the river. Ecologists said it could take years for the eco-system to recover, since the poison hit in the spawning season.

The worst damage was in the far northwestern corner of Romania where the release happened, but because the valley system doubles back, Romania was due to be hit by the pollution a second time.

An AP report said work crews pulled out tonnes of dead fish from the Tisza and Danube rivers even as Romania rebuffed compensation demands from Yugoslavia and Hungary for the gold mine spill that contaminated the rivers with cyanide.Serbia, the larger of the two republics in Yugoslavia, banned the sale of most freshwater fish yesterday and Hungary warned of long-term ecological damage.
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US tornadoes kill 22

WASHINGTON, Feb 15 (AFP) — Tornadoes ripped through Georgia and other states in the south-eastern USA killing at least 22, a spokesman for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency has said.

“We don’t have a number on the missing yet. So far folks are somewhat accounted for,” said agency spokesman Dan Brown in a telephone interview yesterday.

Georgia was the worst hit, though tornadoes also touched down in Arkansas, Alabama and northern Florida, said Mr Ken Davis, another state agency spokesman.

President Bill Clinton offered condolences for the victims of the tornadoes while speaking at the Hispanic American achievement ceremony in the While House last night.

In an area where some 200 mobile homes had been parked, “very few are still there,” Jay Powell, Mayor of the town of Camilla, Georgia, told CNN.
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Strike in Dhaka despite new law

DHAKA, Feb 15 (Reuters) — Thousands of police and paramilitary forces today patrolled Dhaka as the Opposition launched another strike to try to bring down the government.

The national strike, the latest bid to topple Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, is scheduled to last three days. It began at 6 a.m. and comes the same day when a controversial public safety law comes into effect.

Under the law, jail terms of up to 14 years of hard labour can be handed down for crimes that include obstructing transport and damaging property.

Transport officials said today most of the highway buses were stranded. At least nine domestic flights were cancelled but trains operated normally.
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WORLD BRIEFS

50 feared dead as bus falls into river
HANOI: As many as 50 passengers are feared dead after a bus packed with students and the elderly tumbled off a collapsed highway and into a river in northern Vietnam, the police said on Tuesday. At least 17 bodies have been pulled from the crumpled wreckage in the Lam river in Nghe a province, but emergency authorities said the toll from Monday’s crash is certain to rise dramatically. — DPA

Two students found dead
LITTLETON, Colorado: Two Columbine High students were found dead after a shooting at a sandwich shop about two blocks south of the school, still reeling from the worst school shooting in US history. A woman, who worked at the subway sandwich shop, went inside and found the bodies of a 15-year-old boy, who also worked there, and a 16-year-old girl, Jefferson County Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Davis said. —AP

Bardot, Fonda absent at Vadim’s memorial
PARIS: Big names from the 1960s French cinema and a stream of chic women flocked yesterday to a memorial for film director Roger Vadim in a tribute to one of France’s arch seducers. But two of Vadim’s most famous ex-wives stayed away. Brigitte Bardot, whom he thrust into stardom by having her dance bare-legged on a bar table in “And God Created Women’’, stayed home in St Tropez, the resort where the film was set and where Vadim will be buried on Friday. Jane Fonda, whom Vadim changed from clean-cut American into a fantasy space-age sex chick in skimpy plastic and fake-fur in his 1968 hit “Barbarella”, also stayed away. — Reuters

Yeats’s home not to be demolished
DUBLIN: The final Dublin residence of Irish poet and dramatist William Butler Yeats appeared set to avoid demolition after Heritage Minister Sile de Valera said it should be protected. “This house is an early 18th century dwelling and is itself of intrinsic heritage value. Its association with Yeats adds to that value,” De Valera said in a statement on Monday. — Reuters

Spice Girls must wait for judgement
LONDON: The Spice Girls must wait to hear whether they will have to pay around 1.6 million (2.54 million dollars) in damages to an Italian scooter company, the high court said. Aprilia has sued the Spice Girls in London over a sponsorship deal which is said to have flopped after Geri Halliwell pulled out of the group to pursue a solo career. — Reuters

Kidman film team searches for girl
LONDON: A last-minute search geared up on Monday for a young British girl to play the daughter of flame-haired Australian actress Nicole Kidman in a $ 20 million movie. Casting directors for “The Others”, a “gothic thriller” set in 1940s Nazi-occupied Jersey, have spent four months touring stage schools and drama clubs around Britain auditioning pupils aged between seven and nine — but have yet to find the right girl. — Reuters

Group adds interest to Rushdie bounty
TEHERAN: An Iranian foundation has pledged to add interest to its $ 2.8 million bounty on the head of Salman Rushdie on the 11th anniversary of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s order to kill the British novelist. Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi reaffirmed on Monday that the Iranian Government would not seek to carry out the fatwa, or religious ruling, but stressed that private organisations were free to express their views. — Reuters

S. African flood toll 45
JOHANNESBURG: The death toll from the worst flooding across southern Africa in nearly 50 years rose to at least 45 yesterday as more rain deluged the region. Thousands have been left homeless after nearly a week of constant rain. President Thabo Mbeki declared parts of the country’s northern and Mpumalanga provinces disaster areas as first estimates put the cost of the flooding at more than one billion rand (159 million dollars). — Reuters

Boy run over by train on birthday
TOKYO: A four-year-old boy was knocked down and killed by a train on his birthday on Monday, the police in the central Japanese town of Sakai said. The boy’s mother looked on horrified as her son was run over when he went to retrieve a shoe that his one-year-old brother had let fall on the track. — DPA
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