|Sunday, May 7, 2000,
Pak agendas to affect USA
sets terms for truce with rebels
assumes charge today
Judge refuses to dismiss Tripp case
ELLICOTT CITY (MD), May 6 (Reuters) A Maryland judge yesterday refused to dismiss a state wiretap indictment against Linda Tripp stemming from her central role in the While House sex-and-perjury scandal that led to President Bill Clintons 1998 impeachment.
But in a 42-page ruling handed down after months of pretrial testimony, arguments and legal wrangling, Howard county Circuit Judge Diane Leasure ordered the suppression of key evidence that prosecutors may need to convict Tripp, including nearly all of the state grand jury testimony provided by her former friend, Monica Lewinsky.
Tripp, a Pentagon employee who once worked as a White House secretary, befriended Lewinsky at the White House and from October to December, 1997, secretly tape-recorded her conversations with the former intern about Lewinskys illicit sexual affair with Clinton. She then turned the tapes over to independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who used them to form the basis of his investigation.
Leasures ruling effectively allowed the state to proceed to trial in July.
But in suppressing the rest of Lewinskys testimony and that of another prsecution witness Tripp confidante Kate Freidrich the jude acknowledged that she was denying the state only witnesses who could establish that the tape at the heart of the indictment was made in December, 1997.
Under state law, prosecutors must prove the defendant knew it was illegal to tape-record conversations at the time of the taping. The prosecution has evidence that Tripp knew as early as November that taping was illegal.
To secure a conviction, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Ms Tripp taped a telephone conversation subsequent to the date she became aware that it was illegal to do so, Leasure wrote in her ruling.
Defence attorney Joseph Murtha said the ruling hobbles the case against his client and called on state prosecutor Stephen Montanarellis office to drop the prosecution.
I believe that this is a politically motivated prosecution, said Murtha, who vowed to stall the prosecution with fresh constitutional challenges. The state of Maryland has employed unconstitutional means for pursuing a conviction of Ms Tripp.
Prosecutor Montanarelli said that the judges decision to suppress the Lewinsky testimony posed problems for the case because prosecutors would now have to find another way of showing that the tape-recording was made in December.
He said prosecutors would review their evidence and go forward with a case if they could find a solution.
If we cant, were not going to prolong the decision. Well make our decision before July10 (the trial date).
Leasure, who had been asked by Tripps attorneys to dismiss the case against her on grounds it was tainted by immunised evidence their client gave to Starr, said the state had largely identified its witnesses through independent, legitimate sources.
She also allowed Lewinskys testimony that Tripp did not have her consent to make the tapes.
In a move decried by Tripp supporters as an act of revenge by Democrats, Montanarelli last year opened an investigation to determine whether Tripp violated Marylands wiretap law by taping Lewinsky from her home in Columbia, Maryland, allegedly without the interns consent.
A state grand jury indicted Tripp last summer on two felony counts for allegedly taping a conversation with Lewinsky on December 22, 1997, and then sharing its contents with Newsweek magazine. If convicted, she could face 10 years in prison and $ 20,000 in fines.
The decision to indict me was politically motivated and wrong, Tripp said in a written statement issued on Friday. Given the courts ruling today, any action by the prosecution short on dismissal rises to the level of malicious prosecution.
Freidrich, to whom Tripp allegedly disclosed her taping practices in December, 1997, was eliminated as a witness because state investigators found their way to her with information Lewinsky had learned from Starrs office, the judge said.
Meanwhile, the judge said Lewinsky was not credible when she testified at a hearing late last year that she knew the date of the tape in question because the gruelling experience of reading its contents in Newsweek the following February had been etched on her mind.
Leasure said the
experience of reading the Newsweek article was not
mentioned in the book, "Monicas Story,
on which Lewinsky collaborated with author Andrew Morton.
Also, in an August 31, 1998, letter to state prosecutors,
Lewinsky appeared to verify the time of the recording
after reviewing transcripts provided by Starr.
India, Pak agendas to affect USA
WASHINGTON, May 6 (PTI) The CIA sees India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and North Korea as countries which will continue to pursue regional agendas that "collide with US interests", Chairman of the US National Intelligence Council has said.
Presenting the gloomy picture of what the world may look like by 2015, Mr John C. Gannon, in a speech in Columbus, Ohio, before the Council of World Affairs recently said that all these regional powers were developing weapons of mass destruction and long or medium range ballistic missiles.
Mr Gannon warned that ethnic and indigenous groups, now numbering more than 2,000 world-wide, were mobilising for their respective causes and by 2015, at least a few new ethnic-based nation-states "are likely to come into being."
Stating that global economic influence and power was likely to spread from the current G-7 countries to a more multipolar global economic system in which India, Brazil, China and South Korea will be increasingly important players, he said output from developing countries was expected to rise from 45 per cent to around 60 per cent of the global GDP by 2015.
He said in the new world order, power relationships and alignments were also likely to shift as European Union, Japan, Russia and China try actively to shape the world.
Mr Gannon said the most dangerous consequence of a return to multipolarity would be the risk of the reemergence of national rivalries within East Asia, and even within Europe.
Mr Gannon did not rule out new countries developing nuclear capability but said that most countries would desist from nuclear testing because of the high cost involved.
The widespread consensus was that the USA would have no peer military competitor by 2015 but "our military and technological prowess will not be enough to guarantee that our interests are protected", he said.
Speaking on terrorism, the National Intelligence Council chief said terrorists would now be better armed with more sophisticated weaponry. Some groups were already pursuing chemical and biological weapons capabilities, he added.
Mr Gannon said he anticipated that scarcities resulting from the uneven distribution of natural resources would rise by 2015 in many developing countries.
"Fresh water, while globally abundant, is scarce in much of South Asia, northern China, the Middle East and parts of Africa, and will become scarcer in the years ahead. At the same time, global demand for water for agricultural and industrial production and household uses is increasing steadily," he said.
Forty per cent of the world population already live in countries that are "water stressed." These countries, most of them in Africa and South Asia, would be unable to provide enough water for agricultural, industrial and household needs.
DETECTIVES investigating the Lockerbie disaster revealed details on Friday of the painstaking investigation to find those responsible for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103.
On the third day of the trial at the Scottish court in the Netherlands investigators presented vivid evidence of the devastation at Lockerbie and of the fingertip searches to gather vital clues.
And they revealed how within days of the atrocity British police officers had travelled to Germany and Rome to investigate possible links involving a Palestinian terror group.
FBI and CIA agents from the USA were swiftly on the scene of the disaster. It was later discovered that several US agents were on the doomed flight and sensitive documents had been found in a local forest.
Families of the victims and the two accused Abdel Basset Ali Al Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah watched in silence as they heard details of how human remains were recovered.
The court was shown colour photographs of the wreckage, including part of the planes fuselage in which 47 bodies were discovered still strapped into their seats. In the operation which followed the crash priority was given to recovering the remains of the 259 passengers and crew, and the 11 Lockerbie residents who were killed.
The town and 810 square miles of the surrounding countryside were treated as a murder scene, split into six sectors with officers assigned to sift through the rubble. The crash left body parts in the streets and in the hedgerows of the Scottish Borders town.
One mans body was found lying on top of a house against a chimney breast in Sherwood Crescent, the worst-affected part of Lockerbie where all victims on the ground died. It was more than 10 days before all bodies were recovered .
Alexander McLean (58), then a detective inspector, said one million sewing needles cargo on the Boeing 747 hampered the search. ``They landed with the fuselage in the B sector [the Rosebank area of the town] and we found that some officers were getting pricked with needles.
"We had to spread a tarpaulin and move inch by inch. They caused a bit of a hazard, so recovery of bodies took a wee bit longer than it would have done. The search was carried out very, very meticulously and slowly because we didnt want to mutilate the bodies further.
Questioned by Bill Taylor QC, for Al Megrahi, a retired police officer, Gordon Ferrie (55), confirmed that suspicion first fell on the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, a radical Damascus-based group blamed for previous aircraft bombings.
He had travelled to Rome on two occasions to obtain evidence about a 1972 attack on an El Al flight from Rome to Tel Aviv.
In that incident two British girls had been befriended by three men including Marwan Kreeshat and persuaded to take a record player on board the plane. They did not know it contained a bomb.
El Al security measures ensured the record player went into the bomb-proof luggage hold, instead of in the passenger cabin.
It exploded at about 13,000 ft, Mr Ferrie said. But although the device blew a hole in the passenger floor, the plane landed back at Rome safely. Mr Taylor noted that Marwan Kreeshat was also initially suspected in the Lockerbie case. Mr Kreeshat, a Jordanian, was found with explosives and a Toshiba radio cassette player in his car similar to the one believed to have contained the bomb that destroyed the Pan Am airliner. He had been arrested by the Germans in October, 1988, but was released in December, before the Lockerbie bombing later the same month.
The indictment faced by Al Megrahi and Fhimah accuses them of placing an improvised explosive device in a suitcase on an Air Malta flight to Frankfurt. The suitcase allegedly had luggage tags for onward connection to Pan Am flight 103.
Mr Ferrie said that Italian authorities had given him fragments of the altimeter used by Mr Kreeshat to detonate the explosives in the Israeli El Al plane. The indictment against the Libyans says an electronic timing device was used in the Pan Am bomb.
In a sombre moment in the proceedings the names of all 270 victims were read out. Several relatives wept openly.
The trial continues.
Philippines sets terms for truce with rebels
MANILA, May 6 (DPA) The Philippine Government today challenged Muslim separatist rebels to prove their sincerity in declaring a unilateral ceasefire by laying down their arms and freeing civilians caught in the worst fighting in years in the South.
Defence Secretary Orlando Mercado said the Cabinets security cluster agreed to issue the two conditions late yesterday before the government reciprocated and declared a truce with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Before we declare a ceasefire, we want to verify (the MILFs sincerity) and give conditions, Mr Mercado told a weekly radio programme. The President last night approved the recommendation and we will wait for the MILFs response.
In the meantime, Mr Mercado said the military would press on with its offensive against rebel positions along a national highway traversing the MILFs main headquarters, Camp Abubakar, in Maguinadanao province, 600 km south of Manila.
They must show to the government and the public their sincerity by laying down their arms and releasing all hostages, he said. I think these two conditions are important to clarify the intent of their unilateral ceasefire.
The MILF on Friday declared a 48-hour truce, which took effect at 6 a.m. (10 p.m. GMT) on Saturday, in response to mounting appeals for an immediate end to the fighting, which has left at least 40 soldiers and civilians dead.
The military said up to 150 MILF rebels were killed in the seven-day battle, which also forced at least 120,000 residents in six provinces to flee their homes in fear of being caught in the crossfire and bomb attacks.
Hundreds of people were also taken hostate by the MILF, officials said. The guerrillas have insisted the civilians were not being held captive, but were only caught in the heavy exchange of artillery and mortar fire.
The MILF said it would
resume counterattacks after 48 hours if the
government did not reciprocate.
Putin assumes charge today
MOSCOW, May 6 (UNI) President-elect Vladimir Putin, who assumes charge tomorrow, will seek the Dumas approval on May 21 for the cabinet he plans to appoint.
First Deputy Prime Minister and economist Mikhal Kasayanov or some other candidate will officiate as acting Prime Minister and the rest of the cabinet will be asked to continue with their present jobs till May 21, state-owned broadcaster Voice of Russia has indicated.
Mr Putin has been holding the offices of Prime Minister and President after the resignation of Mr Boris Yeltsin on December 21 last year.
Mr Kasayanov is likely to be elevated to the post of Prime Minister while Defence Minister Igor Sergeev and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov will retain their posts in the new cabinet, Moscow daily Segodnya writes.
Russian expect much from the new President.
The last President of
the now defunct Soviet Union, Mr Mikhail Gorbachev,
described Mr Putin as an intelligent and responsible
person and a great hope for Russia.
life? drink coffee
UAE court to
rule on e-mail divorce
officers wife sentenced
Woman accused of
US State Dept
loses more laptops
foils kidnap bid
China to repair
parts of Great Wall
Fire kills eight
at Taiwanese hospital
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