Archive for Sunday, July 2, 2000

World Briefs

July 2, 2000



Death penalty against children banned

Pakistan introduced sweeping legal reforms on Saturday, including changes to a law that allowed children as young as 14 to be sentenced to death.

The death penalty now may be imposed only against people 18 or older, the military-led government decreed. Also, accused children will not be physically punished, handcuffed, or placed in chains except when there is "reasonable apprehension of the escape of the child."

Thousands of children under 18 are in Pakistani prisons, according to the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. More than 2,500 juveniles are imprisoned in the eastern Punjab province alone.


Earthquake rattles islands near Tokyo

An earthquake shook a string of volcanic islands off Tokyo on Saturday, sending cascades of dirt and rock down mountainsides, killing a man in a car, snapping water mains and cutting power.

Islanders heard a loud thud, then felt about 10 seconds of shaking that made it difficult to stand, an official on Kozushima told Kyodo News agency. A huge, tree-covered slab of earth slid down one Kozushima mountain, covering a stretch of coastal highway and muddying the ocean, TV showed.

The magnitude 6.4 quake struck the Izu islands at 4:02 p.m., causing the most damage on Niijima and Kozushima, the Meteorological Agency said. It was centered about six miles below the Pacific seabed, three miles east of Kozushima.


Bridge, tunnel link Scandinavian neighbors

What 7,000 years of nature divided, the king of Sweden and the queen of Denmark reunited Saturday. Melting glaciers slowly created the Oresund Strait between Sweden and Denmark, but a 10-mile bridge and tunnel combination, which includes an artificial island, has made it possible again to drive between Copenhagen and Malmo, Sweden, Sweden's third-largest city.

Queen Margrethe of Denmark and Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf oversaw a three-hour ceremony officially opening the link to motorized traffic just before midnight Saturday. Scania, Sweden's southernmost province and home to Malmoe, was part of the kingdom of Denmark for 800 years until 1658, when Swedes invaded it.


Australian woman makes British history

Tourists watching the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace on Saturday saw history being made by a sentry named Cynthia. Capt. Cynthia Anderson became the first woman to stand guard at Buckingham Palace when she led a unit in the morning parade Saturday. Four women are part of the contingent of 150 Australians, who are taking a rare turn at the palace to mark Australia Week, the centenary of the nation joining the Commonwealth. The Australians will be on duty every other day until July 20.

South Africa

Penguins evacuated from oil slick area

The world's largest colony of African penguins will be evacuated from an island off South Africa's west coast to save the birds from an oil spill, conservation officials said Saturday.

Between 3,000 and 6,000 penguins are to be evacuated today, Onkgopotse Thabane, spokesman for the environmental affairs department, said. In the largest operation of its kind, the birds will be rounded up from a nature reserve on Dassen Island, placed in ventilated boxes, shipped to the mainland and trucked about 560 miles down the coast, where they will be released.

The penguins are expected to swim home in about 11 days. Authorities hope that will be enough time to clean up the spill from the Panamanian-registered tanker Treasure, which sank June 23 near Cape Town while carrying 1,300 tons of oil.


Soldiers killed by land mine

Nine Russian soldiers died when an armored car hit a land mine, officials said Saturday as fighters in Chechnya continued to inflict casualties despite Russian claims that the war is all but over.

The soldiers were part of a convoy returning to base after a five-day firefight near the Chechen town of Serzhen-Yurt that killed at least 13 Russian servicemen. Five servicemen were killed immediately and 11 wounded Friday when the armored car struck the mine near the town of Avtury in the central Shali district, said Sergei Yastrzhembsky, the Russian presidential spokesman for Chechnya.

Four of the wounded died later of their injuries, he said.

In the earlier fighting at Serzhen-Yurt, a total of 13 Russian servicemen were killed and 18 were wounded, Yastrzhembsky said. About 250 militants were fighting in the region, most of them soldiers of fortune, he said.


Leading liberal academic arrested

A prosecutor has ordered a well-known liberal sociologist who holds dual U.S.-Egyptian citizenship detained for 15 days, accusing him of working to harm Egypt's image, the man's lawyer said Saturday.

Saad Eddin Ibrahim, professor of sociology at the American University in Cairo, will be questioned until authorities decide if they have enough evidence to indict him, said his lawyer, Hafez abu Saada. The charges authorities have mentioned carry long prison sentences, abu Saada said.

Prosecutors have charged him with preparing a documentary about elections that harms Egypt's image, receiving foreign funds without government permission and forging an election ballot, Ibrahim said. He said the ballot was a dummy made for the film.

"This is the price of freedom and working for the benefit of the public that we have to pay," he said. "May all of you pray for me in this predicament." The call was abruptly terminated.

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