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Archive for Friday, July 21, 2000

World briefs

July 21, 2000

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INDIA

Charges withdrawn against dead pilots

Police on Thursday withdrew criminal charges against the dead pilots of a jet that crashed in eastern India, killing 56 people.

The two pilots, 49 other people on board and five people on the ground were killed Monday when their Alliance Air Boeing 737-200 plummeted into a housing complex near the airport in Patna, Bihar's capital.

The criminal complaint based its charges on a statement from Prachi Rajgarhia, one of seven surviving passengers. The complaint had accused Captain M.S. Sohanpal and co-pilot A.S. Bagga of violating five different counts of Indian criminal and aviation laws. They included "culpable homicide not amounting to murder" and "rash driving or riding in a public place."

A broader judicial investigation is under way.

SYRIA

Mourning period for Assad ends

Syria's 40-day mourning period for President Hafez Assad ended Thursday with tributes in his hometown of Qardaha from Arab officials and some who served under him during his three decades in power.

Assad's 34-year-old son and successor, Bashar, sat surrounded by aides, listening in the front row of a meeting hall to about two dozen speakers during the ceremony in Qardaha, 210 miles northwest of Damascus. The only relative to speak was Hafez Assad's older brother Jamil, who briefly thanked Syrians for their condolences.

No events marking the end of the mourning period were held in the capital, Damascus.

RUSSIA

Timetable set for Mir occupation

The Russian space station Mir, which has been unoccupied for most of the past year, is to be permanently manned beginning early next year, according to the investors' group funding the station.

The cash-strapped Russian space program had planned to take the Mir out of orbit this spring, but the station was saved by the Netherlands-based company MirCorp, which provided funds for a 73-day manned mission to perform maintenance and rehabilitate the station. That mission ended June 15.

MirCorp said it had decided at a meeting to send two cosmonauts to the space station in early 2001, to be followed by a replacement crew at midyear.

That crew is to include a "space tourist," U.S. businessman and former rocket scientist Dennis Tito.

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