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Archive for Tuesday, June 19, 2001

World briefs

June 19, 2001

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LONDON

Relatives of immigrants seek victims' assistance

Relatives of Chinese immigrants who died in the back of a freight truck as they tried to enter Britain illegally last year will seek compensation from a government fund for victims of crime, their lawyers said Monday.

A year after the bodies of 54 men and four women were discovered behind crates of tomatoes in the Dutch-registered truck, all but one have been positively identified and returned to the victims' families. The 58th has been tentatively identified, but no family has been located.

Attorneys Mark Ryan and Amie Tsang said they would file the claims with the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority today on behalf of 93 parents, 34 spouses and 68 children left behind by the deceased.

Ryan argues that the fact that the men and women died while apparently committing a crime trying to enter the country illegally should not make their families ineligible for compensation for funeral expenses and support of dependents.

GUATEMALA

75 inmates shoot their way out of prison

Police and soldiers searched the countryside Monday for dozens of inmates who escaped in Guatemala's biggest prison break in years, when prisoners shot their way out using weapons smuggled in during Father's Day visits.

Seventy-five inmates escaped Sunday when the ringleaders, armed with grenades and assault rifles smuggled into the facility, shot to death a guard and a policeman and made their break from the maximum security prison at Escuintla, 30 miles south of Guatemala City.

As they fled, some of the fugitives hijacked a bus and briefly took its 14 occupants hostage, while others hijacked cars on a nearby highway, then abandoned the vehicles and any hostages a few miles from the prison.

Police detained the prison's warden, his assistant and 18 guards on suspicion that they allowed the guns to be smuggled in or had been aware of the escape plot. Many of the ringleaders in the plot had been sentenced to death.

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