Archive for Saturday, November 1, 2003

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November 1, 2003

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South Africa

Diamond producers agree to peer reviews

Participants in a tracking system to ensure black market diamonds aren't used to fund African wars wrapped up a three-day conference Friday with an agreement to tighten the process with peer reviews.

But human rights groups said the voluntary system did not go far enough to curb trade in illicit "blood diamonds."

Representatives from governments, the diamond industry and nongovernmental groups attended the meeting at South Africa's luxury Sun City resort complex to review the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme.

The system is the diamond industry's response to growing world concern about illicit diamonds that have fueled deadly wars in Congo, Liberia, Angola and Sierra Leone.

TOKYO

Subway gassing trial wraps up for guru

Japanese doomsday guru Shoko Asahara sat silently Friday as his team of 12 lawyers gave closing arguments to wrap up his trial for allegedly masterminding the deadly nerve gas attack on Tokyo subways.

The lawyers argued that Asahara -- who could face the death penalty -- had lost control over his disciples in the Aum Shinrikyo cult, and that they acted on their own in carrying out the 1995 gassing.

The next court session will be when the three-judge tribunal announces its verdict in mid-February. Asahara, 48, was to be given a final chance to speak at the Tokyo District Court later Friday, but so far during the trial, the nearly blind defendant has kept quiet or occasionally burst into unintelligible ramblings.

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