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Archive for Friday, February 27, 2004

Briefly

February 27, 2004

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Tokyo

Subway attack mastermind sentenced to death

Former doomsday cult guru Shoko Asahara was convicted and sentenced to death today for masterminding the deadly 1995 nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway and a string of other crimes that killed 27 people.

Asahara, who founded and led the Aum Shinrikyo cult, also was charged with ordering his followers to produce and stockpile arsenals of conventional and chemical weapons.

The ruling was the climax of a nearly eight-year trial. Defense attorneys had argued that Asahara had lost control over his flock by the time of the March 20, 1995, subway attack with sarin gas.

But former followers testified in court that Asahara planned and ordered the subway attack, which killed 12 people and sickened thousands, and other crimes.

Beijing

U.S. to stay until end of N. Korea nuclear talks

The United States said today it was prepared to stay through the end of six-country talks on North Korea's nuclear ambitions despite reports that the American delegation is leaning toward leaving if it sees no movement on Pyongyang's part.

The statement from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing came after a confusing 24 hours that showed signs of major progress and stalling in the attempts by six governments to resolve the 16-month dispute over the North's nuclear activities.

North Korea put an offer of nuclear disarmament on the bargaining table Thursday, then struck a characteristically tough stance by accusing the United States of blocking progress.

Its statement came after South Korea, China and Russia agreed to provide the impoverished North with crucial energy aid if it would agree to disarm.

West Bank

2 Palestinians killed in clash

Hundreds of Palestinians, including farmers and students, threw stones Thursday at Israelis trying to clear a path for the West Bank separation barrier, drawing fire that killed two and wounded dozens in the bloodiest clashes yet over the partition.

The attempt to block earthmovers, coming a day after the world court wrapped up hearings on the legality of the barrier, appeared to signal a new protest tactic. In the past, demonstrators generally stayed away from construction crews.

Washington, D.C.

National study: 4 percent of Catholic priests accused

A national, church-sanctioned study documenting sex abuse by U.S. Roman Catholic clergy found that about 4 percent of clerics have been accused of molesting minors since 1950, a diocese said Thursday.

The Diocese of Yakima, Wash., said the survey compiled by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice found 4,392 of the 109,694 clergy who served over that five-decade period faced allegations of abuse.

The survey was overseen by the National Review Board, a lay watchdog panel the bishops formed at the height of the abuse crisis. The review board had a news conference scheduled today in Washington to discuss the report and a companion study on how the abuse crisis developed.

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