- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 1, 2000

U.S. soldier appears for sentencing

WUERZBURG, Germany Sitting in his full-dress green uniform, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Frank Ronghi watched quietly yesterday at a hearing to decide his sentence for murdering a young ethnic Albanian girl and burying her body in the snow.
Ronghi, 36, of Niles, Ohio, admitted Friday to molesting and killing the 11-year-old girl while serving with the peacekeeping force in Kosovo. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.
Yesterday, prosecutors and defense lawyers questioned 11 officers, eventually agreeing on six to serve as the panel that will decide Ronghi's sentence.
Ronghi was charged with killing Merita Shabiu on Jan. 13 in the basement of an apartment building and burying her body near the town of Vitina. He was arrested just days after the killing.

Indian movie actor, three others kidnapped

BANGALORE, India A former Indian movie star was kidnapped with three other men at his home by a well-known criminal gang, the chief minister of the southern state of Karnataka said yesterday.
Raj Kumar, in his 70s, gained fame by appearing in more than 200 Kannada-language films over five decades. He is also politically powerful and is a hero in Karnataka.
Mr. Kumar was hosting a housewarming Sunday evening in his home village of Gajanur when a dozen gunmen burst in and seized him and the others. Karnataka chief minister S.M. Krishna said the gang was led by the notorious Indian criminal Veerappan, who has threatened Mr. Kumar in the past.

U.S. assigns blame for Sierra Leone war

NEW YORK The United States and Britain publicly accused Liberia and Burkina Faso yesterday of fueling the war in Sierra Leone by helping its notorious rebels sell diamonds and buy arms.

"The United States intends to support measures against both Burkina Faso and Liberia unless they cease their support for the war in Sierra Leone," U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke warned.

U.S. officials said the measures under consideration include freezing the foreign assets of both countries and visa restrictions on senior officials. Washington is also prepared to re-examine U.S. assistance, the officials said.

Liberian Foreign Minister Monie Captan demanded that the Western powers present "concrete evidence" of the allegations that could be examined by a panel of eminent persons. Burkina Faso's U.N. ambassador, Michel Kafando, also called for proof.

Russia reports economic growth

MOSCOW Russia's economy grew by more than 7 percent during the first half of this year, a top Cabinet member said yesterday, playing down fears that economic growth is tapering off.
Vice Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko announced the latest economic indicators after a weekly Cabinet session headed by President Vladimir Putin, who is riding high after a string of political victories last week. Next year's budget topped the meeting's agenda.
Mr. Khristenko said that inflation for July would not exceed 1 percent, and that the yearly inflation rate would be 18 percent to 20 percent instead of the 35 percent experts predicted after prices surged by 2.6 percent in June.

Fish stabs man off Mexican coast

ACAPULCO, Mexico A giant marlin hooked off the Mexican coast jumped into the fisherman's boat and stabbed the man through his abdomen, a hospital spokesman said yesterday.
Dr. David Mendoza Millan of the General Hospital in the Pacific resort of Acapulco said Jose Rojas Mayarita, 39, was reeling in the 10-foot marlin on Saturday when the fish leaped from the waves and landed on him.
The marlin's spear pierced the fisherman's abdomen and came out the other side. Mr. Rojas drifted for two days in his boat, unable to get up, until another vessel rescued him. He was treated yesterday and was under observation in a hospital.

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