- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 26, 2003


NETHERLANDS
International court picks prosecutor
THE HAGUE - The new International Criminal Court confirmed yesterday that it had tentatively picked Argentine lawyer Luis Moreno Ocampo as its first prosecutor.
Countries backing the court have "agreed informally and on the basis of consensus" to elect Moreno Ocampo at a formal meeting in April, the court said in a statement.
Eighty-nine countries have ratified the international treaty creating the world criminal court, but lack of support from the United States has raised concerns about its clout.

IRAQ
Catholics to keep churches open
ZURICH - The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Baghdad has vowed that the citys churches will remain open to allow Christians and Muslims to take refuge there during the U.S.-led war, according to a newspaper article published Tuesday in Switzerland.
"This people [the Iraqis] has had to suffer awful things over the past two decades," Archbishop Jean Benjamin Steiman wrote in an article published in the mass-circulation Blick daily.
"We will not leave them alone at this time," he wrote.
An estimated 800,000 of Iraqs population are Christians.

BELARUS
Police arrest pro-U.S. activists
MINSK - Police arrested 20 opposition activists yesterday during a large, unauthorized demonstration in Minsk in support of the U.S.-led war on Iraq and to protest the hard-line Belarus leadership.
Around 1,000 people - many carrying signs reading "Bush and Blair, you are right" - gathered in central Minsk.
Police arrested 20 persons - including Vintsuk Vecherko, co-chief of the main opposition party, Belarus Popular Front.

RUSSIA
International aid sought for Chechnya
MOSCOW - Russias foreign minister called on international organizations yesterday to help rebuild war-shattered Chechnya after a referendum on a new Moscow-backed constitution in the republic.
With results counted from 347 of Chechnyas 418 polling stations, 96 percent of the votes were in favor of the constitution with only 2.6 percent against, according to Russias Central Election Commission Web site. The constitution binds Chechnya to Russia.
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said he had sent a message to a number of Islamic organizations, including the Arab League, inviting them to participate in reconstruction efforts in Chechnya, a mainly Muslim republic devastated by two wars between Russian troops and separatist rebels during the past decade.

RUSSIA
Tycoon arrested on fraud charges
LONDON - Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky was arrested by British police yesterday at the request of Russian authorities investigating him on suspicions of fraud.
An extradition request charges Mr. Berezovsky with defrauding the administration of Russias Samara region of the equivalent of about $13 million while he was director of a company called LogoVaz from Jan. 1, 1994, to Dec. 31, 1995.
Mr. Berezovsky, an influential member of former Russian President Boris Yeltsins circle, was emblematic of the politically connected group of so-called oligarchs who amassed huge wealth after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

FRANCE
Cresson charged in EU fraud scandal
BRUSSELS - Edith Cresson, a former French prime minister, has been charged with fraud by a Belgian magistrate four years after she brought down the European Commission in its worst scandal.
Mrs. Cresson, who led the French government in the early 1990s and later became the European Unions research and education commissioner, is accused of forgery and conflict of interest.
Investigators have said that she handed out fictitious contracts worth about $135,000 for AIDS research to her dentist and boyfriend, the late Rene Berthelot, while in office.

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