- The Washington Times - Monday, February 16, 2004

FRANCE

Chirac ally fined in corruption case

PARIS — A Paris court yesterday convicted a spokesman for President Jacques Chirac’s ruling UMP party for his role in a money-laundering operation in which the official handed over hundreds of thousands of dollars in a suitcase.

The court ruling was the second time this year a figure in France’s main conservative party has been found guilty of corruption. In January, UMP chief Alain Juppe, a former prime minister, was convicted in a separate party-funding case.

The Paris criminal court fined UMP spokesman Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres $19,120 for money laundering in 1996, but cleared him of breaking party-financing rules. It also handed Francois Leotard, who was defense minister from 1993 to 1995, a 10-month suspended prison sentence for money laundering and illegal party financing.

The two men were charged with delivering $973,000 in state funds to an Italian company acting as a bank. The company then passed the money back to their now-disbanded Republican Party in the form of a loan.

RWANDA

Suspects offered freedom for confession

KIGALI — Thousands of Rwandans accused of participating in the country’s 1994 genocide will be released from prison if they admit their guilt and ask for forgiveness before a deadline next month, the government said yesterday.

The central African nation has been grappling with the question of justice since 1994, when Hutu extremists slaughtered 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu moderates in about 100 days.

A large swath of Rwanda’s Hutu majority was drawn into the killing, and a decade later, jails still are overflowing with about 90,000 inmates awaiting trials that would take more than a century to complete using formal systems of justice.

ISRAEL

Proposal isolates Palestinian areas

JERUSALEM — A far-right Israeli minister tried to rally Cabinet support yesterday for a proposal to carve Palestinian territory into isolated cantons as an alternative to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to uproot Jewish settlements.

Transport Minister Avigdor Lieberman sent letters to 10 of 21 Cabinet members asking them to help him draft his initiative. Mr. Sharon’s office had no immediate comment, but he was expected to reject the proposal.

The Palestinian Authority immediately dismissed the idea as a plot by the “extremist Israeli right” to block creation of a Palestinian state as envisioned in a U.S.-backed peace plan.

TAIWAN

Chen says unification not ruled out

TAIPEI — The leader of the Republic of China (Taiwan), Chen Shui-bian, branded a separatist by Beijing’s leadership, has said he would not rule out unification of this democratic island with China.

Mr. Chen was quoted by Time magazine’s Asia edition as saying, “Who knows if these two separate countries [Taiwan and China] might become one over time? We do not exclude any possibilities for the future.”

FRANCE

Israeli leader’s visit helps mend relations

PARIS — France and Israel sought yesterday to patch up ties frayed by discord over the Middle East and attacks on Jews in France, with Israel’s visiting president praising host Jacques Chirac for his stance on anti-Semitism.

President Moshe Katsav also used a joint news conference with Mr. Chirac to urge France and other European Union countries to demand that Palestinians end attacks on Israelis as a condition for receiving EU aid.

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