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A delegation that tried to meet with Mrs. Betancourt and her rebel captors flew out of Colombia in a French government jet. The rebels said in a statement posted Tuesday on the Internet that they would no longer unilaterally free captives.


Pro-democracy activist arrested

CAIRO — A key leader of Egypt’s main pro-democracy group was arrested last night during a raid on his home in Cairo, police and group officials said.

George Ishaq, director-general of Kifaya, was taken away by security officers who stormed the home around 8 p.m., one of the group’s founders, Abdel-Halim Qandil, told the Associated Press. He said more than 50 members of the movement had been arrested this week.

Meanwhile, an Egyptian court convicted five men yesterday on charges of homosexual behavior and sentenced them to three years in prison, officials said.


Referendum set for May 10

RANGOON — Burma’s military government has scheduled a referendum on an army-drafted constitution for May 10, state television said yesterday.

Copies of the charter — which Western governments have dismissed as a sham to entrench more than four decades of military rule — would go on sale immediately, the announcement also said.

The constitution is a key step in the junta’s seven-point “road map to democracy” meant to culminate in multi-party elections in 2010.

From wire dispatches and staff reports