Friday, June 23, 2000

Unions in Paraguay launch general strike

ASUNCION, Paraguay Paraguayan police arrested at least four demonstrators and 10 persons were injured in clashes in the capital on the first day of a 48-hour general strike against the South American country’s privatization plans, police and unions said Thursday.

“There are six injured protesters who were brutally and unnecessarily beaten by riot police,” said the head of the National Transport Workers Union, Persio Duarte.

Unions are demanding that the government back down on plans to allow private investment in the telephone company Antelco, the water company Corposana and the country’s only railway company.

Police said four members of security forces were also injured in the clashes between police and groups of protesters who tried to block access roads into Asuncion.

No death penalty for Iranian Jews

TEHRAN None of the 13 Iranian Jews accused of spying for Israel will be sentenced to death, a judiciary official said yesterday.

The defense had said previously the charges do not carry the death penalty, but it was the first time an Iranian official representing the prosecution has ruled out death sentences for the accused.

“According to the law, none of the 13 accused are expected to get the death penalty,” said Hossein Ali Amiri, the judiciary chief of Fars province, where the trial is being held. He said the verdict would be announced before the end of the month.

Uganda reports pullout from key Congo town

KAMPALA, Uganda Ten days after Rwandan forces handed it an embarrassing military setback in northern Congo, Uganda said yesterday it was withdrawing five battalions from the divided nation.

Presidential spokeswoman Hope Kivengere said U.N. observers were supervising the withdrawal of Ugandan troops around the Congo River port of Kisangani, where hundreds were killed in fighting between Rwandan and Ugandan forces this month.

Rwanda and Uganda sent thousands of forces to Africa’s third-largest nation in support of rival rebel forces opposed to Congolese President Laurent Kabila.

Russian shanghais men for war in Chechnya

MOSCOW With young Russian conscripts being killed in Chechnya practically every day, the military is filling its ranks by illegally seizing draft-age men on the streets, raiding dormitories, and inducting men with chronic illnesses, a human rights group said Thursday.

“The constitution has no authority for bureaucrats fulfilling their quota of cannon fodder for the war in Chechnya,” Valentina Melnikova, a leader of the Soldiers’ Mothers’ Committee, said in a statement yesterday.

Brazil gun curbs squeezing dealers

SAO PAULO, Brazil “The government just declared my bankruptcy,” said Marco Aurelio Sprovieri, the owner of one of Sao Paulo’s largest gun stores.

As part of a sweeping anti-crime package announced Tuesday, the government issued a decree forbidding issuing gun permits for six months in a nation where recent statistics say a killing takes place every 13 minutes.

The decree, which went into effect Wednesday, in effect imposes a nationwide ban on firearm sales, because nobody can buy a gun without a permit.

Based on wire dispatches and staff reports.

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