- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 4, 2001

Berenson retrial to go forward

LIMA, Peru Peru's new president, Valentin Paniagua, said yesterday that his interim government would not interfere in the civilian retrial of Lori Berenson, a U.S. citizen jailed on terrorism charges.

In his first declaration made over the Berenson case, Mr. Paniagua said he would abide by the decisions of the courts, which are hearing evidence in the case of the 31-year-old New Yorker who has consistently said she is innocent.

"We will respect the autonomy of powers and whatever the judicial authorities decide," Mr. Paniagua, who replaced disgraced ex-President Alberto Fujimori in November, told reporters in his first official news conference as president.

Berenson, 31, was sentenced to life in jail in 1996 by a military judge as a leader of the Cuban-inspired leftist guerrilla group the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement.

Pinochet attorney urges defiance

SANTIAGO, Chile Gen. Augusto Pinochet's chief attorney recommended yesterday that the former dictator openly disobey the judge seeking to try him for abuses that occurred during his military regime.

Judge Juan Guzman has ordered two days of neurological and mental tests starting Sunday to determine whether the defendant can stand trial.

But attorney Pablo Rodriguez said Mr. Guzman's orders for Gen. Pinochet to undergo two days of tests followed by a long day of interrogation amount "to open harassment" of the ailing 85-year-old former ruler.

Mr. Guzman last month indicted Gen. Pinochet on kidnapping and murder charges, but that action was overturned by the Supreme Court because the judge had failed to question the Chilean leader first.

Baghdad denies Saddam stricken

BAGHDAD Iraq yesterday dismissed reports that President Saddam Hussein had suffered a stroke over the weekend.

Some media outlets in Britain and Germany have run reports based on claims from the exiled Iraqi opposition that the dictator is in intensive care after a stroke.

The official Iraqi News Agency said Saddam chaired a Cabinet meeting yesterday to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian situation. INA also released a photograph, which it said depicted the Iraqi leader at the Cabinet meeting.

Sudan faces shortages of food, U.N. warns

ROME More than 3.2 million Sudanese are facing serious food and water shortages due to the combined disruptions of civil war and drought, the United Nations' World Food Program said yesterday.

"The failure of rains, exacerbated by the country's ongoing civil war, have left people in drought-affected areas with no food reserves and a severe shortage of clean drinking water," the Rome-based WFP said.

Key indicators, such as an increase in grain prices caused by recent poor harvests and serious water shortages, are creating a potential for disaster, the U.N. agency said.

Haitian opposition plots new moves

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti A 15-party opposition alliance challenging Jean-Bertrand Aristide's election as Haiti's president met yesterday to develop an alternative government.

The alliance, called Convergence, said it intends to write a platform for a national unity government that would hold general elections as soon as possible. It urged a struggle against "a small group of profiteers" who have come to power.

A larger convention is planned for later this month to nominate members to the provisional government.

Princess Margaret may have had stroke

LONDON Princess Margaret, the younger sister of Queen Elizabeth II, may have experienced a minor stroke, Buckingham Palace said yesterday.

The 70-year-old princess's life was not in danger and she was undergoing medical tests at the royal family's Sandringham estate.

The queen's only sister has been beset by health problems for several years. She suffered serious burns to her legs and feet in an accident in 1999. The previous year she had a mild stroke.

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