- The Washington Times - Friday, June 8, 2001

Eyewitness confirms royal slayings details

KATMANDU, Nepal — A survivor yesterday gave the first eyewitness account of the massacre of Nepal´s royal family, describing how the intoxicated crown prince gunned down his father, then shot relative after relative, some repeatedly and at close range.

Dr. Rajiv Raj Shahi, a relative, said he rushed to the side of King Birendra, trying to staunch his bleeding.

Crown Prince Dipendra fatally shot his parents, brother and sister and five other relatives before turning the gun on himself.

"It was the then-Crown Prince Dipendra who carried out the murders," Dr. Shahi said. "He was just a murderer."

Dr. Shahi was the first witness to publicly describe the slaughter last Friday night, which has stunned this impoverished Himalayan nation.

Rebels threaten to behead Americans

LAMITAN, Philippines — A Muslim rebel leader holding three Americans hostage threatened yesterday to behead them Sunday unless the Philippine government appoints two Malaysian negotiators to mediate their release.

But with the crisis in its 11th day, the government pledged more attacks on the guerrillas, and said foreign mediators may only complicate talks. The Malaysian government said it will not intervene.

Abu Sabaya, a leader of the Abu Sayyaf rebel group, telephoned Radio Mindanao Network from a hideout with the threat to behead Wichita, Kan., missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham and Corona, Calif., resident Guillermo Sobero.

War tribunal makes first-ever acquittal

ARUSHA, Tanzania — A U.N. genocide tribunal found a former Rwandan mayor not guilty yesterday, the first acquittal in the court´s seven-year history.

After an 18-month trial, Ignace Bagilishema, the former mayor of Mabanza, was found not guilty of charges that he helped organize the massacre of Tutsis in Rwanda´s western Kibuye province in 1994.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda is responsible for prosecuting ringleaders of the state-sponsored genocide of more than 500,000 people in Rwanda, most of them Tutsis and politically centrist Hutus. It has convicted eight persons of genocide.

French begin new Diana probe

PARIS — A French judge has begun new legal proceedings against several photographers who pursued Britain´s Princess Diana on the night of the car crash that killed her and two others, judicial sources said yesterday.

Judge Muriel Josie last month placed Jacques Langevin, of the Corbis-Sygma agency, under formal investigation for invasion of privacy and she summoned three other photographers to appear June 18 to hear they also are being investigated.

The four were among a group of nine press photographers who followed the Mercedes in which Diana, her Egyptian friend, Dodi Fayed, and driver Henri Paul were killed in Paris on Aug. 31, 1997.

Bush baseball buddy wins ambassadorship

President Bush has chosen one of his former baseball partners to be ambassador to Australia and veteran diplomats to be envoys to Ghana, Greece, Romania and Turkmenistan, the White House said yesterday.

The president intends to nominate Thomas Schieffer, a Dallas businessman and his former partner in the Texas Rangers baseball team, to serve as the U.S. ambassador to Australia, the White House said in a statement.

Mr. Bush also plans to nominate Nancy Jo Powell, currently acting assistant secretary of state for African affairs, to be ambassador to Ghana, and Thomas Miller, chief of mission in Bosnia, to be the U.S. envoy to Greece.

The president tapped Michael Guest, principal deputy assistant secretary of state in the State Department´s Bureau of Legislative Affairs, to be ambassador to Romania, and Laura Kennedy, charge d´affaires at the U.S. mission to international organizations in Vienna, as the U.S. envoy to Turkmenistan.

Japan apologizes to leprosy victims

TOKYO — Japanese lawmakers yesterday adopted a resolution apologizing to leprosy victims for failing to overturn a government policy that banished them to remote sick wards for decades.

The passage of the resolution follows a landmark court decision last month that held the Japanese government responsible for the suffering of 127 leprosy patients under the 1953 Leprosy Prevention Law.

The law forced victims of the disease to live in sanatoriums on small islands or deep in mountainous hinterlands and required men to be sterilized before marrying.

Japan´s parliament repealed the measure in 1996 years after researchers understood that leprosy was easily treatable and not highly contagious.

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