- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Libyan awaits fate in Lockerbie case

AMSTERDAM Freedom, a last appeal, or life behind bars? Tomorrow, appeals judges will decide the fate of the Libyan convicted in the Lockerbie case.

Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, 49, could walk free from the special Scottish court in the Netherlands if the five-judge panel quashes his guilty verdict. But if it upholds his January 2001 conviction, the former Libyan intelligence agent has a last ray of hope.

Megrahi, found guilty of planting the bomb on a New York-bound Pan Am jumbo jet that exploded in 1988 and killed 270 persons, could ask the United Kingdom's final appeal body, the Privy Council, to look at his case. Otherwise, it's life in prison.

5 corpses discovered in southeast Turkey

TUNCELI, Turkey Five bullet-riddled bodies have been found in a field in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast, and police are searching for clues, officials said yesterday.

Unsolved killings have plagued the southeast for years, a region with a decades-long conflict with separatist guerrillas in some of Turkey's most remote areas.

One of the five corpses, all male, appeared from his clothing to be a guerrilla of the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), and the other four were civilians, officials said. The PKK denies any involvement in the deaths.

Fire at locked school kills 14 Saudi girls

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia A fire that broke out shortly after classes started at the 31st Girls Middle School in Mecca led to panicked escape attempts in which 14 girls were killed and 50 injured, some critically, Saudi media reported yesterday.

The English-language Saudi Gazette said Monday's fire did not itself cause any of the casualties. The victims either suffocated, fell to their deaths from the windows of the four-story building or were trampled to death.

The school reportedly had no emergency exits, and its main gate could not be opened because the key was with a guard, who was away. The Gazette said 835 students and 55 teachers were inside.

School gates in the region are often locked during the day to ensure strangers do not wander onto campuses and students don't leave without permission.

Ayatollah warns U.S. against attacking Iran

TEHRAN A U.S. military attack on Iran, dubbed by President Bush part of an "axis of evil," would have consequences "worse than Vietnam," an Iranian leader warned yesterday.

"If the United States ever attacks Iran, it will sink into a quagmire worse than Vietnam," said Ayatollah Ali Meshkini, head of the Assembly of Experts, which appoints or dismisses Iran's supreme leader.

Weekly notes

Iranian reformist deputy Shahrbanoo Amani got a suspended sentence of four months in jail for insulting hard-line parliamentarian Mohammed Abbaspour in an interview with a local publication, IRNA news agency reports. … Syrian President Bashar Assad held talks yesterday with a special envoy of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on the agenda of the upcoming Arab summit, SANA news agency reported. Mr. Assad and Izzat Ibrahim, vice president of Iraq's Revolutionary Command Council, stressed the need for the March 27-28 summit in Beirut "to adopt a unified position boosting Arab solidarity and preserving security."

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