- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 7, 2002

Quebec biker boss jailed for murder

MONTREAL Maurice "Mom" Boucher, head of the notoriously ruthless Quebec Hell's Angels, was convicted of murder Sunday in the shooting deaths of two prison guards crimes for which he will spend at least 25 years in jail.

After nearly 11 days of deliberation, the jury of eight men and four women found the 48-year-old biker boss guilty. The offense carries a mandatory penalty of life in prison without parole for 25 years, the harshest punishment in Canada's criminal code.

Prosecutor France Charbonneau said during the trial that the two fatal 1997 attacks on the guards, which took place outside prison, were part of Boucher's plan to intimidate Quebec's judicial system.


Chile's Lagos goes to Banzer's funeral

SANTIAGO, Chile President Ricardo Lagos attended the funeral yesterday of former Bolivian dictator Hugo Banzer, who died Sunday, despite critics who liken the late leader to the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

The decision of Mr. Lagos to travel to Bolivia to pay his respects earned him criticism from fellow socialists.

The gesture was seen as an effort to improve ties with Bolivia after 24 years without diplomatic relations. Both Gens. Banzer and Pinochet first seized power in coups and are accused of human rights abuses during the 1970s.

Mr. Banzer was later elected via the ballot box and dominated right-wing politics in Bolivia for three decades.


Chavez replaces 4 Cabinet members

CARACAS, Venezuela President Hugo Chavez replaced four Cabinet members to meet opposition demands and restore stability after last month's failed coup.

Among those sacked Sunday were Planning Minister Jorge Giordani, whose leftist policies were blamed for eroding confidence in Venezuela's oil-dependent economy, and Interior Minister Ramon Rodriguez Chacin, whose ties with Colombian Marxist rebels had reportedly upset the armed forces.

Mr. Chavez was ousted by military officers and businessmen on April 12 and swept back to power two days later. He bade an affectionate farewell to Mr. Giordani, one of his closest allies.


Weekly notes

Ricardo Sergio de Oliveira, a major campaign fund-raiser for Brazil's ruling party, came under fire over the weekend when Veja magazine published accusations he got a $15 million kickback for his role in putting government pension funds into the winning consortium during the 1997 sale of iron-ore giant Companhia Vale do Rio Doce. Mr. Oliveira, then director of the government-owned Banco do Brasil, raised funds for President Fernando Henrique Cardoso during his 1994 and 1998 campaigns, as well as for Jose Serra in his 1990 and 1994 congressional campaigns. Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen urged Canada yesterday to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. But in a meeting with Canadian Foreign Minister Bill Graham, he was unable to elicit any commitment. Canada has been stalling on the Kyoto process since the United States withdrew.


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