- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 19, 2002

Sri Lankan rebels drop call for independence

SATTAHIP, Thailand Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels gave their clearest commitment yet yesterday to peacefully settling the nation's 19-year civil war, demanding only self-determination not independence for the Tamil minority.

"We demand the recognition of our homeland. When we say homeland it doesn't mean separate state," Anton Balasingham, the chief negotiator of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, said after a first round of peace talks with Sri Lanka's government.

Until now, the Tigers were vague about whether their definition of homeland meant wide autonomy or an independent nation.

The Tigers have been fighting since 1983 for a homeland for Sri Lanka's minority Tamils. The fighting has killed more than 64,500 people and ruined the economy of this Indian Ocean island nation.

Nazi collaborator freed from prison

PARIS French Nazi collaborator Maurice Papon left jail yesterday to the protests of Jewish groups after a court ruled he was too ill to serve the rest of his sentence for helping deport Jews to concentration camps.

Papon, 92, was sentenced in 1998 to 10 years in prison for complicity in crimes against humanity because of his role from 1942 to 1944 in organizing the transport of 1,560 Jews to a Paris transit camp on the way to Auschwitz.

Walking with a slight limp and dressed in a dark green sports jacket, he emerged from a small door at Paris' Sante prison. Without saying a word, he got into a waiting car, which sped off as a crowd yelled "Murderer" and "Papon in jail."

Zimbabwe passes new law speeding land seizures

HARARE, Zimbabwe Zimbabwe's ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party pushed a bill through Parliament yesterday giving it power to evict within days white farmers accused of using legal loopholes to hang on to land targeted for redistribution to blacks.

The amendments will allow the government to reissue any eviction notices previously rendered invalid by the high court. Farmers receiving such an order after the expiration of the initial 90-day notice will have seven days to vacate the land. The bill also increases the fine for resisting an eviction order by four times to $1,818.

Computer programmer held on terror charge

LONDON A British-based computer programmer has been charged with collecting or possessing information that could aid a terrorist attack, London police said yesterday.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said Mohammed Abdullah Azam, 32, was arrested Sunday in Luton, near London, where he lived. Police said Mr. Azam was not a British citizen but refused to provide further details, pending his appearance in court this morning.

Three other men in their early 20s arrested with him were released without being charged.

Ex-Afghan king leaves for treatment in France

KABUL, Afghanistan Afghanistan's frail former monarch, Mohammed Zahir Shah, left the country yesterday to get medical treatment in France, one of his aides said.

Haituallah Dayani said Mr. Zahir, 86, flew out on a foreign military plane, accompanied by his son, Mirwais Shah, his grandson, Mustafa Shah and his spokesman, Hamid Sediq.

The former monarch's trip is his first since he returned in April from nearly three decades of self-imposed exile in Rome.

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