- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 27, 2003

Prime minister pleads not guilty in graft
WARSAW Polish Prime Minister Leszek Miller proclaimed his innocence yesterday in a corruption investigation that threatens to topple his embattled minority government weeks before a referendum on joining the European Union.
Millions of Poles watched live television coverage of Mr. Miller's testimony before a special parliamentary committee set up in January to investigate fraud charges embroiling his left-wing Democratic Left Alliance party.
The committee is investigating assertions by the daily Gazeta Wyborcza that a top filmmaker sought $17.5 million from its editor on behalf of a group in Mr. Miller's party in return for changes to a media bill to benefit the paper's owner, Agora.

Executive questioned on N. Korea sale
HAMBURG Prosecutors in Germany confirmed yesterday that one of the directors of a German company suspected of supplying aluminum tubes to North Korea's nuclear program has been detained for questioning.
The announcement comes after weekly magazine Der Spiegel said in its issue due to be published tomorrow that 22 tons of aluminum tubes, essential in the manufacture of enriched uranium, were loaded onto a French ship in Hamburg in early April, just as the German federal government vetoed the shipment.
The German government alerted the French authorities, who ordered the ship's captain to unload the containers in Egypt.
Officially the tubes were on their way to China's Shenyang Aircraft Corp. but, according to Der Spiegel, Berlin believes that this company was a front for North Korea. The German firm's business contact was a North Korean national, it said.

Chirac's wife can keep carpet, judge rules
PARIS A French judge ruled Friday that President Jacques Chirac's wife, Bernadette, could keep a 17th-century carpet that a Jewish group said was confiscated from Jews during World War II.
Judge Michel Valette rejected a request from the Association of Jews Despoiled During the War that the French first lady hand over the carpet, woven on the order of Louis XIV, to national heritage body Mobilier National. The carpet was not seized from Jews during the war, the judge concluded.
Mrs. Chirac moved the carpet to the presidential Elysee Palace from the Paris town hall in 1995 when her husband was elected head of state and gave up his position as mayor of the French capital, the judge said.
The Culture Ministry said the association had confused the carpet with an imitation version that had been seized during the war and was now in storage at the Mobilier National.

Weekly notes …
Many of the 28 baggage handlers at Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport arrested on charges of pilfering traveler luggage have confessed to the crimes, police said. The arrests last week closed an 18-month investigation into thefts of digital cameras, perfumes, jewelry, clothing and other goods from the bags of travelers. … The time has come for gender-neutral crosswalk signs, Norway's equality ombudswoman said Friday, urging the country's authorities to make signs featuring a man in a hat crossing the road a thing of the past. Kristin Mile called on road authorities to follow the example set by a number of other European countries, such as Spain and Germany, and switch to gender-neutral stick figures. Norwegian signs with the dapper, suit-clad man in a hat crossing the road have been in use since 1968.

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