- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Joint test with U.S. set on missile defense
TOKYO Japan and the United States will test a missile-defense system that aims to repel a potential attack by North Korea, the Japanese Defense Agency said yesterday.
The system would launch ship-based missiles against enemy warheads fired at Japan, intending to knock them out of the sky, agency spokesman Ichiro Imaizumi said.
A report in yesterday's Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper said the nations will begin testing the missile-defense system in Hawaii next year. Japan has no missile-testing range.
The push to develop a new system began in 1999, a year after North Korea test-fired a missile over Japan into the Pacific Ocean.

Convicted murderers spared death penalty
KARACHI An appeals court lifted the death penalty but upheld a 14-year prison term yesterday for two political activists convicted of killing four Americans and a Pakistani six years ago.
Ahmed Saeed and Mohammed Salim were convicted in 1999 of gunning down four American employees of Union Texas Petroleum and their Pakistani driver. The November 1997 slayings occurred as the five sat stuck in traffic on a bridge in Karachi.
In its decision, the court noted only that Saeed and Salim were arrested 18 months after the crime took place, while the weapons used in the incident were found three months after they were arrested, a court official said on the condition of anonymity.

Deputy governor gunned down
RIYADH An unidentified gunman shot and killed the deputy governor of Saudi Arabia's northern Jouf province yesterday, a Saudi Interior Ministry official said.
The official told the state-run Saudi Press Agency that Hamad bin Abdel Rahman al-Wardi was driving to work when his car was riddled with gunfire early in the morning. He said the authorities were investigating the incident.
The motive for the shooting was not clear.

Rebels poised to resume fighting
BOUAKE Ivory Coast rebels held back yesterday from carrying out their threat to resume fighting, despite the expiration of their own deadline for President Laurent Gbagbo to implement a Paris-brokered peace plan.
The main rebel faction, the Patriotic Movement for Ivory Coast (MPCI), said West African leaders had urged them to pursue diplomatic channels and that they would hold fire until after a summit of African leaders in Paris, which ends Friday.

Albanian guerrillas tried for war crimes
PRISTINA Kosovo's first war crimes trial against four ethnic Albanian former guerrillas began under heavy security yesterday, one of the most sensitive court cases to date in the U.N.-governed province.
An international prosecutor has charged well-known ex-commander "Remi" and the others with torturing fellow ethnic Albanians suspected of collaborating with Serbian officials in the 1998-99 conflict. Three also are accused of murdering civilians.
The trial was held in a makeshift courtroom in Pristina, guarded by the province's international police. Kosovo came under U.N.-led rule in mid-1999 after 11 weeks of NATO bombing drove out Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's forces.

State OKs executions, angering President Fox
TOLUCA Voters in the central state of Mexico overwhelmingly approved a referendum in support of executing kidnappers, armed robbers and murderers sparking a national outcry yesterday in a country long opposed to capital punishment.
President Vicente Fox condemned the result, saying he was against the death penalty under any circumstances.

Pope renews appeal for Christian recognition
VATICAN CITY Pope John Paul II has renewed his appeal for the future European constitution to cite the continent's Christian heritage, saying such recognition in no way would diminish the secular nature of the European Union.
Absent from the constitutional drafts is any mention of God.

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