- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 12, 2003

BELGIUM

Cabinet to scrap war-crimes law

BRUSSELS — Belgium said yesterday it has decided to scrap a controversial war-crimes law that has seen cases launched against President Bush and Prime Ministers Tony Blair of Britain and Ariel Sharon of Israel.

Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt said his new government, sworn in yesterday, has decided as one of its first acts to get rid of the law, which has angered the United States.

“I think we have definitely solved this question,” Mr. Verhofstadt said, hours after his government had been sworn in by King Albert II.

The 1993 law gave Belgian courts the power to try war-crimes cases no matter where they were committed. In the future, the right to launch cases would be restricted to Belgian citizens or permanent residents, he said.

GERMANY

Annual Love Parade draws techno fans

BERLIN — Hundreds of thousands of techno-music fans — many in costume, others in not much at all — flooded streets of the German capital yesterday for the annual Love Parade.

Youthful partygoers from across Germany and beyond danced on and alongside some 30 trucks pounding out music as they converged slowly in Berlin’s Tiergarten park. Police estimated the crowd at over a half-million — the minimum organizers had hoped for.

Under this year’s motto “Love Rules,” the parade was to culminate at the city’s landmark Victory Column with programs running late into the night from top deejays such as Felix Da Housecat, Pete Tong and Love Parade founder Dr. Motte.

Started in 1989 as a small procession of 150 ravers protesting for the right to party in a city still divided by the Berlin Wall, the parade mushroomed after German reunification the next year into a Berlin institution and a massive draw for partygoers as well as tourists.

RUSSIA

Three soldiers killed in Chechnya blasts

MOSCOW — Land-mine blasts in separatist Chechnya killed three Russian soldiers and injured others early yesterday, as Moscow said its forces had killed a prominent rebel leader during raids in the province.

Russian news agencies said one blast in the Vedeno district, southwest of the ravaged Chechen capital, Grozny, killed three Russians instantly and wounded three others as they swept roads for mines laid by rebels overnight.

In a separate explosion, two police officers were injured in the village of Alkhan-Kala outside Gronzy. The Interfax news agency, quoting local police, said a woman and a child were hurt in the shootout that followed.

Weekly notes …

Washington’s envoy to Moscow said yesterday that U.S. forces could not guarantee the safety of Russia’s embassy in Baghdad, prompting an angry response from Moscow that blew a chill wind between the Cold War-era rivals.

“There is no Iraqi government to grant diplomatic privileges and immunity for foreign diplomats in Iraq,” Ambassador Alexander Vershbow told the Interfax news agency.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko fired straight back.

“All this contradicts international law and diplomatic practice,” he said in comments broadcast on state television. “Occupying powers must fulfill the obligations agreed to in [U.N.] Resolution 1483, which the United States voted for.”

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