- The Washington Times - Monday, July 21, 2003


Guerrilla suspects, materials discovered

MEXICO CITY — Information on how to make chemical weapons and other materials related to potential political violence were found in a Mexican safe house used by Spaniards and Mexicans suspected of links to the guerrilla group ETA, officials said.

Ten persons were arrested in Mexico and Spain on Friday in a crackdown on the financial and logistic structure of the Basque separatists. Six Spaniards and three Mexicans were detained in cities across Mexico and were being held Sunday awaiting extradition.

At a house in Puerto Escondido a search turned up manuals on how to make chemical weapons, the office of Mexico’s attorney general said in a news release.


Search for corpses widens near Vancouver

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Police who have spent more than a year digging for bodies at the pig farm of a man suspected of being a serial killer expanded the search Sunday to a new property linked to the case.

Investigators began probing an area near the Fraser River in Mission, British Columbia, about 40 miles east of Vancouver and about 20 miles from Robert Pickton’s farm in Port Coquitlam.

Mr. Pickton, 53, has been charged with killing 15 of more than 60 women, mostly drug addicts and prostitutes who disappeared without a trace from Vancouver during the past two decades. A judge is expected to increase the number of murder charges against Mr. Pickton this month.


French envoy denies dealing with FARC

BOGOTA — The French ambassador in Colombia denied during the weekend a Brazilian magazine report that French officials had arrived in Brazil’s Amazon region and tried to negotiate with rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) for the release of kidnapped Colombian former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt.

Ambassador Daniel Parfait said a French medical team landed in neighboring Brazil this month for an unspecified humanitarian mission. The weekly Carta Capital said the group had arrived under a pretext and tried to swap Mrs. Betancourt, who has spent nearly 17 months in captivity and has a French passport, for weapons. It cited Brazilian intelligence sources, police and witnesses.

Mrs. Betancourt, 41, is among the most prominent kidnap victims in Colombia. The abduction of the mother of two, who was raised in Paris, has attracted great attention in France. Mr. Parfait told reporters, “I want to formally deny that there was any contact, and much less negotiation, between French authorities and the FARC,” and specifically denied any attempt to free Mrs. Betancourt.

Weekly notes …

Allies of Colombia’s popular president, Alvaro Uribe, submitted to Congress on Sunday a measure that would allow the leader to run for re-election in 2006. The bill would change Colombia’s 1991 Constitution to scrap a one-term limit on the presidency and other offices, including governor and mayor. … Hundreds of people with houses near Montserrat’s volcano got limited access to their homes during the weekend for the first time since they were ordered to evacuate nine months ago. The governor of the British Caribbean island said the volcano is less dangerous since its lava dome collapsed the previous weekend. Montserrat’s volcano sprang to life in 1995, leading to the departure of more than half the area’s population.

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