- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 22, 2003


Berlusconi granted immunity in office

ROME — Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi has signed a controversial immunity law, formalizing Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s escape from prosecution as long as he remains prime minister, officials said yesterday.

An immediate effect is the suspension of Mr. Berlusconi’s high-profile trial in Milan on charges of bribing judges, less than two weeks before Italy takes over the rotating presidency of the European Union on July 1.

The bill, passed overwhelmingly by parliament Wednesday, exempts the president, prime minister, both parliamentary speakers and the head of the Constitutional Court from standing trial as long as they are in office.

Mr. Berlusconi, who is Italy’s richest man and has had numerous run-ins with the judiciary, stands accused in Milan of having paid judges to block a privatization deal in 1985 involving a rival company to his Fininvest holding company.


German official warns against attacking Iran

BERLIN — A senior German minister has warned the United States against armed intervention in Iran, saying the only way to democracy there is through political dialogue with the country’s reformers.

Interviewed by the newspaper Tagesspiegel am Sonntag for today’s issue, Cooperation Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul said: “I can only warn against such action. It would be a bad path to take.”

A senior member of the U.S. administration said Friday that the United States reserves the right to take military action against Iran because of its nuclear program but added that any such move is “far from our minds.”


Terror is discounted in airport shooting

OSLO — A man was shot at Oslo’s Gardermoen airport yesterday, Norwegian police said, but he survived the attack.

A car with four men was seen fleeing the scene and was later stopped, with the occupants arrested on the highway into Oslo, police said.

Police could give no further details nor comment on the motive behind the shooting but said it was not likely to be connected to international terrorism.


Stonehenge crowd greets solstice

LONDON — About 30,000 people watched the sun rise over the prehistoric site of Stonehenge in southern Britain yesterday, one of the most sacred days for pagans.

Travelers, members of the Celtric class of priests, poets and judges, hippies and more mundane sun worshipers greeted the first rays of sunshine with drums, shouts and whistles in this Wiltshire field peppered with ancient monoliths 90 miles west of London.

Londoner Amanda Belle came to celebrate her 35th birthday with boyfriend, Adrian Lee: “It’s a really lovely, fantastic atmosphere. What a great way to celebrate your birthday.”


Last of Wall victims given a memorial

BERLIN — A memorial to the last person killed trying to cross the Berlin Wall was inaugurated in the German capital yesterday, 35 years to the day after he was born.

Twenty-year-old Chris Gueffroy was fatally shot by East German border guards February 5, 1989, just nine months before the wall fell, the last of almost 200 people killed trying to escape from East to West Berlin.

An 8-foot steel column designed by sculptor Karl Biederman was erected on a canal bank near where the young man died.

Mr. Gueffroy and a friend thought that the “time had passed for an armed response” when they began crossing the barbed-wire barriers, a plaque on the memorial says.

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