- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 24, 2003


Notorious child-killer shielded from publicity

LONDON — British child killer Mary Bell, who was convicted of murdering two boys, ages 3 and 4, in 1968 when she was 11 years old, has won a legal bid for lifelong anonymity.

At the High Court in London, Judge Elizabeth Butler-Sloss accepted evidence that Mrs. Bell, now 46, and her 18-year-old daughter, were at “considerable risk of press intrusion and harassment, public stigma and ostracism” if their current identities were disclosed.

Judge Butler-Sloss said that, in her view, probably the most important reason for granting anonymity was Mrs. Bell’s abused childhood and her considerable mental health problems.

A forensic psychiatrist had reported that she had been damaged by “appalling early childhood experiences.”

Mrs. Bell has been given several assumed names since her release from prison in 1980 and her current identity and whereabouts cannot be disclosed under the terms of the court order, which also covers her teenage daughter.


Pension-rule changes provoke mass protests

PARIS — French teachers formed a human chain around the Education Ministry on Thursday in the second strike this week to target government plans to freeze spending, change pension rules and give more power to local authorities.

The protest was the sixth teachers’ strike since the academic year began in September and set the stage for a big nationwide demonstration today and further strikes in coming weeks.

Unions oppose government plans to make people pay more and for a longer period into pension plans.

The government says this is necessary to avoid a funding crunch in the state pension system, which now allows many to retire at 60.

Today’s mass protest could cripple rail and air transport after similar action on “Black Tuesday,” May 13, brought much of the country to a standstill.


Leniency for mafioso provokes fury, new probe

PALERMO — A Mafioso who killed a young boy and dissolved his body in acid has been released into house arrest after serving seven years in prison, reviving a fierce debate in Italy about how Mafia turncoats are treated.

Enzo Brusca strangled 11-year-old Giuseppe de Matteo in 1996 and got rid of his body in an acid bath in an act of revenge against the boy’s father, who had implicated Brusca and his brother, Giovanni, in the killing of a top anti-Mafia judge.

Brusca, originally sentenced to 30 years in prison, was granted house arrest Tuesday after he agreed to turn state witness. Under the terms of the turncoat law, jailed Mafiosi are offered more lenient sentences to encourage them to talk.

The decision to let him return home caused outrage, prompting the Justice Ministry to open an investigation into whether all legal procedures had been followed. “This decision calls out for divine retribution” said Roberto Calderoli, vice president of the upper house of parliament.

Weekly notes …

An ambulance medic in Munich has been arrested for robbing patients as they lay helpless en route to the hospital. After several patients reported thefts, an investigation revealed they were all brought to the hospital on the 21-year-old’s shift, and police set a trap for the man, who was caught stealing and arrested. “He said he was short of money,” said police spokeswoman Sabine Allertseder. … Instead of landing instructions, aircraft approaching Britain’s Luton Airport heard the squealing of infant Freya Spratley broadcast over their radios. Authorities worked 12 hours to track the frequency and determined that a baby monitor at Lisa Spratley’s house near the airport was broadcasting her baby’s cries to the cockpits of approaching planes.

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