- The Washington Times - Friday, November 26, 2004

EQUATORIAL GUINEA

Dozens convicted in coup plot

MALABO — A court in Equatorial Guinea convicted 30 accused European and African mercenaries and opposition leaders yesterday and sentenced them to prison for a suspected coup plot in the oil-rich nation, but it waived the death penalty for two top figures.

The court’s rejection of death penalties requested by prosecutors potentially strengthens Equatorial Guinea’s bid to extradite a suspected financier of the plot: Mark Thatcher, son of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

President Teodoro Obiang’s 25-year regime accused Mr. Thatcher and other, mostly British, financiers of commissioning scores of mercenaries in a takeover plot in the isolated West African nation.

SOUTH KOREA

IAEA criticizes nuke experiments

VIENNA, Austria — The U.N. nuclear watchdog rebuked South Korea yesterday for secret experiments that could have helped it develop an atom bomb, but spared it the humiliation of being hauled in front of the Security Council.

At a board meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria, governors approved a statement in which Seoul escaped with relatively mild criticism.

The IAEA reported this month that South Korea had enriched a tiny amount of uranium in 2000 to a level close to what could be useable in an atomic weapon. South Korean scientists also separated a tiny amount of bomb-grade plutonium in 1982 without notifying the IAEA.

JAPAN

U.S. deserter freed after brief sentence

CAMP ZAMA — U.S. Army deserter Charles Jenkins was released from military jail early today after serving 25 days for abandoning his squad in 1965 and defecting to North Korea, where he lived for nearly four decades.

The release ends the longest desertion case on record. Although American deserters from the 1940s are still on the military’s wanted list, none has turned himself in.

Mr. Jenkins, a native of Rich Square, N.C., testified in his Nov. 3 court-martial that he fled the Army in January 1965 to avoid service in Vietnam.

UNITED NATIONS

More payments revealed for Annan’s son

NEW YORK — The son of Secretary-General Kofi Annan received payments from a firm with a U.N. Iraqi oil-for-food contract more than four years longer than the world body previously conceded, officials said yesterday.

U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said the panel investigating corruption in the program has been told by Kojo Annan’s lawyer about the payments.

Mr. Eckhard denied the payments were improper, but it was an embarrassing moment for the United Nations to have to concede that its earlier information was wrong.

Congressional investigators estimate the regime of Saddam Hussein skimmed some $21 billion from the program.

NORTH KOREA

Consortium extends nuke-reactor freeze

NEW YORK — An international consortium said yesterday it has extended for another year a freeze on a project to build two light-water nuclear reactors in North Korea.

The four main partners in the New York-based Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization — the United States, Japan, South Korea and the European Union — had previously suspended the project for a year through Dec. 1, 2004.

The light-water reactor projects were started after a 1994 deal in which North Korea agreed to dismantle its plutonium-producing Russian-model heavy-water reactors.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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