- The Washington Times - Monday, June 20, 2005

HAITI

Abductions for money latest plague on island

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Jean Henold Buteau’s wife listened frantically to the brusque voice on the other end of the telephone line: “We’ve got your husband. Give us $1 million or start planning his funeral.”

Then she heard his screams as the kidnappers tortured her bound and hooded husband, crushing the tips of his fingers and earlobes with pliers and burning his feet.

Mr. Buteau’s 20-hour abduction in April was part of a rash of kidnappings that are adding to the misery in a country already beset by political violence and instability.

An average of four persons are kidnapped each day by politically aligned street gangs, drug traffickers, crooked police and criminal deportees from the United States, officials say.

CANADA

TWISTED BEAUTY DUEFOR PRISON RELEASE

JOLIETTE, QUEBEC — SHE WAS A PRETTY, BRIGHT YOUNG WOMAN WHO HELPED DRUG, RAPE, TORTURE AND KILL SCHOOLGIRLS AND EVEN PRESENTED HER OWN TEENAGE SISTER TO HER BOYFRIEND AS A GIFT.

KARLA HOMOLKA, NOW 35, HAS FASCINATED AND HORRIFIED CANADIANS SINCE COMMITTING HER CRIMES MORE THAN A DECADE AGO. THE COUNTRY’S MOST NOTORIOUS FEMALE CONVICT, SHE IS DUE TO BE RELEASED FROM PRISON WITHIN WEEKS, AND THE COUNTRY’S ANXIETY AND ANGER ARE AGAIN ON THE RISE.

HOMOLKA, WHO VIDEOTAPED THE MURDERS WITH HER PSYCHOPATHIC HUSBAND, WILL LEAVE A PRISON IN JOLIETTE, QUEBEC, IN EARLY JULY AFTER SERVING 12 YEARS FOR MANSLAUGHTER FOR HER PART IN THE KILLING OF THREE GIRLS AND THE RAPE OF ANOTHER.

PANAMA

Colombian war ‘over,’but refugees remain

PUERTO OBALDIA — Refugees from the Colombian civil war who fled to Panama are wary of going home, even though thousands of members of the far-right paramilitary group that threatened them have disarmed.

About 400 Colombians who escaped fighting during the 1990s live in this Caribbean coastal town on the border between the two countries.

“I ran with my two sons into the mountains when the paramilitaries arrived,” said Eusebia Gomez from Acandi, Colombia.

“Now, I dare not return,” said Mr. Gomez, who fled 10 years ago.

Maria Elena Espinosa was born in Colombia, but after fighters from the United Self Defense Forces attacked her home in Acandi in the early 1990s, she fled to La Bonga, a border village in Panama. Colombian paramilitaries then invaded La Bonga in 1995 and burned it down, killing nine, after accusing residents of collaborating with the guerrillas.

“They caught my husband and my daughter-in-law and took them away to a deep gully, tortured them, cut their throats and shot them,” said Mrs. Espinosa, who now lives in this jungle town of fishermen and farmers protected by Panamanian police.

Weekly notes

Venezuela has announced that it will take over two large cattle ranches run by Britain’s Vestey Group under President Hugo Chavez’s land reforms for the poor. The National Land Institute ruled that the La Bendicion Ramera and Hato San Pablo Paeno ranches will be used for state agrarian projects under a law allowing government confiscation of farms that fail to show land titles and productive use. … A Chilean student who confessed to stealing a valuable statue by French sculptor Auguste Rodin over the weekend has been released from jail. Luis Onfray initially said he discovered “The Torso of Adele,” on loan from the Rodin Museum of Paris, in a Santiago park, La Tercera newspaper reported yesterday. He later confessed to stealing the statue, worth about $500,000, and said he wanted to prove how vulnerable it was to theft. The statue has been returned to the museum.


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