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This news from Chile: Lawyers filed a criminal complaint against General Augusto Pinochet yesterday, accusing the former dictator of ordering the killings of three members of the Socialist Party shortly after the bloody ’73 coup in which he seized power. Leftist lawyer Hugo Gutierrez said Pinochet personally ordered the killings. The military claimed the three victims, along with two soldiers, died when the truck transporting them to an internment camp plunged into a cliff, but Gutierrez said he had proof the government account was not true and that the two soldiers were still alive. Pinochet now faces seventy-eight criminal complaints filed on behalf of those who were killed or disappeared during his dictatorship.
And this news from San Salvador: A Jesuit-run university formally asked prosecutors yesterday to reinvestigate the murders of six priests and two women in 1989, alleging that a former president and other top officials were negligent in the deaths. The complaint by the Universidad Centroamericana said President Alfredo Christiani and former Defense Minister Rafael Humberto Larios shared guilt, because they could have prevented the crime. Father Jose Maria Tojeira told a news conference that the school is urging that officials bring charges against the men in connection with the slayings, amongst the most notorious atrocities in the country’s twelve-year civil war. The school’s complaint did accuse five former army generals of direct responsibility for the murders. Aides at Christiani’s office said the former president, who left office in ‘94, had no comment.
The six priests who worked at the university and a housekeeper and her daughter were rousted from their beds and shot by soldiers on November 16, 1989. A colonel, two lieutenants, a second lieutenant, and five other soldiers were accused of the slayings, but only two were convicted. They were freed in 1992 due to an amnesty law passed to accompany a peace treaty.
This news from Japan: The Japanese government withdrew the business license of a uranium processing plant operator today after the country’s worst nuclear accident occurred at one of its plants last September. An official at the Science and Technology Agency said it had revoked the business license of JCO Company indefinitely, following investigations into the accident in which 440 people were exposed to radiation and one later died. It was the first time a firm has had its license taken away under Japan’s nuclear regulatory laws. The accident was triggered when JCO workers put nearly eight times the proper amount of condensed uranium into a mixing tank at a processing plant in Tokaimura.
This news from Britain: Britain is running out of time to clean up tense overcrowded prisons and avoid the worst riots in ten years, according to a top prison governor. Many jails are dirty with poor facilities, and some measures to improve conditions have simply replaced one squalid condition for another — this according to Christopher Scott, president of the Prison Governors’ Association. Scott said tensions in some jails are rising as quickly as they were in 1990 before almost 200 people were injured in riots at a prison in Manchester in Northwest England. The riots at Strangeways Jail, in which forty-seven prisoners and 147 police and prison officials were hurt, lasted twenty-five days, the longest in British penal history.
Amnesty International excoriated Saudi Arabia today for a justice system that it says is steeped in secrecy, torture and other human rights abuses. The rights group was equally unstinting in its criticism of the international community, which it said had turned a blind eye to abuses in the conservative oil-rich kingdom. Saudi Arabia enforces strict Islamic sharia law, executing rapists, murderers and drug smugglers, usually by public beheading. Other punishments include amputation and flogging. Amnesty said Saudi Arabia has one of the highest execution rates in the world, both in absolute number and per capita terms, and fails to live up to rights treaties it has signed.
Speaking of executions, the man who has presided over more executions than any other in US history is the Texas Governor George W. Bush, and he plans a $1,000-a-plate fundraiser in New York at the Hilton Hotel tomorrow. There are major protests planned for outside.
And this news from Miami: In an escalating war of words, the US government said it will swiftly end Elian Gonzalez’s right to remain in the United States unless his Miami relatives promise to surrender the six-year-old boy if they lose their court fight to keep him out of Cuba. The INS said the boy’s parole will end at 9:00 a.m. Thursday unless the family provides a written guarantee to give up Elian.