Prisoners who were beaten and tortured by law enforcement officers at Attica in upstate New York in 1971 were awarded $8 million in a compensation settlement yesterday. The four-day siege at the prison, which cost the lives of 11 guards and 32 prisoners, ended with state troopers storming the facility. Eighty people were wounded. It became the deadliest prison brutality incident in the nation’s history. And this is what it sounded like at the time.
Report on Pacifica Station WBAI in 1971: “Governor Rockefeller and prison officials provoked a police riot, which caused the deaths of 41 persons and the shootings and beatings of hundreds more. We hereby call for the indictment of Governor Rockefeller, Commissioner Oswald, Deputy Commissioner Dunbar, Warden — and Warden Mancusi and Deputy Warden Vincent for assault, mayhem and murder.”
Israel began transferring five percent of the West Bank to Palestinian control today after negotiators ended a seven-week deadlock over whether the Palestinians could have a say in what areas will be handed over. The withdrawal started around midday, when several trucks loaded with furniture and mattresses rolled out of the Yosef army air base, east of the West Bank’s largest town of Nablus. The army was to transfer a total of six bases and camps in the northern and southern West Bank, and the pullback was to be completed tomorrow. As part of the agreement, Israel is handing three percent of the West Bank to Palestinian civil rule and another two percent to sole Palestinian control.
Chechen fighters launched a strong counterattack against Russian forces in Grozny’s northern outskirts today, despite Moscow’s claims that the rebels were close to collapse. Rebel fighters retook parts of the Grozny’s suburb of Khankala, which Russian forces claimed to have occupied days ago. By this morning, Chechen militants control the southern half of the area. Chechen leaders said the attacks mark the start of a change in the war, adding that the Russian advance into Chechnya would be halted. A major Chechen counterattack could be embarrassing to the Russian government, which has claimed it is close to defeating the rebels.
Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet underwent an independent medical examination today to determine his fitness to stand trial in Spain on charges of human rights abuses. The tests were expected to take most of the day. Pinochet’s supporters have long said his health is too poor to withstand the rigors of a trial. The medical exam was requested by the Chilean government and accepted by the British Home Secretary, who ultimately must decide whether to extradite Pinochet to Spain or allow him to return home. Human Rights Watch said today that determining the state of Pinochet’s health is very important because “all criminal defendants must be able to participate in their own defense.”
In Sri Lanka, a suspected Tamil rebel detonated explosives strapped to her body while police tried to search her near the prime minister’s office today, killing herself and 10 others. Hours later, gunmen assassinated a pro-Tamil politician. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam have been fighting for a separate homeland for the minority Tamil people since 1983.
In a prelude to the latest debate with his Democratic presidential rival, Bill Bradley said Vice President Al Gore is campaigning in desperation and warned Democrats that Gore will be a weaker nominee because of his questionable 1996 fundraising tactics. Tonight will be the fourth debate between the two Democratic presidential contenders. It comes three weeks before the first 2000 primary on February 1 in New Hampshire, where Bradley is running stronger than anywhere else, at least according to polls. Meanwhile, Al Gore’s bid for the presidency will get a boost from a Kennedy today. Breaking a longstanding tradition, Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy will endorse a candidate before the Democrat’s nominating convention. According to Kennedy aides, his decision to endorse Gore comes after reflecting over the Christmas holiday and a telephone conversation with the Vice President after New Year’s. The Kennedy camp says the endorsement should not be viewed as a slap against Bill Bradley.