The United States is reviving a long-dormant investigation of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. The probe is aimed at indicting Pinochet for the 1976 car bombing in Washington that killed former Chilean Ambassador Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt. A team of American law enforcement officials arrived in Santiago for court proceedings, involving 42 potential witnesses. They were subpoenaed by Chile’s Supreme Court on behalf of Washington. The chances are slim that Pinochet would be extradited to the U.S. if indicted, but an indictment could increase the pressure on Chile to try Pinochet for human rights abuses during his 17 years ruling Chile. The 84-year-old Pinochet returned to Chile earlier this month from London after successfully fighting extradition to Spain, where a judge wanted to try him for crimes against humanity.
New Zealand earlier today used the permanent U.N. conference on disarmament to call for a Southern Hemisphere free of nuclear weapons. Matt Robson, disarmament and arms control minister, told the other 65 members of the conference a great deal of the political spadework would be needed to make his proposal a reality. New Zealand’s proposal would bring together signatories of existing Southern Hemisphere non-nuclear treaties to insist that the seas, too, should be closed to nuclear weapons transports. But the five official nuclear powers—Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States—are loathe to give up what they see as their right to transport nuclear weapons through international waters.
In Oklahoma, a man convicted of rape and murder a decade ago was executed by injection early today. Kelly Lamont Rogers was 31 years old. He had admitted killing Karen Lauffenburger in 1990. In the death chamber, he smiled and turned to his family to tell them he loved them.
A federal judge in Tennessee blocked the execution of a condemned child killer yesterday, hours before he was to become the first person to be put to death in Tennessee in 40 years. Robert Glen Coe was to die by lethal injection at 1 a.m. this morning for the 1979 kidnapping, rape and murder of eight-year-old Cary Ann Medlin. U.S. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger blocked the execution to consider a petition by Coe’s attorneys contending he is not mentally competent for execution. Coe’s attorneys say he is insane and executing him would violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The Tennessee Supreme Court has found him sane for execution.
Also in Tennessee, a federal jury has exonerated four white officers accused in a civil rights lawsuit by using excessive force in the 1998 death of a black man under arrest. Andre Stenson was 34. He was stopped by police for driving without headlights. Apparently fearing a parole violation because he had no driver’s license, he ran. After he was caught, wrestled to the ground and handcuffed, he complained he couldn’t breathe and died on the way to the hospital. His widow, Marcellina Stenson sued for close to $7 million. She and her lawyer refused comment yesterday following the jury’s eight-to-three verdict in favor of the officers.
In Virginia, a pastor is calling on churches and civil rights leaders to join him in denouncing Gov. Jim Gilmore’s plan to again designate April as Confederate History Month. Gilmore has made the declaration during his first two years in office. His proclamations recognized the sacrifices of Confederate soldiers and include a condemnation of slavery. The Reverend Gerald Glenn said yesterday he has no problem with the Sons of Confederate Veterans honoring ancestors who died during the Civil War, but he said government should not declare special periods “to glorify those who battled to keep us in shackles and slave shanties.”
The federal government agreed yesterday to pay $508 million, the largest award ever in an employment discrimination case, to end a lawsuit filed 23 years ago by hundreds of women who said they were denied jobs and promotions at the U.S. Information Agency and Voice of America. The agreement ends a tortured legal battle that began after Carolee Brady applied for a job as a USIA magazine editor, only to be told that managers were seeking a man. Brady’s complaint ballooned into a class action lawsuit with roughly 1,100 women alleging they too lost opportunities because of their gender. Many said they were bypassed in favor of men with far less experience who scored poorly on hiring tests.