Iranian foundation vows to add interest to bounty for...

Foreign Digest

February 15, 2000

TEHRAN, IRAN — Iranian foundation vows to add interest to bounty for novelist

TEHRAN, Iran -- An Iranian foundation has pledged to add interest to its $2.8 million bounty on the head of Salman Rushdie on the 11th anniversary of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's order to kill the British novelist.

Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi reaffirmed yesterday that the Iranian government would not seek to carry out the fatwa, or religious ruling, but that private organizations are free to express their views.

He was speaking after the hard-line Revolutionary Guards, a state military force, the state-affiliated Islamic Propagation Organization and the Martyrs' Foundation all issued statements Sunday reaffirming that Rushdie must be killed.

Indictment of Weizman not likely, prosecutor says

JERUSALEM -- Israel's state prosecutor said yesterday that President Ezer Weizman is unlikely to face criminal charges for taking large sums of money from a French millionaire friend.

Prosecutor Edna Arbel predicted an early end to a police inquiry into the hundreds of thousands of dollars that businessman Edouard Saroussi gave Weizman about a decade ago.

"The material will reach the prosecutor's office soon and we will take decisions. Based on the picture as it is being drawn now, I don't see us talking about an indictment," Arbel said.

Court to rule today on access to Pinochet health report

LONDON -- Britain's High Court has said it will rule today on whether Belgium and six human rights groups may view a medical report finding former Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet unfit to stand trial.

Belgium and the groups have appealed to see the report, which British Home Secretary Jack Straw has said leaves him inclined to send the 84-year-old general home rather than order him extradited to Spain to stand trial on charges of human rights abuses.

Spain, France and Switzerland have made similar requests, but only Belgium is involved in this legal challenge.

Death toll from flooding in southern Africa up to 45

JOHANNESBURG -- The death toll from the worst flooding across southern Africa in nearly 50 years rose to at least 45 yesterday as more rain deluged the region.

South African police confirmed that dozens had died and thousands had been left homeless after nearly a week of constant rain. In Mozambique, an estimated 250,000 people have been forced into temporary shelter, and fertile farming land in the Limpopo Valley has been heavily damaged.

South African police warned that areas most affected by recent flooding are likely to get more rain and said they expect the death toll to rise.

U.S. delegation in Colombia to discuss drug-fighting plan

BOGOTA, Colombia -- As new figures showed a 20 percent rise in Colombian cocaine production, a high-level U.S. delegation met yesterday with leaders of this turbulent nation to discuss a drug-fighting aid package.

The visit led by Thomas Pickering, the State Department's third-ranking official, came as the U.S. Congress was opening debate on the proposed two-year, $1.6 billion aid package that would expand the war on drugs in Colombia.

Coca cultivation long has been widespread in neighboring countries, too. But largely because of Colombia's instability -- nearly half of the country is controlled by leftist rebels or their paramilitary foes, both largely financed by the drug trade -- traffickers have moved the bulk of coca cultivation to the nation since the mid-1990s.

Foul play ruled out in death of Alexander Dubcek in 1992

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia -- Slovak police ruled out foul play yesterday as a factor in the 1992 car crash death of Alexander Dubcek, father of communist Czechoslovakia's 1968 Prague Spring reforms.

"The driver was driving too fast in heavy rain, and the car skidded off the motorway," said Peter Pleva of the interior ministry's press department.

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