Cuban dissident gets 3 years in jail for anti-Castro...

Foreign Digest

February 26, 2000

Cuban dissident gets 3 years in jail for anti-Castro protests

HAVANA -- A Havana court sent a militant anti-Castro dissident to jail for three years yesterday for a series of protests, including hanging a Cuban flag upside-down.

In the most significant dissident case in Communist-run Cuba in nearly a year, a three-man panel of magistrates announced the sentence after a four-hour hearing against Oscar Elias Biscet, 38, earlier in the day. The state prosecution had requested a seven-year jail sentence.

Judge Mercedes Zerquera said Biscet was found guilty of the three charges of "insulting symbols of the fatherland," "public disorder" and "instigation to commit crime."

Death squad leader hounded from court in Argentina

BUENOS AIRES -- A former Argentine Navy captain who once boasted he was the "best-trained man in this country to kill a politician or journalist" fled human-rights activists yesterday in a mobbed courtroom.

A dozen activists surrounded Alfredo Astiz, a death squad leader dubbed the "Blond Angel," and yelled "Assassin! Whore!" until he fled the Buenos Aires courtroom where he faced charges of defending killings during Argentina's 1976-1983 military rule.

Sentenced in absentia by French courts to life in prison in 1990 for the disappearance of two French nuns in the junta's "Dirty War' against leftists, Astiz also is wanted in Sweden for the 1977 disappearance of Dagmar Hagelin, a 17-year-old Swedish girl who was arrested by mistake and killed.

Nicaragua, Honduras heighten border dispute

MANAGUA -- Nicaragua and Honduras exchanged accusations yesterday of firing at each other's boats in the disputed Gulf of Fonseca, heightening tensions in a four-month border spat between the two Central American nations. No damage or injuries were reported in the second naval clash in less than a week.

Bilateral relations soured in November when Honduras ratified a treaty that claimed for Honduras and Colombia 52,000 square miles of Caribbean coastal waters, some of which historically were claimed by Nicaragua.

Despite the saber-rattling yesterday, governments from both countries pledged to seek a diplomatic solution to the dispute and to avoid an armed confrontation.

World's most wanted posted on Interpol Web site

LYON, France -- Mug shots of some of the world's most wanted criminals popped up on the Internet yesterday as the worldwide police organization Interpol began posting photos of leading fugitives on its Web site.

"This is an exciting initiative to track down serious international criminals," Interpol said. "Anyone recognizing a wanted person should contact their local police. They should not in any circumstances put themselves at risk by approaching the suspect."

The mug shots can be viewed by clicking on the "Wanted" button on Interpol's home page at http: //www.interpol.int.

Castro faces accusations in Chilean civil suit

SANTIAGO -- Chilean lawyers who support ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet filed a civil lawsuit yesterday against Fidel Castro, accusing the Cuban president of being behind a 1983 rebel attack that killed an army general and two bodyguards.

Lawyer Monica Madariaga, a former Pinochet minister, said the plan was to have a lawsuit pending against Castro in Chile in case the Cuban leader accepted an invitation to attend the March 11 swearing-in of Chile's President-elect Ricardo Lagos.

Many casualties in bombing of ferry in Philippines

OZAMIS, Philippines -- At least 32 people, including children, were killed and 38 were wounded yesterday when bombs exploded in a bus on an inter-island ferry in the southern Philippines, officials said.

Investigators were looking into the motive, but Army chief Gen. Narciso Abaya said, "This is purely the handiwork of extortion gangs hitting on transportation companies in Mindanao."

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