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Thursday, April 21, 2005; Page A20

Mexico City Mayor Bailed Out by Rivals

MEXICO CITY -- A legal case shaking Mexico's political stability took a bizarre turn Wednesday when the country's most popular politician was threatened with jail and then rescued by rivals with a mere $180 bail payment.

The attorney general's office asked a judge to have Mexico City's left-leaning mayor and presidential front-runner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador arrested for contempt of court in a land dispute that could throw the 2006 election into chaos.

The mayor briefly appeared headed for jail in coming days pending trial, but two deputies of President Vicente Fox's party, saying they feared unrest, made an advance bail payment of $180.

Prosecutors said the payment meant the mayor would have to appear in court but would not be put behind bars.

The mayor, whose popularity has soared as he portrays himself as a victim of a government-inspired legal plot, was furious at being denied incarceration.

"They are cheats," he said in a speech to supporters in his home state of Tabasco, describing the bail payment as "cowardice."


BUCHAREST, Romania -- The U.S. Marine Corps has charged a sergeant with negligent homicide in connection with a car accident that killed a Romanian rock star and triggered protests by outraged fans, the U.S. Embassy said.

Staff Sgt. Christopher Van Goethem, who worked as an embassy guard and has diplomatic immunity from prosecution in Romania, left the country immediately after the Dec. 4 accident in the capital, Bucharest, killed Teofil Peter of the band Compact.


TEHRAN -- An Iranian Boeing 707 carrying 157 passengers skidded off a runway at an airport in Tehran and caught fire, killing a child and injuring several other people, state-run television reported.


FUKUOKA, Japan -- Fifty-six people were injured when a strong earthquake struck Japan. The quake, with a magnitude of 5.8, hit at 6:11 a.m. and was centered nine miles below the seabed just west of Fukuoka city on Kyushu island, the Central Meteorological Agency said.

-- From News Services

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