AFRICA Moroccan Prisoners Die in Fire

EL JADIDA, Morocco -- At least 49 prisoners were killed and 89 people injured when a fire ripped through an overcrowded Moroccan prison as inmates slept in their cells, authorities said.

Many of the victims suffocated or were trampled during a stampede after the fire broke out, said a provincial official, who requested anonymity.

Residents who live behind the prison said they were awakened by screams from the facility. "We heard loud bangings on the doors, and inmates shouting, 'Help, help, save our lives!' " said neighbor Mohamed Feddoul.

The cause of the fire in Sidi Moussa prison, on the northern outskirts of the Atlantic coast city of El Jadida, was not immediately known, a Communication Ministry official said.

King Mohammed VI sent a message of condolence to relatives of the victims and said he had ordered an investigation.

ReutersASIA Prison for Korean Leader's Son SEOUL -- A son of President Kim Dae Jung was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison for taking bribes from businessmen.

Kim Hong Up, the second of Kim's three sons, was fined $408,000 and must forfeit the $457,000 that he received in bribes. Prosecutors had sought a six-year jail term.

Kim Hong Gul, the president's youngest son, is also on trial on bribery charges. Last month, prosecutors sought a four-year sentence and a fine of $1.2 million against him. A different court is scheduled to rule on the case Nov. 11.

President Kim has not been implicated in any wrongdoing but has apologized repeatedly to the nation.

Associated PressTHE MIDDLE EAST

Sharon Offers Top Post to Rival JERUSALEM -- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon offered the post of foreign minister to his main rival in the right-wing Likud Party, Binyamin Netanyahu, an Israeli diplomatic source said.

Netanyahu, a former prime minister and a hard-liner who has accused Sharon of not going far enough to quell the Palestinian uprising, would move a new Israeli government farther to the right.

He would also present a sharp contrast to Shimon Peres, who resigned as foreign minister when the center-left Labor Party pulled out of Sharon's coalition government Wednesday.

The Israeli diplomatic source said Sharon, now trying to build a narrow right-wing government, agreed to a follow-up meeting with Netanyahu Sunday during the talks at the prime minister's ranch in southern Israel.

ReutersEUROPE Milosevic's Trial Suspended

THE HAGUE -- Slobodan Milosevic's trial ground to a halt after he complained of exhaustion with judges concerned about the impact of his failing health on Europe's biggest war crimes hearing since World War II.

The ex-Yugoslav leader, 61, who has been advised by doctors to rest regularly because of high blood pressure, has been defending himself at The Hague since February against charges of ethnic cleansing in the Balkans in the 1990s.

"He . . . is being seen by a doctor this morning, and a report will be obtained," Presiding Judge Richard May told the court in Milosevic's absence.

ReutersTHE AMERICAS Box Linked to Jesus Damaged TORONTO -- A limestone burial box that may be the oldest archaeological link to Jesus was badly damaged in transit from Israel to Canada, according to officials at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Dan Rahimi, the museum's director of collections management, said in a telephone interview yesterday that the box -- called an ossuary -- had wide cracks but remained whole.

"The box was badly damaged, but still intact. It has not broken," Rahimi said. "It's very serious damage, but not unusual for a limestone box of this age."

He said impact or vibration during the trip from Israel probably widened old cracks and caused new ones. Some of the cracks were a millimeter wide, enough to "slip a dime in," Rahimi said.

The limestone box, which is scheduled to go on display Nov. 16, is inscribed in Aramaic with the words "Ya'akov (James), son of Yosef (Joseph), brother of Yeshua (Jesus)."

If, as some scholars maintain, the box and the inscription are authentic, it would be the first physical artifact from the first century related to Jesus.

Israel granted a four-month export license for the ancient burial box, which belongs to a private Israeli collector.

Associated Press