U.N., Cambodia to Restart Tribunal Talks

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- The United Nations and Cambodia will restart talks in January on setting up a genocide tribunal for surviving leaders of the brutal 1970s Khmer Rouge regime, Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday.

Hun Sen said a Cambodian delegation would fly to New York on Jan. 6 after the government received a written invitation from Secretary General Kofi Annan.

"This morning I have made a decision that we accept," Hun Sen told reporters. "I have assigned Sok An [Cambodia's senior minister] as chief negotiator to lead a delegation to New York on January 6."

In New York, a U.N. spokeswoman confirmed that the secretary general had recently written to Hun Sen inviting him to send a representative to U.N. headquarters "for an exploratory meeting to prepare for a resumption of negotiations."

Annan has named Hans Corell, U.N. legal counsel, to head the U.N. delegation at the talks, spokeswoman Hua Jiang added.

Sok An is one of Hun Sen's top advisers and was Cambodia's chief negotiator in the previous round of talks, which the United Nations abruptly ended in February after almost five years.


Kazakh Journalist Goes on Trial

KASKELEN, Kazakhstan -- A Kazakh journalist critical of government authorities went on trial on charges of raping a minor -- charges his supporters say are part of a drive to muzzle press freedom in the Central Asian state.

Sergei Duvanov, 49, has already been declared guilty by President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who was the subject of an article Duvanov wrote on alleged financial abuses.

Under Western pressure, the former Soviet republic has permitted four foreign observers, including an official from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, to attend.

Duvanov strenuously denies the charge that he raped a 14-year-old girl in October. The Kazakh opposition calls the charge a brazen lie -- a bid to crack down on the press in an increasingly authoritarian country.


Blast Kills 13 in Southern Philippines

COTABATO, Philippines -- A bomb blamed on Muslim militants killed a town mayor and 12 others in the southern Philippines.

"We believe the bomb was planted by followers of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front," a spokesman for the army, Maj. Julieto Ando, said by telephone from Maguindanao province on the island of Mindanao, 500 miles south of Manila.

The group "apparently resents the mayor's efforts to build new roads in Datu Piang because they are afraid the military might use the roads to transport soldiers and equipment more quickly."

The Moro group, the biggest Muslim rebel group in the Philippines, denied it was responsible.



Spanish Oil Slick Moves Toward France

MADRID -- High winds are driving a massive oil slick from the sunken tanker Prestige toward French waters, meaning France and Spain may soon have to fight the ecological disaster together, Spain said.

The Prestige, laden with 20 million gallons of fuel oil, sprang a leak on Nov. 13 and then snapped in two and sank six days later, unleashing a tide of foul-smelling sludge on Spain's richest fishing grounds on the northwestern coast of Galicia.

Now the worst environmental disaster in Spanish history i s threatening France because of a cluster of oil slicks that Spanish news media have estimated as covering an area the size of New York City.

Fuel oil continued to wash ashore in Spain, while cleanup vessels suctioned oil off the surface of the sea.


Yugoslav Court Delays Journalist's Trial

BELGRADE -- A Yugoslav military court put off the trial of the former army chief, Momcilo Perisic, on charges of spying for the United States, saying he had parliamentary immunity.

Perisic was charged in September along with two other officers with revealing "secret military information in the interest of the United States."

Last March, military police arrested Perisic, a retired general and army chief of staff under former president Slobodan Milosevic, along with John David Neighbor, then first secretary in the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade, at a motel outside the city.

The army said it had evidence that Perisic -- a deputy prime minister of Serbia at the time -- had passed confidential military papers to Neighbor, who was said to have served as CIA station chief in Belgrade.

Washington denied that Neighbor had received any material and declined to comment on the allegation of his ties to the CIA.


The middle east

Iran Retracts Statement on Crash Cause

TEHRAN -- Iranian aviation officials blamed pilot error for a plane crash that killed European scientists traveling to Iran, then retracted the statement after Ukraine's government protested.

The Ukrainian An-140 aircraft flew into a mountainside while preparing to land Monday at an airport near the city of Isfahan, about 250 miles south of Tehran, killing everyone aboard.

Many of the estimated 46 people killed were Russian and Ukrainian aerospace scientists and executives flying to Iran to watch the first flight of a new plane developed in a joint Ukrainian-Iranian program.

Associated Press

The Americas

Guatemala Prison Riot Leaves 17 Dead

GUATEMALA CITY -- Rioting inmates at a prison outside the capital decapitated a fellow prisoner and burned 14 others to death.

Authorities said 17 inmates were killed overall, and at least 30 others were seriously injured during the riot, which began with hundreds of inmates demanding more visiting rights and the dismissal of guards, authorities said.

Maximum-security prisoners first staged a small uprising late Monday, seizing part of the Pavoncito prison, which houses 1,228 inmates. One prisoner was killed and three more were injured. Authorities then tried to negotiate an end to the riot, said Emilio Najera, a Guatemala City fire department spokesman.

When talks broke down, a group of prisoners captured Julio Beteta, an inmate who police say controlled drugs and weapons distribution within the prison. Inmates used makeshift knives and machetes to decapitate Beteta and then "paraded his head around in front of other prisoners," Najera said.

Prison authorities confirmed that one inmate was decapitated, but said the victim had not been identified.

The decapitation touched off a bloody battle between several inmate factions, and prisoners began using machetes to seize control of different parts of the prison.

Associated Press