Belgium Alters War Crimes Law

BRUSSELS -- Belgium yesterday altered a controversial law that allowed Belgian courts to try foreigners for war crimes, in a bid to stop cases being brought against politicians such as Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and former President George H.W. Bush.

The amended law allows Belgium to pass on to other countries certain war crimes cases brought in Belgian courts, raising the possibility that it will rid itself of a case against Sharon.

The high-profile case filed against Sharon has severely strained relations between Belgium and Israel. Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel has spoken out against the case, saying it was not up to his country to judge Sharon.

Survivors and families of victims of a 1982 massacre of Palestinians at refugee camps in Beirut by Israeli-backed Christian militias want Sharon to stand trial for his alleged role in the killings. Sharon was Israeli defense minister at the time.

Their complaint was filed under the 1993 law, which gives Belgian courts the right to try foreigners for crimes against humanity and genocide, regardless of where they were committed.



Close Ally of Afghan Leader Killed

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- A close ally of Afghan President Hamid Karzai was gunned down in southern Afghanistan in an attack provincial officials said was the work of the Taliban.

A spokesman for Karzai, however, said a tribal feud may have been the motive.

Haji Gilani and his nephew were killed outside their home in the town of Deh Rawood on Thursday night, said Dad Mullah, a spokesman for the Uruzgan provincial government.

Gilani was the first person to give Karzai shelter in the province of Uruzgan as he launched his revolt weeks before the fundamentalist Taliban government collapsed under U.S. bombing in late 2001.

Meanwhile, in northwestern Afghanistan, officials said they had killed more than 50 Taliban rebels in fighting and captured a former provincial governor of the Taliban administration.

From News Services

N. Korea Says It Will Ignore U.N.

SEOUL -- North Korea said it would not recognize any ruling made by the U.N. Security Council on its nuclear standoff with the United States.

The official KCNA news agency said it was ridiculous for the council, which is to start discussing the North's suspected nuclear ambitions on Wednesday, to talk about the crisis.

It also said the United Nations had lost its mandate for failing to stop the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

"The DPRK will not recognize but consider invalid any 'resolution' or other document to be adopted by the U.N. Security Council at the meeting," the news agency said. DPRK is the acronym for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The Security Council will meet on April 9 for closed-door discussions.


the middle east

Palestinian Slain at Settlement

JERUSALEM -- Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian gunman who infiltrated the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba, a spokesman for the settlement said.

The gunman fired shots at a security guard outside of the settlement, and Israeli security officials fired back, said Yehoshua Mor Yosef, a spokesman for the settlement.

There is a heavy military presence around the Kiryat Arba settlement, which is near the West Bank city of Hebron and has often been attacked.

Associated Press

the americas

86 Die in Honduran Prison Riot

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras -- Eighty-six inmates were killed and dozens injured in a prison riot in northern Honduras, authorities said.

The uprising began with a fistfight between members of two rival street gangs and escalated when other gang members set fire to mattresses and furniture in their cells at the El Porvenir prison in La Ceiba.

Prison spokesman Leonel Sauceda said it took firefighters more than three hours to control the blaze, which engulfed part of the prison building. Some of the prisoners escaped, he said.

Associated Press