Three Roman Catholic Nuns

Convicted of Defacing Missile Silo

DENVER -- A federal jury convicted three Roman Catholic nuns yesterday of defacing a missile silo by swinging hammers and painting crosses on it with their own blood.

Sisters Ardeth Platte, 66, Jackie Hudson, 68, and Carol Gilbert, 55, were arrested for breaking into a Minuteman III missile silo site on Colorado's northeastern plains Oct. 6.

They were charged with interfering with the nation's defense and causing property damage of more than $1,000.

The nuns are peace activists and have said they were compelled to act as war with Iraq moved closer and because the United States has never promised not to use nuclear weapons. Their defense lawyers argued the nuns' action was symbolic and never jeopardized national security.

Jurors deliberated for about six hours before delivering the verdict in U.S. District Court.

After the verdicts were read, the women spoke to the jury.

"They will discover that we are not guilty under God's law," Gilbert said to jurors.

Associated Press

Clearing Landmines to Take Years

ROME -- Iraq, devastated by a string of wars, will remain littered with landmines that could slow the rebuilding of the country for as long as 10 years, according to a leading landmine expert.

"There are millions of mines in Iraq. Whether it is 2 million or 5 million or 8 million is impossible to say because of the lack of transparency," said Stephen Goose, director of the armaments section of Human Rights Watch.

Iraq is layered with mines from the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, the 1991 Persian Gulf War and the current conflict.

Goose said mine-clearing agencies could not hope to match the targets in Kosovo, where teams aim to sweep the area of the former Yugoslavia clean within a year.

The plight of Iraq would be more comparable to Cambodia, where nearly half the villages are still either known or suspected to be littered with mines or unexploded bombs more than 20 years after the fall of the Khmer Rouge government.

"It will take five to 10 years to clear the high priority areas in Iraq. . . . for people to be able to move about freely and to engage in the main economic activities," Goose said.

Reuters

Top Spanish Judge Joins Rally

MADRID -- Spain's most prominent judge shed his robe for a day and joined a peace rally, voicing scathing criticism for the war in Iraq and the Spanish government's support for it.

Introduced as "citizen Baltasar Garzon," the investigating magistrate who seldom speaks in public took to the stage at a concert and peace rally held at Madrid's Independence Plaza.

Police estimated attendance at 15,000 people. Protesters carried banners with slogans such as "Oil kills."

Garzon is best known abroad for his ultimately failed effort in 1999 to put the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet on trial in Spain for genocide. He has also targeted Basque separatists and ordered the arrests of dozens of suspected members of al Qaeda.

At the rally, Garzon called the war an act of madness and criticized the Spanish government for supporting it in defiance of public opinion. Polls show that up to 90 percent of the Spanish people oppose the war.

Reuters

Leftists Fire Projectiles at U.S. Base

TOKYO -- A group of Japanese leftist radicals protesting the U.S.-led war against Iraq has claimed responsibility for firing projectiles at a U.S. military base near Tokyo last week, police said.

No one was injured in the incident at Atsugi Naval Air Facility, just south of Tokyo, said Kanagawa state police spokesman, Tsuneo Kosuge.

The Revolutionary Workers Association sent a letter to Japanese media saying it acted in protest against the war in Iraq, he said.

The group and its various factions have been responsible for sporadic attacks in the past.

Associated Press

Two Polish Journalists Abducted

WARSAW -- Armed Iraqis abducted two Polish reporters at a checkpoint about 80 miles south of Baghdad, their editors said.

Marcin Firlej, 27, a reporter for the private TVN24 news channel, and Jacek Kaczmarek, 31, with Polish state radio, had set off from the town of Nasiriyah with a larger group of journalists, TVN24 editor Malgorzata Laszcz said.

They were stopped at a checkpoint near Hillah.

TVN24 reporter Marcin Woroch, who was in another car in the same convoy, said the group was driving toward Karbala and came across the checkpoint after leaving the highway.

They saw "five or six armed men, some still in military uniforms, some in black," Woroch said in a report aired by his channel.

Marek Lipinski, a spokesman for Polish state radio, confirmed that Kaczmarek -- who was based in Kuwait but reporting in Iraq -- was stopped with Firlej.

Associated Press

Cuba to Keep Embassy Open

HAVANA -- Cuba will keep its embassy open in Baghdad, the Foreign Ministry announced, a day after Russia evacuated most of its embassy staff.

Cuban Ambassador Ernesto Gomez Abascal and four other Cuban diplomats have remained to staff the mission, the ministry said.

Other embassy personnel and their family members left Baghdad a month before.

"Our colleagues have remained there for reasons of principle despite the dangers to fulfill their jobs as diplomats and to keep their country informed of the development of events," the ministry said in a statement. "Their position as diplomats is absolutely neutral."

Many of Baghdad's estimated 60 embassies -- including those of Portugal, Spain, Thailand and Japan -- pulled out their staffs before the war began.

Associated Press

Peace activist Susan Crane, right, listens to jury forewoman Terrah McNellis after three nuns were found guilty of defacing a missile silo. Richard Andrews of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center is behind them.