Decision on Echeverria

Is Appealed in Mexico

MEXICO CITY -- Mexican prosecutors on Tuesday appealed a judge's decision to reject charges against former president Luis Echeverria, who is accused of ordering an attack on a student protest in which about 30 demonstrators were killed.

A criminal court judge on Saturday rejected an arrest warrant on genocide charges against Echeverria, 82, in connection with the 1971 assault, saying the statute of limitations had run out. The appeal process could take months.

President Vicente Fox's government is pushing such charges to punish state atrocities committed under the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which ruled Mexico for 71 years until Fox's election in 2000.

Special prosecutor Ignacio Carrillo Prieto said Echeverria, who ruled from 1970 to 1976, backed a paramilitary force that attacked students with guns, clubs and chains at a rally on June 10, 1971. Echeverria has said he was not responsible for the killings or other bloodshed of the era.

Carrillo argued that genocide was exempt from the statute of limitations. He is also investigating Echeverria in connection with other crimes against anti-government activists in what became known as the dirty war.

THE AMERICAS

* SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- A Costa Rican policeman apparently distraught over an impending job transfer killed three of the nine hostages he took at the Chilean Embassy and then took his own life, ending a tense seven-hour standoff.

Security Minister Rogelio Ramos announced that police had entered the embassy to find the policeman, identified as Orlando Jimenez, 54, and three hostages, all apparently Chilean citizens, dead of gunshot wounds. Six other embassy employees were found safe, hiding in the building.

* BOGOTA, Colombia -- Marxist guerrillas freed a Roman Catholic bishop unharmed after an army operation cut them off from rebel commanders who had wanted to give him a message for the government, the bishop said.

Bishop Misael Vacca Ramirez of Yopal was released near where he was taken hostage Saturday by members of the National Liberation Army in remote northeastern mountains. "I was treated well. At no moment did anybody show me disrespect," Vacca Ramirez, 48, told reporters.

EUROPE

* MOSCOW -- A Moscow court upheld a decision to freeze the Swiss bank accounts of Yukos, Russia's largest oil producer, and several of its principal shareholders, Russian news agencies reported, while shares in the beleaguered company sank another 15 percent.

The accounts were frozen in March after a similar decision by another court, but Swiss authorities later overturned much of the order. Tuesday's court ruling means Russia's federal prosecutors would have to petition Swiss authorities to reinstate the freeze.

* BORDEAUX, France -- The first gay couple to be married in France vowed to fight a court decision that annulled their union on the basis that any redefinition of marriage "must be debated and requires the intervention of the legislature."

Stephane Chapin and Bertrand Charpentier, who exchanged vows June 5, said they would appeal to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary and were confident of eventual victory.

* AMSTERDAM -- The Netherlands has sued Doctors Without Borders to recover $936,000 it paid in ransom to win the release of a kidnapped employee of the humanitarian group, the Foreign Ministry said.

The suit, filed in Switzerland, is the latest installment in an unusual public feud between the aid agency and the Dutch government. Initially, both the agency and the government denied paying ransom.

Arjan Erkel, a Dutch citizen, was released April 11 after being held in southern Russia for 20 months. He was kidnapped by masked gunmen while on assignment for the Swiss arm of Doctors Without Borders.

* MINSK, Belarus -- Belarus closed the country's largest private university, citing violations of its operating license, but university officials called the move politically motivated and an attack on independent education in the former Soviet republic.

Officials at the school, which has about 1,000 students and is financed by international organizations and European Union members, said the Education Ministry had previously criticized the university for inviting too many foreign lecturers.

ASIA

* SEOUL -- A second wave of North Korean defectors arrived in the South Korean capital Wednesday, bringing the total in a two-day airlift from an unidentified Asian country to nearly 460, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said. It was easily the largest group of defectors ever to reach the South.

* KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Insurgents attacked two coalition convoys in southeastern Afghanistan's Zabol province Tuesday. Four militants were killed and two soldiers from U.S.-led forces were wounded, the military said. It did not say whether the soldiers were Americans.

Suspected Taliban members also killed two Afghans in Zabol province because they had registered to vote, police said.

-- From News Services