Ex-President's Brother

Is Released in Mexico

MEXICO CITY -- The brother of former president Carlos Salinas de Gortari walked out of prison Tuesday after his murder conviction was overturned last week for lack of evidence -- a move that will force prosecutors to reopen the probe of a killing that shook Mexican politics.

"I have always been innocent," Raul Salinas said as he was released from a prison west of Mexico City after lawyers posted a bond for his $3 million bail.

An appeals court last week overturned his conviction for killing his former brother-in-law, Jose Francisco Ruiz Massieu, then secretary general of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party. Salinas was left eligible for bail on the charge he still faces: illegal enrichment.

A pall of political suspicion has hung over the case from the moment of Salinas's arrest on Feb. 28, 1995. It came as the recently inaugurated president, Ernesto Zedillo, was dramatically breaking with predecessor Carlos Salinas, who had handpicked him as the ruling party candidate.

The arrest prompted Carlos Salinas to drop his U.S.-backed campaign for presidency of the World Trade Organization and leave Mexico. He spent most of the next six years in a self-imposed exile.

In January 1999, Raul Salinas was convicted and sentenced to 50 years, a term later reduced to 27 years.

THE AMERICAS

* SANTIAGO, Chile -- Chile sent cargo planes with medicine and tents to a northern Andean region rocked by an earthquake that killed at least 11 people, including a family of six buried by a landslide. At least 130 were injured.

The magnitude 7.9 quake, the world's third-strongest since the temblor that set off the Asian tsunami in December, struck Monday evening, also rattling cities in Bolivia and Peru.

THE MIDDLE EAST

* JERUSALEM -- Israel might have to temporarily delay its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip this summer if Palestinian fighters attack, but it would resume the pullout after waging a counterattack, the country's military chief said.

Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz's comments came in advance of meetings between Israel and the Palestinians intended to lay the groundwork for coordinating the pullout. Commanders met Tuesday evening in Tel Aviv, the first such session involving field-level officers, both sides said.

Also Tuesday, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon struck back at critics charging that his administration was corrupt, saying the allegations were politically motivated.

Parliament called a special debate about corruption, following a report by the state comptroller accusing Sharon's government of illegal political appointments and another official report listing budget support for unauthorized West Bank settlement outposts.

In the West Bank city of Ramallah, meanwhile, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia threatened to halt government functions if security chaos in Palestinian areas continued.

"There are violations, especially by members of the security forces themselves," he said. "This is not acceptable."

EUROPE

* AMSTERDAM -- Police in 13 European countries raided 150 locations in a child pornography crackdown, seizing computers, videos and other material, Europol said.

Police carried out raids in Austria, Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Sweden, questioning about 150 suspects. Arrests were made in some countries.

ASIA

* HONG KONG -- Veteran civil servant Donald Tsang effectively won Hong Kong's leadership race on Wednesday, filing papers that showed he had the solid backing of an election committee that picks the Chinese territory's leaders.

Tsang collected 710 of the nominations from the panel of about 800 people. Two other candidates conceded weeks ago that they lacked the 100 nominations needed for placement on the July 10 ballot.

-- From News Services

Thousands of Bolivian workers congregate at a main square in La Paz after they marched to pressure leaders for early elections and the nationalization of the natural gas industry. The protests came after violent rallies last week.