Daily Briefing


-- Fifty-seven bodies have been found in a mass grave in the last Serb-held area in eastern Croatia, United Nations war-crimes investigators said yesterday.

The bodies are believed to be those of Croat civilians killed in October 1991 during the Serbo-Croat war that erupted after minority Serbs rebelled against Croatia's independence from Yugoslavia.

Croatian authorities claim up to 13 mass graves dot the region.

-- Poland's lower house of Parliament yesterday adopted a penal code that scrapped the death penalty, although polls indicated about 60 percent of Poles favor retaining capital punishment, and only 30 percent clearly want it abolished.

Poland hanged its last convicted criminal in 1988, and a moratorium on carrying out executions has been in force since.

-- A court in Douai, France, yesterday sentenced a Muslim cleric to seven years in prison for the 1994 death of a 19-year-old woman killed in an exorcism ceremony. Imam Mohamed Kerzazi, 33, was found guilty of "acts of torture and barbarism, having involuntarily caused the death" of Louisa Lardjoune.

-- The mayor of Athens, Dimitris Avramopoulos, has been charged by the city prosecutor for failing to resolve a nearly weeklong work stoppage that has left more than 5,000 tons of garbage on city streets.

-- The German government decided yesterday to put the Church of Scientology under nationwide surveillance by counterintelligence agents because it contends the church is a threat to democracy, Interior Minister Manfred Kanther said. He refused to say exactly how the church's 30,000 German members would be monitored.


Hong Kong is taking no chances - its new passport will have a high-tech image of the traveler that will "self-destruct" if tampered with. Immigration chief Regina Ip said that instead of a photo, the passports will hold a "digitized" image of the holder printed on a laminate surface "which will self-destruct if tampered with, just like in `Mission Impossible.' "