PERU ORDERS $29 MILLION PAYMENT FOR CRASH VICTIMS
LIMA, Peru - A judge has ordered the Aeroperu airline and an employee to pay $29 million to victims of a Boeing 757 crash that killed 70 people in October 1996, officials said today.
Judge Ruben Mansilla told local media that families would receive $500,000 for each of the 58 victims listed in the landmark case. Families of the remaining 12 victims are involved in separate legal cases.
"The ruling is historic. For the first time a just amount has been awarded to each one of the families on a par with international standards," said lawyer Julian Palacin, who represented some families.
Mansilla ruled that employee Eleuterio Chacaliaza failed during cleaning to have tape removed from sensors, which gave pilots erroneous data minutes into the flight from Lima to Santiago, Chile.
The pilots lost control in dense fog, and the plane plunged into the Pacific just north of Lima.
Chacaliaza, who is not expected to contribute to the compensation, received a suspended two-year term. He blames the crash on sabotage.
Aeroperu, owned by Aeromexico, has three days to decide if it will appeal the ruling. If the airline accepts the decision, compensation costs will be arranged through its insurance company, the firm's lawyer Ruben del Solar said.
In February, local insurance company Popular y Porvenir gave the airline $63.5 million in compensation for the crash.
Thai police crack down on protesting autoworkers
BANGKOK - Thai police, armed with batons and shields, broke up a demonstration today by hundreds of employees of an auto-parts company near Bangkok, injuring dozens and arresting 58 in signaling a tougher stand against unrest as the country goes through its worst economic crisis in decades.
After the company, citing the economic slump, said it would cut their bonus this year, more than 3,000 workers of the Thai Summit Auto Parts Industry firm yesterday began blocking a main road about 13 miles from the capital. Henry Kissinger After meeting Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai and Foreign Minister Surin Pitsuwan today, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said he would help Thailand lobby for U.S. support as the country struggled to recover from its economic crisis.
American priest slain at apartment in Italy
MILAN, Italy - An American Anglican priest was found murdered in his Milan apartment today, gagged and bound to a chair in his bathtub, police said.
Gregory Stewen Beheydt, 51, who had been struck on the head, was chaplain of the All Saints Anglican Episcopal church in Milan and moved to the city in August. He was unmarried.
Colombia gold miners killed in soil slide
BOGOTA, Colombia - A mountain of earth collapsed on gold miners working by a river in northern Colombia today, killing at least 15 miners and injuring eight others, authorities said.
The accident occurred at a mine in Anori, 180 miles northeast of Bogota.
Muslims pray in Saudi Arabia as Ramadan nears end
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - More than 1.7 million Muslims have converged on the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia to mark the last days of Ramadan.
Saudi newspapers said today that more than 1.1 million worshipers - performing a minor pilgrimage called umra - prayed in Mecca and 600,000 others prayed in Medina on Monday night.
Iran denounces militants for clash with liberal group
TEHRAN - Iran's Interior Ministry denounced an attack by Islamic militants on a gathering of a liberal opposition group at a memorial ceremony for former prime minister Mehdi Bazargan yesterday and said the attackers should be prosecuted, the official news agency IRNA reported today.
The attack was the latest in a series of actions by hardline militants, which fly in the face of moderate President Mohammad Khatami's stated policies to guarantee civil liberties and reinforce the rule of law.
Bazargan died in 1995. He served the Islamic republic's founder, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, as the first prime minister after the 1979 revolution.
Holocaust survivor gets 7 years for killing wife
JERUSALEM - A 91-year-old survivor of the Nazi Holocaust, convicted of murdering his wife by stabbing her 60 times, was sentenced today to seven years in prison, Israeli court officials said.
"I lived with her for 47 years, but not one day did I know any rest," said Kopel Potechnik.