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Voice of America, 00-06-23

Voice of America: Selected Articles Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Voice of America <gopher://>





    INTRO: War crimes investigators in Kosovo are still uncovering mass graves one year after hostilities ceased. They are gathering evidence of atrocities committed in Kosovo in 1999 to support indictments of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and four of his cabinet members. V-O-A Correspondent Eve Conant met with investigators in Kosovo's capital, Pristina, and filed this report.

    TEXT: There is a cemetery on the outskirts of Pristina -- called Dragodan -- with hills and fields marked with tombstones, each carefully engraved with messages for the departed. But at one corner of the quiet cemetery is activity -- instead of a body being laid to rest, a body is being pulled from the ground.


    A Norwegian soldier with the international peacekeeping force operates a tractor that gently digs up the earth over a gravesite marked simply by a wooden stick. War crimes investigators -- wearing white, protective body suits -- lean against their shovels as the tractor does their heavy work. The grave they are exhuming is one of many at Dragodan, and one of hundreds of mass graves scattered throughout the cemeteries and fields of Kosovo. Dozens of wooden sticks wedged into the ground are the only tombstones for the bodies below, bodies that were buried in haste -- often in the dark -- during the months of NATO bombing raids over Serbia and Kosovo. Investigators say that last summer they exhumed more than two-thousand bodies, all presumed to be victims of the violence that occurred in Kosovo while Serb military and police were in control of the area. A spokesman for Yugoslav war crimes tribunal, Paul Risley, says the work of investigators is growing.

    /// OPT // RISLEY ACT ONE ///

    I think what is disturbing is that more and more sites keep being reporting to tribunal investigators. At the end of last season, we had finished work at 170 sites and we were aware of 300 additional sites. We have since increased that to over 440 sites. Every several days, more sites are reported to us. So it may well be that we don't finish our work this summer.

    /// END ACT // END OPT ///

    The investigators are gathering evidence they believe will add more support to the already existing indictment of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and four of his cabinet members. But Mr. Risley says the overwhelming amount of evidence has made it a priority of the war crimes tribunal's to issue more indictments.

    /// RISLEY ACT TWO ///

    In Kosovo, we don't intend to prosecute the so- called `small fish,' soldiers and the policemen who may have participated in these murders. If we do choose to indict other persons for the crimes committed in Kosovo, they would be really senior-level persons -- perhaps generals or colonels, persons who were active in the paramilitary and police forces that operated here in Kosovo, who we believe broke the law. It may also be likely that we would choose not to publicly indict those persons, but rather indict them under seal, so that they would be unaware if they were to make themselves vulnerable to arrest. We would then arrest them and bring them to (the tribunal in) The Hague.

    /// END ACT ///

    /// OPT ///

    The Dragodan cemetery is one of the key sites for investigators. The cemetery was controlled by local Serbian authorities at the time of the conflict, and gypsies are believed to have been the grave-diggers of the many `unexplained burials' as investigators call them. Those who live in the homes surrounding the cemetery have provided eyewitness accounts of trucks coming in late at night to dump bodies. Investigators say they often find four or five bodies in a single grave.


    The crew of investigators at Dragodan begins digging with shovels to unearth a long wooden block in the grave, under which is at least one body buried in a white, soiled body bag. The stench from the bodies buried in haste one year ago is overpowering. The head investigator of the 15-person team at Dragodan is Steve Watts, a detective from Hampshire, England. He says investigators use trained dogs to sniff in the graves for explosives, then they look for the telltale signs of buried corpses.

    /// WATTS ACT ///

    That's indicated by some discoloration in the soil, where some decomposition has occurred or some clothing or bones are seen through the surface. At this point the digger will move away and the police officers and the forensic anthropologists would take over, get into the pit, and start digging around to expose the whole body. Being as careful as they can not to destroy any part of the body, clothing, or artifacts that might be with it."

    /// END ACT ///

    War crimes tribunal spokesman Paul Risley explains that once investigators have exhumed a body, they collect small bits of clothing and jewelry as well as descriptions of the body into what he calls a "portfolio system" that could detail up to 100 persons at a time.

    /// RISLEY ACT FOUR ///

    You can take this to a village and show it to various people who are missing loved ones, who are missing persons they knew well. They can look through this and instantly say, 'Yes, this is the shirt my husband was wearing on the night I last saw him.' It's a very often times tragic and sensitive process, but it's extremely effective in determining identification.

    /// END ACT ///

    But Paul Risley and the investigative team know that as the years go by -- as people move on and memories begin to fade -- time becomes the investigator's worst enemy. Statistics indicate more than three-thousand people are still missing from the Kosovo crisis. While that number is diminishing as more graves are exhumed, there is only so much time left to gather the physical evidence needed to hold someone responsible. (Signed)
    NEB/EC/JWH/KL 23-Jun-2000 10:14 AM EDT (23-Jun-2000 1414 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The future of Yugoslavia was the focus in the United Nations Security Council today (Friday), as Council members received a report from the top U-N envoy to the Balkans, Carl Bildt. V-O-A Correspondent Breck Ardery reports from the United Nations.

    TEXT: Carl Bildt told the Security Council that the current constitutional crisis between the federal government of Yugoslavia and the Republic of Montenegro is a serious concern. And then, Mr. Bildt observed, there is the problem of Kosovo.

    /// Bildt Act ///

    And to this acute constitutional crisis there is, of course, the unresolved issue of the future status of Kosovo. Although on paper still an integral part of the Republic of Serbia, the reality is different, and I fail to see any circumstances under which a peace agreement will not have to include a clear constitutional separation between the two.

    /// End Act ///

    Mr. Bildt said the fact that the leaders of Yugoslavia are indicted war criminals means the international community can not deal with them. Also addressing the Council was Javier Solana, secretary-general of the Council of the European Union. He said the Union wants to help the people of Serbia attain democracy and freedom, but that President Slobodan Milosevic remains an obstacle to that goal. The two men spoke after Council members had rejected a proposal by Russia that Yugoslavia's representative, Vladislav Jovanovic, be allowed to participate in the meeting. Russian Ambassador Sergey Lavrov said it was "nonsense" to discuss the Balkans without Yugoslavia. Speaking to reporters outside the Council chamber, Mr. Jovanovic strongly protested his exclusion.

    /// Jovanovic Act ///

    In spite of this, Yugoslavia remains the key factor in the Balkans and no project, or pact of stability, can be implemented without the full participation of Yugoslavia.

    /// End Act ///

    Opponents of allowing Yugoslavia to participate in the session were led by U-S Ambassador Richard Holbrooke. He argued that since President Milosevic is under indictment by a war crimes tribunal established by the Security Council, it would be inappropriate to allow a representative of his government to speak. (Signed) NEB/UN/BA/LSF/JP 23-Jun-2000 16:57 PM EDT (23-Jun-2000 2057 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: A top United Nations official says the present structure of Yugoslavia is not sustainable. V-O-A Correspondent Breck Ardery reports from U-N headquarters on a briefing by Carl Bildt, the U-N special envoy to the Balkans.

    TEXT: Mr. Bildt told the United Nations Security Council (Friday) there can be no long-term stability in the Balkans without stability in the present Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Mr. Bildt cited the current crisis involving the federal government of Yugoslavia and the Republic of Montenegro (--one of Yugoslavia's two constituent republics--) in which elected representatives of Montenegro have been excluded from federal institutions. In addition to the problem involving Montenegro, Mr. Bildt says, there is the question of the status of Kosovo. He says that, although on paper [officially] Kosovo is still part of Serbia, the reality is different. The U-N official says any final peace agreement will likely have to include what he calls "a clear constitutional separation" of Kosovo and Serbia.

    /// BILDT ACT ///

    Thus, we have a situation where the structures of the present Yugoslavia are unsustainable. And if we do not recognize this, and try to pave the way for sustainable solutions, there is an obvious risk of further conflict and disintegration with potentially grave consequences for the region as a whole.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Bildt said that if the three international peacekeeping missions in the Balkans were to be withdrawn today "there will, in all probability, be war tomorrow." The Council delayed hearing from Mr. Bildt for almost a half an hour, because of a procedural dispute about whether Yugoslavia's representative would be allowed to participate in the meeting. After a debate on the issue, a proposal by Russia to allow the Belgrade representative to participate was defeated, by a vote of seven against, four in favor and four abstentions.

    /// REST OPT ///

    The Security Council earlier received a letter from the government of Montenegro, saying Montenegro does not accept the leadership of Yugoslavia, and that Montenegro will represent its own interests independently. Branko Lukovac, Montenegro's Foreign Minister, attended the meeting as a spectator. (Signed) NEB/UN/BA/LSF/WTW 23-Jun-2000 14:47 PM EDT (23-Jun-2000 1847 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Stock prices in the United States were mixed today (Friday), with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up but the Nasdaq composite index down. Correspondent Larry Freund reports from New York.

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up at the start of trading and remained in positive territory all day, closing at 10-thousand-404, a gain of 28 points or less than one percent. But the broader Standard and Poor's 500 index was down 10 points and the technology-weighted Nasdaq index was down 91 points or more than two percent. For the week the Dow Industrials were down 45 points. Dragging down the technology sector was Amazon-dot- com, the Internet retailing company, which lost about 20 percent of its share value in Friday's trading. One Wall Street analyst criticized the company's massive negative operating cash flow - meaning it continues to lose millions of dollars - while another saw no change in Amazon's predicted losses in the months ahead.

    /// rest opt for long ///

    Another Internet company - America Online or A-O-L - was also in the news, as stockholders of A-O-L and Time Warner overwhelmingly approved a proposed merger of the two companies. The 123 billion-dollar deal would create the largest media company in the United States. However, it still requires the approval of U-S and European regulators. Another merger deal was announced, this one in the food sector. ConAgra Incorporated says it is buying International Home Foods, which produces such varied kitchen items as Chef Boyardee pasta products and Gulden's Mustard. The cash and stock deal is valued at nearly three billion dollars. Wall Street traders continued to look cautiously at next week's meeting of the Federal Reserve Board, the U-S central bank. Over the past year, Reserve Board officials have been trying to cool the U-S economy and control inflation by raising interest rates six times. Some analysts believe another quarter-percent interest rate increase is possible. Chris Pilder, a senior trader with the Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette investment company, believes that would lead to a small retreat in stock prices.

    /// Pilder actuality ///

    I think if they move a quarter point, you'll probably see a small hiccup (move) to the downside. And people are on the sidelines, ready to put money back to work. If they (Federal Reserve Board officials) do nothing, I think probably people are cautious, knowing there's going to be at least a quarter or a couple of quarters (increase) down the road.

    /// end actuality ///

    The central bank's decision on interest rates will be announced Wednesday.(signed)
    NEB/NY/LSF/PT 23-Jun-2000 16:58 PM EDT (23-Jun-2000 2058 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The U-S state of Texas executed Gary Graham Thursday night for a murder committed in 1981, despite critics who complained that his trial was flawed. Friday's U-S newspapers are already commenting on his execution and its implications for presidential candidate and Texas governor George W. Bush. Other topics getting attention are high gasoline prices, the U-S State Department's change in terminology regarding hostile nations, Zimbabwe's presidential election and the state of Massachusetts' trade embargo against Burma. U-S newspapers also are commenting on the Cuban trade embargo and the belated honors for some Asian-American heroes of the Second World War. Now, here is ___________ with a closer look in today's U-S Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: Thirty-six-year-old Gary Graham was executed by lethal injection Thursday night, despite pleas for a reexamination of his case. Mr. Graham had been convicted of murder on testimony of a single eyewitness, but national controversy about the case centered on reportedly serious flaws in his trial. Today's Houston Chronicle says taking his entire record into account, justice has been done.

    VOICE: The case of Gary Graham ... became a conduit for rising national concern about the fairness of capital punishment and the possible innocence of many defendants in Texas and elsewhere who have been convicted and put to death. ... Considered on their own merits, the facts and jurisprudence of [Mr.] Graham's prosecution and punishment argue that justice has been done.

    TEXT: Elsewhere in Texas, The Fort Worth Star- Telegram is calling for a pause in executions while the national criminal justice system is investigated for fairness. And two of the nation's larger newspapers, The New York and Los Angeles Times, disagree with The Houston Chronicle that justice was done. The New York Times headline reads: "Irreversible Error in Texas," and goes beyond its normal opposition to the death penalty on moral and constitutional grounds.

    VOICE: But even on procedural grounds, the penalty is hard to defend. ... Mr. Bush did nothing to stop the Graham execution ... [and] ... has now presided over 135 executions. ... It defies common sense to conclude that Texas, a state with a notoriously weak public-defender system, could conduct such a huge number of rapid executions without a single mistake.

    TEXT: The Los Angeles Times adds:

    VOICE: /// OPT /// ... his murder conviction rested on the testimony of just one witness, who saw the ... killing through her car windshield from 10 to 13 meters away. [Mr.] Graham's court-appointed lawyer made no attempt to impeach (EDS: discredit) her, nor did he present any witnesses for the defense. So the jurors ... never knew that two other witnesses said [Mr.] Graham wasn't the shooter and four others reported that the killer was at least two-and- one-half centimeters shorter. /// END OPT /// ... One legal scholar concludes that of the 648 people put to death nationwide since 1976, "not one ... has been executed on evidence this frail." ... The accumulating horror stories ... reveal [Mr.] Graham's experience as less the exception that the rule in too many states.

    /// BEGIN OPT ///

    TEXT: In Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel calls the Graham trial "shaky," and his death "a troubling execution." In New Jersey, The [Bergen County] record suggests that:

    VOICE: Given all the questions surrounding the case of Gary Graham, he should not have been executed yesterday ... A 120-day reprieve, which the Texas Board of pardons and Paroles could have granted, would have allowed additional review of the controversial case.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: The other major story is the high price of gasoline [petrol], which is infuriating U-S motorists. But angry drivers in the state of Rhode Island are not getting much sympathy in today's Providence Journal.

    VOICE: American whining about "high" gasoline prices is amusingly self-delusional. To make the fact that gasoline prices are topping [53- cents-a-liter] in some places into some sort of a national crisis displays just how fat and happy the country has become, and how low our standard for "crisis" has fallen. In most industrialized nations, of course, the price of gasoline is two, three or four times higher -- and always has been. /// OPT /// ... Also, blame our passion for gigantic ... sports utility vehicles and vans. These are gluttonous gas- guzzlers, setting new standards for fuel inefficiency.

    TEXT: In Georgia, The Atlanta Constitution says in its headline: "Villains [are] not so obvious in increase of gas [petrol] prices."

    VOICE: For Democrats, the obvious villain in the rapid rise of gasoline prices is Big Oil (EDS: the petroleum industry), which they suspect of driving up prices to increase profits. As a result, the Federal Trade Commission is investigating the oil industry's role in Midwestern gas prices ... For Republicans, the villain in the rapid rise of gas prices is equally obvious: the federal government. By protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling, by failing to coerce O-P-E-C nations into raising oil production, by insisting on cleaner-burning blends of gasoline, the Clinton administration has brought the nation to this crisis. But the truth is, there is no single villain, no single explanation, no single solution. ... The cause of our predicament lies ... in simple supply and demand.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: From the Orlando Sentinel in Florida comes this advice for angry U-S motorists.

    VOICE: Instead of fuming, consumers should channel their energies into things they actually can control: their driving habits and the fuel efficiency of the vehicles they buy. ... Perhaps Americans finally are ready to accept that their love affair with the automobile carries a price tag.

    TEXT: At the U-S State Department, it appears the word "rogue" has suddenly gone out of style as a description of nations hostile to the United States. Editorial writers at Boston's Christian Science Monitor noticed.

    VOICE: Besides attributing more power, and maybe even malice, to a few countries than they sometimes warranted, the term "rogue" tended to blur any distinctions between these nations. And it reinforced a post-Cold War complaint that the U-S needed new enemies after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Perhaps the use of such a term only incited the "rogues" to act out their reputation. ... For such reasons the U-S wisely dropped the term. /// OPT /// ...The prime example of a less roguish rogue is North Korea, which just held a historic summit with South Korea and has agreed to a moratorium on missile tests. ... Then there's the Islamic Republic of Iran, with its recent elections that saw the rise of moderates against the entrenched power of clerics. And Libya, with its cooperation in turning over two suspects in the Lockerbie airliner bombing. /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Turning to issues in Africa, Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections this weekend draws this comment from The Los Angeles Times:

    VOICE: Clearly, the elections will not be free or fair, but the terror unleashed by [President Robert] Mugabe's men may not be enough to overcome the rising popular disapproval of his autocratic rule. Zimbabwean voters -- black and white -- are fed up with the now-tarnished independence leader, and they are courageous enough to defy his strong-arm tactics. /// OPT

    /// Outsiders, especially leaders of neighboring countries, should make sure that the voice of the opposition is heard and its vote properly counted. /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Today's Minneapolis, Minnesota Star Tribune says this week's U-S Supreme Court decision striking down a State of Massachusetts economic boycott against Burma, for human rights failings, is "a good, if narrow ruling... "

    /// BEGIN OPT ///

    VOICE: ... the ... Supreme Court's ... reasoning was impeccable, but unfortunately narrow. It appears to leave open the possibility that states and cities may impose sanctions where Congress and the White House have chosen -- however deliberately -- not to act.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: And speaking of economic boycotts, there is more criticism of Washington's decades-long boycott of Cuba. Today's Omaha [Nebraska] World Herald notes that the United States is in the process of easing trade restrictions against China, which it says has a worse human rights record than Cuba.:

    VOICE: If Washington can do that, it surely ought to be able to create a food-and-drugs opening to a tinpot [EDS: slang for "small" or "insignificant"] dictatorship [about 145 kilometers] miles off Florida.

    TEXT: In Charleston, South Carolina, The Post and Courier comments on the deaths of 58 Chinese nationals trying to sneak into England, saying the incident:

    VOICE: ..."[draws] horrific attention to a growing world-wide criminal business. Human contraband is beginning to rival drug trafficking in the huge profits to be made as well as in its horrendous consequences.

    TEXT: Finally, today's Montgomery (Alabama) Advertiser praises the White House ceremony awarding Congressional Medals of Honor to 22 Japanese-American servicemen who fought bravely in World War Two.

    VOICE: These heroes have names like Hayashi, Inouye and Hasemoto. The recounting of their deeds is a timely reminder that it is not religion or race or ethnic background that makes an American. ... President Clinton aptly summed up their contribution: "In the face of painful prejudice, they helped to define America at its best."

    TEXT: That concludes this sampling of comment from the editorial pages of Friday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/JP 23-Jun-2000 12:47 PM EDT (23-Jun-2000 1647 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The four-nation European consortium, Airbus, has decided to go ahead with plans to build the world's largest passenger jet. The new plane, known for now as the A3XX, will compete with the Boeing 747. Paul Miller reports from Paris that Airbus is promising the new jet will be better, not just bigger.

    TEXT: The A3XX will be designed to fly farther than a 747, carry more passengers - perhaps as many as 650 - and cost 15 to 20 per cent less to fly than its American rival. The jet will have two full passenger decks and may seem more like a cruise ship than an airliner. Airbus says it can be outfitted with stores, a gym, sleeping areas and perhaps even a casino. It expects the planes to be in service by 2005. Airbus has been eager to launch a super-jumbo to compete with Boeing for the long-distance traffic that airlines like because it includes many business travelers paying expensive full fares. The official launch of the new super-jumbo was postponed several times. The start-up costs of the new jetliner are estimated at 12 billion dollars, and Airbus had to be sure of enough orders to cover the costs. It now says 8 airlines have committed to at least 50 planes at a cost of perhaps 170 million dollars per aircraft. The airlines are believed to include Air France, Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Virgin Atlantic. Airbus says, ultimately, there is a market for more than a thousand of the super-jumbos. Boeing, which will offer an expanded and re-vamped 747, says the number of orders won't come anywhere near that. Airbus also faced the problem of raising the 12 billion dollars without relying totally on government subsidies, which might have triggered a trade war with the United States. The consortium, which includes aerospace companies in France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom, will be restructured into a privately held company that can sell stock and borrow money. (SIGNED)
    NEB/PM/GE/KL 23-Jun-2000 14:09 PM EDT (23-Jun-2000 1809 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    /// EDS: UPDATES 2-263683 WITH NEW DETAILS ///

    INTRO: A coroner has told an inquest in the English port of Dover that 58 illegal immigrants found dead in the back of a truck earlier this week died from carbon-dioxide poisoning. In another development in the case today (Friday), the Dutch driver of truck appeared in court to answer charges of manslaughter and smuggling. Lourdes Navarro reports from London.

    TEXT: Coroner Graham Perrin told the inquest how the immigrants, trapped in the back of a sealed truck, frantically banged on the sides of the vehicle seeking release. He described how the group of 60 Chinese used their shoes to raise an alarm as the temperature soared on one of the hottest days of the year. No action was taken and the group died one by one. The air vent on the truck had been closed for the entire journey from Belgium to Britain, which caused carbon dioxide to fill the container. Only two of the immigrants survived. The group had been hidden behind boxes of tomatoes and a false barrier made from wooden planks. The truck driver, 32-year-old Perry Wacker, appeared briefly at a hearing in court in the southeastern English city of Folkestone. Mr. Wacker stood impassively behind a glass screen, speaking only to confirm his name and acknowledge that he understood the charges against him. Mr. Wacker faces 58 counts of manslaughter and smuggling. He is the first of several suspects to be formally charged in the case. In the Netherlands, a prosecutor says the man registered as owner of the tomato truck will be charged with illegal trafficking in aliens, but will not face manslaughter or homicide charges at this point. In Britain, police are holding two London-based Chinese suspected of involvement in the smuggling gang. Police are still trying to identify the 58 victims.

    // OPT //

    Authorities have confirmed that they are not the same group of Chinese detained, then later released, in Belgium in April. A Chinese lawyer who represents asylum-seekers in London says he is in touch with other illegal immigrants who may be able to help with identifications, but they will not come forward because they fear deportation from Britain. The lawyer is asking government officials here to offer an amnesty for family members of the victims who are illegally in Britain, if they can help identify the bodies. // END OPT // The tragedy uncovered at Dover has prompted an international police hunt for the criminal gangs that run such lucrative smuggling rings. The two Chinese who survived the ordeal in the tomato truck have now been released from the hospital, and authorities say they have begun talking to police. Officials hope the survivors can help trace the gang members who attempted to smuggle the Chinese immigrants into Britain. (Signed)
    NEB/LN/GE/WTW 23-Jun-2000 13:03 PM EDT (23-Jun-2000 1703 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America
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