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News Briefs

December 22, 1995
Web posted at: 10:45 a.m. EST (1545 GMT)

China dissident appeals his sentence


BEIJING, China (CNN) -- Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng on Friday appealed the 14-year prison term imposed on him for conspiring to subvert the government.

But his sister, Wei Ling, said she had little hope of a reversal. Wei Ling said she hoped the appeals court would hold a public hearing but had scant hope it would do so.

Wei, 45, was convicted on December 13. The verdict triggered international condemnation but Beijing described the case as an internal matter.

Wei was first imprisoned in 1979 for "counter- revolutionary incitement," advocating democratic change and passing purported military secrets to a reporter. He served nearly 15 years in prison, was freed for about a year, then was re-arrested in 1994.

Cambodia adopts law to protect national heritage

Angkor Wat

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (CNN) -- Cambodia has adopted a cultural protection law that will help deter art thieves from pillaging the ancient Angkor temples, a United Nations official said on Friday.

Cambodia was required to pass such a law, which carries jail sentences for temple thieves, to ensure that the 12th Century Angkor Wat and scores of other 9th-15th Century Angkor-era temples remained on the UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites.

During the past three months, hundreds of stolen Angkor-era artifacts have been recovered.

China sentences two jetfoil hijackers to death


HONG KONG (CNN) -- A Chinese court sentenced two men to death and imprisoned one for life for hijacking a Macau-Hong Kong hydrofoil passenger boat and stealing US$1.3 million in cash.

One of the death sentences was suspended. The three men, all from Zhongshan in southern China, were convicted of hijacking the jetfoil in June and stealing the money, which belonged to the Macau branch of the Bank of China.

Two members of the gang are still at large, another is in custody in Hong Kong and a fourth, a former Macau policeman, is being detained in Macau.

The gang members commandeered the jetfoil at gunpoint on June 13 while it was going from Macau to Hong Kong and forced the captain to sail to a tiny Chinese island where they then transferred the money boxes to a waiting speedboat and disappeared.

Malaysia may give 'Power Rangers' a second chance

Power Rangers

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (CNN) -- The children's television program "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers," banned in Malaysia because of its name, will be allowed back on air if the word "morphin" is deleted, a television official said on Friday.

Malaysia has taken the popular program off the air because the word "morphin" sounds too much like the drug morphine.

The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, a U.S. made adventure series, features teen-agers "morphing," or transforming, into sleek comic-book style costumes and fighting evil-doers.

Fog blamed for two-train collision in Egypt

EL BADRSHEIN, Egypt (CNN) -- Early morning fog was blamed for a two-train collision Thursday in Badrshein. The crash killed at least 75 people and injured 150.

Officials said many of the injured were in critical condition and the death toll was expected to rise. Rescue teams worked with heavy equipment to free passengers trapped inside the wreckage.

Egyptian railways said in a statement that the driver of the first train, traveling south from Cairo to Beni Sueif, failed to stop at a signal at Badrshein and could not see the other train because of fog. It overtook and crashed into the second train, which was traveling at a reduced speed because of fog.

Egyptian authorities say they will open an inquiry to try to determine the exact cause of the collision.

Plane with 13 on board crash-lands in Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea map

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (CNN) -- A plane carrying 13 passengers went down Friday morning on the north coast of Papua New Guinea near the town of Madang, according to airline officials.

The fate of those on board was not immediately known.

The twin-engine Britten Norman aircraft is believed to have turned back from Bundi, a mountain town 100 km (62 miles) inland from Madang. Aviation officials said they believe the plane was forced to turn around because of bad weather.

The plane, owned by Islands Aviation, crash-landed near a church mission on a bush airstrip about 8:30 a.m. A civil aviation team was on its way to the crash site. The cause of the crash was under investigation.

Pakistan suspects Afghan militants in market bombing

Car bomb

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistani authorities suspect that an Afghan militant group was behind a powerful car bomb that exploded in a crowded marketplace in Peshawar. The blast killed at least 25 people and injured scores more.

The bomb went off outside a department store in a busy street in Peshawar's Saddar Bazaar district, which was crowded with shoppers ahead of the Muslim weekend, which begins Friday. Many bystanders suffered severe burns from fires the bomb triggered in nearby shops.

A daughter and two grandchildren of provincial governor Khurshid Ali Khan and a daughter and nephew of a provincial minister were reportedly among those killed.

No one had claimed responsibility for the bomb in the North Frontier Province capital.

Provincial police chief Masood Shah said he suspected an Afghan group. He said they had recently "busted" eight groups -- all Afghans -- who he claimed had confessed their involvement in recent bombings across the province.

Thursday's bombing followed an explosion on November 19 at the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad that killed 16 people and wounded more than 60.

Some officials said the bombings could be the work of supporters of embattled Afghanistan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, who accuses Pakistan of backing his opponents.

Peshawar has a large population of Afghan refugees from a war that has raged in neighboring Afghanistan since 1979.

U.N. suspects Iraq's weapons program is still on

UN logo

United Nations (CNN) -- There are new questions about Iraq's weapons program after a United Nations official said they found a gyroscope in Iraq.

The device, which could be used to guide long-range missiles, was recovered from the River Tigris by divers.

Ralph Ekeus, the United Nation's chief investigator into Iraq's weaponry, said the discovery raises questions about Iraqi compliance with weapons restrictions.

Iraq said the device was seized when it was illegally imported and tossed in the river.

Under a U.N. Security Council resolution, Iraq is prohibited from building missiles over a 90-mile (150-km) range, and Ekeus said the gyroscopes and other data showed the contrary.

The disclosure will make it difficult for the Security Council to consider seriously lifting the oil embargo and other sanctions against Iraq. Iraq has been under sanctions since it invaded Kuwait in August 1990.


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