March 13, 1996
Web posted at: 1:15 p.m. EST (1815 GMT)
Two U.S. Marines file appeals in Okinawa rape case
TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- Two of the three U.S. servicemen convicted in the abduction and rape of an Okinawa schoolgirl filed appeals on Wednesday at the Naha District Court, in the capital of Okinawa.
It's not known if, or when, the higher court will hear the appeals by Marine PFCs Rodrico Harp, 22, and Kendrick Ledet, 21.
Last week, a three-judge panel sentenced Ledet to six and a half years in prison. Harp got seven years, as did U.S. Navy seaman Marcus Gill, 23. Gill is said to be considering an appeal. He has until March 22 to decide.
The September 4 rape triggered a public outcry against the giant U.S. military presence on the island.
Pope falls ill, cancels general audience
VATICAN CITY (CNN) -- Pope John Paul II was running a low-grade fever on Wednesday and had to cancel his weekly general audience. Vatican officials were quick to characterize the illness as minor.
"We are dealing with a fever of a modest nature which is not causing alarm," said chief spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls in a three-line statement. He said nothing about the pope's condition other than that the 75-year-old pontiff is resting and undergoing tests.
The pope has suffered a series of ailments in recent years that have raised concern about his general health. His last reported illness happened over Christmas, when he was forced to cut short his holiday message and skip Mass.
Mexican governor resigns amid massacre scandal
MEXICO CITY (CNN) -- One of Mexico's most powerful state governors has resigned, at least temporarily, amid mounting evidence that he ordered the massacre of more than a dozen peasants last year.
Ruben Figueroa, governor of Guerrero state in western Mexico, was forced to request a leave of absence that was granted by the local congress on Tuesday.
The resignation comes a week after Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo asked the Supreme Court to investigate whether Figueroa was behind the June 28, 1995, slayings of 17 peasants allegedly ambushed by police while en route to an anti-Figueroa rally.
Even if the case is wrapped up soon, political observers worry that Figueroa's newly appointed successor does not inspire enough confidence to bring aboutmuch-needed change in the violence-plagued state.
Amnesty International activists detained
BANGKOK, Thailand (CNN) -- Thai officials briefly detained two members of the international human rights group Amnesty International on Wednesday, in an apparent effort to prevent them from launching a global campaign against human rights abuses in China.
Amnesty International's secretary-general, Pierre Sane, managed to elude police and get to a news conference in Bangkok, where he issued the group's highly critical report on China.
The report, titled "China: No One is Safe," details a variety of alleged human rights abuses -- including torture, arbitrary arrest, and persecution.
In response, the Chinese government issued a statement in Beijing, saying, "Amnesty International has always harbored prejudices against China and oftenfabricates rumors about the so-called abuses of human rights in China."
Lebanon appeals court frees diplomat's killers
BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- A Lebanon appeals court has freed two former Muslim guerrillas convicted in the 1976 kidnapping and killing of U.S. Ambassador Francis E. Meloy, his economic counselor, Robert O. Waring, and their Lebanese driver.
A three-judge panel ruled Wednesday that the defendants, Bassem Farkh, 39, and Namek Kamal, 46, were covered under a 1990 amnesty relating to political crimes committed during Lebanon's civil war.
Both had been sentenced to death by a lower court in 1994.
Meloy, Waring and their driver, Mohammed Moghrabi, disappeared in June 1976 at a militia checkpoint as they crossed the Green Line, the division between Beirut's Christian and Muslim sectors. Their bullet-riddled bodies were found a short time later in mainly Muslim west Beirut, which was then controlled by PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat's guerrillas.
There was no immediate comment on the guerrillas' release from the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
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