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News Briefs, part 1

Nobel Winners Scramble to Make Progress in Mideast Talks

Los Angeles Times
JABALIYA, Gaza Strip

The three men who travel to Oslo, Norway, Friday to accept the Nobel Peace prize were scrambling Thursday to salvage the Israeli-Palestinian peace process that earned them the award.

Emerging from a hastily arranged meeting Thursday morning, Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, who are to share the prize with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, each made statements designed to reassure the other's constituency.

Peres said the Oslo accord, the peace framework that Israel and the PLO signed in September 1993, would only be altered "by mutual agreement" and not unilaterally, as some Israeli officials hinted last week it might be.

Rabin and other officials have said it may be impossible for Israel to keep its commitment to pull Israeli troops out of West Bank Palestinian towns and villages before holding Palestinian elections in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Turkish Court Sentences 8 Kurdish Politicians to Prison

Los Angeles Times

A Turkish court sentenced eight elected ethnic Kurdish leaders to between 3 and 15 years in prison Thursday, ignoring concerns expressed in the United States and elsewhere in the West they were being jailed merely for expressing their views on Kurdish rights.

The military-dominated state security court in the capital, Ankara, accepted secret wiretaps and speeches to find five former parliamentary deputies - Leyla Zana, Ahmet Turk, Hatip Dicle, Orhan Dogan and Selim Sadak - guilty of working for the rebel guerrillas of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

The five all received the maximum sentence of 15 years.

Former deputy Sedat Yurttas received a sentence of seven years and five months for helping the rebels. Former deputy Sirri Sakik and independent deputy Mahmut Alinak were sentenced to 3 years each in jail for making separatist statements. Sakik and Alinak were the only two to be released pending an appeal.

"What is being punished is Turkish-Kurdish brotherhood. How can people call this democracy if this happens when we just say something," asked Alinak in front of the gates of the Ankara jail where the eight have been imprisoned for up to nine months.

4 Charges Added to White House Gunman's 11-Count Indictment

Los Angeles Times

Federal prosecutors added four more charges Thursday to their previous 11-count indictment against Francisco Martin Duran, who is accused of spraying the White House with rifle fire Oct. 29.

The new charges, alleging that Duran used a semiautomatic weapon in four instances of trying to impede federal officers who arrested him, add a total of 40 years to the maximum possible punishment which the 26-year-old Coloradan could receive upon conviction.

Prosecutors said they included the additional weapons charges after lawyers determined they would strengthen previous charges of impeding and assaulting Secret Service officers who rushed to seize Duran on a sidewalk after tourists momentarily subdued the gunman.

Duran, who pleaded innocent Thursday to the broadened indictment, already is facing a charge of attempting to assassinate President Clinton, who was inside the White House at the time. That count alone carries a maximum punishment, upon conviction, of life imprisonment.