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News Briefs I

Decision Due on Clinton Inquiry


Attorney general Janet Reno must decide by midnight Wednesday whether to take the next step down the path toward the appointment of an independent counsel to investigate fund-raising activities of her boss, President Clinton.

Aides suggested last week that she would disclose her decision before going to Capitol Hill Wednesday to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, an appearance scheduled months ago to discuss Justice Department operations, but one that now is certain to bring more Republican criticism of her handling of the campaign finance controversy.

But the timing of her announcement remains uncertain.

Last month, Reno invoked the Watergate-era independent counsel law to launch a 30-day preliminary inquiry of Clinton's fund-raising activities, assigning the matter to a task force of career federal prosecutors and FBI agents.

At the time, she specified the inquiry would focus on whether telephone calls made by the president from the White House violated a century-old law forbidding political fund-raising on federal property.

Police Crack Down On Japan's Yamaguchi Gang

Los Angeles Times

Gangland warfare that has split Japan's biggest crime syndicate triggered a massive police crackdown Monday aimed at crippling the infamous Yamaguchi gang.

Armed with 32 arrest warrants and a new law that gives police greater powers to fight organized crime, about 1,300 Osaka police raided at least 204 suspected mob offices in western Japan, police said. Eleven people were arrested, police said.

Japanese media called the sweep the largest anti-gang operation ever mounted in the Osaka region, which is the nerve center of Japan's underworld.

The raids follow the Aug. 28 slaying of Masaru Takumi, No. 2 leader of the 18,000-member Yamaguchi gang, the dominant force in Japanese organized crime. That killing in a Kobe hotel coffee shop - which also took the life of an innocent 69-year-old dentist at a nearby table - triggered a wave of shootings that police say mark a battle between supporters and enemies of the dead leader.

Police said they feared the intra-gang violence was about to escalate. "We are taking preventive measures against an expected increase in shootouts as the 49-day mourning period for Masaru Takumi ends this week," a police spokesman said.

A revised Anti-Organized Crime Law took effect Oct. 1, boosting police power to fight the mob. It includes provisions - such as proof of participation in inter-gang violence - making it easier for police to shut down gang offices.

South Korean President's Son Gets Three-Year Jail Term

Los Angeles Times
SEOUL, South Korea

The president's son is going to jail, and to Yoon Jae Hee that is proof that South Korea is finally learning the rule of law.

"Many youth bled to achieve democracy. This is the result of their struggle," Yoon, a 48-year-old banker, said Monday upon hearing that Kim Hyon Chol, son of President Kim Young Sam, had been sentenced to three years in prison for bribery and tax evasion in the culmination of a massive corruption scandal.

Other citizens saw Kim Hyon Chol as a scapegoat for a changing Korean political culture that is retroactively applying new standards of accountability.

"I think he should be pardoned - not because he's innocent, but because if we punish him, we have to punish all our politicians, without exception," said Kim Kap Jo, 61, a retired police officer.

The 38-year-old Kim Hyon Chol, who managed his father's 1992 election campaign, was arrested in May on charges of peddling his political influence to businessmen in exchange for some $3.5 million in bribes - and failed to pay taxes on the proceeds.