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News Briefs I

French Officer Accused Of Spying for Yugoslavia

The Washington Post

An army officer serving with the French delegation to NATO in Brussels has been arrested on allegations that he passed information on possible NATO airstrike targets in Yugoslavia to that country, political and military sources said.

A French investigating magistrate was asked late last week to open a case against Maj. Pierre Bunel, said to be 46, on grounds of possible espionage. Bunel, who has not been charged formally, was reportedly being held in prison.

"It clearly is a situation of great gravity," said a Defense Ministry spokesman.

Bunel initially had been subject to an internal disciplinary proceeding over the same allegations, defense officials said. News services reported that he acknowledged transmitting documents detailing the sites targeted for airstrikes had the Yugoslav government failed to withdraw its troops from the separatist province of Kosovo by last week. Bunel was said to have denied accepting money for passing information.

High Court to Review Espy Case

The Washington Post

Taking up a dispute that could broadly affect lobbyists and the gifts they lavish on officials, the Supreme Court said Monday it would review the case of a California company accused of giving sports tickets, meals and other gifts to former agriculture secretary Mike Espy.

At issue is a criminal statute that bars illegal gratuities and dictates the circumstances under which individuals or companies can give gifts to members of Congress, Cabinet officers and other government officials in a position to influence national policy. The law makes it a crime to give a gift to any public official "for or because of any official act" that they render. But in looking at how close the link has to be between the gifts given and any official actions taken, many courts have ruled that simply giving a gift to an official in a position to make decisions affecting the giver is enough to constitute a crime.

But the D.C. Circuit, in a decision last March overturning a conviction against Sun-Diamond Growers of California, set a higher standard: It ruled that there must have been some official act that the gift-giver benefited from, or hoped to benefit from, in order for a law to have been broken. In other words, the appeals court found, prosecutors have to show that "the gifts were motivated by more than merely the giver's desire to ingratiate himself with the official generally."

Peace Accord Signed In West African Nation

The Washington Post
ABUJA, Nigeria

The government and rebels in the West African state of Guinea-Bissau signed an agreement to end the country's five-month-old civil war, Nigerian officials announced here Monday.

The deal, brokered largely by Nigeria and Gambia, is a new advance - but also a burdensome challenge - for West African governments in their efforts to calm the interlocking civil wars that have shaken or shattered several small states along the Atlantic coast.

Guinea-Bissau's army mutinied June 7 under its commander, Brig. Gen. Ansumane Mane, and has seized the bulk of the country. But President Joao Bernardo Vieira, backed by a faction of the army and by thousands of troops from neighboring Senegal and Guinea, has held the center of the capital, Bissau.