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News Briefs II

Reno Calls for Improved Relations Between Police, Citizens

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- WASHINGTON

In her strongest and most emotional language to date on the subject, Attorney General Janet Reno on Thursday decried the worsening tensions across the United States between police and many of the people they are charged with protecting, and she urged a redoubled effort to confront the problem.

“For too many people, especially in minority communities, the trust that is so essential to effective policing does not exist because residents believe that police have used excessive force, that law enforcement is too aggressive, that law enforcement is biased, disrespectful and unfair,” Reno said in a speech to the National Press Club.

The sharp words from Reno, the nation’s highest-ranking law-enforcement officer and a longtime supporter of local police, came on the same day that thousands of New York City demonstrators protested high-profile police attacks on two immigrants. While the timing was a coincidence, Justice Department officials said the rising tensions in New York helped trigger Reno’s call-to-action on the issue of police conduct.

Reno said her heart goes out to the family of New Yorker Amadou Diallo, an unarmed man shot 19 times by officers as he stood in the doorway of his apartment building one February evening. But Reno warned that the problem was broader than Diallo’s killing.


Pinochet Extradition Proceedings Move Forward

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- CURACAUTIN, Chile

Imagine him as the defendant on the first day of trial: Gen. Augusto Pinochet, senator-for-life and former dictator of Chile, accused of the torture-murder of Marcos Quezada Yanez, a 17-year-old student, in this melancholy rural town.

Although Britain’s interior minister decided Thursday to permit extradition proceedings to go forward, the vagaries of law and fate have already determined that Pinochet will not be tried for the most notorious crimes of his 17-year regime: car-bomb assassinations by his spies in foreign capitals, massacres in his concentration camps.

A judicial panel of Britain’s House of Lords ruled last month that Pinochet faces extradition to Spain only for offenses covered by an international law against torture ratified in 1988, the year before he stepped down. The Law Lords eliminated all charges except two alleging conspiracy to torture and a third based on the death June 24, 1989, of Quezada, a pro-democracy activist, in a police lockup here.

It is poetic justice, Pinochet’s foes say, that he could be brought down by an obscure crime committed at a time when he had agreed to relinquish power and in a place in the verdant, slow-moving south of Chile that had largely avoided state terror.