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News Briefs

FBI Launches Probe Into Rampart Scandal

THE LOS ANGELES TIMES -- LOS ANGELES

Marking a milestone in the 5-month-old Rampart corruption scandal, authorities announced Wednesday that federal prosecutors and half a dozen FBI agents would begin investigating alleged civil rights abuses by Los Angeles police officers, while the district attorney’s office said it is pursuing murder and attempted murder charges against some officers.

Although federal officials said months ago that they had opened an investigation into corruption at the LAPD, U.S. Attorney Alejandro Mayorkas acknowledged that, to date, federal investigators have done little more than monitor the situation.

Mayorkas said that at the request of LAPD Chief Bernard C. Parks, his office and the FBI are taking a more vigorous role in the expanding probe.

“We in the Department of Justice hope to bring our expertise, our resources and our independence to bear upon this matter,” said Mayorkas, U.S. attorney for the Central District of California. “The corruption and civil rights violations that are alleged to have occurred tear at the foundation of not only our law enforcement community, but of our civil society as a whole. Justice must be done here.”

Senate OKs Bill to Punish Countries Helping Iran Arms Effort

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- WASHINGTON

The Senate, with grudging White House acceptance, unanimously approved legislation Thursday designed to punish Russia and other countries suspected of helping Iran develop long-range ballistic missiles or nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

The measure, a weaker version of one passed by the House, would require President Clinton to cut off arms sales or economic aid to countries that transfer sensitive technology to Tehran -- except in cases where he believes that imposing such penalties would hurt U.S. national security.

The bill also would suspend some payments the United States owes Russia for its part in developing the International Space Station until Clinton certifies that Moscow is cooperating in halting the proliferation of weapons technology to Iran.

The bill passed 98 to 0. The House vote on a similar bill last fall was 419 to 0.

Program to Create Pool of Police to Assist U.N. in Kosovo

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- WASHINGTON

Alarmed by a breakdown of law and order in postwar Kosovo, the Clinton administration launched a program Thursday that would create a pool of police officers ready on short notice to come to the aid of U.N. peacekeepers around the world.

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who announced the initiative, said it is intended to bolster U.N. programs, supplying temporary international police forces for countries where normal law enforcement doesn’t exist.

Although U.N. police forces aren’t new, the operations often fail because U.N. member countries provide too few officers with too little specialized training, U.S. officials said.

Albright said the U.S. effort also would offer training to foreign police officers, who would be available for U.N. programs.

“The recent slowness in deploying desperately needed civilian police to Kosovo provides only the latest evidence that present international capabilities are not adequate,” Albright said.