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News Briefs

China Reports Two Suspected Cases of the SARS Virus

The New York Times -- BEIJING

The Chinese government announced Thursday that a nurse in Beijing had been hospitalized with a suspected case of SARS and that five other people had been isolated with fevers. The authorities in Hong Kong also said a second suspected SARS patient had been discovered in eastern China.

The possible reappearance of severe acute respiratory syndrome in Beijing comes just over a year after the virus first swept through the city, causing widespread panic, closing schools and forcing top leaders to admit that the government had initially covered up the presence of the disease. The scandal led to the dismissal of the Beijing mayor and China’s health minister.

The announcement is surprising because China has had no reported cases of SARS since January.

Court Restores Case Against Accused Terrorist

The New York Times -- WASHINGTON

A federal appeals court on Thursday restored the government’s full case against Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged in a U.S. court with conspiring in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and allowed prosecutors to once again seek the death penalty.

At the same time, the three-judge appeals panel in Richmond, Va., backed defense lawyers in their argument that Moussaoui is entitled to testimony from captured al-Qaida terrorists who have told interrogators overseas that he had nothing to do with the plot.

The panel, drawn from members of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, ordered the trial judge in the case to work out a compromise on the issue that has long threatened to derail the case: How to grant Moussaoui access to information from the captured terrorists while preserving the government’s rights to interrogate enemy combatants without interruption during wartime.

“We reject the government’s claim that the district court exceeded its authority in granting Moussaoui access to the witnesses,” the panel wrote, referring to the trial judge, Leonie M. Brinkema of U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va. “However, we reverse the district court insofar as it held that it is not possible to craft adequate substitutions.”

Judge Roger L.Gregory said he strongly disagreed, however, with the decision to allow prosecutors to once again seek the death penalty. “To leave open the possibility of a sentence of death given these constraints on Moussaoui’s ability to defend himself would, in my view, subvert the well-established rule that a defendant cannot be sentenced to death if the jury is precluded from considering mitigating evidence,” he wrote in a dissenting opinion.