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Briefs (right)

Four Prospective Buyers Will Bid
For Dunkin’ Brands

By Heather Timmons

It’s time to buy the doughnuts.

Three groups of private equity buyers and Arby’s owner, the Triarc Cos., are planning to bid for control of Dunkin’ Brands, the fast-growing group that owns the Dunkin’ Donuts chain, Baskin Robbins ice cream and the Togo sandwich shops, several executives involved in the process said Thursday.

Bids are due Thursday night in New York.

The French drinks group Pernod Ricard is selling Dunkin’ Brands, which it acquired when it purchased Allied Domecq in April for $14 billion.

The group, which includes 6,000 Dunkin’ Donuts stores worldwide, is expected to fetch more than $2 billion.

The group’s stores had $4.8 billion in sales last year, up 12 percent, helped by new stores and new products. Baskin-Robbins has 5,400 stores worldwide, and Togo has 400 stores in the United States.

Triarc, which once owned Snapple Beverages, would add the group to its 3,500 Arby’s fast-food stores. Triarc also owns Deerfield Asset Management, an institutional fixed income investor. Analysts at J.P. Morgan Chase predicted last year that Triarc could be a bidder for the beleaguered Krispy Kreme doughnut chain, but no such bid has emerged.

Croatian Suspect in War Crimes
Is Arrested in Canary Isles

By Renwick McLean and Marlise Simons

The Spanish government said Thursday that Ante Gotovina, a top war crimes suspect from Croatia who was indicted four years ago by the international tribunal in The Hague, had been arrested in the Canary Islands, removing a potential obstacle to Croatia’s efforts to join the European Union.

The Interior Ministry said Gotovina was arrested Wednesday night at a restaurant in a luxury hotel on Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands, which are part of Spain. He was flown to Madrid to appear before a judge. The police said he had been traveling on a fake passport and did not resist arrest when he was taken into custody at a hotel at Playa de las Americas.

Carla Del Ponte, the chief prosecutor of the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, was the first to announce the arrest, telling reporters in Belgrade on Thursday: “Ante Gotovina is arrested. He was arrested this night in Spain, in the Isle of Canary. He is now in detention, finally, and he will be transferred to The Hague.”

Gotovina, a former general, was one of the three top fugitives of the war crimes court for the wars of the early 1990s as Yugoslavia disintegrated. The court has long demanded his arrest or surrender.

Gotovina’s flight from justice has been a major headache for Croatia’s new government because of international pressure to hand him over, including from the European Union and the U.N. Security Council. The European Union had long made Gotovina’s arrest a condition for starting membership talks, which finally began in October.

Annan Defends U.N. Commissioner
Against U.S. Criticism

By Warren Hoge

Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Thursday vigorously defended Louise Arbour, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, after comments she made about detention and torture came under criticism from John R. Bolton, the U.S. ambassador.

“The secretary-general has absolutely no disagreement with the statement she made yesterday, and he sees no reason to object to any of it,” said Annan’s spokesman, Stephane Dujarric.

In an unusual instance of a secretary-general singling out an individual envoy for critical comment, Annan said he was seeking a meeting with Bolton to make his point in person.

The dispute arose Wednesday when Arbour made a statement and gave a briefing in which she said that secret detention of terror suspects and sending suspects to foreign countries without guaranteed safeguards meant that the absolute international ban on torture “is becoming a casualty of the so-called war on terror.”

She said it was “particularly insidious” that “governments are watering down the definition of torture, claiming that terrorism means established rules do not apply anymore.”

In comments that appeared directed at the current American effort led by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to justify American treatment of prisoners, Arbour said, “An illegal interrogation technique remains illegal whatever new description a government might wish to give it.”

Bolton told reporters that it was “disappointing” that instead of focusing on “human rights problems that exist in the world today,” Arbour had chosen to “talk about press commentary about alleged American conduct.” He said that conduct had been “fully and completely addressed” by Rice.

He said he thought it “inappropriate and illegitimate for an international civil servant to second-guess the conduct that we’re engaged in the war on terror, with nothing more as evidence than what she reads in the newspapers.”