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World Briefing - 2002-12-18

A court in New Delhi has handed down death sentences to three men convicted of treason for their role in last year's attack on India's Parliament carried out by suspected Islamic militants. The defendants, all Indian Muslims, had pleaded not guilty, their lawyers say they plan to appeal the sentences. The three men, including a college professor, did not take part in the actual raid on Parliament. But the judge said they are equally liable because they helped the terrorists enter into India and carry out suicide attacks.

Twenty North Korean defectors who climbed over gates of the South Korean consulate in Beijing to seek refuge there have arrived at their new homes in Seoul. Beijing has a treaty with North Korea requiring China to send the defectors back home. But Chinese authorities, fearing an international outcry, have refused to return them to North Korea. More than one thousand North Koreans have defected to South Korea so far this year.

Indonesia says it will rebuild the war-torn northwest province of Aceh to strengthen a peace accord between the government and separatist rebels. President Megawati Sukarnoputri says she is confident that, with the help of foreign aid, Aceh could recover within two years. Ms. Megawati met with local officials this week on a visit to the province. Indonesian officials said Jakarta would take responsibility in rebuilding Aceh through economic, social and political reconstruction.

West African regional leaders are due to meet in Senegal, in yet another effort to end Ivory Coast's three-month rebellion. This, following weeks of fruitless negotiations between the government and the northern-based rebels. The rebels launched their uprising in September and now control almost all of the northern half of Ivory Coast. They are demanding the resignation of President Gbagbo, changes to the constitution, and new elections.

Roman Catholic Cardinal Bernard Law has apologized and asked for forgiveness after resigning as Boston's Archbishop following a sex abuse scandal in his archdiocese. Pope John Paul accepted his resignation as Archbishop last week. Cardinal Law has been accused of protecting priests accused of abusing children. Also Monday, the Vatican formally approved a new plan by U.S. Roman Catholic bishops to combat sex abuse among the clergy.