Embattled Kohl resigns
Former German chancellor Helmut Kohl resigned his post as honorary chairman of the Christian Democratic Union amid a widening scandal involving bribes and secret cash transfers during his 16 years in power. Kohl’s resignation was followed by the suicide of the party’s senior accountant, who was being investigated by police over charges that he helped hide some of the illegal donations.
Christians flee riots
Muslim rioters wielding machetes went on an anti-Christian rampage on the Indonesian resort island of Lombok after a rally calling for peace turned violent. Nearly 5,000 people have fled Lombok, which lies next to the tourism-dominated Hindu island of Bali, in the latest wave of sectarian violence, which has claimed thousands of lives in the archipelago.
Socialist wins in Chile
Left-winger Ricardo Lagos was elected president of Chile, narrowly defeating conservative rival Joaquin Lavin. Analysts say Lagos, the first socialist elected in Chile since Salvador Allende in 1973, may have gained increased support among voters angered that ailing former dictator Augusto Pinochet, who overthrew Allende, could soon return to Chile from London.
Craxi dies after long exile
Former Italian prime minister Bettino Craxi died in Tunisia, where he fled in 1994 to escape corruption charges. An Italian court convicted Craxi in absentia for accepting millions of dollars in bribes in a scandal that brought down many in the country’s political elite.
Elián’s grandmothers arrive
The two grandmothers of six-year-old Elián González flew from Cuba to the United States to begin a campaign to have the boy returned to the island. Elián, picked up in waters off Florida after his mother died in a bid to flee Cuba, has been staying with relatives in Miami. The U.S. government says he should go home to live with his father, but a group of congressmen was preparing legislation to have him stay.
A high-society murder mystery
After 25 years, two highprofile books and a madefor-TV movie, a relative of the star-crossed Kennedy clan has been charged in the brutal murder of 15year-old Martha Moxley, who was bludgeoned and stabbed to death with a golf club on a wealthy estate in Greenwich, Conn., in 1975. The accused, 39year-old Michael Skakel, is a nephew of late senator Robert Kennedy through his wife, Ethel. In an unusual legal twist, Skakel has been charged as a juvenile because he was also 15 at the time of the murder. He turned himself in, posted $500,000 (U.S.) bail, and
returned to his home in Höbe Sound, Fla., pending arraignment on Feb. 8. The mystery of the Moxley murder has been simmering in society circles of Greenwich, a posh suburb of New York
City, almost since the teen’s body was found on Halloween morning, several hours after she, Skakel and others were out on a night of pranks. Skakel and his elder brother, Thomas, then 17, were suspects from the outset, supposedly caught up in a jealous rivalry. Two years ago, the case was the subject of a nonfiction book by Mark Fuhrman, the former Los Angeles detective whose racist remarks contributed to the acquittal of O. J. Simpson. Around the same time, a Connecticut Superior Court judge, acting as a grand jury, was appointed to re-examine the case.
Prosecutors uncovered new evidence in which Skakel is alleged to have discussed his involvement in the murder while at a treatment centre for substance abuse from 1978 to 1980.
A money scandal rocks Israeli politics
Israeli police launched a criminal probe into whether President Ezer Weizman, while a cabinet minister in a coalition government, accepted large sums of money from a French businessman seeking tax-exempt status in Israel. Weizman, 75, one of the last of the country’s generation of founding heroes, admits receiving about $290,000 from the man, but says it was just a gift “from an old friend.” He is also alleged to have thrown his minority party’s support to Labour Leader Shimon Peres in 1984 in return for a $5-million loan to a business partner.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair is being urged to democratize the House of Lords by allowing commoners, ethnic representatives and religious leaders of all persuasions to sit in the upper chamber—and by stripping himself of the power to make appointments. The recommendations come from a 12-member commission struck by Blair to revamp the ancient institu-
tion. His government said only that it will study the proposals, but if accepted they would leave Canada as one of the few countries where upper-house members are simply appointed by the prime minister. The British report suggests three different methods, including election, for choosing up to 195 regionally based members in a reformed House of Lords of about 550. Most of the rest would be citizens appointed by special independent commissions.