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Wednesday, December 23, 1998 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Around The World

Norwegian Mother Goes To Jail For Giving Son An Illegal Name

OSLO - A mother of 14 was jailed this week because she refused to change the name she gave her young son, even though it violated Norway's name law.

Kirsti Larsen, 46, told the Verdens Gang newspaper that she named her son Gesher after she dreamed the child should be named "bridge." Gesher means bridge in Hebrew.

Norway has strict laws regulating names, including lists of acceptable first and last names. Other names are outlawed on the grounds that they might expose children to ridicule in a society that prizes equality almost to the point of conformism.

In 1995, Larsen tried to register her son's name as Gesher at her local county office, which rejected the choice as illegal.

Larsen, a devout Christian, lost repeated appeals. She was ordered to change the name, pay a $210 fine, or spend two days in jail.

She went to prison Monday, leaving her husband and 10 children at home.

Japanese WWII leader Tojo honored at Tokyo memorial

TOKYO - A half-century after they were hanged by the Allies, wartime Japanese leader Hideki Tojo and six other convicted war criminals were quietly honored today in a memorial service attended by more than 600 people at the Kudan Kaikan hall in downtown Tokyo. The memorial was sponsored by a group planning to build a permanent hall for those executed.

Although Tojo is widely reviled abroad as a symbol of Tokyo's brutal rule over a wide swath of Asia and its war against the Allies, he is a more ambiguous figure at home. A popular film released in May depicted him as a gentle family man who went to war in self-defense - a popular notion among right-wing activists and revisionist academics who say Japan should not be ashamed of its past.

National broadcaster NHK made no mention of the memorial today, which also is a national holiday to honor Emperor Akihito's birthday.

NATO ex-chief Willy Claes is convicted of corruption

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Former NATO chief Willy Claes and two other prominent Belgian politicians were found guilty of corruption by the country's highest court today.

The court also said that Serge Dassault, a leading French businessman, was responsible for bribes paid in the late 1980s to socialist parties in return for a lucrative contract.

Twelve defendants had faced graft charges linked to two large defense contracts awarded to French aviation group Dassault and Italian helicopter maker Agusta.

Judge won't let Pinochet attend church on Christmas

LONDON - Gen. Augusto Pinochet can leave his home if he needs urgent medical care, but the former Chilean dictator cannot attend church over the Christmas holidays, a British judge said today.

Pinochet's lawyer, Michael Caplan, told the judge his client would be seen by a priest on Christmas Eve, dispelling speculation that Pinochet would request permission to attend Mass.

Pinochet was arrested Oct. 16 in London on charges of murder and torture during his 1973-1990 rule. He is fighting a bid to extradite him to Spain.

Polish fish farmers seek protection from imports

WARSAW - Polish fish farmers have asked for government protection against imports of carp, the nation's traditional Christmas Eve dish, the Polish Fisheries Association said today.

Thousands of carp are sold alive in Poland in the days before Christmas and carried home in buckets or plastic bags of water. They are killed and eaten at the traditional vigil feast in the hours before midnight religious services.

Falling prices and foreign competition have damaged the health of the Polish carp industry. Producers are urging Polish consumers to stick to home-bred fish rather than cheaper alternatives, which at the moment come mainly from Ukraine, Belarus and the Czech Republic.

Crime, prostitution ring broken up, Israeli police say

JERUSALEM - Israeli police announced yesterday they had uncovered a crime ring that forced illegal immigrants from Ukraine into prostitution and crime.

Gang members working in the Ukraine forged passports from Jewish couples who did not intend to go to Israel and gave them to other couples, police spokeswoman Linda Menuhin said. When those couples arrived in Israel, they would be forced to work for the gang, with the women being pressed into prostitution.

Frozen body of fugitive discovered in jet's wheel well

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad - The frozen body of a man wanted on kidnapping charges in Antigua was found yesterday in the wheel well of a jetliner in Trinidad, police said.

Former Antiguan police officer Trevor Jacobs, 30, apparently sneaked into a space in the landing gear of the MD-80, said Peter Hill, customer-service manager for Trinidad-based airline BWIA.

Documents he carried identified him as Jacobs, and police later confirmed his identity with fingerprints and a photograph sent from Antigua.

Jacobs was wanted on several criminal charges, including the kidnapping of 60-year-old Donna Pietracupa on Oct. 7. Pietracupa was later released unharmed.

Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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