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Thursday, December 9, 1999 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Around The World

Dutch Authorities Arrest Kin Of School-Shooting Suspect

VEGHEL, Netherlands - Dutch police today charged the suspect in the Netherlands' first school shooting with attempted murder and attempted manslaughter, then arrested his father and young sister and charged them as accessories.

Police spokeswoman Gerda Preusting said authorities investigating Tuesday's shooting at a high school in Veghel, about 60 miles south of Amsterdam, also seized a weapon and ammunition in a raid on the family's home.

She said the 17-year-old suspect, his 35-year-old father and 15-year-old sister all would appear before a judge tomorrow. Their names were not released.

The suspected gunman shot four students and a teacher, wounding two of them critically, before turning himself over to authorities. Since the rampage, investigators have focused on the suspect's father, who allegedly drove his son to school before the shooting, and then to the police station afterward.

Police did not say why the sister, who is said to have been romantically involved with the gunman's main target, had been arrested.

France decides to maintain its ban on beef from Britain

PARIS - France yesterday decided to maintain its ban on British beef imports over fears of "mad-cow disease," setting the stage for a legal battle with Britain.

France's food-safety agency, known as AFSSA, advised the government Monday that new British and European measures reduce the risk of the illness known as mad-cow disease but do not eradicate it.

The decision means that France is continuing to defy an August ruling by the European Union to end a three-year embargo on exports of British beef, imposed in the midst of a 1996 scare over bovine spongiform encephalopathy. There are fears the disease could be linked to a similar brain-wasting disease in humans.

11 inmates die as rival gangs battle in Bogota prison

BOGOTA - At least 11 convicts were shot to death and eight other people wounded in a shootout between rival gangs in Bogota's notoriously violent La Modelo prison last night, prison authorities said.

Col. Laureano Villamizar, head of the National Prisons Institute, said 200 women visitors remained inside the prison, afraid to leave in case the fighting flared up again in the all-male facility. Yesterday was a bank holiday in Colombia and was a visiting day for the inmates' partners and children.

Colombia's prison system was originally designed for 32,000 prisoners but currently houses more than 48,000. La Modelo prison was built for 2,700 inmates but now houses 4,500.

Migrant families in Baghdad evicted for staying illegally

BAGHDAD - Authorities have evicted from Baghdad more than 4,000 families who migrated to the capital after fleeing their southern towns during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the Interior Ministry said in a statement yesterday.

The migrant families had moved to the capital illegally, and their presence "has had an obvious impact on Baghdad's economic and social situation," a ministry spokesman was quoted as saying.

Under a 1994 law, only those people who came to Baghdad before 1991 have the right to stay.

Public utilities in Baghdad are relatively better than in other parts of the country - particularly the battered provinces in the south, which bore the brunt of Iraq's 1980-1988 war with Iran and the 1991 Persian Gulf War against a U.S.-led coalition.

Britain denies Scientologists status as charitable group

LONDON - Government officials denied the Church of Scientology charitable status today, saying it does not provide any public services.

Scientologists said they would appeal the decision, announced by the Charity Commission, which regulates charities.

The commission said the church did not meet the essential test for charitable status - "that of conferring public benefit."

Graeme Wilson, public-affairs director for the Church of Scientology in Britain, called the decision "wrong on the law and wrong on the facts."

"If the same logic were broadly applied, several hundred recognized charities in the U.K. would be deprived of their status, among them minority religions such as Buddhists, Jainists and Mormons," he said.

Some 187,000 charities are registered with the commission - including many associated with religions, both mainstream and otherwise. Registered charities receive tax benefits.

Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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