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World in brief

Serbia begs for aid, jails gangster's widow

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 18, 2003

BELGRADE, Serbia-Montenegro -- Still reeling from the assassination of their prime minister, Serbia's leaders asked Monday for more economic aid from the West and promised to maintain the government's reformist stance.

Meanwhile, police searching for the killers of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic raided the home of a slain underworld boss Monday and arrested his widow.

On Monday, Finance Minister Bozidar Djelic asked a meeting of European Union and embassy officials for an additional $424-million. Djelic said the government would maintain Djindjic's pro-Western stance and efforts to fight crime.

While the government wrestled with the power vacuum left by Djindjic's assassination, police raided the home of slain underworld boss and warlord Zelkjko Raznatovic, also known as Arkan, or rat.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, police sources said his widow, Ceca Raznatovic, a popular folk singer, was arrested for her close ties to the underworld group blamed in Djindjic's assassination and for sheltering the group's ringleaders.

Spain outlaws Basque party tied to terrorists

MADRID, Spain -- Spain's Supreme Court outlawed the radical Basque political party Batasuna on Monday, agreeing with the government's allegation that it forms an integral part of the violent separatist group ETA.

The unanimous decision by 16 judges on the court's Special Tribunal means that the group, which usually wins between 10 percent and 15 percent of the Basque vote, must immediately cease all political activity and will not be able to run in local elections in May.

It was the first time since democracy returned to Spain after the 1975 death of longtime dictator Gen. Francisco Franco that a political party was banned.

Dutch druggists can fill prescriptions for pot

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- Pharmacies may fill prescriptions for marijuana and patients can get the cost covered by insurance, according to a law that went into effect Monday.

Doctors in the Netherlands have long recommended marijuana to cancer patients as an appetite enhancer and to combat pain and nausea. But it is usually bought at one of the country's 800 "coffeeshops," where the plant is sold openly while police look the other way.

"The health minister said, look, doctors are prescribing marijuana to their patients anyway, and there are many medicinal users, so we may as well regulate it," said Bas Kuik, a spokesman for the Dutch Ministry of Health.

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