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Iraq

Team to hunt for long-missing pilot

By Times wire services
Published April 8, 2003

WASHINGTON - American intelligence officers are preparing to move into Iraq to search for a Navy pilot who may have survived the downing of his fighter jet during the Persian Gulf War 12 years ago, but has never been accounted for, U.S. officials said on Monday.

Lt. Cmdr. Michael Scott Speicher, an F-18 pilot who was shot down by enemy fire on the first day of the air war in Iraq on Jan. 17, 1991, is the only American still officially listed as missing in action from that war. He was first believed to have been killed in action, but his body was never recovered. After obtaining intelligence reports suggesting that he may have survived the crash of his aircraft, the Navy changed his status to missing in action in 2001.

Now, a joint team from the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency has been sent to the Persian Gulf. When the current hostilities end, the intelligence team plans to move into Iraq to sift through captured documents, interrogate prisoners of war and search sites throughout the country to try to close the books on one of the most enduring mysteries of the first Gulf War.

New government to handle old crimes

WASHINGTON - A new Iraqi government should be responsible for prosecuting President Saddam Hussein and any surviving aides for past war crimes and human rights abuses, Bush administration officials said Monday.

In an announcement that drew warnings about the danger of "victor's justice" from human rights organizations, officials said the United States would contribute backing and would encourage other countries to help, but would not seek to establish an international tribunal.

The decision does not apply to any crimes committed during the current war. Attorneys from the Pentagon and State Department said Iraqis who violate international conventions or U.S. law during the conflict could face military tribunals or trial in U.S. courts.

Japanese radicals take blame for attack

TOKYO - The Revolutionary Workers Association, a group of Japanese leftist radicals protesting the U.S.-led war against Iraq, has claimed responsibility for firing projectiles at a U.S. military base near Tokyo last week, police said Monday.

No one was injured in the incident at Atsugi Naval Air Facility, just south of Tokyo, said Kanagawa state police spokesman, Tsuneo Kosuge.

Also Monday . . .

CUBA KEEPS EMBASSY OPEN: Cuba will keep its embassy open in Baghdad, the Foreign Ministry announced a day after Russia evacuated most of its embassy staff. Cuban Ambassador Ernesto Gomez Abascal and four other Cuban diplomats have remained to staff the mission, the ministry said. Other embassy personnel and their family members left Baghdad a month before.

GULF COUNCIL: Foreign ministers of the six Arab states in the Persian Gulf region called Monday for a national postwar government and a major United Nations role in postwar Iraq.

EXCHANGE TALKS WITH AL-JAZEERA: New York Stock Exchange officials have been meeting with representatives of Al-Jazeera with an eye to restoring the Arab TV network's access to the trading floor, chairman Richard Grasso said. The exchange had cited space constraints in taking the action.

TWO FIRES TO GO: Boots & Coots of Houston said only two fires are still burning in southern Iraq's Rumaila oil field. Boots & Coots will take care of one, and a Kuwaiti team will handle the other.

[Last modified April 18, 2003, 13:36:43]