Torture suspects' bail put on hold

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - An Argentine high court yesterday suspended a controversial decision to grant bail to high-profile defendants accused of torturing and killing dissidents during the 1976-1983 dictatorship.

The court instead sent the cases to the Supreme Court after prosecutor Raul Plee appealed the ruling. The decision will keep the suspects behind bars until the Supreme Court ruling, at a date still to be determined.

On Thursday, a three-judge panel ordered the release of suspects including former navy officer Jorge Acosta, who was convicted in absentia in Italy for the killings of three Italians; and Alfredo Astiz, accused in the disappearance of two French nuns and the founder of the famed human-rights group Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo.

The judges wrote in a ruling that the defendants had been held for too long while their trials moved forward slowly - some of them well past the legal limit of three years.

- AP

Remains are of '80s IRA victim

DUBLIN, Ireland - Human remains found in the hills south of Dublin were confirmed yesterday to be those of a Belfast teenager killed by the outlawed Irish Republican Army decades ago.

Relatives of Danny McIlhone - a 19-year-old abducted from Belfast in 1981 - welcomed the finding from a joint British-Irish commission that has spent nine years hunting for grave sites of IRA victims. The commission said DNA testing of the remains, chiefly a decayed foot found last month, had positively identified McIlhone.

In 1999, as part of Northern Ireland's peace process, the IRA admitted killing nine people who had vanished, and gave information to the commission on each victim's approximate burial place. Before the discovery of the McIlhone remains, years of extensive digging had turned up only two other bodies.

- AP

Belgian leaders offer to resign

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Prime Minister Yves Leterme offered the resignation of his entire government yesterday over allegations it sought to interfere with a court case on the Fortis bank bailout. King Albert II was to decide whether to refuse or accept the resignation.

Justice Minister Jo Vandeurzen resigned earlier in the day after Belgium's highest court said the government had tried last week to influence the case on the bailout and sale of the troubled bank.

The separation of powers is a cornerstone of Belgian parliamentary democracy, and the alleged attempts by the government to influence the course of judicial process have infuriated partners in the coalition government.

- AP

Elsewhere:

Three Danish soldiers

and one from the Netherlands were killed in Afghanistan yesterday. In Copenhagen, the army said the three Danes were killed and a comrade badly wounded when their armored vehicle drove over a bomb or a land mine; the Dutch soldier reportedly stepped on an explosive device during a firefight.