Six on trial for making melamine

BEIJING - Six Chinese suspects went on trial yesterday, accused of making and selling the industrial chemical at the center of a tainted-milk scandal blamed for killing six children and sickening nearly 300,000.

Among those in court was the owner of a workshop that was allegedly China's largest source of melamine, the substance responsible for the health crisis that saw Chinese food products pulled from stores worldwide, state media said.

Police said the workshop run by Zhang Yujun, 40, in eastern Shandong province made and sold a "protein powder" composed mainly of melamine and malt dextrin, the official Xinhua news agency reported. The powder was added to watered-down milk to make it appear higher in protein content.

- AP

Zimbabwe activist in prison

HARARE, Zimbabwe - A Zimbabwean peace activist has been traced to a notorious maximum-security prison despite a court order that she be taken to a hospital, a leading human-rights lawyer said yesterday.

Jestina Mukoko and nine opposition members are being held, accused of plotting to overthrow President Robert Mugabe. The plot has been widely dismissed as fabricated and is possibly an attempt by Mugabe's regime to find an excuse to declare a state of emergency.

Zimbabwean lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said police told her Mukoko had been taken to Chikurubi prison outside the capital. Another lawyer went to the prison and confirmed she was there but had not been allowed access to her, Mtetwa said.

Mukoko had been missing for three weeks before appearing in court Wednesday. A judge ordered that she receive medical attention for torture allegations to be investigated. Police refused to comply, and she went missing again Thursday.

- AP

Rescue continues after Ukraine blast

KIEV, Ukraine - Rescue workers were combing through piles of concrete and glass yesterday in an ongoing search for survivors from an apartment building explosion in southern Ukraine, but authorities said hope was waning as the death toll climbed to 27.

Salvage teams had pulled 21 people out alive from the rubble since the five-story building collapsed Wednesday night in the Crimean peninsula resort of Yevpatoriya.

It was unclear whether other victims could still be buried in the wreckage. Ukraine held a day of national mourning yesterday, with flags across the country lowered to half-staff.

- AP

Elsewhere:

A Mexican beauty queen

arrested outside Guadalajara in a truck filled with weapons was ordered jailed pending an investigation into possible drug-trafficking and gun charges, authorities said yesterday. Investigators said she was dating an alleged leader of the powerful Juarez drug cartel, who was one of seven men arrested with her Monday.

Cambodia's former King

Norodom Sihanouk, 86, is fighting his third bout with cancer but is optimistic he will recover and return home from China, a message on his Web site said. Sihanouk abdicated in 2004, citing poor health.

A South Korean court ruled

yesterday that a legal notice issued by the government to allow U.S. beef imports to resume did not violate the constitution. Opposition parties and thousands of South Koreans had petitioned the Constitutional Court to try to block U.S. beef from the country by claiming the notice violated their rights. The government issued the notice in June despite violent protests by people concerned about the health risks of eating U.S. meat. South Korea banned American beef in 2003 after a case of mad cow disease was discovered in the United States.