News Briefs

March 14, 1996
Web posted at: 10 p.m. EST (0300 GMT)

Dozens injured in Cyprus church riots

NICOSIA, Cyprus (CNN) -- More than 70 people were injured and at least four arrested Thursday in Nicosia when demonstrators clashed with police outside the Holy Synod hearing of a priest.

Police in riot gear fought back 3,000 supporters of Archimandrite Pangratios Meraclis, who is being investigated by the island's Greek Orthodox Church on immorality charges believed to include homosexuality.

Meraclis, 39, was elected by a large margin in northwestern Morphu district as the new bishop. But Archbishop Chrysostomos refused to ordain him because of allegations that he "introduced a student to homosexuality."

Meraclis, who denies the charges, could be defrocked if found guilty. His supporters threaten to revolt if that happens.

Ethiopian convicted for hijacking plane to U.S.

Hijacking graphic

NEW YORK (CNN) -- An Ethiopian national who hijacked a Lufthansa plane from Frankfurt, Germany, to the United States in 1993 was found guilty Thursday by a federal jury in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.

After 22 minutes of deliberations, the jury found Nebiu Demeke guilty of aircraft piracy. He used a starter pistol to force a pilot to steer a plane to New York's JFK airport.

Demeke, 23, represented himself in the three-day trial but was aided by a court-assigned co-counsel. He explained that an intense desire to come to United States to be an artist and filmmaker prompted him to hijack the plane.

Demeke could receive 20 years to life imprisonment. His sentencing is scheduled for May 24.

Children dig up dinosaur eggs in China

HEYUAN, China (CNN) -- No value can be placed on a discovery by four children in southern China Thursday.

What are thought to be the oldest dinosaur eggs ever found in the country were unearthed by children playing at construction site in Heyuan City.

One of their teachers told authorities about the amazing find of nine egg fossils. Experts believe that the eggs date back to the Mesozoic Era.

Communications satellite launch successful


KOUROU, French Guiana -- The European Space Agency launched a powerful telecommunications satellite Thursday for INTELSAT aboard an Ariane space rocket. (676K QuickTime movie)

The satellite will relay television broadcasts and telephone communications to South Africa, Europe and Africa from its orbital position above the Atlantic Ocean. Using digital compression technology, the four-ton satellite will be able to transmit 120,000 simultaneous phone conversations.

A previous satellite in the INTELSAT 700 series was destroyed after liftoff last month when the Chinese Long March 3-B rocket carrying it crashed in China's southwestern Sichuan province, killing six people. Thursday's successful launch is expected to compensate in part for last month's loss.

Pope recovering after illness


VATICAN CITY (CNN) -- Pope John Paul II was said to be in "very good" condition Thursday, a day after a sudden fever forced him to cancel his weekly public appearance.

The 75-year-old pontiff has suffered a series of health problems lately, including a bout of the flu that caused him to miss a Mass on Christmas Day.

"The general condition is very good, as are his spirits," said the pope's chief spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls. "We foresee that the pope will rest for a few days."

The cause of the fever has not been determined.


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