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Wednesday November 28, 2001


Romanian police arrest Greece's most wanted fugitive

Associated Press

An elite Romanian police unit stormed into a Bucharest apartment yesterday while searching for an armed robbery suspect, touching off a gun battle that led to the capture of Greece's most-wanted fugitive.

Constantinos Passaris was charged with two counts of murder in connection with the robbery Sunday of a currency exchange office in Bucharest, Romanian police said. A cashier and a security guard were killed in the robbery, and the attackers, a man and a woman, took about $5,000.

Passaris, 26, had been on the run since February when he escaped from a Greek jail after allegedly shooting two police officers to death. In August, the police chief in Athens resigned after an operation to capture Passaris failed and authorities in the Greek capital lost track of him.

Greek police suspected Passaris of being part of a gang that robbed brothels and other businesses.

Yesterday, elite police raided a Bucharest apartment, exchanging fire before using a stun gun to apprehend Passaris, police Col. Mihai Gheorghe said.

"He got scared and surrendered," Gheorghe said. No one was injured.

Police were still searching for a female accomplice in the robbery.


Judge dismisses claims against sheriff in Columbine lawsuits

Associated Press

A federal judge ruled yesterday that sheriff's officials can be sued over the case of a Columbine High teacher who bled to death in the 1999 massacre, saying law officers callously failed to reach him until hours after the shooting had stopped. U.S. District Judge Lewis Babcock said Jefferson County sheriff's officials demonstrated "a deliberate indifference towards Dave Sanders' plight shocking to the conscience of this federal court."

However, the judge threw out the eight other lawsuits brought against sheriff's officials and school administrators over the shooting rampage. He said authorities were confronted with "an unprecedented and rapidly evolving violent situation."

Rescuers did not reach Sanders, 47, until about five hours after the massacre was over. The judge noted that authorities knew the teen-age gunmen were dead about three and a half hours before they reached Sanders. They also knew where he was and knew that he was critically wounded, Babcock said.

The judge said there is sufficient evidence that sheriff's officials "acted recklessly in conscious disregard of the risk that Dave Sanders' survivable wounds would prove fatal" if they delayed help from reaching him.

Sanders' relatives are suing for unspecified damages, alleging sheriff's officials held back their SWAT team and also prevented other authorities and private citizens from rescuing him.

Peter Grenier, the lawyer for Sanders' daughter Angela, said the ruling was bittersweet.

"It's bitter in a sense for Angela because it certainly confirms the viability of her claims that law enforcement officers' actions actually were a cause of her father's death," he said. "But we're very pleased the judge followed the black letter of the law and allowed the case to go forward."


Anarchist teen pulled from school

Associated Press

A high school student who was suspended last month for her anti-war, pro-anarchy stances has been pulled out of school by her mother because of safety concerns.

Amy Sierra said her daughter, Katie, 15, has been attacked, threatened and insulted by students at Sissonville High School. The mother said it was her choice to withdraw Katie and enroll her in a program in which she will complete assignments on a computer from home.

"She was getting assaulted over and over again, and I got fed up," Amy Sierra said. "I'm just so worried somebody's going to hurt her bad."

Katie, a ninth grader, was suspended for three days in October for defying school orders not to form an anarchy club or wear T-shirts that include slogans opposing the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan.

The school claimed the girl's actions disrupted student learning and a Kanawha County Circuit judge upheld the suspension.

The West Virginia Supreme Court voted yesterday 3-2 not to consider Katie Sierra's petition to prevent the lower court from "continuing to deny her freedom of speech."

The handwritten message on the T-shirt that got her in trouble read: "When I saw the dead and dying Afghani children on TV, I felt a newly recovered sense of national security. God Bless America."

Students spit on her mother's car at the high school. Her friends' parents wouldn't give her rides home from school. A boy wore a T-shirt signed by many Sissonville students that read: "Go back where you came from."

Katie Sierra, who was born in Panama, has attended 15 schools. She has lived in Texas, New Mexico, Ohio, Florida and Kentucky.



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