War Crimes Tribunal Criticizes Croatian Bishops

AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, July 25 — A spokeswoman for the United Nations war crimes tribunal condemned Croatia's Catholic bishops for a recent declaration accusing the court of unfairness in its investigation of the 1991-95 Serb-Croat war, the wire service reported.

The Church statement, issued by the Croatian bishops’ Justice and Peace commission, suggested that the UN tribunal was engaged in “collusion” with those who sought to “undermine Croatian independence.” The tribunal had indicted two Croatian generals for war crimes against ethnic Serbs.

Many Croatians see their country as a victim of the conflict, not an aggressor, since almost a third of Croatia was occupied by Serbs after Zagreb declared independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991.

But the bishops’ statement insulted “both the international law and international justice in general,” said war crimes tribunal spokes-woman Florence Hartman.

Judge Who Sentenced Bishop's Killers Flees Guatemala

REUTERS, July 25 — Guatemalan judge Yassmin Barrios fled the country after sentencing four men convicted of murdering a Catholic bishop, the wire service reported.

Barrios was attacked with a grenade and received threats before the trial was conducted earlier this year, but still sentenced the killers of Bishop Juan Gerardi to up to 30 years in prison. The bishop was killed in April 1998, two days after releasing a report blaming the military for most of the human rights abuses during Guatemala's 36-year civil war.

Pakistani Christian's Appeal Rejected in Blasphemy Case

AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, July 25 — A Pakistani court rejected an appeal from Amnesty International on behalf of a Christian sentenced to death for blasphemy, the wire service reported.

Ayub Masih was arrested in 1996 for allegedly speaking against the prophet Mohammed, the founder of Islam. He was condemned to death in 1998 under Pakistan's strict 1985 blasphemy law. Syed Sajjad Haider, president of the Pakistan chapter of Amnesty International, challenged the verdict, but his appeal was rejected.

Masih can still appeal to Pakistan's supreme court. Dozens of people have been convicted for blasphemy in Pakistan, but so far none have been executed.

Matchbook Bible-Smugglers Hope to Expand Apostolate

ASSOCIATED PRESS, July 2 — Almost 20 years ago, Paul Lemons began creating thousands of matchbook-sized Bibles — each with its own magnifying glass — to be smuggled behind the Iron Curtain into the Soviet Union, the wire service reported.

Today, despite the fall of the Soviet Union, Lemons’ Alabama-based East European Harvest is still printing the tiny Bibles in a variety of languages.

They are shipped to countries within the former Soviet bloc, where evangelical Protestants often run into government opposition, and Lemons hopes to take on new projects in Africa and China.

Lemons, 80, runs the printings entirely on donations. He now makes normal-sized Bibles as well.