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Slobodan Milosevic was handed over today to an official of the U.N. war-crimes tribunal, the government said, to face trial before the court in The Hague, Netherlands, for alleged atrocities in Kosovo.

"The former Yugoslav president was handed over to The Hague tribunal," said government spokesman Nemanja Kolesar.

Milosevic would be the first former head of any government to be brought before the war-crimes tribunal.

The former Yugoslav president was indicted for alleged atrocities committed in Kosovo during the crackdown he ordered two years ago on the province's ethnic Albanian population. The crackdown ended after NATO's 78-day bombing campaign.

The handover came hours after Milosevic appeared to have won more time in his fight to avoid trial by the tribunal when the Constitutional Court suspended a federal government decree allowing his extradition to the war crimes tribunal.

Illusion from vapors linked
to 'monster' in Loch Ness

LONDON (AP) -- Sightings of the Loch Ness Monster may be the earth's fault, says an Italian scientist who suggests that the leviathan is an illusion created by geological activity.

Luigi Piccardi, a Florence geologist, said in a paper prepared for a scientific conference that he believes the monster is linked to the Great Glen Fault, which runs along the loch.

Piccardi has previously theorized that the visions of the Oracle of Delphi resulted from hallucinogenic vapors seeping through a fault line from hydrocarbon-bearing rock strata, and he has suggested that and other mythological sites in Greece are strongly correlated with geological faults.

In the case of Loch Ness, he said the association appeared to be borne out in St. Columba's reports of an encounter with a monster in the loch in the seventh century.

"In the original Latin, the dragon appears 'cum ingenti fremitu' -- with strong shaking," Piccardi said. "It disappears 'tremefacta' -- or shaking herself."

Adrian Shine, leader of the Loch Ness Project at Drumnadrochit, Scotland, who has studied Loch Ness for nearly 30 years, said significant tremors shook the area in 1816, 1888, 1890 and 1901, with minor shocks in the 1930s.

5 die as new police force,
militiamen clash in Somalia

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) -- Somalia's new police force fought today with militiamen opposed to the nation's new government, leaving five people dead.

More than 20 people, most of them civilians, were wounded in the fighting between faction leader Hussein Aidid's militia and the transitional government's police force, witnesses said.

The government deployed the new 2,000-member police force Wednesday, the first time police have asserted control over Somalia's capital in 10 years.

It was the most significant show of force since the new government was formed in August.

Ali Sheriff Hajji Mohamed, one of Aidid's commanders, said police attacked his militia in a part of the capital Aidid normally controls.

Sheriff said Aidid sent elders and militia officials to ask the government to move their forces, "but they defied the peace initiative, and instead they launched an attack against our positions."

Ibrahim Omar Sabriyeh, a police commander, said his unit was on a normal patrol when Aidid's militia attacked it.

China denies that police
beat American photographer

BEIJING (AP) -- In a case that has prompted U.S. protests, China said Wednesday that police inappropriately manhandled an American photographer during a concert last week to promote Beijing's bid for the 2008 Olympics.

But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue denied that police beat the photographer, Stephen Shaver of the French news agency Agence France-Presse, who was covering Saturday's Three Tenors opera concert in Beijing.

The U.S. government had filed a protest with China and demanded an inquiry after the news agency said police officers beat the photographer outside the concert.

Zhang said Shaver officially was accredited to cover only the concert and that he broke the law by photographing police detaining a ticket scalper outside.

Germans hunt crocodile
in latest reptile adventure

BERLIN (AP) -- From New York City and Buffalo to Germany, rogue reptiles have been on the loose.

Swimmers were barred Wednesday from a stretch of the Rhine as German forest rangers searched an island for a crocodile that has eluded authorities for five days.

The nearly 5-foot-long reptile was first sighted in the water Friday in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg.

Police boats and helicopters entered the hunt Tuesday after the crocodile was spotted downstream on Mariannenaue Island, west of the city of Wiesbaden in the state of Hesse.

Similar incidences involving a caiman in New York City's Central Park and an alligator in Buffalo's Scajaquada Creek resulted in the capture of both creatures.

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