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Hard-liner prods professor on appealing death penalty

TEHRAN, IRAN (AP) -- Iran's chief prosecutor warned Tuesday that a history professor's death sentence for questioning hard-line rule will be final unless he files an appeal, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Hashem Aghajari, a professor at a university in Tehran, has refused to appeal -- challenging the judiciary to carry out a sentence that has provoked the largest student demonstrations in three years.

"Aghajari is obliged to appeal. If he does not appeal within the 20-day period, the verdict will be final," the news agency quoted Abdol-Nabi Namazi, a hard-line cleric, as saying.

The professor has until Monday to file an appeal, but Saleh Nikbakht, his lawyer, told the Associated Press on Tuesday that Aghajari refuses to do so.

Nikbakht argued, however, that the verdict could be reconsidered even if his client does not file an appeal.

"The supreme leader, judiciary chief, chief prosecutor, head of supreme court and the judge investigating the case have the legal right to reconsider the verdict if they consider the sentence is wrong," Nikbakht said.

Kuwaiti accused of shooting 2 GIs called mentally ill

KUWAIT CITY (AP) -- The police sergeant who shot and seriously injured two U.S. soldiers has been a psychiatric patient in Kuwait and Jordan, his lawyer said Tuesday.

Lawyer Nawwaf al-Mutairi said medical reports show that Khaled al-Shimmiri had been a patient of Dr. Mohammed Rabih, a psychiatrist in Jordan, and had received treatment in Kuwait's state-run Psychiatric Hospital and other similar establishments in the country.

Al-Mutairi did not specify al-Shimmiri's ailment or provide other details about his client. Al-Shimmiri fled to Saudi Arabia after the soldiers were wounded Thursday, but he was caught and extradited the next day.

More than 10,000 U.S. military personnel are in Kuwait.

The shooting victims, Master Sgt. Larry Thomas, 51, and Sgt. Charles Ellis, 27, both of Lake Charles, La., were being treated in a U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany.

Congo official puts toll from flu at more than 500

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) -- The World Health Organization confirmed an outbreak of flu in rebel-controlled northern Congo, and Mashako Mamba, the country's health minister, said Tuesday as many as 566 people have died.

Mamba described the figures for the outbreak, which began last month, as "certainly incomplete."

WHO officials in Kinshasa, the capital, confirmed the outbreak but said they could not say how many people had been infected or killed.

The illness apparently was spread by people fleeing an Oct. 25 coup attempt in Central African Republic, Mamba said.

The strain of flu was not immediately clear. Symptoms included fever, coughing, headaches and shivering.

Moscow government sued over theater siege deaths

MOSCOW (AP) -- Two former hostages and the father of a third have filed the first lawsuit seeking damages from the Moscow government over last month's theater siege, their lawyer said Tuesday.

In a related development, Russian authorities detained two more people on suspicion of involvement in the siege, in which 41 Chechen rebels and 129 hostages died.

The siege began Oct. 23, when Chechen rebels stormed a Moscow theater, taking hundreds of people captive during a musical performance. It ended three days later when Russian special forces stormed the building, killing the hostage-takers. Many hostages also died from the effects of a narcotic gas used to knock out the militants.

Former hostages Alexandra Ryabtseva, and her father, Alexander Ryabtsev, each sued the Moscow city government for $1 million in damages. Pyotr Sidorenkov, whose son Yuri was one of the hostages killed by the narcotic, is seeking $500,000 in compensation, said Igor Trunov, the lawyer for the three plaintiffs.

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