PARIS - A prosecutor at France's Supreme Court has recommended charges be dropped against former Prime Minister Laurent Fabius, charged in 1994 in connection with a scandal over AIDS-tainted blood, court sources said.

VERSAILLES - Armed, masked men invaded the home of world-renowned perfumer Jean-Paul Guerlain on Friday, shooting him and a security guard after plundering artworks and other valuables. Guerlain, 63, was reportedly doing well after surgery for a a wound to the thigh.

South Korea

SEOUL - An 82-year-old South Korean tycoon will lead a convoy of 50 trucks and 500 cattle into communist North Korea next week in what analysts said could signal improving relations between the rival neighbors.


TOKYO - A Japanese court sentenced a former member of a doomsday cult to 17 years in prison for his part in a 1994 nerve gas attack in Matsumoto that killed seven people and sickened 144. The Tokyo district court sentenced Takashi Tomita for murder and attempted murder, public broadcasting network NHK reported.

TOKYO - Conservative Japanese academics tried Friday to counter the accusations in the best-selling "The Rape of Nanking," calling the book's account of Japanese atrocities in China in the 1930s misleading, poorly researched and exaggerated.


RIO DE JANEIRO - About 150 members of Brazil's Landless Movement hijacked three trucks in the northern state of Pernambuco and seized more than 100 metric tons of food to give to local families, Globo Television said Friday.

Turks and Caicos

COCKBURN TOWN - The bodies of six Haitian refugees who drowned when their sloop capsized off the Turks and Caicos islands had no bullet wounds, police said. Some survivors have said marine police had fired at the boat.


BERLIN - Thirty former concentration camp laborers plan to sue Volkswagen for back wages after failing to reach a settlement with the automaker, their German representative said Friday.

KARLSRUHE - Two regional trains collided Friday in southern Germany, injuring 37 people. Two people were hospitalized with head and spinal injuries, and 12 were treated for broken bones, a Karlsruhe police spokesman said.


LONDON - Britain will launch its first multicolored coin next week when the new 2-pound coin goes into circulation. The coin, worth about $3.25 at current exchange rates, has a silver-colored center and a gold-colored ring around the outside.


QUITO - Boats searched Friday for three elderly Americans missing after a charter boat sank off the coast of the Galapagos Islands. One 70-year-old American woman was confirmed dead.


LAS MARGARITAS - Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo traveled to Chiapas Friday as tension mounted in the troubled state following a bloody clash between Zapatista supporters and security forces.

GUADALAJARA - A Mexican strip club that was closed down because of money laundering allegations reopened Friday under new management - the Attorney General's Office.

United Nations

A senior U.N. official Friday expressed shock and outrage at the killing of some 80 students in western Uganda the government has blamed on a brutal rebel separatist group.