The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, February 01, 1996, Page 2, Image 2

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    By The
Associated Press
Edited by Michelle Gamer
Thursday, February 1,1996 Page 2
Rebels blamed for Sri Lankan explosion
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — In one
of the worst attacks in Sri Lanka’s 12
year civil war, a truck packed with
explosives rammed into the central
bank Wednesday, igniting towering
fires in the business and tourist dis
trict. At least 60 people died, includ
ing the driver, and more than 1,400
were wounded.
Authorities blamed the attack and
a fireball caused by a rocket-propelled
grenade moments earlier on the Tamil
Tiger rebels, whose 12-year armed
campaign for an independent home
land has killed nearly 40,000 people.
There were no immediate claims of
In the chaos after the midday at
tack, dozens of people were trapped
atop burning buildings waving for
help. Helicopter gunships bristling
with machine guns tried to pluck sur
vivors from rooftops but were repelled
by the heat.
The director of the National
Hospital’s trauma unit,’Hector
Weerasinghe, told The Associated
Press that 53 people died Wednesday.
Seven more people had died by Thurs
day morning, said sub-inspector Lai
Gunawardene of the National
Hospital’s police post.
Nearly 100 were still listed as criti
cal, and another 1,000 had been hos
pitalized, he said. About 250 others
had been treated for minor wounds
and released.
Rescue workers began using heavy
earth-moving equipment Thursday to
clear the rubble of the shattered com
mercial buildings around the central
Most of the dead and wounded
were in the Central Bank building,
where Sri Lanka’s gold reserves are
held and the country’s financial policy
is made.
Bank guard Prasanna
Wijewardhana said a blue truck with
three men drove into the security bar
ricade outside the bank. Two men
leaped out and started firing automatic
Some guards returned fire, but
many of them fled, Wijewardhana
said. The attackers “had the advantage
of surprise,” he said.
During the gunfire, a rocket-pro
pelled grenade landed in fronf of a
nearby office building, gouging a cra
ter and shattering windows at The
Associated Press office 100 yards
Police said the driver of the truck
died in the explosion. Hours later, they
arrested two others seen fleeing with
automatic rifles about a mile from the
Amid the debris outside the bank,
police found a small card printed with'
the message: “This vehicle is carry
ing 4,000 kilograms (8,800 pounds)
of explosives. If you try to stop us, we
will blow it up.”
Police believe the attackers carried
the card, printed in English and Sri
Lanka’s majority and minority lan
guages, Sinhalese and Tamil. They
maintained the bomb weighed only
110 to 220 pounds.
Officials blamed Tamil Tiger
rebels, and claimed they were trying
to unhinge a government plan to give
the Tamil minority greater regional
autonomy and end the war. There was
no immediate statement from the Ti
gers, who rarely claim responsibility
for their attacks.
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Do You Draw A
Blank At The Test?
Join us and learn how to relax
as you prepare for tests.
Tuesdays, 3:30-5 pm
Feb. 13-March 26, 1996
Registration is required.
For more information,
Call CAPS (472-7450)
Attention Students:
Spring semester distribution of Federal Perkins Loan checks
will be February 5, 6 and 7 in the Nebraska Union Ballroom.
Hours of distribution are 8:30-11:30 a.m.
and 1:00-4:00 p.m. each day.
Students must present their student photo ID
to receive their check. Checks not claimed by
4 p.m. on February 7, 1996 will be cancelled.
Parking Problems?
Need a Place to Park?
n_11. t -5^ _
rark by
Don't Fight For Parking
Enter at 8th & S Streets, 1 Block West of Memorial Stadium
Contact: 1033 "O" Street, Suite 120, 474-2274
|BIB Consignment
■iFWWlfl & Thrift Shop
Clean Sweep Sale ^P}
Feb. 5-8 50% Off* —1—
Feb. 9 75% Off*
Feb. 10 Bag Day
Everything that can fit
in a bag - $5
Feb. 12 Closed
Feb. 13 Re-open with all new
spring merchandise
2201 O Street 435-7506 M-Sat. 10-5 • Thurs 10-6
* 50% & 75% off all non consignment items
Judge: Oklahoma town
not fit for bombing trial
“obvious deficiencies” in its tiny
courthouse, a federal judge said
Wednesday he had serious doubts
about holding the Oklahoma bomb
ing trial in Lawton as previously
In another development, a woman
whose two young sons were killed in
the April 19 blast is suing bombing
suspect Timothy McVeigh and other
unknown individuals for $30 million
in a wrongful death suit.
McVeigh and Terry Nichols are
charged with murder and conspiracy
in the bombing of the Oklahoma City
federal building, which killed 169
people and injured more than 500 oth
ers. They could get the death penalty
if convicted.
This week, U.S. District Judge Ri
chard Matsch has been considering a
request by defense attorneys to move
the trial out of Oklahoma.
The defense claims that pretrial
publicity will make it impossible for
the defendants to get a fair trial; pros
ecutors want the trial to remain in the
state so the survivors of bombing vic
tims can attend.
Lawton, a military town 90 miles
southwest of Oklahoma City, was
originally chosen as the trial site by
U.S. District Judge Wayne Alley.
But Alley was subsequently re
moved from the case because his
courtroom and chambers in Oklahoma
City were damaged in the blast, and
an appeals court said that the damage
could have raised doubts about his
During testimony Wednesday
“There are obvious
deficiencies there that
need to be corrected
before the trial could be
held there. ”
U.S. District Judge
about the suitability of Lawton for the
trial, prosecutors and defense attor
neys agreed it would cost at least $1
million to renovate the tiny federal
courthouse there to handle the bomb
ing trial.
<The defense noted the small size
of the courtroom and the fact that the
holding cell in the courthouse was
only big enough for one person.
“1 think it’s a waste of time to even
talk about Lawton,” Matsch said.
“I’m wondering if Lawton should
be seriously considered,” the judge
added. “There are obvious deficien
cies there that need to be corrected
before the trial could be held there.”
It wasn’t known when the judge
would rule on the defense motion.
The wrongful death lawsuit against
McVeigh was filed Friday by Edye
Smith, whose sons, Chase, 3, and
Colton, 2, were in the day-care center
on the second floor of the building
when the bomb exploded.
At least five other wrongful death
suits have been filed in the case.
Du Pont lawyers may find
insanity defense sticky
Pont saw Nazis in his trees, heard the
walls talking to him and cut off pieces
of his skin to remove the bugs from
outer space.
“Doesn’t take a rocket scientist or
even a psychiatrist to say the guy was
crazy,” law professor Eddie Ohlbaum
But that doesn’t mean the multimil
lionaire accused of murdering Dave
Schultz, an Olympic wrestling cham
pion, is crazy under the law.
Lawyers rarely pursue the insanity
defense and rarely succeed. Even Jef
frey Dahmer couldn’t convince a jury
he was insane when he killed and dis
membered 15 men and boys.
“An insanity defense in general is
an uphill battle,” said Dr. Neal
Blumberg, a Baltimore psychiatrist
who evaluates about 60 criminal de
fendants a year. “There’s a public per
ception that people are getting away
with murder and this is an easy de
fense to fake.”
To prove insanity, lawyers must
show that du Pont was too mentally
ill to know what he was doing or un
able to know the difference between
right and wrong.
For example, “let’s assume that
when he pulled the trigger he thought
he was releasing electrons to commu
nicate with the nature of the Holy
Spirit,” said Ohlbaum, a Temple Uni
versity law professor who has argued
insanity defenses.
Lawyers representing du Pont need
to establish a history of mental illness
and document his behavior at the
scene of the crime.
Killers found guilty but mentally
ill are sent to a mental institution; if
they recover, they go to prison for life.
In contrast, those found not guilty by
reason of insanity are sent to a mental
hospital and can be released once they
are deemed to be no threat.
Fed cuts
eral Reserve cut interest rates for
the second time in two months
Wednesday, hurrying to the res
cue of a faltering economy. Ma
jor banks immediately reduced
their own lending rates, mean
ing lower borrowing costs for
millions of Americans.
The stock market, which had
surged on Tuesday in anticipa
tion of the Fed’s credit relief, set
another record on Wednesday.
The Dow Jones industrial aver
age closed at 5,395.30, up 14.09.
Private analysts said further
rate reductions were likely as the
Federal Reserve tries to stave off
The Fed said it was cutting
its target for the federal funds
rate, the interest that banks
charge each other on overnight
loans, from 5.5 percent to 5.25
percent. It also reduced its
largely symbolic discount rate,
the interest it charges on direct
loans to banks, to 5 percent.
The actions should stimulate
economic activity by lowering
the cost of credit. But the Fed’s
statement said merely that the
reductions could be made be
cause “moderating economic
expansion in recent months has
reduced potential inflationary
Chase Manhattan was the
first major bank to announce a
cut in its prime rate, and other
banks quickly followed suit. The
prime rate, the benchmark for
many business and consumer
loans, was cut to 8.25 percent
from 8.5 percent.
Private economists, who had
been urging the central bank to
act, said they believed
Wednesday’s reduction in the
funds rate, the third since July,
would not be the last.
“Given how soft the economy
is, we are going to see more eas
ing,” said Lawrence Chimerine,
chief economist at the Economic
Strategy Institute in Washington.
Editor J. Christopher Hain
472- 1766
Managing Editor Doug Kouma
Assoc. News Editors MattWaite
Sarah Scalot
Opinion Page Editor Doug Peters
Wire Editor Michelle Gamer
Copy Desk Editor Tim Pearson
Sports Editor Mitch Sherman
Arts & Entertainment
Editor Jeff Randall
Photo Director Staci McKee
Night News Editors Rebecca Oltmans
Melanie Branded
Anne Hjersman
Beth Narans
Art Director Aaron Steckelberg
General Manager Dan Shattil
Production Manager Katherine Policky
Advertising Manager Amy Strothers*
Asst. Advertising Mgr. Laura Wilson
Publications Board
Chairman Tim Hedegaard
Professional Adviser Don Walton
473- 7301
FAX NUMBER 472-1761
The Daily Nebraskan (USPS 144-080) is
BJblished by the UNL Publications Board.
ebraska Union 34,1400 R St., Lincoln, NE
68588-0448, Monday through Friday during
the academic year; weekly during summer
Readers are encouraged to submit story
ideas and comments to the Daily Nebraskan
by phoning 472-1763 between 9 a.m. and 5
p.m. Monday through Friday. The public also
has access to the Publications Board. For
information, contact Tim Hedegaard, 436
9253,9 a.m.-11 p.m.
Subscription price is $50 for one year.
Postmaster: Send address changes to the
Daily Nebraskan, Nebraska Union 34,1400
R St.,Lincoln, NE 68588-0448. Second-class
postage paid at Lincoln, NE.