Judge says she will

rule in Diana case

LONDON - A British judge said yesterday that she alone would determine what caused the deaths of Princess Diana and her boyfriend, rejecting arguments that a jury was the best way to ensure justice.

In the ruling, Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss said a jury - unlike a judge - would be forbidden under British law from considering the conspiracy theories that have dogged the investigation into the 1997 deaths of Diana and Dodi Fayed.

Mohammed al Fayed, the father of Dodi Fayed, has accused the queen's husband, Prince Philip, of orchestrating a plot to kill Diana and Fayed, who died in a Paris car crash. Philip has never commented on the accusation.

Late last year, a British police inquiry dismissed allegations that the princess was the victim of a murder conspiracy. - AP

Former rebels join

Nepal's legislature

KATHMANDU, Nepal - Parliament was dissolved yesterday and replaced by an interim legislature that includes former communist rebels, a major step to co-opt the ex-guerrillas into mainstream Nepalese politics after they agreed to end their insurgency.

The former rebels also are set to join an interim government that will conduct elections later this year in an effort to establish a lasting peace in the Himalayan country.

The rebels had been fighting since 1996 for a communist state before they signed a truce with Nepal's government last year, aimed at ending fighting that claimed 13,000 lives. They are expected to begin handing over their weapons this week to U.N. monitors. - AP

Ships collide off

Sicily; 3 dead

ROME - A cargo ship and a commuter hydrofoil collided near the entrance to the Sicilian port of Messina yesterday, killing three people, leaving one missing and injuring dozens, officials said.

The three dead were crew members on the hydrofoil, Messina Port Cmdr. Antonino Samiani said. A fourth crew member was missing, Samiani was quoted as saying by the Italian news agency ANSA.

The hydrofoil, operated by the Italian state railways, was approaching Messina when it collided with the container ship Susan Borchard about 6 p.m.

Samiani told state television it was unclear what had caused the collision. - AP

Elsewhere:

The editor and a journalist at a Moroccan weekly that published jokes relating to Islam were convicted yesterday of insulting the religion, court officials said. The court gave three-year suspended sentences to Driss Ksikes, editor of Nichane, and to journalist Sanaa al-Aji.

More than 500 armed insurgents in Chechnya and other parts of Russia's North Caucasus region surrendered to authorities as part of an amnesty that expired yesterday, a Kremlin official said.

Kyrgyzstan's president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, signed into law yesterday constitutional amendments strengthening his powers that he had pushed through after threatening to dissolve parliament, his office said.