Ex-president may face probe
Mireya Moscoso, the jewelry-loving former president of Panama, is to be stripped of her immunity from being questioned by prosecutors and could face a probe over her role in a government fund scandal, her lawyer said on Saturday. Panama's Electoral Tribunal voted unanimously to take away the immunity at the request of the public prosecutor in a bid to gather evidence for possible criminal charges, Rogelio Cruz, Moscoso's lawyer said. Cruz stressed Moscoso has not yet been accused of any crime. Without immunity, prosecutors can now question Moscoso in its probe into the whereabouts of US$23 million of public funds labeled as "unforeseen expenditures" in Moscoso's government.
US lawmaker weds
A US congressman married the daughter of Guatemala's most notorious former dictator on Saturday in a controversial wedding that took place in a high-walled compound ringed with razor wire. Illinois Republican Jerry Weller tied the knot with Guatemalan lawmaker Zury Rios Sosa near Guatemala's colonial capital Antigua. The couple, who met while Weller was on a visit to Guatemala, married in a civil ceremony. Weller was re-elected in November despite questions from his opponent about his choice of fiancee and a possible conflict of interest with some of his government posts. He serves on the US House of Representatives sub-committee for Western Hemisphere Affairs that sometimes sees legislation concerning Guatemala.
■ United States
World's oldest man dies
Fred Hale Sr, the oldest man in the world according to Guinness World Records, has died less than two weeks shy of his 114th birthday. Hale died in his sleep on Friday at an assisted living home near Syracuse, New York, after recovering from a bout of pneumonia, Fred Hale III, 51, the youngest of Hale's nine grandchildren, said on Saturday. Hale, one of two children, was born on a farm in New Sharon, Maine, on Dec. 1, 1890, before cars and airplanes and in the same year Sioux Indians were massacred at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. "He was 17 or 18 before he saw his first car," his grandson said.
■ United States
Space tourism bill passed
Paying passengers would be able to blast into space aboard privately operated rocket ships under legislation the US House passed Saturday. Propelled by last month's successful flights of a privately financed manned rocket over California's Mojave Desert, the bill by Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California, would give the Federal Aviation Administration authority to regulate commercial human spaceflight. No such jurisdiction now exists, even though airline mogul Richard Branson has already announced plans to offer six-figure commercial space flights by 2007, and thrill-seekers have begun plunking down deposits.