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Germany ordered to pay woman sold into slavery at death camp

Published Oct. 2, 2005

A German court ordered the government Wednesday to pay compensation to a former Nazi-era slave laborer in Auschwitz _ a landmark ruling that could pave the way for claims from other victims.

Rywka Merin, 76, a Jewish woman living in Israel, was awarded $8,690. As a young woman she was deported from her home in Poland and sold by Hitler's SS as a slave laborer to a munitions factory in the Nazi death camp complex.

In her home in the Tel Aviv suburb of Herzliya, Merin welcomed the verdict with mixed feelings. "It is hard for me to accept that only I, and not all the women who were there, am getting something," she said.

Presiding Judge Heinz Sonnenberger said the court rejected claims by 20 other Jewish women who worked with Merin, saying they had already been paid under Germany's Federal Compensation Law of 1953. The judge said Merin had emigrated to Israel in the late 1960s and missed the chance to apply for compensation.

But lawyer Lutz Frauendorf, an expert on slave labor issues, said the verdict was a landmark because the court recognized claims for slave labor itself for the first time.

U.N. votes against Cuba embargo

UNITED NATIONS _ The United States suffered its annual U.N. roasting Wednesday when the General Assembly, by a record majority, called for an end to Washington's three-decades-old economic embargo against Cuba.

The vote on the Cuban-sponsored resolution was 143 in favor and three against _ the United States, Israel and Uzbekistan _ with 17 abstentions. It was the sixth year in a row that the call was approved by the General Assembly.

As in the past, even friends and allies of the United States _ including all 15 members of the European Union as well as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico _ voted for the resolution.

The vote reflected international opposition to the 1996 Helms-Burton Act, which seeks to punish foreign companies that invest in property confiscated from Americans after the 1959 revolution in Cuba.

European nations say the law violates World Trade Organization rules governing international trade and infringes on their sovereignty.

Nine injured in emergency landing

LONDON _ A Virgin Atlantic Airways jet from Los Angeles made an emergency landing at Heathrow Airport on Wednesday, slightly injuring some passengers.

The Airbus 340's left landing gear failed to come down, forcing pilot Tim Barnby to land using only the right gear. All 98 passengers and 16 crew were quickly evacuated down landing slides.

Airport spokesman Daryl Bartlet said there were no serious injuries. Nine people were taken to a hospital with minor injuries, according to Virgin.

Striking truckers block Paris traffic

PARIS _ Striking truckers threw up their first barricades in Paris on Wednesday, briefly disrupting traffic in the capital, while unions and owners held talks to find a solution to the walkout.

Strikers have mounted about 150 barricades since the strike began Sunday. In parts of the country, food and fish are starting to spoil, garbage is going uncollected and some major factories are without parts needed to continue production.

Unions representing France's 300,000 truckers want pay raises of up to 7 percent.