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ROBERT S. GAWTHROP III, 56, a U.S. District Court judge whose rulings included a key decision involving AIDS victims, died Sunday in Philadelphia after a long battle with cancer. In a 1994 trial, Judge Gawthrop heard the case of a law firm accused of firing a young associate with AIDS. Although the case ended in a settlement, Judge Gawthrop wrote the first opinion that people who show no symptoms of AIDS can still be considered disabled under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

SUNTHORN KONGSOMPONG, 68, a chain-smoking gen-eral who led a coup in 1991 that toppled Thailand's civilian government, ushering in the country's last period of military rule, died Monday in Bangkok of lung cancer. The bloodless takeover that he and other senior officers led ended a year later, shortly after troops gunned down some 50 pro-democracy demonstrators in the streets of Bangkok. He had since lived in obscurity.

MALACHI BRENDAN MARTIN, 78, a former priest and close associate of Pope John XXIII who went on to write thrillers about the Roman CatholicChurch, died July 27 in New York City. Twice a Guggenheim Fellow, his books ranged from a seminal work on the Dead Sea Scrolls to the bestselling Hostage to the Devil, published in 1976, and billed as a real-life account of the possession and exorcism of five Americans. He was a Jesuit priest during the era of the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s, when the church adopted liberal policies aimed at broadening its appeal. Disillusioned by the reforms made by the Jesuits, the Irish-born priest requested a release from his vows and moved to New York.

_ Area obituaries and the Suncoast Deaths list appear in local sections.