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PERU: Confession retracted

Murder defendant Joran van der Sloot retracted his confession, a Dutch newspaper reported Monday. Superior Court Judge Carlos Morales visited the Dutchman at the maximum-security prison in Lima where he has been held since being charged with first-degree murder in the May 30 killing of a woman he met playing poker in Lima. Van der Sloot, 22, would not talk, citing his lawyer's petition to declare his confession void in the death of Stephany Flores, 21. Lawyer Maximo Altez contends it isn't valid because the defense lawyer present was state-appointed. Van der Sloot, prime suspect in the 2005 disappearance in Aruba of U.S. teen Natalee Holloway, was quoted by De Telegraaf as saying he signed a confession only because he was intimidated by police.


VATICAN CITY: Cardinal denies corruption

Naples Cardinal Crecenzio Sepe, under investigation in a sprawling corruption scandal, denied wrongdoing and insisted Monday he acted for the good of the church while handling real estate transactions for the Vatican office that funds missionary work abroad. Prosecutors are trying to untangle an alleged web of kickbacks involving billions worth of contracts for such megaprojects as preparing 2000 Holy Year events in Rome, the 2009 Group of Eight summit and rebuilding quake-shattered L'Aquila.


THE KOREAS: High radiation at border

Abnormally high radiation levels were detected near the border between the Koreas days after North Korea claimed to have mastered a complex technology key to manufacturing a hydrogen bomb, Seoul said Monday. The Science Ministry said its investigation ruled out a nuclear test by the North, but failed to determine the source of the radiation. On May 12, North Korea claimed its scientists succeeded in creating a nuclear fusion reaction, a technology necessary to manufacture a hydrogen bomb. South Korean experts doubted the North actually made such a breakthrough.

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