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Thursday, 4 May, 2000, 04:56 GMT 05:56 UK
Papers sift through Lockerbie trial

Most of the papers devote several pages of coverage to the opening of one of the biggest trials in British legal history - that of the two men accused of the Lockerbie bombing.

The Independent feels that the start of the case, "for such an historic and eagerly awaited occasion.....was almost an anti-climax", as the Libyans took their places in the dock "relaxed and unhurried".

Many of the relatives, says The Scotsman, "showed signs of distress" as the courtroom heard about the final moments of the Flight 103.

The Daily Mail describes how the families "arrived with little photographs of their murdered children, displayed in lockets pinned to their lapels".

The Mail's reporter covering the case writes that seeing proceedings begin "marked the crossing of a major hurdle" for many of the bereaved.

As the euro continues to slide in value, the Daily Telegraph reports that the Chancellor has been wrong-footed by the single currency.

The paper claims that Gordon Brown's decision to sell more than half of Britain's gold reserves, and re-invest some of the proceeds in euros, has "led to a direct loss of 34m".

The Daily Star, in its leader column, reckons: "The euro is sinking faster than the Titanic" - and the government should do something about it.

The paper goes on to say: "It's all very well coming back from the continent with a boot-load of cheap booze and cigarettes. But it's not much use when your job's gone."

Political turbulence

The political turbulence in Zimbabwe is examined in the leader column of the Financial Times. The paper calls on the British Government to support a Commonwealth initiative to send election observers to Zimbabwe.

The campaign is already in progress, according to the Daily Telegraph, which thinks that President Robert Mugabe "has decided to go for broke". The paper believes that "the sooner election monitors go to work, the better".

The Sun, The Mirror and the Daily Express all lead with the news that a 17-year-old Eton scholar was among those arrested during the May Day anti-capitalist riots.

The Sun quotes the youth's father as saying: "This has devastated us and I won't say anything in defence of what he has done."

The Mirror, however, reports that he said: "He is a young man who was demonstrating his beliefs. What's the big deal?"

Geoffrey Boycott's unsuccessful appeal against his conviction for assaulting an ex-girlfriend has given the headline writers plenty of excuses to think up some cricketing puns.

"French court stumps Boycott again", declares The Times, while a second headline notes that Shakespeare was "brought into bat" when Boycott quoted Richard the Second in his defence.

Mouldy sausage

According to the court report, it didn't help that the judge found some aspects of Boycott's evidence "literally laughable" - and at one point "practically fell off his chair".

Finally, The Guardian tells of how an Aberdeenshire woman who rang public health officers to complain about a mouldy chorizo sausage had her message transmitted to a wide-ranging audience.

British Telecom says a technical glitch led to the details of Alison McKenzie's complaint appearing on thousands of electronic pagers, as well as special police lines giving recorded information to journalists.

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