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World Court hears of alleged atrocities, economic damage.

September 18, 1985

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) _ A French priest told the World Court Tuesday of atrocities he said were committed by Nicaraguan rebels, and Nicaragua’s finance minister placed the damage from rebel attacks at $1.3 billion.

They took the stand on the fourth and last day of testimony in the case filed by Nicaragua accusing the United States of aggression because of its support for the rebels.

Nicaragua will present its legal arguments Wednesday, but the Reagan administration is boycotting the proceedings, saying the World Court has no jurisdiction in the dispute. The United States accuses Nicaragua’s left-wing Sandinista government of supplying weapons to guerrillas battling the U.S.-backed government in El Salvador.

The Rev. Jean Loison, nursing instructor at a hospital in northern Nicaragua since early 1983, told the panel of 15 judges that attacks against civilians by Nicaraguan rebels, known as Contras, had created an ″infectious atmosphere of terror.″

The 54-year-old Roman Catholic priest said he had treated ″atrocity″ victims at the hospital in La Trinidad, an area of heavy rebel infiltration.

″One woman came in with her belly slit open. You could see her abdomen, she had been expecting a baby,″ he said.

″I met a girl who had been kidnapped and held by the Contras for six months. When she returned, she was suffering from venereal diseases. She had been forced to be a prostitute for the Contras.″

Nicaraguan Finance Minister William Huper followed Loison to the stand and said rebel damage to the Nicaraguan economy was estimated at $1.3 billion.

″Since the United States is not only financing, but also directing the Contra forces, it is responsible for this damage,″ he said.

Huper told the court that 35 percent of Nicaragua’s coffee crop, a major export commodity, was destroyed by the Contras from 1983-85, and half of the country’s 50 fishing vessels have been hijacked, burned or damaged by mines. Other industries hurt by rebel activities include cotton, meat, sugar and mining, he said.

Nicaragua took the United States to court on April 9, 1984, claiming the Reagan administration was trying to overthrow its government militarily.

Six weeks later, the World Court, which has no enforcement powers and depends on voluntary compliance, issued an injunction that the United States halt all military actions against Nicaragua.

Previous witnesses for Nicaragua testified that U.S. support of the rebels, based in Honduras and Costa Rica, had continued.

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