The Week Ahead: JFK death secrets to be revealed

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The Independent Online
WASHINGTON releases an avalanche of documents today about the assassination of President John F Kennedy in 1963, and the National Archives are bracing themselves for an onslaught by investigators agog to clear up nagging uncertainties, including whether Lee Harvey Oswald was linked to the US government.

Some 800,000 pages of previously secret documents from the Warren Commission, various Congressional committees and, most intriguingly, from the CIA, will be made public thanks to the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act passed last year. The Warren Commission reckoned in 1964 that Oswald acted alone when he killed JFK with a rifle shot from an upstairs window in Dallas, but since then countless conspiracy theories have suggested that Oswald might have been an instrument of the CIA, the FBI or organised crime.

Some documents relating to CIA agents will be withheld, and seasoned experts pooh-pooh the idea that the CIA files will shed new light on the killing. 'People who believe the agency did it are paranoid, and nave to think that they would be stupid enough to leave footprints,' said one.

Doubts remain over a trip Oswald (below) made to Mexico City two months before the assassination, where he unsuccessfully sought visas from the Cuban and Soviet embassies and where he met a Soviet vice-consul whom the CIA believed was a KGB hit-man and sabotage expert. The fresh impulse to solve the mystery was stirred up by Oliver Stone's film JFK, which suggested that Kennedy was the victim of a government conspiracy involving the CIA and the Pentagon.

Tomorrow is the date set for the execution in San Quentin prison, San Francisco, of the multiple murderer David Mason, who has shunned further appeals and says he wants to die. And, still on the subject of death, a preliminary court hearing in the case of Jack 'Dr Death' Kevorkian, a retired pathologist who has helped 17 people to commit suicide in three years, takes place in Detroit on Wednesday. He faces a possible four-year sentence.

Russia's President, Boris Yeltsin, visits Poland tomorrow until Thursday, when he travels to the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Mr Yeltsin will meet President Lech Walesa and is expected to sign a deal on a pipeline to carry Russian natural gas through Poland. Little progress is expected on the thorny matter of mutual debts from the Communist era amounting to billions of pounds.

Germany's Chancellor Helmut Kohl meets France's Prime Minister, Edouard Balladur in Bonn on Thursday for the first time since the collapse of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism strained their relationship. Also trying to reconcile clashes, the International Court of Justice in The Hague hears two conflicting requests by Serbia and Bosnia, each accusing the other of genocide, in the same session on Wednesday.

Singapore holds its first presidential elections on Saturday, an event less momentous than it seems, since the only two candidates, Ong Teng Cheong and Chua Kim Yeow, are pro-government and were thoroughly vetted before being allowed to stand. Opposition candidates were declared ineligible. The new president will have wider powers than his predecessor, whose duties were ceremonial.

Thrice-postponed elections in Togo, due on Wednesday, have also been criticised for being less than free and fair. The main opposition alliance, led by Jean-Lucien Savi de Tove, is so convinced the voting lists have been fraudulently inflated that it threatens to withdraw its candidate unless the poll is put off again. Should the opposition pull out, Gnassingbe Eyadema, President since 1967, will be the only serious candidate satisfied with the preparations.

The heart of King Boris III of Bulgaria, which has been preserved in a glass jar since his death in 1943, perhaps by poisoning, is to be buried in Sofia on Saturday. A German U-boat thought to contain gold treasure is to be raised today from the sea between Denmark and Sweden where it has lain since it was sunk by the RAF in May 1945. The Montreal Film Festival opens on Thursday and Roger Moore will be there - not as a film star, you understand, but in his role as a supporter of Unicef.

(Photograph omitted)