The World This Week: Marcos's body to get a 21-gun send-off

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The Independent Online
THE body of Ferdinand Marcos, the former dictator of the Philippines, makes the journey on Sunday from a temporary crypt in Honolulu to his place of birth in the town of Batac on the Philippines island of Luzon, where he will be buried. On Wednesday his body will be moved from the air-conditioned refrigeration in which it has lain since his death in exile in September 1989, and be placed in a mortuary.

Marcos's son Ferdinand and other dignitaries will follow on foot as the body, dressed in new clothes and - if it is still in good enough condition - in an open coffin, is taken to a school auditorium on Saturday for an all-day memorial service and wake, including a 21-gun salute and culminating in a videotape of Marcos's life in Hawaii.

The return home was allowed by the Philippines' President, Fidel Ramos - something never conceded by his predecessor, Corazon Aquino, who feared such an act could threaten national security - only on the condition that the burial be held, not with full honours in Manila as Marcos's widow, Imelda, wanted, but in the province of Ilocos Norte, Luzon. The government fears that a punch-up between Marcos's supporters and opponents could spark serious unrest in the capital.

Mrs Marcos criticised the gpvernment's decision as a desecration of the dead, and the family threatens to parade the corpse through provincial capitals in a three-day wake before his burial. Mr Ramos may come to rue his magnanimous gesture.

Less contentious, probably, is the visit to Europe by Japan's emperor and empress, Akihito and Michiko to Italy, Belgium and Germany which starts in Rome on Friday. On the first visit by a Japanese monarch to the Vatican, the royal couple will meet the Pope before he goes to Vilnius for a week-long trip to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia on Saturday. It is the Pope's first trip to the former Soviet Union, and he is to pay tribute to 14 people killed defending Lithuanian independence in 1991.

A conference organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross on the Protection of War Victims opens today in Geneva to try to revive respect for humanitarian law on the battlefield and to counter atrocities against civilians. All 181 signatories to the Geneva conventions are invited, but those to whom the conference may be most relevant - leaders of the warring parties in the former Yugoslavia - will not be there.

A Council of Europe convention on money-laundering comes into force on Wednesday in Britain, the Netherlands and Switzerland, which tightens up investigation into the proceeds of crime and enables funds to be frozen or confiscated.

The International Table Tennis Federation ban on glue used to stick rubber surfaces to table tennis bats comes into effect on Wednesday. The ban is intended to prevent players being affected by noxious fumes from the glue.

Wednesday marks the grand re-opening of the Parisian nightclub Folies Bergere after a nine-month closure due to declining tourism and a labour dispute. The club, which first opened in 1869, kicks off with a new review, 'Crazy about the Folies', by an Argentine director.

It is Prostitutes' Open Day in Antwerp in Belgium on Wednesday when the public are invited to the red-light district near the Market Square for coffee and a chat with the prostitutes - but for closer acquaintance it will be business as usual.