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A Greek oil tanker ran aground, split in two, and caught fire yesterday off Spain's rocky northeast coast. The crew of the Aegean Sea evacuated the vessel, which had been carrying 23 million gallons of oil. A slick was reportedly moving up the coast, threatening fish that are crucial to the region's economy. Honecker denounces trial

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Speaking at his manslaughter trial in Berlin, former East German leader Erich Honecker yesterday defended the construction of the Berlin Wall and attacked the hypocrisy of a government that once feted him in state receptions. Mr. Honecker, accused in the deaths of people trying to flee from his Communist regime, spoke for an hour in his first statement in court. Swiss EC vote due

Swiss voters hold their country's neutral tradition and perhaps the European Community's future in their hands when they go to the polls Sunday. In a nationwide referendum, the voters are being asked to ratify the government's May application for membership in the EC. If the application is approved, Switzerland is expected to be one of the first new countries accepted into the community. Egyptian death sentences

An Egyptian military court in Alexandria yesterday sentenced eight Muslim militants to death, three to life imprisonment, and 18 others to lesser jail terms after two sedition trials. It was the first test of a new antiterrorist law enacted to counter rising extremist violence. PLO bill advances

In Jerusalem Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's coalition narrowly won approval of a bill to revoke Israel's ban on meetings with the PLO. Legislators voted 37 to 36 in favor of the bill's first reading. It must pass two more readings to take effect. GM will close plants

General Motors Corp. said yesterday it will close seven, and maybe as many as nine, plants, completing its previously announced plan to close 21 plants by 1995. Among them are plants in Delaware, New York and Ohio. The plants employ about 18,000 people, some of whom will be able to move with the work. Carjack ring cracked

Police and federal agents have cracked a carjacking ring in New York whose members allegedly stole dozens of luxury cars at gunpoint and delivered them as far away as Central America, authorities said. Insurance reform

With a proposal announced yesterday by the Health Insurance Association of America, the industry is breaking with its past by calling for federal laws that require universal coverage, define basic benefits, and try to contain health-care costs by limiting tax breaks for insurance purchases. More Packwood accusers

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Five more women have joined 10 others who have come forth to accuse Sen. Bob Packwood (R) of Oregon of improper sexual behavior, according to a complaint filed in Washington with the Senate Ethics Committee. Packwood's latest accusers have not publicly identified themselves, but have provided their names and accounts of their experiences to the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

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