News in Biehl Case Termed No Surprise : Justice: Victim's parents meet Clinton. Mother says they won't dwell on dropping of charges.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

After meeting in the Oval Office with President Clinton on Tuesday, Linda Biehl said news from South Africa that charges had been dropped against three of her daughter's alleged slayers was not surprising.

"We just really must go forward," she said. "The trial part is not something we're going to dwell on."

Amy Biehl, a 27-year-old Fulbright scholar from Newport Beach, was killed by a black mob while taking friends home to Guguletu township on Aug. 25.

On Monday, prosecutors trying the case in Cape Town withdrew charges against three of the seven original defendants when a key witness refused to testify against them because he feared for his safety.

"Basically, what happened is not surprising," Linda Biehl said. "The fear that these witnesses are experiencing is overwhelming. I think we have tried to concentrate on on the positive aspects of what can be done to help continued development of a multiracial society in South Africa."

Monday night, Linda and Peter Biehl attended a dinner given in Washington to honor the president of South Korea by the National Democratic Institute, the organization Amy Biehl worked for. President Clinton spoke, and afterward the Biehls were introduced to him.

Then on Tuesday, as they sat in a plane about to take off for California, they were approached in their seats by a passenger representative.

"You need to get to the White House," Linda Biehl said they were told.

"So they dragged us off our plane and took us to the White House," to be part of a signing ceremony for the lifting of U.S. economic sanctions against South Africa.

At the signing ceremony, Clinton gave the Biehls one of the pens and, afterward, they were ushered into the Oval Office for a private meeting.

"He knew what happened to Amy," Linda Biehl said, "and that she was working for democracy in South Africa. He was very familiar with her work. . . . He was very gracious."

In Washington, the Biehls were informed that there would be two special Fulbright scholarships named for their daughter in 1994: one for an American student to study in South Africa, and another for a South African student to study in the United States.

"Until there's an open society there, this is going to happen," Linda Biehl said. "We don't want to be embittered. We don't want to be vengeful. That was not what Amy was about. We hope that appropriate justice as the South Africans see it will be done."

In signing a bill into law ending U.S. sanctions against South Africa, Clinton said he was sending a delegation there to look into investment opportunities in the black private sector.

"Nkosi sikilele Afrika," Clinton said. "God bless Africa."

The words, in the Xhosa language, open a song that is in line to become South Africa's new national anthem.

Clinton said he was determined that the United States would stand by South Africa as its people "face the difficult challenges ahead."

The measure he signed also offers South Africa access to the resources of international financial institutions and urges state and local governments and private entities to lift their own restrictions aimed at South Africa.

"But removing sanctions will not be enough. Americans who have been so active in toppling the pillars of apartheid must remain committed to building South Africa's non-racial market democracy," Clinton said, urging new investment.

Meanwhile, a second delay occurred in South Africa in the trial of three accused of killing Amy Biehl, when a jurist's political affiliations forced her to withdraw.

Defense lawyers also contended that the jurist, Renata Williams, was a close friend of one of the victim's colleagues and argued they could not be guaranteed of her impartiality in the politically charged case.

Wire service material makes up a part of this report

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