Delegates fight it out
The fortunes of Australia's once-mighty Labor Party dipped further yesterday when an acrimonious state conference in Melbourne degenerated into a fist fight involving 40 delegates. A scuffle over voting procedures between warring left-wing and right-wing factions led to a melee in which right-left combinations were thrown. Party heavyweights led by member of parliament Stephen Conroy managed to end the brawl before there were serious injuries. "It's unacceptable behaviour by any delegate to resort to violence, and it will be stamped out," Conroy told reporters.
Top man quits over scandal
The chairman of Japan's top business daily has stepped down to prevent reports of an accounting scandal from tarnishing the company's image, the newspaper said yesterday. The Nihon Keizai Shimbun's board of directors accepted Takuhito Tsuruta's resignation and named him as an official advisor to the company on Friday. Two former employees had called on company auditors to sue the board for alleged accounting irregularities at TC Works Co, a wholly owned subsidiary, it said.
Minister gets the sack
A minister of the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh was dismissed yesterday in the wake of the murder of his alleged mistress. New Delhi Television reported that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati dismissed Amarmani Tripathi, the state minister for stamps and printing, following allegations that he had an affair with the murdered Hindi language poetess Madhumita Shukla. Shukla, 24, was found dead with bullet wounds on May 9 at her home in Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow. Her sister had alleged that Tripathi's wife was behind the killing as she was jealous of her husband's affair. Shukla, an unmarried woman, was pregnant at the time of murder.
Stolen baby returns home
A mother whose newborn boy was swapped for a girl, sparking a 3-week baby hunt, on Friday said she has forgiven the woman accused in the theft. "I want to forgive her and forget everything," Latha Reddy, the 19-year-old mother of the boy, said. The girl's mother, Mehmooda Begum, is facing arrest. Her husband Nazeer Ahmed and three hospital staff alleged to have arranged the swap have already been arrested. Reddy got back her 21-day-old son on Monday after a DNA test showed that the girl given to her by hospital authorities wasn't hers. Swapping of girl babies for boys and outright stealing of newborn boys from hospitals is sometimes reported in India.
Toilet molester goes to jail
An odd-job laborer who molested a woman in a public toilet after falling on her from a false ceiling was jailed for more than five years and ordered to receive six strokes of the cane, it was reported yesterday. Lim Kwok Keng, 30, maintained his innocence despite being convicted of criminal trespass and molestation, The Straits Times said. He was arrested after molesting a 23-year-old clerk on March 6. The woman, was using a toilet on the sixth floor when Lim fell on her through a gap in the false ceiling. Lim, who defended himself, said he was in the ceiling looking for belongs he kept there. Police, however, found nothing.
■ Saudi Arabia
Fire in Mecca kills 14
A fire in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia has killed 14 people and injured 43 others, the official Saudi Press Agency reported Friday. The fire broke out late Thursday in a building housing 270 pilgrims. The agency quoted the director of civil defense for the Mecca region, Brigadier Ahmed bin Saad Al Thubaiti, as saying the fire was brought under control by members of the civil defense force. "Billowing smoke led to the death of 14 and the suffocation of 43 others," Al Thubaiti said, adding that "preliminary investigation showed that the fire was accidental."