The last time Hadi saw his brother, his hands were tied behind his back and blood was running down his swollen face. \nThey were both prisoners at a religious court operated by the office of rebel Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, accused of helping foreign troops. Hadi, who asked that only his first name be used because he fears retribution, was released after six days. Five months later, his brother is still missing. \n"Enough!" Hadi heard his brother, Abdul Salam, plead with his captors. "By Hussein, don't hit me anymore," he said, invoking the name of a revered Shiite saint. The jailers didn't stop, Hadi said. \nA symbol of the power al-Sadr's followers once wielded here, the court stopped functioning when the cleric's militia returned control of Najaf's Old City to Iraqi police late last month. Many residents who were too scared to talk about the court in the past are now sharing horror stories of its work. \nTo al-Sadr's aides, the court and others they ran elsewhere under its auspices were an attempt to apply their interpretation of Islamic justice to a lawless society, but they say all have been shut down. To many people in Najaf, the court was the arm that the militia used to terrorize people who opposed it. \nMany outsiders heard about the Najaf court for the first time when television stations beamed images of at least 13 bodies that police said were found after many of al-Sadr's militiamen left last month. \nNajaf's police chief, Ghalib al-Jazaari, said on Wednesday only two of the dead were identified before burial and they were policemen, one of whom had his eyes gouged out. The other bodies included a woman and a child, and many showed signs of torture, he said. \nIn Iran, a senior cleric, Sheik Hassan Hosseini, said on Sunday that al-Sadr's image had been blackened in part by the religious court. \n"The excesses that Muqtada al-Sadr and his group carried out in Najaf, and the catastrophe of the religious court, provoked the anger of Muslims and Shiite leaders," said Hosseini, a lecturer at Iran's Qom Seminary. \nHadi said he was taken by militiamen who mistook him for his brother, who catered food for Iraqi government forces undergoing training. His brother was detained later. \nHadi said he was taken to the basement and beaten by five men with electrical cables and iron rods. "You are an agent of the Americans," he said they yelled. "You give the Americans alcohol." \nHe said he fell to the ground, blood gushing from his head as the beating continued. "Kill me and save me from this," he told the men. \nEventually, Hadi said, he was carried to a tiny room and locked inside. He lay on the floor in pain for six days. He said he heard cries of pain from other prisoners. \nOn the seventh day, Hadi said, he was led to a room where a turbaned cleric sat cross-legged on the floor. The judge told Hadi, whose face was bruised and robe stained with blood, that no beatings took place in the court and that he should be grateful he was alive. He was then driven to his house and warned to keep quiet. \nMany like Hadi don't know the fate of loves ones. \nA man interrupted a recent news conference by Najaf's governor and US officials talking about rebuilding the violence-ravaged city. \n"What about the fate of those missing, such as my son?" demanded the man, Fadhil Hijab, his hands shaking. He said militiamen snatched his son, a police officer, from home four months ago and took him to the religious court. \n"If he's alive, I want him," he told the officials. "If he's dead, I still want him."
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
A Malaysian student whose cellphone was stolen while he was sleeping has tracked down the culprit: a monkey who took photo and video selfies with the device before abandoning it. Zackrydz Rodzi, 20, on Wednesday said that his mobile phone was missing from his bedroom when he woke up on Saturday. He found the phone’s casing under his bed, but there was no sign of robbery in his house in Johor state. JUNGLE When his father saw a monkey the next day, he searched in the jungle behind his house. Using his brother’s cellphone to call his own device, he found it covered
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after