Fri, Jun 17, 2005 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Philippines

Arroyo wiretap a big hit

The allegedly wiretapped voice of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo discussing vote-rigging has become a hugely popular ring tone, but justice officials are not amused. "They are liable under the law," Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales said of those who download the 17-second ring tone from the Internet, or buy it on CDs being sold by street vendors and opposition activists, the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper reported yesterday. The government says the recording was obtained illegally and was doctored. Authorities have barred the media from broadcasting any part of it amid opposition calls for Arroyo to step down.

■ Indonesia

Election official indicted

An election commission official was indicted yesterday, the first in a series of graft trials of members of the body that is seen as signalling President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's commitment to tackling rampant corruption. Mulyana Kusumah, a prominent academic, is accused of attempting to give an auditor 300 million rupiah (US$31,280) to overlook irregularities in the election commission's finances in last year's polls.

■ Japan

Trafficking penalties raised

The government yesterday toughened penalties for human trafficking and agreed to protect victims from deportation after international criticism that it has done too little to stop the sex trade. The lower house of parliament voted to make human trafficking a specific offense that carries up to 10 years in prison for selling another person for sex, to take their organs or other commercial purposes. A buyer will face up to five years in prison.

■ Hong Kong

Woman survives suicide pact

A woman woke up next to her dead lover three days after the pair poisoned themselves in a suicide pact. The 47-year-old woman and her 55-year-old lover took sleeping pills and burned charcoal in their sealed flat after deciding to commit suicide because of financial difficulties. However, the woman regained consciousness Wednesday morning and found her lover dead beside her. She phoned police and ambulancemen who certified her lover dead at the scene and took her to the hospital where she was in a stable condition and recovering from her ordeal. The pair had not closed all the windows in the flat.

■ Japan

Prison warden investigated

One month after Japan vowed to improve treatment of inmates, prison wardens are being investigated for allegedly giving cigarettes, alcohol and mobile telephones to jailed gangsters. The probe was launched at Miyagi Prison after media reports said wardens at the prison had fulfilled the requests of detained gangsters who fancied tobacco, telephones and select brands of alcohol. The conditions of Japanese prisons have come under fire, with record overcrowding amid a push to tougher sentences. On May 18, the parliament updated prison law for the first time in nearly a century to safeguard the rights of inmates after criticism from international groups including Amnesty International.

■ China

Man kills long-time girlfriend

A man killed his girlfriend, dismembered the body then transported the remains by bus more than 1,000km to his home town. Song Jianhua smashed his girlfriend's head with a rubber mallet before chopping her up on Jan. 6 in Beijing. Song, 49, was hired by his girlfriend to work in her clothes shop but she sacked him, sparking the grisly killing. Song said he had helped his girlfriend whenever she was in financial hardship during their 10-year relationship and resented the way he was treated. He transported her body parts in cardboard boxes to his home city Harbin because he was not familiar with Beijing and did not know what to do with the remains. His girlfriend's family reported her disappearance to police.

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