Rapist prefers cane to jail
A Malaysian man convicted of attempting to rape a pregnant woman begged a judge to sentence him to more strokes of the cane for a shorter prison term as he feared being beaten by fellow inmates, a news report said yesterday. Saime Razman, 33, was sentenced to two strokes of the cane and three years' jail for attempting to rape a 31-year old pregnant woman in 2004. Saime was quoted by the Sun daily as saying, "I prefer to be whipped more times than to spend more time in jail because I will get beaten up by the other inmates." The judge, however, turned down the request.
Whisky driver hijacked
A truck driver was held up and kidnapped overnight by armed men who stole his rig loaded with pre-mixed alcoholic drinks, news reports said yesterday. The man was driving along a freeway around 100km north of Melbourne when three men in a car pulled alongside the truck and indicated he should pull over, news agency AAP reported. When he did so, they approached him with a gun, tied him up then forced him into the back seat of their car. He was driven towards Melbourne by his kidnappers and released eight hours later. The truck and its cargo of bourbon whisky drinks are still missing, police said.
Suicide bomber kills 10
A suicide attacker blew up explosives strapped to his body in a central Afghan town yesterday during a visit by the US ambassador, killing 10 Afghans and wounding 50, Afghan officials said. The US Embassy and Afghan officials said Ambassador Ronald Neumann and other US officials were unhurt in the attack in Tirin Kot, the capital of Uruzgan Province. A purported Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility. Abdul Aziz, the deputy provincial governor, and Rhamatullah Rawofi, a local Afghan army commander, said 10 Afghans standing outside the building were killed. Aziz said 50 others had been wounded, including Uruzgan's deputy police chief. Fifteen of the wounded were in critical condition and had been rushed to hospitals.
Disputed islets to be studied
Japanese researchers are set to conduct underwater surveys around islets at the center of a dispute with China, officials said, stressing that the project was not politically motivated. Five researchers aboard the survey ship Koyomaru will gather data on sea temperature and salinity levels from the Okinotorishima islets, about 1,730km southwest of Tokyo, for several days from Jan. 10, National Fisheries University spokesman Masatake Kato said. Masanori Monde, head of the Institute of Ocean Energy, in Saga prefecture, a co-sponsor of the survey, said "This is a very preliminary survey, and it's too early to say whether we'll start any specific projects in the area.''
Tokyo calls for `sincerity'
Tokyo yesterday urged Beijing to "deal sincerely" with the death of a Japanese diplomat who according to Tokyo killed himself because he was being blackmailed by a Chinese agent. Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, the top government spokesman, contested the Chinese assertion that the Shanghai-based diplomat killed himself due to work stress. He reiterated Japan's view that the diplomat committed suicide in May 2004 due to "regrettable actions taken by local Chinese security personnel. "We hope that China will deal sincerely with the issue," Abe told a regular press conference.