Lawyer killed by officials
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said yesterday a missing Muslim human rights lawyer had been killed by government officials. Thaksin said at least four officials were involved in the murder of Somchai Neelapaijit, who went missing in Bangkok in March 2004. He said Thailand's Department of Special Investigations was working on the case and that murder charges were being considered. Thaksin's comments, the first time he has publicly accepted Somchai was murdered, come one day after a police officer was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison over the lawyer's disappearance.
■ Saudi Arabia
Chinese die in stampede
Four Chinese citizens were among at least 345 Muslims who were trampled to death in a stampede during the annual hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, the Chinese foreign ministry said yesterday. They were among those killed as pilgrims tripped over luggage in a scramble to hurl pebbles at symbols of Satan in Mina, east of the holy city of Mecca.
■ Hong Kong
Colonial house re-occupied
Hong Kong's Government House, home of the territory's British governors and symbol of its colonial past, had its first tenants yesterday after standing empty for nearly nine years. Chief executive Donald Tsang (曾蔭權) and his wife Selina took up residence on Thursday after the mansion had a US$1.8 million refurbishment. The grand home has been empty since July 1997 when the last British governor Chris Patten moved out as Hong Kong reverted to Chinese sovereignty.
"`Playboy' plan sparks anger
Indonesian Muslims reacted angrily yesterday to a purported plan by Playboy to launch a local version of its magazine in the world's most populous Muslim nation. Playboy representatives in the US were not available for comment, but Indonesian businessman Avianto Nugroho claimed he had secured the license to publish the magazine. He said it would be launched in March and -- like a toned down version of the racy magazine the company plans to launch soon in India -- it would not contain nude photos. The company already publishes local editions in 17 other countries. Nugroho said Indonesian Muslims "did not need to worry" about the magazine because of its more conservative content. But hardline Muslim group Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia said it would protest if the magazine hit the shelves.
"Different or not, Playboy is Playboy. It is a porn magazine," group chairman Irfan Awas said. "Those are the words of the businessmen. The magazine will damage the morality of the nation"
Muslim-hater chases tourists
A man vowing to kill Muslims allegedly chased three British tourists through a rain forest in eastern Australia before slashing their car's tires, according to a newspaper report yesterday. A prosecutor at the Southport Magistrates Court in Queensland state on Thursday alleged that Shane Robert Stephens, 41, chased the three men and tried to force their car off the road after earlier telling two Australian tourists he was going to kill some Muslims, the Australian reported. The paper said prosecutor Peta Eyschen alleged the men, brothers Jason and Hiten Dholakia and their friend Amit Rana, hid in a rain forest area in fear of their lives, after being chased along a mountain road by Stephens.
Stranded crew reached