British pedophiles jailed
Two British men were jailed for six-years in India after they were found guilty of sexually abusing boys at a children's shelter that one of them had set up for street children in Mumbai, but some residents said the sentences were too lenient. Duncan Grant, a charity worker, and Allan Waters had been charged with child sex abuse and engaging in unnatural acts with children. The court ordered Grant and Waters to serve six years in prison and fined them £20,000 (US$34,700) each.
Lawyers oppose death
The official association of lawyers has called on the government to abolish the death penalty and impose an immediate freeze on all executions, news reports said yesterday. Top lawyers in the Malaysian Bar Council, which held its annual general meeting on Saturday, also urged that current death-row sentences be reduced to life sentences, the New Straits Times reported. Lawyer Amer Hamzah Arshad said although the abolition of the death penalty was often discussed by lawyers, this was the first time such a motion had been proposed by the council.
■ Hong Kong
New party formed
Lawmakers, lawyers and academics yesterday formed a new political party that aims to push for full democracy in the territory. The new Civic Party evolved from the loosely organized Article 45 Concern Group, which won four seats in the 2004 legislative election. The party said one of its main goals is to campaign for universal suffrage. Voters can now only elect half of the 60-seat legislature. The territory's chief executive is picked by an 800-member committee loaded with Beijing loyalists.
■ South Korea
Five defect to south
A group of five North Koreans, including a family with two young children, have defected to South Korea after crossing the tense sea border in a wooden boat, military officials said yesterday. The group -- a couple in their 30s, two children aged two and eight, and a friend -- crossed the border late on Saturday and were spotted by South Korean coastguards, they said. Yonhap news agency quoted the 37-year-old husband as telling interrogators he "had longed for the southern society" since he began listening to South Korean radio broadcasts in the late 1980s.
PM concerned about weapons
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi yesterday expressed concern over countries which were building up their armed forces in secret, in an apparent reference to China. Koizumi said the practice was contributing to the spread of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. "In recent years, we see some countries expanding their military force without transparency," Koizumi said at a National Defense Academy graduation ceremony. "It's notable in a tendency reflecting those nations' intentions that technologies concerning weapons of mass-destruction and ballistic missiles are spreading without control," he said. The remarks came a day after Japan, the US and Australia urged China to increase military transparency at trilateral security talks in Sydney.
Hundreds of demonstrators marched through central Tokyo yesterday, calling for the withdrawal of Japanese troops from Iraq three years after the start of the US-led war in Iraq. The protest, the second in two days, came as the government puzzles over when to bring home its 600 or so noncombat troops, who have been engaged in reconstruction activities in the southern town of Samawa since January 2004. "Bring the troops back from Iraq," read banners carried by some of the Tokyo demonstrators, who chanted and played drums as they marched. "It has been three years since the war started and the American troops are still there, as well as the Japanese," said 43-year-old office worker Kumiko Shimizu.