Former CCP official jailed
A former county-level Chinese Communist Party official has been jailed for life for misusing social security funds and taking bribes, a Hong Kong newspaper reported yesterday. On Thursday, a court in Hubei Province passed sentence on Yang Zhengfa, former deputy party chief of Gongan County, the Ming Pao daily said. He had been convicted of misusing 25 million yuan (US$3.2 million) in social security funds for stock purchases, diverting 3.9 million yuan from other public funds and taking bribes, the report said.
Court sentences butcher
A court in the northeast has sentenced to death a local butcher convicted of murdering 12 of his customers and wounding five others, state press reported Sunday. Shi Yuejun (石悅軍) was sentenced to death by an intermediate court in Tonghua, Jilin Province on Saturday, the Legal Daily reported. Shi committed the murders from Sept. 24 to Sept. 29 in a series of knifings that occurred in or around Liunan Township, the paper said.
Mars mission planned
Space scientists plan to send an unmanned mission to Mars by 2013 to look for evidence of life, a news report said yesterday. The six-to-eight-month mission, likely to be launched in the next seven years, would cost 3 billion rupees (US$67 million), the Hindustan Times reported. "Mars is emerging on our horizon. The geo-stationary launch vehicle can take a payload to Mars and our Deep Space Network can track it all the way," G. Madhavan Nair, the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, told the newspaper.
Mine blasts kill 53
Explosions in two coal mines have left at least 53 workers dead and six missing, the official Xinhua news agency said yesterday. The first occurred on Saturday in the Yuanhua Coal Mine in Jixi in Heilongjiang Province. By yesterday, the remains of 21 miners had been found, while six miners were still missing, Xinhua said. In Yunnan, the death toll from a gas explosion in a shaft in Fuyuan County rose overnight from 20 to at least 32 miners.
Churches pray for rain
Churches held a national day of prayer for rain yesterday, as the worst drought in living memory tightened its grip on the parched land. Christian leaders throughout the country led the special prayers in solidarity with farmers whose crops and livestock have been devastated by the "big dry."
Passenger ferry capsizes
Maritime officials were investigating yesterday after a small wooden passenger ferry, MV Leonida II, which left the port of Surigao City on the northern tip of Mindanao island on Saturday and was en route to a nearby island, capsized. The Office of Civil Defense said 14 passengers drowned, while 58 others were rescued. It was not clear why the boat capsized.
Raid on banned sect
Religious affairs officers in the central state of Selangor detained 100 people in a raid on a meeting of a group trying to revive a banned Islamic sect. The officials made the raid on Saturday in Shah Alam, near Kuala Lumpur. Rahman said the group was seeking to spread the teachings of the Al-Arqam sect, outlawed in 1994 for allegedly promoting deviant Islamic beliefs.
■ United Kingdom
Protestant militant charged
A Protestant militant was charged with attempted murder on Saturday, a day after being arrested in an attack on Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, leaders of the main Roman Catholic party Sinn Fein, as they and other legislators worked toward a power-sharing agreement to restore local rule to Northern Ireland. The militant, Michael Stone, who was released from prison six years ago after serving time for some of the most high-profile sectarian killings at the height of Northern Ireland's conflict, attacked the main entrance to the provincial Assembly, carrying an imitation gun and a bag of homemade pipe bombs.