Official warns judiciary
Security chief Luo Gan (羅幹) has warned judicial departments to stand firm in the face of what he described as "hostile forces" of reform, but also urged the judiciary to improve its handling of social unrest. In a wide-ranging essay published in Seeking Truth, the Chinese Communist Party's journal, dampened reformists' hopes for moves toward an independent judiciary and reaffirmed the party's guiding role in law enforcement. "Hostile forces have been trying their best to attack and fundamentally transform our judicial system," Luo wrote in the essay seen yesterday.
Family of five killed
Police are probing an apparent murder-suicide after finding seven bodies drenched with blood in a village near the Hong Kong border. Police found the victims, aged between 14 and 81 and including a family of five, in Baishayun village, Guangdong Province, on Monday night, Xinhua news agency reported. A man identified as Yan Zhongxi and his wife are believed to have cut the throats of the family following a dispute over money and then committed suicide.
Education fees cut
Beijing will exempt all rural students from paying compulsory education fees starting from the spring semester this year, state media reported. Students in rural areas of western China were exempted from compulsory education fees last year and now the program will be expanded that to the poorer central and eastern regions, State Councilor Chen Zhili (陳至立) was quoted as saying late on Thursday by the Xinhua news agency.
Political prisoner near death
A prisoner who is believed to be a victim of political purges by the nation's late dictator is in urgent need of medical treatment, Amnesty International (AI) said. Geldy Kyarizov is severely malnourished and weak and may be ``in grave danger if he does not receive adequate treatment immediately,'' AI said late on Thursday. Kyarizov was arrested in 2002 and reportedly tortured by electric shocks to his genitals before being sentenced to six years in prison following an unfair trial. Kyarizov's wife visited him on Monday in a Turkmenabad prison and said "he is a skeleton with skin, his weight now is 45 to 50kg. He is like a walking dead body."
`Jesus loves Osama'
A sign saying "Jesus Loves Osama" outside some churches drew criticism from officials and religious leaders on Thursday. "I hope they [the churches] will understand that a lot of Australians, including many Australian Christians, will think that the prayer priority of the church on this occasion could have been elsewhere," Prime Minister John Howard said. Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen said churches that posted the sign were obviously trying to illustrate Christian teaching that God loves everybody, no matter how evil their sins, but that he found the sign ``a bit misleading'' and potentially offensive.
Ex-rocker may be released
Disgraced British ex-rocker Gary Glitter, imprisoned for sexually molesting two young girls, is on a list of inmates to be possibly released this month, his lawyer said yesterday. Glitter, 62, was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison during a one-day trial in March last year and subsequently lost an appeal. Every year at major national holidays, the Vietnamese president authorizes amnesty for prisoners. "My client is on the list for Tet [Lunar New Year] amnesty consideration and I expect to hear the final decision in a few days," Glitter's lawyer Le Thanh Kinh said in Ho Chi Minh.