Court pardons hanged man
Eighty-six years after he was hanged for raping and strangling a schoolgirl, Australian saloon owner Colin Campbell Ross was yesterday granted a posthumous pardon by the government. Ross was 28 when he was executed in Victoria in 1922 for the murder of 12-year-old Alma Tirtschke. He went to the gallows protesting his innocence. The pardon was granted after testing revealed that hairs found on a blanket at Ross’s house, key to his conviction, could not have come from the girl. Ross’s descendants said they were pleased with the pardon, which followed an inquiry by judges that found there had been a miscarriage of justice.
■ NEW ZEALAND
Police bust poachers
Officers arrested 65 people in coordinated raids in four towns yesterday as they busted an abalone poaching ring after a 12-month undercover operation. The Ministry of Fisheries said an undercover officer who infiltrated the gang monitored the sale of more than nine tonnes of abalone, known as paua. The commercial catch of paua, which is the country’s fifth most valuable seafood export, is strictly controlled and private divers are allowed to take only 10 a day. The ministry said the paua was sold to gangs and most was illegally exported, particularly to Hong Kong and Taiwan where it fetches up to NZ$1,000 (US$790) a kilogram. A total of 72 arrested men face nearly 300 charges, which carry heavy fines and five-year prison sentences.
Ex-leader seeks 'boyfriend'
Former president Megawati Sukarnoputri said yesterday she is looking for a “cool boyfriend” as her running mate in her comeback bid for the presidency next year, a report said. “As a presidential candidate I’ve been asked who I’m going to team up with. I say it’s hard to look for the most appropriate candidate,” Sukarnoputri said. “I’m a woman so I want a cool boyfriend. So I’ll wait first and look for the appropriate person. If the guy is ugly I don’t want him.” Megawati was president from 2001 to 2004 when she lost to former general Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in the country’s first direct presidential vote. Yudhoyono used his honeyed voice and penchant for penning lilting love songs to win support from housewives in the 2004 poll.
Sapporo plans 'space beer'
A brewery said yesterday it was planning the first “space beer,” using offspring of barley once stored at the International Space Station. Japanese brewery Sapporo Holdings said it would make beer using the third generation of barley grains that had spent five months on the International Space Station in 2006. It has enough space grain to produce about 100 bottles of beer but has no immediate plan to make it a commercial venture, Sapporo officials said.
Radical monks join protest
A radical sect of Buddhist monks yesterday joined an anti-government protest, camping out in Bangkok’s historic district in a scene reminiscent of demonstrations that led to a coup two years ago. Hundreds of members of the so-called “Dharma Army” set up camps along with protesters who began a demonstration late on Sunday, calling on Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej to drop his plans to amend a military-backed Constitution. The 10,000 members of the Santi Asoke sect live in self-sufficient communes based on strict monastic discipline, abstaining from sex and alcohol and eating just one vegetarian meal a day.