Bird flu kills man
A 32-year-old man has died of bird flu, becoming the second fatality from the virus in the country so far this year, a medical official said yesterday. “The patient, 32, died on Feb. 25,” said Nguyen Van Thai, head of the intensive care unit at Hanoi’s tropical diseases institute. He had tested positive for the H5N1 strain of the virus earlier this month, said a female doctor at the hospital who did not want to be named. She said he fell sick on Feb. 3 and was moved to the hospital two days later with a high fever and respiratory problems.
Lawyer skips UN court
A UN-backed war crimes court yesterday delayed the Khmer Rouge head of state’s appeal for release from jail after his famed lawyer Jacques Verges failed to appear at proceedings. Khieu Samphan stood in court and said Verges had not traveled from Paris to attend his appeal ahead of the trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity. “In order to make sure that the pre-trial chamber hears my comments fully according to the law, I would like to request that the pre-trial chamber adjourn this meeting to a later date,” Khieu Samphan said. Frenchman Verges, who has acted for some of the world’s most infamous figures including Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie and Venezuelan terrorist “Carlos the Jackal,” is known for attempting to sow confusion in the courtroom. After a short recess, Judge Prak Kimsan said the appeal would be adjourned until April 3, adding that it was in Khieu Samphan’s interest to deal with the matter as soon as possible. During proceedings, co-defense lawyer Sa Sovan called the situation “unexpected” and said a relative of Verges had an emergency operation. But after the hearing he told reporters it was an important colleague in hospital.
Ryanair mulls toilet fee
Irish carrier Ryanair might start charging passengers for using the toilet while flying, chief executive Michael O’Leary said yesterday. “One thing we have looked at in the past and are looking at again is the possibility of maybe putting a coin slot on the toilet door so that people might actually have to spend a pound [US$1.43] to spend a penny in future,” he told BBC television. He said this would not inconvenience passengers traveling without cash: “I don’t think there is anybody in history that has got on board a Ryanair aircraft with less than a pound … We’re all about finding ways of raising discretionary revenue so we can keep lowering the cost of air travel.”
Patriots’ terms suspended
Three young men were given suspended prison sentences in Thursday after they admitted desecrating what they took to be a communist monument in a cemetery in Voru last December. The three took offense at the presence of the monument and painted it the blue, white and black colors of the national flag. However, the monument was actually dedicated to the victims of fascism. “The suspects regretted their offense. They said they committed the offense in a state of extreme alcoholic intoxication,” said Meelis Sarapuu of the Voru prosecutor’s office. The trio will also have to pay the cost of cleaning the monument.
Teen, 14, gets divorce
Rabbis have ruled that joking teens are legally married, forcing a girl to become a divorcee at the age of 14. It all began as a joke in a schoolyard, where a 17-year-old boy declared the girl his wife, reciting a Jewish ritual vow in front of witnesses, and she accepted his ring. The couple’s “mock wedding” was proclaimed valid because the two had a physical relationship and were therefore considered married by Jewish law. After the boy’s parents protested, the Jerusalem Regional Rabbinical Court ordered the boy to divorce her.