US surgeon goes on trial
A court yesterday ordered a US surgeon to stand trial on charges of manslaughter over the deaths of three patients during his time as a surgeon in Australia. The doctor, Jayant Patel, 59, a US citizen born in India, could face life in prison if convicted of the charges, which stem from his time at the Bundaberg Base Hospital in northern Queensland state between 2003 and 2005. He was extradited last July from the US, where he had practiced previously. Patel, who did not enter a plea in the Brisbane Magistrates Court in Queensland, remains on bail pending the trial, said a justice official.
Pants down in court
A law lecturer was jailed yesterday for contempt of court after pulling down her pants and baring her buttocks to the presiding judge. Megumi Ogawa, 41, was sentenced to four months in jail in a Brisbane court for what Judge Stuart Durward said was “disgusting behavior” at an earlier trial where she was found guilty of harassing court officials. During the earlier trial, the court was told the Southern Cross University staff member threatened court officials with death and sent them 83 e-mails and made 176 phone calls. Ogawa, a Japanese national, conducted her own defense at both trials. It took three security officers to carry a kicking and screaming Ogawa into the dock so she could be present at her sentencing.
Road safety minister resigns
South Australia state Road Safety Minister Tom Koutsantonis resigned yesterday after it leaked out that he had been fined 30 times for running red lights and other traffic offenses. Koutsantonis, who amassed enough violations to lose his license, denied warrants were out for his arrest over the non-payment of fines. The minister initially refused to quit, saying he had given up habits like speeding and talking on his mobile phone while driving. He even argued that being a bad role model himself actually helped him instill good driving habits in others. “Although I’d hoped to use my experiences to help develop better road safety policy and deliver the message to all motorists to drive safely, it’s evident this won’t be possible,” he said.
New English paper launched
The Communist Party began publishing a new English-language newspaper yesterday in a campaign to push the party line in international media. The English edition of the Global Times will “cover the world from a Chinese perspective and reflects the standpoints and opinions of Chinese people on significant international issues,” Xinhua news agency said. It quoted Global Times editor in chief Hu Xijin (胡錫進) as saying the paper aimed “to make friends with foreigners and to facilitate communication between China and the world.” The Global Times is published by party mouthpiece People’s Daily, directly controlled by the Central Committee.
Official sentenced to death
A court handed down the death sentence to a top official linked to Shanghai’s multimillion dollar pension fund scandal, state media reported yesterday. Wang Weigong (王維工), former secretary at the General Office of the State Council, was convicted of taking 12.9 million yuan (US$1.9 million) in bribes from 1995 to 2006, the state-run Shanghai Daily reported. An intermediate court in Changchun announced the death sentence, but gave Wang a two-year reprieve as he cooperated and returned all the money, the report said.