Taylor says witness ‘crazy’
Former Liberian president Charles Taylor said on Tuesday that a key prosecution witness at his war crimes trial was a low-level official who “went crazy” years before testifying against him. Taylor used his fifth day on the witness stand at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague to try to discredit witness Varmuyan Sherif. Sherif said last year he saw Taylor smuggle weapons and ammunition to rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone in rice sacks in defiance of an arms embargo. He also accused Taylor of using child soldiers in fighting formations called Small Boys Units. But Taylor insisted Sherif was responsible only for his presidential motorcade and later “lost his mind.” “He went crazy,” Taylor said. “Varmuyan was on the streets, naked and eating from garbage.”
Dozens arrested over drugs
Police on Tuesday arrested 49 people who were allegedly part of an international ring involved in smuggling drugs from Latin America into Europe, officials said. Most of the suspects were picked up in and around Milan during several dawn raids. Many of those arrested are believed to belong to crime families of the ’Ndrangheta, the local version of the mafia in Italy’s southern Calabria region. Thirteen foreign nationals, including nationals from Peru, Chile, Uruguay, Romania, Albania and Montenegro were also among those apprehended, police said.
Two murderers hanged
Two men convicted of murder have been hanged in executions carried out in prison in the city of Isfahan, the Etemad newspaper reported yesterday. The men were only identified by their first names as Esmail, 23, who was found guilty of strangling a 19-year-old woman, and Muslim, 28, who had stabbed a friend to death, the report said.
Man, sons kill six
A man and two of his sons opened fire at random on Tuesday, killing six people and wounding seven, an official said. The assailants fired their shotguns on their neighbors in the village of Karaali, said Muammer Musmal, governor of Elazig Province. Three of the wounded were in critical condition, he said. The motive of the attack was not clear, but the governor said the assailants were said to be mentally disturbed.
Natives 22% of prisoners
The country’s native population accounts for 22 percent of prisoners, despite making up only 3 percent of the country’s population, according to figures released by the government on Tuesday. The disproportionate representation of natives, who include American Indians, Inuits and mixed-race Aboriginals, is worst in prisons in western Canada, particularly in Saskatchewan province. According to the analysis by Statistics Canada, 81 percent of prisoners in Saskatchewan province are natives, though only 11 percent of the province’s inhabitants come from indigenous communities. The situation is only slightly better in Manitoba, where natives make up 69 percent of prisoners and around 12 percent of the province’s residents. In Quebec, natives account for less than 2 percent of the prison population and around 1 percent of the province as a whole. The analysis found that age, educational background and employment status were factors that contributed to the native incarceration rate, but said that the rate remained higher for natives than non-natives, even where figures were controlled for those factors.
Farmworker killed by ants
Police said a 42-year-old man who fell asleep under an ant-infested tree was killed by insect bites. Beni city Police Chief Rolando Ramos said that farmworker Santiago Ortiz apparently had been drinking before sitting down beneath a Palo Santo tree, known for its aromatic wood and for hosting a particularly aggressive sort of ant. Ramos said on Tuesday that when police reached the scene, the man was already dead, but swarms of ants were still crawling across his body.
Suspected killer detained
Police have detained a woman in the deaths of two professional wrestlers who were found drugged in a low-rent hotel in Mexico City, prosecutors said on Tuesday. The 65-year-old suspect was one of two women caught on surveillance video leaving the victims’ hotel room, prosecutors said in a statement. The statement said an autopsy on the two diminutive wrestlers, who were brothers, detected a substance found in eye drops that can damage the nervous system when mixed with alcohol.
5,000 kids killed each year
Five thousand adolescents a year are killed in the country, most of them poor and uneducated black males, a joint study released on Tuesday by UNICEF, the government and a slum-monitoring group said. “The majority are at risk of death because of the drug trade, generally for being users, not dealers,” Undersecretary for Human Rights Carmem Oliveira said. The study, Index of Homicides in Adolescence, showed that two in every 1,000 Brazilian children aged 12 will die before reaching 19. Oliveira said the murder rate was 30 times that experienced in European countries. She said homicide was the cause of adolescent death in 45 percent of cases, followed by natural causes in 25 percent of cases and accidents in 22 percent of cases.
Sutherland freed of charges
Kiefer Sutherland’s legal troubles for allegedly head-butting a fashion designer in a New York City nightclub are over. The Manhattan district attorney’s spokeswoman said on Tuesday that misdemeanor assault charges against the actor were being dropped because the alleged victim would not cooperate with prosecutors. The star of the Fox TV show 24 was charged in May after designer Jack McCollough said Sutherland head-butted him and broke his nose in a Manhattan nightclub. Sutherland and McCollough issued a joint statement a few weeks later saying they had resolved their differences. Sutherland apologized to McCollough in the statement.
Same-name couple to wed
This October, Kelly Hildebrandt will vow to share her life with a man who already shares her name. The romance of Kelly Katrina Hildebrandt, 20, and Kelly Carl Hildebrandt, 24, was a match made in cyberspace. She was curious and bored one night last year, so she plugged her name into the popular social networking Web site Facebook just to see if anyone shared it. At the time, Kelly Hildebrandt, of Lubbock, Texas, was the only match. So she sent him a message. For the next three months the two exchanged e-mails. Before he knew it, occasional phone calls turned into daily chats. He visited her in Florida after a few months and “fell head over heels.” Months after Kelly Hildebrandt sent her first e-mail, she found a diamond engagement ring hidden in treasure box on a beach in December. They plan to make their home in South Florida.
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
‘ASKED TO MOVE OUT’: Indonesian coast guard personnel argued with a Chinese vessel over territorial claims after it entered the country’s exclusive economic zone An Indonesian patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel that spent almost three days in waters where Indonesia claims economic rights and that are near the southernmost part of China’s disputed claims to the South China Sea. The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency on Friday night detected Chinese ship 5204 entering Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea. The agency sent a patrol ship that closed within 1km of the Chinese coast guard vessel and they communicated to affirm their position and their nation’s claims to the area, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency head Aan Kurnia said. “We
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
A Malaysian student whose cellphone was stolen while he was sleeping has tracked down the culprit: a monkey who took photo and video selfies with the device before abandoning it. Zackrydz Rodzi, 20, on Wednesday said that his mobile phone was missing from his bedroom when he woke up on Saturday. He found the phone’s casing under his bed, but there was no sign of robbery in his house in Johor state. JUNGLE When his father saw a monkey the next day, he searched in the jungle behind his house. Using his brother’s cellphone to call his own device, he found it covered