Sun, Dec 05, 2010 - Page 7 News List

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Demining experts released

The border police commander for the eastern part of the country said yesterday seven demining experts kidnapped on Wednesday have been released. They were the last to be released of a team of 16 seized on Wednesday near the Pakistan border. The others were released several hours after the attack near the Torkham border crossing in Nangarhar Province. General Aminullah Amerkhail said two of the seven had been beaten. They were released on Friday evening.


Drunk elephants rage

Binge-drinking elephants, drunk on local hooch, have killed three people and destroyed 60 homes in a four-day rampage in eastern states of Orissa and West Bengal. On Thursday they were reported by local officials to be sleeping off hangovers as shocked communities tried to clear the wreckage left by the 70-strong herd in remote villages on the borders of the two states. With a local festival approaching, villagers had stockpiled the fermented rice-based drink, which is stored in earthenware vessels and, according to Bijay Kumar Panda, a local administrator, the elephants found and drank it. They then staggered through the surrounding area and began “to fall asleep hither and thither, throwing life completely haywire.” According to the Pioneer newspaper, the “jumbos” are known “for their love of local country-made brews,” which they “gulp down and make merry at the expense of the villagers.”


Conde declared victor

The Supreme Court confirmed early on Friday the election victory of opposition leader Alpha Conde, who won 52.52 percent of votes compared with rival Cellou Dalein Diallo’s 47.48 percent. “The candidate of the RPG [Rally of the Guinean People], professor Alpha Conde, is elected president of the Republic,” Magistrate Mamadou Sylla, who presides over the court’s constitutional chamber, announced in front of scores of journalists. Voter turnout was 67.81 percent. The results were anxiously awaited under a state of emergency placed two weeks ago after the announcement of Conde’s victory led to violent election clashes and a crackdown by security forces in Diallo’s strongholds. Three days of violence claimed at least seven lives and left hundreds more injured. On Thursday afternoon both candidates launched separate appeals for calm in interviews on public radio. In his third shot at the country’s top job, Conde has won what has been hailed as the country’s first free and democratic election since independence, after a string of despotic and military regimes.


Threat to woman condemned

The Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti has condemned a hard-line cleric for offering cash to anyone who kills a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy against Islam. Bhatti said the offer is “immoral, unjust and irresponsible” and should be condemned in the “strongest possible manner.” A Pakistani court sentenced Asia Bibi to death last month, triggering protests from human rights groups and Christian organizations. Islamist political parties have demonstrated in support of the sentence and the blasphemy laws. Cleric Yousef Qureshi said on Friday that if the government did not execute Bibi, his mosque would pay anyone who killed her US$5,800.


Ex-MP guilty of fraud

David Chaytor became the first former MP to be convicted over a parliamentary expenses scandal after pleading guilty on Friday to three charges of false accounting, days before he was due to stand trial. The former Labour MP for Bury North constituency in England had previously denied fraudulently claiming parliamentary expenses. His eleventh-hour change of plea at the Old Bailey court in London came as he exhausted legal avenues to stop his case, due to reach trial tomorrow, being heard in the criminal courts. The 61-year-old stood in the dock of court 11 as the three charges were read aloud, answering “guilty” to each of them. He was mobbed by photographers as he left court, making no comment. He faces a maximum of seven years in prison, but is expected to receive a more lenient sentence in view of his guilty pleas.

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