Activist sentenced: lawyer
A lawyer said a court has sentenced a top human rights activist and two others to life in prison after convicting them of helping communist rebels in the east. Amit Banerjee said the court on Friday found 60-year-old physician and outspoken government critic Binayak Sen, and two others, guilty of sedition. Banerjee said that Judge B.P. Verma however acquitted the three of the charge of waging war against the state, which is punishable by death. Sen has worked in tribal villages and repeatedly tried to rally people to fight for their rights, often invoking the ire of authorities. Banerjee told reporters yesterday he would appeal the verdict in a higher court next week.
PM mulls reshuffle: report
Prime Minister Naoto Kan is leaning toward a Cabinet reshuffle before a parliament session next month as he tries to woo a tiny opposition party into the coalition, the Nikkei Shimbun reported yesterday. Kan has offered Cabinet posts to the Sunrise Party of Japan, which has six MPs including former finance minister Kaoru Yosano, a fiscal hawk, and former trade minister Takeo Hiranuma, an outspoken nationalist, the business daily said. Kan’s ruling Democratic Party of Japan is hoping to win the support of minor opposition parties to pass budget-related and other legislation in parliament, where the opposition controls the upper house and can block bills. Kan called for the Sunrise Party to join the coalition when he met Yosano, one of the co-presidents of the party, last month and again this month, the Nikkei said.
Chinese fishermen released
Three Chinese fishermen were released after questioning over a maritime scuffle with the coast guard. Coast guard official Roh Sang-gue says authorities handed the fishermen over to Chinese diplomats at Incheon International Airport yesterday. The coast guard has said that about 50 Chinese fishing boats were illegally fishing in western waters on Saturday last week when a coast guard ship approached them to try to curb their activities. Roh has said that one of the boats intentionally hit a larger coast guard ship, apparently to help compatriots sail back to Chinese waters, and then capsized. The scuffle left one fisherman dead and another missing.
Police seek netizens’ help
Police are offering cash and other rewards to encourage the country’s millions of Internet users to help solve criminal investigations, state media said yesterday. Authorities in the far-western region of Xinjiang this month posted a photo of a crime scene on the Internet alongside a reward of 500 yuan (US$75) to 5,000 yuan in cash or so-called QQ coin for information about the case, the China Daily said. QQ coin is a form of currency that registered users of the popular instant messaging service QQ use to pay for virtual products such as games. While the reward scheme has yet to yield any useful clues, authorities said it was a good way to tap the country’s vast online population — the world’s biggest at more than 420 million. Police in Jiangsu Province had more success with their online offer last month of 10,000 yuan or equivalent QQ coin for information about a case. A week after the appeal was posted, an online user contacted police and identified the suspect as his friend.