Ex-general dies at grave
A former military chief accused of embezzling at least US$1 million from the armed forces died of a gunshot wound yesterday in what witnesses described as an apparent suicide at his mother’s grave. Retired General Angelo Reyes was pronounced dead on arrival in a Manila hospital from a single gunshot wound in the chest, after visiting the grave, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said in a news conference. Ona refused to immediately confirm that Reyes had committed suicide, saying he was awaiting autopsy results. Witnesses interviewed by DZBB radio station at the cemetery said they saw Reyes send his children to his car before a single shot rang out. Reyes headed the military from 2001 to 2003 and was recently accused in a high-profile congressional hearing of pocketing money from the armed forces. Corruption is an explosive issue in the inadequately equipped and poorly paid 120,000-strong military that has sparked several insurrections in the last two decades by disgruntled soldiers.
Bus crashes into ravine
Police say a speeding bus has crashed into a ravine on Java, killing 11 passengers and injuring 37 others. Police say the accident occurred late on Monday when the intercity bus tried to pass a truck and then skidded off the road while trying to avoid an oncoming vehicle. The driver lost control and the bus fell into an 8m-deep ravine. Police Captain Hamka, who goes by only one name, said yesterday that 11 people were killed instantly. He said the wounded were taken to a hospital in Temanggung, a district 400km east of Jakarta.
Opposition suffers blow
The opposition is grappling with a new setback in its attempts to win support on Borneo after a top state official quit to join the ruling party ahead of national elections widely expected within a year. The resignation complicates efforts by the party of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to increase its political influence in the large, remote state of Sabah, which has long been a stronghold of Prime Minister Najib Razak’s National Front ruling coalition. Anwar’s opposition alliance holds only three of the 56 parliamentary seats in Sabah and neighboring Sarawak in Borneo. Political analyst Khoo Kay Peng said yesterday that the opposition has been unable “to provide the people with a credible alternative” to the National Front in Sabah.
Bullet sent to embassy
A rifle bullet has been mailed to the Russian embassy, police said yesterday, amid a worsening territorial row over a string of disputed islands. The disagreement over the Southern Kurils, known as the Northern Territories in Japan, has prevented the signing of a peace treaty between Tokyo and Moscow ever since the end of World War II. Tensions flared on Monday when Prime Minister Naoto Kan called Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit last year to the islands an “unforgivable outrage” and the Kremlin again vowed it would never give up the Kurils. On the same day, marked as the annual Northern Territories Day, a 7cm rifle bullet was found in an envelope mailed to the Russian embassy in Tokyo, media reports said. It was reportedly accompanied by a note that said: “The Northern Territories are an integral part of Japan.” The bullet was a dummy cartridge without gunpowder, Jiji Press said.