Marcos victims to be repaid
Lawyers for victims of human rights violations under former dictator Ferdinand Marcos say more than 7,500 people will receive compensation starting next week, 25 years after his ouster in a “people power” revolt. It will be the first financial compensation since the lawsuits were filed in 1986. American lawyer Robert Swift said yesterday that each plaintiff would get the equivalent of US$1,000. The money will come from a US$7.5 million settlement involving Marcos’ assets in Texas and Colorado. Swift says more money may be forthcoming after a Hawaiin court’s judgment last month holding Marcos’ widow Imelda and their son Ferdinand Marcos Jr in contempt and ordering them to pay the victims US$353.6 million.
New court opens
Kuala Lumpur has launched special courts to tackle an overload of graft cases as part of the government’s fight against perceptions that it allows corruption to flourish. Complaints about bribery, fraud and murky deals in the government helped the opposition make major inroads in 2008 national elections. The next polls are widely expected later this year. According to official data, at least 400 corruption trials are bogging down the judicial system, more than two-thirds of which involve government employees. A statement from the Prime Minister’s Department said about 150 cases were transferred this week to 18 new courts that should wrap up those cases within a year. Prosecutor Abdul Majid Hamzah said yesterday this will “help in speedy disposal of corruption cases.”
Helicopter crashes, one dies
A coast guard helicopter has crashed off the southern coast, leaving one dead and four officers missing. Coast guard officer Bu Ji-hwan says the helicopter crashed west of the island of Jeju late on Wednesday. Coast guard and navy ships were searching yesterday for the four officers still missing. The body of Lee Yu-jin was recovered from the ocean. The coast guard says the helicopter had picked up Lee from a coast guard ship and was taking her to Jeju for medical care before it crashed. It’s not immediately known what caused the crash.
Gang-rape trio freed
The Supreme Court took the unusual step on Wednesday of freeing three gang--rapists who had served just a third of their sentences after they worked out a financial settlement with their victim. A lower court had sentenced the rapists to 10 years in prison — the minimum for gang rape by law — for the crime, committed in 1997. But the men said that they had since agreed to pay the victim 50,000 rupees (US$1,100), the Press Trust of India reported. Lawyers for the trio, who appealed to be released after spending three-and-a-half years in prison, said they and the victim had all moved on with their lives, were happily married and “wanted to live peacefully.”
Burned reporter’s wife held
Police investigating the death of a reporter who was doused with chemicals and set ablaze as he slept are holding his wife on a murder charge, reports said on Wednesday. Hoang Hung, 51, an investigative journalist with Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper, was attacked at the family home near Ho Chi Minh City on the night of Jan. 19. He died more than a week later in hospital.
Minister’s title revoked
Bayreuth University has revoked the doctoral title of Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg after he acknowledged errors in his thesis amid allegations he plagiarized parts of the work. University president Ruediger Bormann said Guttenberg could no longer use his academic title of “Dr.” The minister had asked for the title to be revoked in an effort to remain in office despite calls from the opposition for his removal. Chancellor Angela Merkel has backed Guttenberg despite accusations he copied wide tracts of his 475-page dissertation without sufficiently crediting the sources. Guttenberg on Wednesday defended his decision to remain in office to lawmakers during two different parliamentary sessions.