Death row appeal rejected
The Nagoya High Court yesterday rejected an appeal by a farmer who has spent 40 years on death row for the murder of his wife, his mistress and three other women who died after drinking poisoned wine. The court “turned down the appeal for retrial” of 86-year-old Masaru Okunishi over the killings, a court spokesman said. The request could still go to the Supreme Court. Okunishi, who has spent much of the past four decades in solitary confinement, has consistently protested his innocence after retracting what he says was a coerced confession ahead of his original trial. However, presiding Judge Yasuo Shimoyama ruled “his confession is fully credible in its essential part,” according to Jiji Press news agency. Five women died and 12 others fell ill after drinking wine laced with agricultural chemicals at a community get-together in the town of Nabari in 1961.
Animal abuse not illegal
A Shanghai woman accused of killing hundreds of cats will not face prosecution despite animal rights campaigners’ efforts because of a lack of animal protection laws, the Global Times said yesterday. A group of activists went to Zhou Ying’s (周穎) home on Wednesday evening after allegations that she had killed hundreds of cats were posted on the Internet alongside images of decapitated animals, the newspaper said. A scuffle broke out after some gained entrance to the rented apartment and police took the woman and the activists to a nearby station. “When we entered the apartment, one of us found three headless cats in the kitchen trash bin. It was appalling,” one activist told the Global Times. All were released with warnings, but Zhou has permanently left her home following the incident, the Shanghai Daily said. “Those people violated my rights. I adopted the cats and I can raise them any way I want,” she told the newspaper.
Court orders reparation
The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of nine citizens who demanded Japanese firms pay them for forced labor during Japan’s colonial rule of Korea. The Supreme Court says it repealed lower court decisions that ruled against the plaintiffs seeking unpaid wages and financial redress from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd and Nippon Steel Corp for forced labor from 1941 to 1945. The court yesterday said that it was the first time a ruling has favored South Koreans seeking such compensation from Japanese firms. The matter will now be sent to a lower court to determine compensation. A lawyer for the workers says the government might confiscate any South Korean property the firms have if they refuse to pay.
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Police blocks parliament
Police blockaded parliament yesterday, a day after Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s government leveled sedition charges against the chief justice. The apparently competing tactics come days after the Supreme Court ruled that O’Neill’s ousted predecessor, Sir Michael Somare, is the rightful ruler, and a month before the beginning of national elections. O’Neill had sought to reconvene parliament to consider the court’s ruling, but most lawmakers are away campaigning. A senior police source who declined to be named told the Australian Associated Press that the 30 officials who blockaded parliament were not acting on the police commissioner’s orders. Police involved in the blockade said they would not allow parliament to sit until after the elections next month.