Ex-PM’s charges reduced
The High Court yesterday quashed money-laundering charges against former prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry, but he will still stand trial for allegedly breaching foreign exchange laws, reports said. Chaudhry, who served as prime minister from 1999 to 2000, faced 12 charges after allegedly giving false information to tax authorities about bank accounts in Australia. The court threw out five money-laundering charges after accepting an application from Chaudhry’s lawyer that it did not have jurisdiction over the foreign accounts, the Fiji Broadcasting Corp (FBC) reported. A further four counts of making false tax returns were dismissed because the three-year time limit under which the alleged offense could be prosecuted had expired, the Fijivillage news Web site reported. The FBC said Chaudhry still faced three counts of breaching foreign exchange laws for failing to declare the accounts to the Reserve Bank of Fiji, and that the case would be the subject of a pre-trial conference on Aug. 13.
UN condemns attacks
The UN has voiced “deep concern” over escalating violence against schools in the country by militants it said were endangering children’s lives and jeopardizing their right to education. Local media have blamed student wings of various political factions for destroying computers in a Kathmandu college and torching school buses in the capital, the southern district of Chitwan and the eastern city of Dharan. The UN’s head in Nepal, Robert Piper, urged government officials and politicians late on Tuesday to “ensure that children in Nepal are allowed to thrive, grow and be educated in an atmosphere free of violence and terror.” Piper said in a statement with UNICEF and UNESCO representatives Hanaa Singer and Axel Plathe that “while the incidents of the past weeks damaged school property, the most recent attacks on school buses, some with children still inside them, could have had disastrous consequences.”
Teens face jail for bus theft
Three teenagers are facing the prospect of up to seven years behind bars for allegedly stealing school buses to go on joyrides, the Straits Times reported yesterday. A police statement said the three boys, aged 15 to 17, were arrested on Monday after investigations showed they were the behind the theft of two school buses on an industrial estate. “In both cases, the doors of the buses were forced open and the keys which were left in the ignition were used to start the buses,” police said in a statement on their Web site. The daily said the boys had taken the buses to go joyriding, but police refused to confirm the reason. Both vehicles were later recovered. All three teenagers were charged with theft of a motor vehicle, which carries a maximum term of seven years in prison.
Suspected killer arrested
Police officials said they had arrested a man who had confessed to killing his 68-year-old Belgian employer with an axe and then setting a fire to cover up the crime. Chief Superintendent Marcelo Garbo said the 29-year-old Filipino admitted he hit Steegmans Florent several times in the head with an axe at the Belgian’s Internet cafe in Bohol before setting the shop on fire. Garbo said the suspect is believed to have harbored a grudge against Florent and had acted alone in the murder and arson case on Monday. Firefighters who put out the blaze discovered Florent’s body inside the shop. The Belgian had a Filipino wife. His hometown was not immediately known.