Croc travels free in hold
A baggage handler had a nasty surprise when he opened the cargo door of a Qantas passenger flight to find a crocodile roaming loose in the hold, the airline said yesterday. The reptile, reported to be a relatively small specimen, managed to escape its transport container during a flight from Brisbane to Melbourne last week, a Qantas spokesman said. “The animal was quickly and safely secured when the aircraft arrived in Melbourne,” the spokesman added. The crocodile was being transported as freight by cargo firm Australian Air Express. Qantas said it was investigating whether the animal had been in the right container and properly loaded.
Homeowner killed in protest
Police in Liaoning Province shot and killed a homeowner who set himself on fire while trying to protect his property from a demolition crew, an official and state media said yesterday. Wang Shujie, 36, set himself ablaze after seeing his father shot and wounded, and started toward a policeman, who opened fire, according to the China Daily. The father had tried to wrestle the policeman’s gun from him after he fired warning shots into the air as the protest in Panjin began to get restive, the newspaper said. A local government official in Panjin confirmed Friday’s killing, but refused to go into details pending an inquiry. However, the People’s Daily said on its microblog a preliminary investigation concluded the policeman’s actions were justified. Government-backed land grabs have become China’s most volatile social problem as officials and developers seek to cash in on the nation’s property boom, sometimes forcing people out of their homes without proper compensation.
Envoy sent to Beijing
Tokyo sent its top foreign affairs bureaucrat to China yesterday for a two-day visit, in a move aimed at cooling the diplomatic temperature in a territorial dispute, officials said. Vice Foreign Minister Chikao Kawai, the most senior unelected man in the ministry, was to meet his Chinese counterpart “to discuss a wide range of bilateral issues based on the current situation,” a ministry official said. The announcement came a day after China said it was postponing long-planned events marking the 40th anniversary of ties and as the Japanese coastguard said three Chinese government ships were in waters around the disputed Senkaku Islands, known in Taiwan and China as the Diaoyutais (釣魚台)
Three bloggers jailed
A court in Ho Chih Min city yesterday jailed three bloggers for “anti-state propaganda” after a trial of just a few hours. High-profile blogger Nguyen Van Hai, alias Dieu Cay, was sentenced to 12 years in prison and policewoman-turned-dissident Ta Phong Tan was given 10 years. “Their crimes were especially serious with clear intention against the state,” Court President Nguyen Phi Long said, adding that “they must be seriously punished.” Phan Thanh Hai, the only one of the trio to plead guilty, was handed a four-year term. All of the defendants will also have to serve between three and five years under house arrest after they complete their prison sentences. “They abused the popularity of the Internet to post articles which undermined and blackened [Vietnam’s] leaders, criticizing the [Communist] party [and] destroying people’s trust in the state,” Long said.