Anti-royalist’s plan foiled
Police said they caught a man before he had a chance to throw a bucket of horse manure over Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, during a royal visit to the country. Castislav “Sam” Bacanov, 76, pleaded not guilty in an Auckland court yesterday to planning a crime in a public place. He has agreed under his bail conditions to keep at least 500m from the royal couple. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall are on a six-day tour of the country, the last leg of their Pacific tour marking Queen Elizabeth II’s 60th Jubilee. Police spokeswoman Noreen Hegarty said officers arrested Bacanov, a known anti-royalist, on Monday near a downtown Auckland venue where Charles and Camilla were due to appear. She said the royal couple had not yet arrived at the outdoor venue and were never in any danger. Bacanov is due to appear in court again on Nov. 27.
PETA hunts elephant killers
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) yesterday offered a US$1,000 reward for information on the killing of three critically endangered Sumatran elephants near palm oil plantations. The carcasses of three female elephants, including a year-old calf, were found rotting at the weekend in the jungle on Sumatra Island outside the Tesso Nilo National Park. Park chief Kupin Simbolon said on Monday the elephants had likely been poisoned in revenge after plantation workers’ huts were destroyed in a recent stampede. The animal rights group offered the reward for information “leading to the arrest and conviction” of the killers. “These cowardly killers need to be caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” PETA Asia vice president Jason Baker said in a statement. “If poisoned, these elephants endured a slow and agonizing death.”
‘Holy’ window moved
A church is taking possession of a hospital window that has attracted hundreds of people who believe it bears an image of the Virgin Mary. Prayerful crowds of Roman Catholics have gathered outside the Sime Darby Medical Center in a suburb near Kuala Lumpur since last weekend after an image believed to resemble the Virgin Mary was spotted on the hospital’s seventh-floor window. Reverend Simon Labrooy of the suburb’s Church of St Thomas More said he met with hospital officials and agreed that the crowd could affect medical emergency services. He said in a statement late on Monday that the hospital glass panel would be moved to a church and tested by theologians and religious authorities.
Officials ‘stealing’ diamonds
Diamonds worth at least US$2 billion have been stolen by President Robert Mugabe’s ruling elite, international dealers and criminals, in “perhaps the biggest single plunder of diamonds the world has seen since Cecil Rhodes,” a watchdog has claimed. Revenue that could have revived the country’s ailing economy has been channelled into a “parallel government” of police and military officers and government officials loyal to Mugabe, according to Partnership Africa Canada (PAC). The Marange fields in the east were discovered in 2006 and are one of the world’s biggest diamond deposits, but funds from diamond sales have not reached the state treasury, with evidence showing millions have gone to Mugabe’s inner circle, a PAC report published on Monday said.