Man held over stolen art
A man attempting to sell paintings by Picasso, Monet and other masters back to the Dutch gallery from where they were stolen has been arrested in Germany. Thieves made off with seven paintings worth more than 50 million euros (US$65 million) from Rotterdam’s Kunsthal museum last October in a brazen and meticulously planned operation. Die Welt newspaper said prosecutors in Cologne had confirmed the arrest of a 46-year-old man, but said it was unclear whether he was part of the gang or whether he really had access to the stolen paintings.
Hostage taker asks for pizza
A man took four people hostage for several hours on Thursday in a bizarre abduction where his only demand was a takeaway pizza and a fizzy drink, police said. The man, apparently armed with a pistol and explosives, burst into a college in the city of Astrakhan 1,500km southeast of Moscow, and took four people hostage. After several hours he released the two female students, a teacher and a security guard unharmed. “His only demand was a pizza and Sprite,” police spokesman Pyotr Rusanov told reporters. Police cordoned off the building and met the man’s demands before detaining him, he added.
Death sentence overturned
A federal appeals court on Thursday threw out the convictions of a woman sentenced to death in the notorious 1989 killing of her four-year-old son. Prosecutors said Debra Jean Milke told her son Christopher he was going to see Santa Claus at a mall. Instead, he was taken into the desert by her boyfriend and another man and shot three times as part of what prosecutors said was a plot to collect a US$50,000 life insurance policy. A three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday that the prosecution failed to disclose information about a history of misconduct by a detective who testified that Milke confessed to plotting the murder. There was no other witness or recording of the purported confession by Milke, who has proclaimed her innocence.
TV commercial shark dies
A whitetip shark shipped from New York and placed into an outdoor pool for a Kmart commercial in Los Angeles died after showing signs of distress, an official from the animal welfare group that monitored the production said on Thursday. The American Humane Association, which certifies film and TV productions with animals, had a representative at the scene of the shoot on March 6 and it says everything possible was done to ensure the 1.5m shark’s safety. The shark’s death follows longstanding criticism of the use of animals in Hollywood productions.