Fake Tahitian prince jailed
A man who led a playboy lifestyle while claiming to be a Tahitian prince was jailed yesterday for 14 years for stealing A$16 million (US$16.6 million) from a health department. New Zealand-born Hohepa Morehu-Barlow, known as Joel Barlow, pleaded guilty to eight offenses, including aggravated fraud and forgery at the Brisbane District Court. In sentencing, Judge Kerry O’Brien said Morehu-Barlow, 37, ran an audacious scheme in which he diverted funds from a grants scheme he ran to pay for his extravagant lifestyle. “The funds diverted by [Morehu-Barlow] were public monies earmarked ... to support charities and other community groups,” prosecutor Todd Fuller told the court, the Brisbane Courier-Mail reported. The court heard that Morehu-Barlow regularly signed bank documents “HRH,” for His Royal Highness. When he was arrested in 2011, police found a trove of luxury goods including a fake crown, a life-size horse lamp and a Louis Vuitton surf board. The scheme unraveled in 2011 when he faked a A$11 million invoice that made a fellow public servant suspicious. The colleague did an Internet search and found that the money went to a firm controlled by Morehu-Barlow.
Dozens die in bomb blasts
Car bombs and a suicide blast hit Shiite districts of Baghdad and south of the capital yesterday, killing at least 56 people on the 10th anniversary of the invasion that ousted former president Saddam Hussein. Sunni Islamist insurgents tied to al-Qaeda have stepped up attacks on Shiite targets since the start of the year to stoke sectarian tension and undermine Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The car bombs exploded near a Baghdad market and in other places across the capital. A suicide bomber driving a truck attacked a police base in a Shiite town just south of the capital, police and hospital sources said. Another 160 people were wounded in the attacks, hospital officials said. No group claimed responsibility for the blasts.
Stylish N Koreans go dotty
Polka-dot dresses and manual threshing machines were among the hottest consumer products in North Korea last year, an annual list compiled by a local researcher showed. The arrival of the patterned dresses in the top 10 list was down to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s wife, Ri Sol-ju, who was seen wearing them at public functions. “Young North Korean women are keenly interested in the first lady’s fashion style and try to follow her example,” Dong Yong-seung, a senior research fellow at the Samsung Economic Research Institute in Seoul, told reporters yesterday. Dong has been compiling a top 10 chart of consumer items in North Korea since 2010, basing her findings on interviews with North Korean defectors and Chinese traders on the Sino-North Korean border.
Daniel Pearl suspect held
The government arrested a former militant leader in connection with the 2002 murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, officials said on Monday. Qari Abdul Hai, once a leader of Sunni militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, was arrested on Sunday in Karachi, the officials said. Pearl was kidnapped in Karachi while researching a story on Islamist militants in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the US. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the al-Qaeda militant who claimed responsibility for the attacks, said he beheaded Pearl after his abduction. It is not clear what role Hai is suspected of playing in the murder.