Family jailed for ‘exorcism’
A high court yesterday jailed three family members who suffocated their two-year-old to death by piling on top of her in a suspected exorcism ritual. Chua Wan Zuen, aged two, died after being pinned down under a blanket in August last year with eight people, including her parents, crushing her for several hours in an attempt to drive away evil spirits. A high court in Penang State ordered the parents — an engineer and a traditional herbalist — and an uncle to be jailed for one year, quashing an earlier fine of 10,000 ringgit (US$3,000) each, meted out by a lower court in August, their lawyer Ang Chun Pun said. It also overturned the conviction of the girl’s aunt, ordering her to be admitted to a mental health hospital as she was diagnosed to have been suffering from schizophrenia at the time of the girl’s death.
Abe names first female aide
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday named the nation’s first-ever female aide to the prime minister, just weeks after Caroline Kennedy arrived as the first female US ambassador to Tokyo. Makiko Yamada, a 53-year-old internal ministry veteran, will advise the conservative prime minister on policies affecting women, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.
Arson suspected at factory
Police yesterday said they were investigating a suspected arson attack at one of the country’s largest garment factories, which produces clothes for Western brands. Fires broke out at two Standard Group buildings in the industrial district of Gazipur at about 11pm on Thursday following clashes between workers and officers. The blaze in one of the plants was brought under control quickly, but the other burned throughout the night, with 15 fully laden trucks also going up in flames, senior fire officer Mahbubur Rahman said. Workers allegedly went on a rampage at the factory complex following rumors that two workers had been killed during protests for higher wages and better conditions..
Men cleared of terror threat
Two men were cleared on Thursday of endangering a Pakistan International Airways plane after a court heard that they were “idiots, not terrorists.” Mohammed Safdar, 42, and his friend Tayyab Subhani, 30, were arrested in May after their flight from the Lahore to Manchester had to make an emergency diversion to London’s Stansted Airport. Britain scrambled Typhoon fighter jets to intercept the flight. It had been claimed that Safdar, supported by Subhani, made threats to blow up the plane and kill its crew and passengers after an argument broke out with air stewards. However, the judge instructed the jury to find the pair not guilty after concluding that the case against them was “tenuous and peppered with inconsistencies.” Witnesses said that although the men acted like “idiots,” they had not made serious threats to blow up the plane. ”
Pope coins planned
On Thursday, the country moved a step closer to issuing commemorative coins to honor Pope Francis after the lower chamber of congress backed the move. “We believe that the personality, charisma and humility of Pope Francis have helped revive goodwill toward the Roman Catholic Church worldwide,” reads the bill passed by the House of Deputies. It now will go before the senate, which has been swept by papal fever since the pontiff was selected in March. The measure honoring the Buenos Aires-born Jorge Bergoglio, the first pope from the Americas, calls for a coin to be minted with the motto “Homage of the Argentine people to Pope Francis.”