Cash offered for beard tips
Xinjiang authorities are offering cash to informants who report on neighbors with excessive facial hair, the Global Times has reported. Officials in Shaya County issued a notice offering rewards ranging from 50 yuan to more than 50,000 yuan (US$8 to US$8,000) for a wide array of information, including tips on those growing beards, the paper said on Thursday. Rewards also cover information on locals “conducting illegal religious activities,” the paper said. A Kashgar resident said that to enter government offices, banks or courts, women have to remove their veils and men must be clean-shaven.
No extradition for Russian
The Supreme Court yesterday that a prominent Russian property developer wanted in his homeland for allegedly embezzling millions of dollars cannot be extradited. Judge Kim Sothavy said that the law did not allow for the sending 41-year-old Sergei Polonsky back to Russia because the countries do not have an extradition treaty. The tycoon was charged in Russia in June last year with embezzling more than 5.7 billion rubles (US$175 million) from 80 investors. He was arrested in November last year, but released on bail in January.
Labor activists’ trial begins
Twenty-three activists and workers arrested during a deadly crackdown on a garment industry strike in January went on trial yesterday despite international appeals for their release. Rights groups say if convicted the defendants — most of whom have been detained for months without bail — could face up to five years’ imprisonment on charges that include committing intentional violence. Several hundred demonstrators gathered near the Phnom Penh Municipal Court as the trial began.
Drunk triggers hijack alert
The pilot of a Virgin Australia plane flying from Brisbane to Bali yesterday reported a hijacking attempt after a passenger tried to enter the cockpit, an Indonesian official said. A Virgin Australia Airlines official said there had not been an attempt to hijack the aircraft, but a “flight emergency” after a 28-year-old male passenger who was drunk had banged on the door of the cockpit trying to get in. Crew members seized the passenger, who authorities identified as Australian Matt Christopher, and handcuffed him. Police arrested him shortly after the plane landed in Bali.
Giant crucifix crushes man
A man was crushed to death on Wednesday by a giant crucifix honoring pope John Paul II that collapsed during a ceremony ahead of the late pope’s canonization tomorrow in Rome. The 30m high wooden cross toppled over during an event near the Alpine village of Cevo, killing Marco Gusmini, 21. Cevo’s mayor said further celebrations to mark the pope’s elevation to sainthood have been cancelled.