‘Sewol’ owner seeks asylum
A businessman and Christian sect leader wanted on charges tied to a ferry disaster in which more than 300 passengers drowned sought asylum at an embassy in Seoul, but was rejected, prosecutors said yesterday. Yoo Byung-un, 73, is wanted on charges of embezzlement, negligence and tax evasion stemming from his control of a web of business interests centered on an investment firm owned by his sons that owned the operator of the doomed Sewol that sank on April 16. “By international law, Yoo Byung-un is not a refugee, but is a fugitive with an arrest warrant outstanding, so anyone who helps him flee will be deemed to be aiding his escape and will be firmly punished,” a prosecutor said. A person acting for Yoo contacted an embassy and asked about the possibility of Yoo seeking asylum, he said. He was turned down. Prosecutors did not say which embassy was contacted.
PM may visit North Korea
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may visit North Korea, the government said yesterday, days after announcing a deal to reopen its probe into Japanese citizens kidnapped by spies in the Cold War. Any such visit would be controversial, especially in Seoul and Washington, which have led the charge to further isolate Pyongyang over its ballistic missile and nuclear programs. Tokyo and Pyongyang have no formal diplomatic ties, partially because of what Japan says is the North’s unwillingness to come clean over the abductions in the 1970s and 1980s. However, in a breakthrough last week, they said an investigation into the fate of missing Japanese would be reopened. In exchange, Tokyo would ease some of the unilateral sanctions it has imposed on the isolated state.
North fisherman returned
The country yesterday repatriated a North Korean fisherman, but rejected Pyongyang’s demands to return two others picked up by the coast guard at the weekend. Seoul’s Ministry of Unification said the repatriation took place at the border truce village of Panmunjom. The fishermen were picked up on Saturday by a coast guard vessel off the east coast, and the North quickly demanded the immediate return of all three, as well as their boat. However, Seoul said two of the fishermen had expressed a wish to stay in the South and would be kept in custody for questioning. A ministry spokesman said there was “no word or protest” from North Korea when the third fisherman was handed over at the border.
Army to search for UK tourist
Authorities insisted on Monday they are committed to finding a Briton who went missing on a popular resort island six days ago, with an army helicopter sent to aid the search. Gareth Huntley, 34, went missing after a waterfall trek on Tuesday last week in the jungles of Tioman Island off Malaysia’s east coast. A search has yet to find any trace of him, police said. “We have no leads. About 90 men are looking for him, as well as search dogs. One helicopter from the army is about to arrive,” said district police chief Johari Jahaya, who is leading the search. Huntley had been a volunteer at the Juara Turtle Project, a conservation and research group. His mother, Janet Southwell, told BBC Radio on Monday she was “positive that with all this effort we are going to find him.” “It’s a roller coaster of emotions. You know, it’s despair one minute and hope the next and back again. He may be injured, but we are going to find him and we will bring him out alive,” she said from Malaysia.
Miitig convenes ministers
A new government announced on Monday that it had taken office, despite the refusal of Abdullah al-Thani’s Cabinet to leave power, as violence intensified in the east of the country following the launch of a deadly “anti-terrorist” campaign. Prime Minister Ahmed Miitig, 42, said in a statement he had convened his ministers for the first time since his disputed election in May, amid an ongoing power struggle in Tripoli. His spokesman said Miitig had “no difficulties” in accessing parliament. “There was no opposition from the security services deployed in front of the building,” the spokesman said. Miitig is Libya’s fifth prime minister since dictator Muammar Qaddafi was toppled and killed in a 2011 uprising. The General National Congress elected Islamist-backed businessman Miitig in a chaotic vote early last month, days after gunmen stormed the Congress to interrupt an earlier ballot.
Police ban Abuja protests
Police have banned protests in the capital, Abuja, by supporters of the more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram militants, as the activists vowed to challenge the “illegal” move. Noisy street demonstrations in Abuja have become a regular feature of the campaign to put pressure on the government and keep the issue in the public eye seven weeks after the girls were abducted from a school in northern Nigeria on April 14. Federal Capital Territory police spokeswoman Altine Daniel confirmed the ban in a text message, saying the decision was taken “because of security reasons.” Protest organizers questioned the legitimacy of the move and eyed a possible political motive, but police chief Joseph Mbu said the ban was imposed because of the threat of infiltration from “dangerous elements.”
Russian hacker charged
A US-led international operation has disrupted a crime ring that infected hundreds of thousands of PCs around the globe with malicious software used for stealing banking credentials and extorting computer owners, the Department of Justice said on Monday. Authorities in nearly a dozen countries worked with private security companies to wrest control of the network of infected machines, known by the name of its master software, Gameover Zeus. Court documents released on Monday said that between 500,000 and 1 million machines worldwide were infected with the malicious software, which was derived from the original “Zeus” trojan for stealing financial passwords that emerged in 2006. Officials charged a Russian man with hacking, fraud and money-laundering, and court documents suggested they suspect he wrote Zeus.
Diaper thieves sought
Authorities in North Carolina are searching for whoever made a massive, unauthorized withdrawal from a diaper bank. The Diaper Bank of North Carolina says 13,000 diapers were stolen last weekend. The Durham-based nonprofit provides diapers to struggling families. Founder and executive director Michelle Old said she went on Monday to pick up an order to be distributed to a homeless shelter. She found the order had been strewn across the floor and various sizes of diapers were missing. Old said losing size 4 and size 5 diapers was especially difficult because babies can stay in them for up to a year and they are hard to keep in stock. “We already struggle and usually are low on those, but they completely took every diaper,” Old said.
TARNISHED LEGACY: Woodrow Wilson served as the university’s president before becoming the US’ 28th leader, but his racism was ‘significant and consequential’ Princeton University is removing former US president Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school and one of its residential colleges after trustees concluded that the 28th president’s “racist thinking and policies” made him “an inappropriate namesake.” The Ivy League school’s trustees made the decision on Friday, according to a statement on Saturday. It comes at a time of widespread rethinking of the US’ racial legacy. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, energized by a series of high-profile deaths of black Americans, has resulted in the removal of Confederate monuments, flags and symbols of racism across the US. Deleting Wilson’s name at Princeton
‘FULLY ENCLOSED’: Residents of Anxin County would be confined to their homes and would only be allowed out once a day to buy necessities such as food and medicine China yesterday imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people near the capital to contain a fresh COVID-19 cluster as authorities warned the outbreak was still “severe and complicated.” After China largely brought the virus under control, hundreds have been infected in Beijing and cases have emerged in Hebei Province. Health officials said that Anxin County — about 150km from Beijing — would be “fully enclosed and controlled,” the same strict measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in the city of Wuhan earlier this year. Only one person from each family would be allowed to go out once a
Japan said it opposed changes to the G7 nations as it pushed back against a reform plan by US President Donald Trump that would have rival South Korea this year join in an expanded meeting. Tokyo has told the US it stands against South Korea’s participation on the grounds of differences in policy on China and North Korea, Kyodo News reported this weekend, citing more than one source related to Japanese and US diplomacy. Japan also wants to maintain its status as the only Asian country in the group, the news agency added. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday told reporters that
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around