Breivik ruling appeal starts
The government yesterday started an appeal against a ruling that it treated mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik inhumanely by placing him in solitary confinement and restricting his movements. The Oslo District Court said that the isolation of the 37-year-old right-wing extremist, who killed 77 people in a bomb and shooting rampage in 2011, breached the European Convention on Human Rights. The government has maintained that Breivik, who is serving a 21-year sentence, is treated humanely despite the severity of his crimes and that he must be separated from other inmates for safety reasons. The appeals case opened yesterday in a makeshift courtroom in Skien prison, where Breivik is incarcerated. Six days have been reserved for the hearings.
Sex slave protester dies
A Buddhist monk has died days after he set himself on fire to protest the nation’s deal with Japan on former Korean sex slaves, Seoul National University Hospital said yesterday. The monk, 64, set himself ablaze on Saturday during rallies against impeached President Park Geun-hye. In his notebook found at the scene, he criticized Park’s 2015 agreement to settle an impasse over Korean women forced to be sex slaves for Japanese troops during World War II in return for an apology from the Japanese prime minister and a pledge of millions of US dollars. The monk was pronounced dead on Monday night of multiple organ failures caused by his burns, the hospital said.
Park’s friend snubs trial
President Park Geun-hye’s longtime friend at the center of a massive corruption scandal yesterday refused to testify at Park’s impeachment trial, with lawmakers alleging that it was a stalling tactic. The Constitutional Court had expected to hear from Choi Soon-sil, who is in jail and also on trial for allegedly using her connections with the president to extort money and favors from companies and unlawfully interfere with government affairs. However, Choi submitted documents to the court saying she was unable to testify. Two jailed former presidential aides who purportedly helped Choi also refused to testify, saying they needed to prepare for their own trials. Lawmakers, who function as prosecutors at the impeachment trial, raised suspicions that Park’s lawyers were controlling the witnesses as a stalling tactic.
Tehran open to ‘hajj’ talks
Tehran is ready to “participate in bilateral talks” with Saudi Arabia about this year’s hajj pilgrimage, the IRNA news agency late on Monday quoted Ali Qaziaskar, a representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as saying. Like other Islamic nations, Iran has received an invitation letter from Riyadh to discuss the next pilgrimage, he said. Tehran boycotted last year’s hajj after a stampede and crush of pilgrims during the previous year’s pilgrimage killed at least 2,426 people, including 464 Iranians, according to an Associated Press count.
Hicks charged with assault
David Hicks, the first prisoner held at the US Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to be convicted by a military court, yesterday appeared in a court in Adelaide charged with assaulting his partner. Hicks, 41, appeared at a pretrial conference on a charge that he assaulted his partner in September. He has yet to plea to the charge, which carries a potential two-year sentence. He was released on bail to appear next on Feb. 28.