Family commits suicide
A family of five found dead in a van are believed to have been a suicide, a police official said yesterday. The five — a man and a woman in their 30s and three boys aged five, seven and 10 — were found late on Thursday in the vehicle at a parking lot in Fujinomiya, Shizuoka Prefecture, the official at the Fujinomiya Police Department said. The five are believed to have died of carbon monoxide poisoning after burning charcoal pieces inside the vehicle — a not uncommon method of taking one’s own life in Japan. “We are investigating the case as a possible family suicide as they have also left a suicide note,” the police spokesman said. Every year more than 30,000 people take their lives in a country where suicide carries less of a stigma than in some Western nations.
Burglar steals underwear
Police said yesterday they had discovered thousands of items of stolen women’s underwear at the home of a robbery suspect, the second time the man has been found hoarding undergarments this year. Danai Raiwech, 48, was arrested at his home in Bangkok on Thursday after police searched his property in connection with a US$325,000 heist at a jewelry shop. His wife was found wearing items of stolen jewelry, but during the search officers also uncovered bags full of underwear. “He confessed that he obsesses over underwear and uses it for masturbation,” Police Colonel Napanwut Liamsanguan said. “He collected underwear for many years, stealing them from houses or apartments, three or five each time. I stopped counting at 2,000 pieces of underwear, but there must be more than 5,000 of them, I’m sure,” he said. In January, officers found more than a thousand items of underwear in the trunk of Danai’s car after they arrested him for burglary.
Elephant tusks seized
Customs officers have made their second big seizure of illegal ivory in less than a month after confiscating more than a tonne of the elephant tusks worth US$1.4 million, officials said yesterday. Officers discovered 569 pieces of ivory tusks weighing 1,330kg on Thursday in a container shipped to the city’s port. Officers searching a container from Tanzania discovered 45 bags of unprocessed and unpolished ivory tusks hidden among more than 400 bags of sunflower seeds, Hong Kong Customs Divisional Commander Vincent Wong said. The smugglers used an indirect route, shipping the ivory via Dubai and transferred it from one ship to another, Wong said. Officials believe the shipment was intended for somewhere else, but would not say where. The discovery comes just weeks after customs officers confiscated nearly 4 tonnes of African ivory worth US$3.4 million found in two separate containers.
Train hits parade float
Authorities say four people are dead and 17 others are injured after a train slammed into a parade float headed to a West Texas event honoring wounded veterans. City of Midland spokesman Ryan Stout said the crash happened at a railroad crossing on Thursday. Stout said 10 of those injured were in critical condition at Midland Memorial Hospital, while the other seven were in stable condition. The parade was supposed to end at a “Hunt for Heroes” banquet. The wounded service members were then going to be treated to a deer-hunting trip this weekend.
BP men innocent: lawyers
Lawyers for two BP PLC employees who were charged with manslaughter on Thursday in the Deepwater Horizon disaster said the US government had unfairly targeted their clients. Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine, the two highest ranking BP supervisors onboard the rig in the hours before the disaster, were innocent of the charges against them, the lawyers said. Earlier on Thursday, the government alleged that “negligent and grossly negligent” conduct by Kaluza and Vidrine led to the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig, the deaths of 11 workers and the release of millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. On April 20, 2010, Kaluza and Vidrine were aware that a drill pipe inserted into the Macondo well to test its pressure showed that the well was not secure, the government said in an indictment. They then failed to alert engineers onshore to the problem and accepted “illogical” explanations from members of the rig crew as to why pressure in the well was building, according to the indictment. Later that evening, the rig exploded, killing 11 men.
Tribunal frees jailed officers
An appeals court in the Hague overturned yesterday the conviction of the most senior Croatian military officer charged with war crimes during the Balkan conflict of the 1990s. Ante Gotovina, who was commander in the Split district of the Croatian army, had been jailed for 24 years. The conviction of Mladen Markac, a Croatian police commander who had been serving an 18-year sentence, was also overturned. The two had been convicted of crimes against humanity and war crimes. Judges ordered the pair’s immediate release. Following their conviction by the Yugoslavia tribunal’s trial chamber last year, the two appealed to its appeals court. This upheld their claim that they had not been part of a joint criminal enterprise with the aim of permanently removing Serbian civilians from Croatia’s Krajina region.
Yacht carried cocaine
A yacht that washed up on a deserted island in the South Pacific with a badly decomposed body on board was carrying more than 200kg of cocaine worth up to US$120 million, police said yesterday. Australian Federal Police said international law agencies had been monitoring the 13m yacht JeReVe from when it left South America until they lost contact with it last month. Two divers came across the boat earlier this month off Tonga’s Vava’u island group and made the grim discovery of the dead male when they went aboard. “Also located on board that vessel were 204, 1kg blocks of cocaine destined for the Australian market,” acting national manager for serious and organized crime David Sharpe told a press conference. The massive seizure was now part of an ongoing operation involving police in Tonga, the Cook Islands, Australia and the US Drug Enforcement Administration.