Jailed man seeks damages
A Nepalese man acquitted last month of murdering a prostitute after serving 15 years in jail is seeking US$790,000 in compensation for his time behind bars, according to a press report yesterday. Govinda Prasad Mainali, 46, was freed and sent back to Nepal in June after his request for a retrial was approved. He was tried and cleared of murder in his absence by the Tokyo District Court last month, after a DNA test indicated another man was responsible for killing a businesswoman who worked at night as a prostitute in Tokyo in 1997. Mainali filed the request for compensation with the court on Friday under a law that allows a person to seek compensation for wrongful imprisonment at a rate of between ￥1,000 and ￥12,500 (US$12 to US$145) a day, the Japan Times reported. He is seeking the maximum rate — totaling about ￥68 million for 15 years — and may also file a lawsuit, the report said.
Train kills five elephants
A passenger train has plowed into and killed five elephants of a herd crossing railroad tracks in the east of the country. Railroad spokesman R.N. Mohapatra said the train struck the animals early yesterday in the Rambha forest area, about 180km south of Bhubaneshwar, the capital of Orissa State. J.D. Sharma, chief conservator of the state’s wildlife department, accused the railroad authorities of ignoring his department’s warning that trains should slow down because a herd of elephants was moving in the area. Mohapatra said the warning came too late.
Christmas storm killed 20
The death toll from a tropical storm that hit the country on Christmas Day has risen to 20, with more than 20,000 others left homeless, the government said yesterday. More drowning victims, as well as the body of an elderly man crushed by a fallen tree, were found on Panay Island, along with that of an electrocution victim, raising the number of dead by nine, the civil defense office said. Four other people were missing after Tropical Storm Wukong hit the island on Tuesday, it said in an updated bulletin. The government agency said Wukong wrecked about 5,000 houses, driving entire communities into government-run shelters. More than 23,000 people remained in these camps yesterday, it added. Wukong unleashed floods and landslides before dissipating in the South China Sea.
Bus bomb wounds seven
A powerful bomb exploded in a passenger bus and wounded at least seven people in the south in an attack by suspected extortion gangs, police said yesterday. The homemade bomb exploded in the rear portion of the bus as it traveled late on Saturday in Isulan town in Sultan Kudarat Province, damaging the vehicle and sparking a brief fire, but causing no injuries among the vehicle’s passengers and crew, police Chief Superintendent Rolen Balquin said. However, the force of the blast shattered the windshield of another passenger bus nearby, wounding its driver and two passengers. Four bystanders along a roadside were wounded by shrapnel, Balquin said. The bombing occurred despite a security alert over possible attacks by armed extortion gangs, which have targeted passenger buses in the south in the past. Balquin said his men captured a member of the notorious al-Khobar extortion gang who detonated a roadside bomb last month in Sultan Kudarat’s Tacurong town and later told investigators the attack was part of an attempt to extort money from a bus company.
Bush out of intensvie care
Former president George H.W. Bush’s condition improved enough on Saturday for him to be moved out of the intensive care unit (ICU) and into a regular room at the Houston hospital where he was admitted last month for respiratory problems, a spokesman said. Bush, 88, who served as president from 1989 to 1993, entered Methodist Hospital on Nov. 23 for treatment of what doctors said was bronchitis and he was moved into the ICU on Dec. 16 after suffering a number of medical complications. “President Bush’s condition has improved, so he has been moved today from the intensive care unit to a regular patient room at the Methodist Hospital to continue his recovery,” the family said in a statement from spokesman Jim McGrath. McGrath on Friday said that Bush’s condition was improving and that he was even singing at times in his communications with doctors and nurses.
Haitian president sings duet
Haitian President Michel Martelly performed a duet late on Friday with Spanish crooner Julio Iglesias in a celebrity-studded concert in an amphitheater in Altos de Chavon, east of Santo Domingo, to help raise money for impoverished children. Among the attendees were local fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, Venezuelan fashion designer Carolina Herrera and US journalist Barbara Walters. Martelly, better known by his stage name, “Sweet Micky,” thanked Iglesias for dedicating a concert of his “1 World Tour 2012” to Haiti’s children. The proceeds will go to the Pink and White Foundation, a charity run by Martelly and his wife, Sophia. The duet represented Martelly’s first performance outside Haiti since he was elected in May last year. He was previously known for his often bawdy performances before becoming Haiti’s president. Iglesias visited Haiti following the 2010 earthquake that Haitian officials say killed an estimated 300,000 people and left hundreds of thousands of people homeless.
Animal cruelty laws passed
Mexico City lawmakers have approved prison terms for animal cruelty, previously considered a civil offense sanctioned with fines and detentions. The capital’s legislative assembly unanimously agreed that people who intentionally abuse and cause animals harm will face up to two years in prison and a maximun fine of US$500. If the animal is killed, they will face up to four years in prison and a US$2,000 fine. Antonio Padierna, president of the assembly’s law enforcement and justice committee, said late on Friday that if animals are killed for food, the death must be quick and not cause pain. The lawmakers agreed that current administrative laws were not doing enough to end animal cruelty. In Mexico City, animals are sometimes killed by being burned, beaten or shot.
Vultures attack park visitors
Visitors to parts of Everglades National Park in Florida are getting tarps and bungee cords to make their vehicles less delectable to vultures. Migrating vultures have developed a habit of ripping off windshield wipers, sunroof seals, and other rubber and vinyl vehicle parts. Visitors to the park’s Homestead and Flamingo entrances are loaned “anti-vulture kits” to protect their vehicles. Park wildlife biologist Skip Snow told the Miami Herald that the vultures are migrating as normal. It is just not clear why the birds are picking at parked cars and trucks. Park employees have tried to scare away the vultures, but nothing has worked.