Man held under secret law
A man who agitated for an investigation into the suspicious death of activist Li Wangyang (李旺陽) has been detained at an unknown location, his lawyer said on Monday, describing him as possibly the first to be held under a controversial new law that allows secret detention. Authorities in Shaoyang, Hunan Province, told family members of Zhu Chengzhi (朱承志), 62, on Friday that he would be put under “residential surveillance” under “Article 73,” Zhu’s wife said by telephone on Monday. Article 73 legalizes detaining people suspected of crimes related to state security, terrorism or serious corruption in a secret location.
Six officials sacked over fire
Six officials have been suspended following a fire that killed six children and one young adult at an illegally run orphanage in Henan Province, a county government official said yesterday. The deaths on Friday in Lankao County have spotlighted the nation’s lack of government-run child services.
Reporter cries sabotage
A German reporter investigating a case of five children killed by carbon monoxide poisoning in Guizhou Province on Monday said his computer and smartphone were sabotaged after his hotel room was broken into. Bernhard Zand, a reporter for Der Spiegel, was investigating the accidental deaths in November last year of five street boys in Bijie. Zand interviewed the Chinese journalist who broke the story and also spoke with relatives of the children. Zand said he and his Chinese assistant were constantly followed by unidentified men while in Bijie. After returning to their hotel one evening last week, the pair found multiple files had been deleted from their laptops, and Zand’s tablet and iPhone had been destroyed.
Afghan kills NATO trooper
An Afghan soldier shot dead a NATO colleague in Helmand Province in the first “insider attack” this year, officials said yesterday. “An individual wearing an Afghan National Army uniform turned his weapon against International Security Assistance Force [ISAF] service members in southern Afghanistan yesterday, killing one,” ISAF said in a statement. A spokeswoman said the attacker was killed. A police official said three ISAF soldiers were also wounded.
Police guard gang funeral
Scores of riot police turned out yesterday for the funeral of one of the nation’s most notorious gang bosses, Kim Tae-chon — a major figure in the organized crime world in the 1970s and 1980s. The service was held at the Seoul hospital where Kim died on Saturday at the age of 64 of a heart attack arising from a long illness. About 300 people attended the ceremony, which was monitored by about 150 riot police.
Casino loses court case
A US man who hit a US$55 million jackpot on a slot machine in a Sheraton hotel in Ho Chi Minh City has won his lawsuit against the casino after it refused to pay out. Media reports said the hearing found that the man, Ly Sam, should be allowed to collect his winnings, which the casino said were more than 1,000 times the supposed maximum from the machine and had been generated by a fault. The owner of the casino told the court the maximum prize was only supposed to be US$46,000, state-run Thanh Nien newspaper said. The company said it planned to file an appeal.
Fernandez has to rent plane
President Cristina Fernandez will go on a four-nation trip in a rented British airplane for fear that her official aircraft would be impounded in a debt dispute, the government said on Monday. Despite a bitter war of words with London over the Falkland Islands, Fernandez’s government is paying British air charter firm Chapman Freeborn US$880,000 for the trip to Cuba, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia and Vietnam. The government’s concern is very real: Last year, a court in Ghana impounded the Argentine Navy ship Libertad for two months following a request from NML Capital, a Cayman Islands-based investment firm. The company, denounced by the government as a “vulture” fund,” says Buenos Aires owes it US$370 million stemming from the nation’s debt default a decade ago.
Shooter unfit for trial
A judge declared a Korean-American man mentally unfit on Monday to stand trial over a shooting rampage that left seven dead at a religious college in California, reports said. Former nursing student One Goh had pleaded not guilty to murdering seven and wounding three execution-style in April last year shootings at Oikos University, a small Christian school in Oakland. Two court-appointed psychiatrists found Goh incompetent due to paranoid schizophrenia, according to Goh’s attorney, David Klaus, cited by the San Francisco Chronicle. The 44-year-old appeared in Alameda County Superior Court before Judge Carrie Panetta, who ordered Goh to return in three weeks for placement in an institution.
Oil rig reaches safe harbor
A Shell oil drilling rig that ran aground last week reached a safe harbor on Monday, where it will be examined to assess its seaworthiness after a week on the rocks near an Alaskan island. Stormy weather had wrestled the Kulluk from towing ships a week ago, and tossed it to the shore of Sitkalidak Island. On Sunday night, it was refloated ahead of the 48km tow, before dropping anchor just past noon on Monday in Kiliuda Bay, which was previously designated a refuge for disabled vessels. The fortunes of the saucer-shaped drillship, which worked in the Beaufort Sea late last year, face particular scrutiny because it was a major part of Royal Dutch Shell’s controversial and error-prone Arctic drilling program last year.
Berlusconi in deal with party
Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi announced a deal on Monday with the Northern League — his fractious coalition partner in three governments — to jointly run in national elections next month, a move that could give fresh impetus to the center-right and extend the Berlusconi era. While leaving open the question of whether he will run himself, Berlusconi underlined his ambitions for the deal reached overnight at his villa near Milan by saying: “Habemus Papum,” — the Latin phrase for “We have a pope.”
Missoni seach ongoing
Hundreds of rescuers searched for a fourth day in planes, helicopters and boats on Monday, looking for a missing plane carrying Italian fashion executive Vittorio Missoni and five other people. Italian Ambassador Paolo Serpi flew over the area and met in Los Roques with officials who are coordinating the search. Speaking on TV, he thanked the government for “a great effort” so far by military, civil aviation and disaster management officials.