PNG refugee deal challenged
Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) opposition has launched a legal challenge against the government’s decision to take asylum-seekers, saying refugees are held illegally in inhumane conditions. Canberra has been sending boat people to PNG’s remote Manus Island since late last year. In a statement on Monday, Papua New Guinean opposition leader Belden Namah said his lawyers had sent Papua New Guinean Prime Minister Peter O’Neill a summons to appear in court to defend the agreement, which he says is unconstitutional. Namah said he would “take this matter as far as necessary to ensure that the values of our nation’s constitution are upheld.”
Tribunal called for rape joke
A senior judge will face an ethics tribunal for saying rape victims enjoyed the act, an official said yesterday, after a judicial commission recommended his dismissal. The commission, which monitors judges’ conduct and professionalism, decided on Friday that High Court judge Daming Sunusi’s comments during a hearing for a Supreme Court position were “disgraceful,” spokesman Asep Rahmat Fajar said. “He will now face the ethics tribunal where he has the opportunity to defend himself,” Fajar added, saying the tribunal would be held “as soon as possible.” Sunusi made the remarks in answering a question on whether the death penalty should be introduced for convicted rapists. Sunusi has since apologized for the comment, insisting he was trying to lighten the mood of the tense interview. The House of Representatives ethics council is also considering a probe into lawmakers who reportedly laughed at Sunusi’s remarks, the Jakarta Globe newspaper reported.
Deputy prime minister dies
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism and Sports Chumpol Silpa-archa died yesterday of a suspected heart problem aged 72, his party said. Chumpol, the leader of the Chart Thai Pattana Party — a member of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s ruling coalition — was admitted to hospital with breathing problems on Dec. 17. He was one of several deputy prime ministers serving under Yingluck.
End Kachin war: UN’s Ban
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for a “serious effort” to end the conflict raging in the north, where ethnic minority Kachin rebels accused the military of breaking its ceasefire. Prime Minister Thein Sein’s reformist government announced on Friday that it was ending a military offensive against the Kachin rebels, but fresh fighting erupted over the weekend. Meanwhile, about a dozen peace activists set off yesterday on a planned 1,300km walk from Yangon to the rebel stronghold of Laiza to call for an end to the conflict.
Man kills ‘possessed’ son
A 53-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of biting his adult son to death to get rid of a “snake haunting him,” media have reported. TV Asahi said Katsumi Nagaya seriously injured his son, Takuya, on Friday at the younger man’s apartment in Anjo by head-butting and biting him after the 23-year-old began writhing around and claiming to be a serpent. Takuya was taken to hospital, but declared dead a short time later, the broadcaster said. The suspect reportedly told police he had attacked his son in order to remove the snake from his mind.
Ex-IMF chief paid maid
Disgraced former IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn paid a settlement of US$1.5 million to the New York hotel maid who accused him of sexual assault, a newspaper reported on Sunday. Citing sources close to Strauss-Kahn, Le Journal du Dimanche said Nafissatou Diallo had received the payment under a confidential deal reached to settle her civil suit against him. The newspaper said Diallo went away with about 70 percent of the sum after paying her attorneys. A judge announced the deal last month, with reports at the time suggesting Strauss-Kahn had paid up to US$5 million in the settlement. Diallo also received a payout from the New York Post, which she had sued for reporting that she worked as a prostitute.
Monti calls for reforms
Prime Minister Mario Monti launched his campaign for a second term on Sunday with a speech calling for deep-rooted reforms to kick start economic growth, four weeks ahead of a parliamentary election. “Italy needs radical reforms. Radical reforms for those who are outside protected interest groups, and for young people who cannot find work because others are over-protected,” he said at the launch of his campaign for the Feb. 24-Feb. 25 vote. Monti said he would push for a “drastic reduction” of the number of parliamentarians and a rearrangement of the state to make it “less onerous.”
Bolshoi director recovering
A top doctor yesterday said Bolshoi ballet artistic director Sergei Filin would regain sight in at least one of his eyes following a brutal acid attack last week that his coworkers blamed on infighting at the great theater. “The trend is generally positive,” Larisa Mashetova, Moscow health service’s chief eyesight specialist, said in televised remarks. “He is regaining sight faster in one eye, but I think that we are going to even things out for both. Still, the recovery process will take a lot of time.” Preliminary findings released on Sunday showed Filin’s assailant used sufuric acid in the attack, which left the 42-year-old Filin with third-degree burns to his face.
Michelle Kwan marries.
The Providence Journal reports that Kwan and Clay Pell have married in Rhode Island. The 32-year-old Kwan is the most decorated figure skater in the country’s history. She won 43 championships, the silver medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics and the bronze at the 2002 Games. Pell, a lawyer and US Coast Guard lieutenant, works on the national security staff at the White House. Kwan is a public policy envoy with the State Department
Top Kony bodyguard killed
Soldiers hunting Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) leader Joseph Kony have killed one of his top bodyguards, who earned a grim reputation for the abduction of children, an army spokesman said yesterday. The rebel, known as Brigadier Binani, was killed on Friday in a clash with troops in the dense jungles of the eastern Central African Republic close to the border with South Sudan, spokesman Felix Kulayigye said. In addition to being a top Kony bodyguard, Binani was in charge of food collection and abducting children for the infamous rebel group, but may not have been recently operating close to Kony, Kulayigye said. Kony is currently thought to be hiding out close to where the borders of the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Sudan meet.