Man jailed for royal insult
A man was sentenced yesterday to three years and four months in prison yesterday for selling video CDs of an Australian TV news segment deemed offensive to the royal family. The court convicted 37-year-old Akachai Hongkangwan under lese majeste laws prohibiting defamation of the royal family. The VCDs contained a segment on the Australian Broadcasting Corp’s Foreign Correspondent series in 2010 that questioned the future of the monarchy. The court also fined him 66,666 baht (US$2,271) for violating copyright law. Akachai was selling the VCDs during the anti-government demonstration in Bangkok in 2010. He was arrested in March 2011 and was released on bail.
Mandela back in hospital
Former president Nelson Mandela, 94, has been readmitted to hospital with a recurrent lung infection, the presidency said yesterday. He was hospitalized “due to the recurrence of his lung infection” just before midnight on Wednesday, President Jacob Zuma’s office said in a statement. It is the second time this month that the anti-apartheid hero has spent the night in hospital and follows a nearly three-week stay in December for the lung infection and for surgery to extract gallstones. Zuma wished “Madiba,” as Mandela is fondly known in the country, a quick recovery. “We appeal to the people of South Africa and the world to pray for our beloved Madiba and his family and to keep them in their thoughts,” he said.
Yemeni executed, crucified
Authorities on Wednesday beheaded a Yemeni man and then crucified his body after he was convicted of murdering a Pakistani national, the interior ministry announced. “The Yemeni citizen Mohammed Rashad Khairi Hussein killed a Pakistani, Pashteh Sayed Khan, after he committed sodomy with him,” a statement carried by state news agency SPA said. He was also convicted of carrying out a series of attacks and robberies. The beheading brings to 28 the number of people put to death in the kingdom to date this year.
Actor Dutt to return to jail
Popular Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt said he has not sought pardon for a 1993 weapons conviction and will serve his prison sentence as ordered by the Supreme Court. Dutt broke his silence a week after the court sentenced him to five years in prison for illegal possession of weapons supplied by Mumbai crime bosses linked to a 1993 terror attack that killed 257 people. “I respect the Supreme Court’s verdict. I have not applied for any pardon,” he told reporters yesterday. Dutt broke down repeatedly while reading out a statement and hugged his sister who is a Congress party lawmaker. He said he hoped to complete as many of his pending film projects in the four weeks that the court has allowed him before he reports to prison.
Man put poison in shoes
A man who allegedly tried to kill a woman he was stalking by putting poison in her shoes was arrested yesterday, police and reports said. The woman, a colleague, did not die, but developed gangrene in part of her left foot, they said. It was not known to what extent she was injured or if she had to have any amputations. Tatsujiro Fukasawa, 40, allegedly put hydrofluoric acid in her shoes in December, a police spokeswoman and reports said. Fukusawa has denied the allegation, Jiji Press said, citing local investigative sources.
Holmes may plead guilty
James Holmes, the suspected gunman in the Aurora theater massacre, could plead guilty in exchange for escaping the death penalty, lawyers said ahead of a crucial hearing next week. “Mr Holmes is currently willing to resolve the case to bring the proceedings to a speedy and definite conclusion for all involved,” the lawyers wrote in a court filing on Wednesday, cited by The Denver Post. The defense attorneys are seeking a sentence of life in prison without parole, and say the case could be concluded next week if the plea deal is accepted. Prosecutors have not indicated whether they will accept the offer, according to the Post, which reported they have been asking victims’ relatives whether they want to press for the death penalty, or would agree to a lesser sentence.
‘Devil’s Advocate’ convicted
An Italian man known as the “Devil’s Advocate,” who said he provided legal representation to the likes of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, was not a genuine lawyer but a fraudster, a jury at a London court ruled on Wednesday. Giovanni di Stefano, 57, conned clients out of large sums of money by setting himself up as a lawyer when he had no legal qualifications and was not registered to work as a lawyer in Italy or Britain. The court heard Di Stefano had links to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden and late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic. Prosecuting lawyer David Aaronberg said di Stefano had gained a reputation which brought him “the fame, or the notoriety, that he enjoys.”
Cable thief burnt to death
A man was found hanging from a railway cable and charred to death above tracks in Paris after trying to steal the electric cable, police said on Wednesday. The discovery of the corpse, found dangling in the 18th District of Paris, had initially baffled detectives, but rail company SNCF later said the man had managed to sever a part of the railway cable, making it likely he was attempting to steal it.
Transgender bill dropped
A lawmaker who wanted to make it a crime for a transgendered person to use the bathroom for a sex that differs from their gender at birth changed the bill after a national outcry, but colleagues approved a version that protects business owners sympathetic to the idea. The new bill seeks to shield businesses from civil or criminal liability if they ban people from restrooms that do not match their birth sex. Republican Representative John Kavanagh’s bill was prompted by the recent passage of a Phoenix anti-discrimination ordinance that critics said prevented businesses from keeping transgendered people out of locker rooms, showers and bathrooms.
Battle rages over royal bones
King Richard III is at the center of a new fight over the location of his final resting place, just weeks after the remains of the last English king to die in battle were found underneath a council car park. The University of Leicester, which led the project to find and exhume Richard, was given permission to re-inter the king’s remains at the cathedral in Leicester, which is close to Bosworth in central England. However, descendants of the monarch, who was the last king of the Plantagenet Dynasty, are seeking a legal challenge to have his body laid to rest instead in York, the city with which he had close links during his life.