Student charged with sedition
A court yesterday charged a student activist with sedition and three others, including two opposition politicians, were arrested on the same charge in what critics decried as a crackdown on dissent. Prime Minister Najib Razak pledged last year to repeal the Sedition Act, widely seen as oppressive. Critics slammed the fresh arrests under the law, believed to be in connection with calls to protest against alleged fraud during the May 5 election. Adam Adli Halim was charged under the Sedition Act over a statement made at a public post-election forum on May 13, and had been held in custody for five days until yesterday, his lawyer, Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, said. After being charged, he was released on bail. The 24-year-old is accused of calling on people to protest against the election results, Fadiah said. He pleaded not guilty to the charge, which carries a penalty of up to three years in jail.
Alleged rapist marries victim
Prosecutors are pursuing rape charges against a 40-year-old man who allegedly had sex with a 13-year-old girl and then married her. Restaurant manager Riduan Masmud was charged with committing statutory rape in a parked car in Borneo in February, but the man has defended his actions by saying he since married the girl. Riduan is already married to another woman and reportedly has four children.
Fugitive professor detained
A businessman who allegedly killed a man 16 years ago and went on the run, setting up a new life as a university professor, has been held after the victim’s brother found him, reports said yesterday. Ren Yuefeng (任岳峰) was running a restaurant in Yunnan when he had Yang Shunxiang (楊順祥) beaten to death in a dispute over counterfeit cigarette trading, the state-run Global Times said. Ren took on a false name, Ran Gengsheng (冉更升), and moved to Guiyang in Guizhou Province, where he rose to become director of the provincial office of the China Planning Research Institute, reports said. The Global Times said he was “famous among his peers,” adding: “He also worked as a guest professor in several Guizhou universities where his lectures were said to be very popular.”
Four to hang over murders
A court yesterday sentenced a lawyer and three farm workers to death over the gruesome murder of a glamorous cosmetics tycoon and her three associates. The 2010 murder of Sosilawati Lawiya, 47, her driver, lawyer and bank officer shocked the public and dominated the headlines for weeks. The four were reported missing after going to discuss a land deal with the convicted lawyer and his brother on their farm near Tanjung Sepat. A high court on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur found the four guilty on Thursday, a court official said. The charge carries a mandatory penalty of death by hanging.
Italian arrested over fraud
Authorities have arrested an Italian wanted over alleged links to a human trafficking ring which swindled about US$10 million from European taxpayers and banks, immigration officials said yesterday. Stefano Raccagni, 38, is wanted in Italy on suspicion of being part of a 12-strong Milan-based gang that smuggled people into the country to defraud tax authorities and banks. He was arrested on Tuesday in Chiang Mai, where he had settled with a Thai girlfriend since arriving in the country in 2009, police said.
Arrest angers Sinn Fein
Prosecutors have charged a 61-year-old Irishman with the 1982 attack on the queen’s cavalry in Hyde Park, a nail-bombing at a top London tourist attraction that left four soldiers and seven horses dead. Wednesday’s surprise arraignment of John Downey in a London court came on the 15th anniversary of the ratification of the Good Friday peace accord for Northern Ireland, which sought to end three decades of bloodshed over the disputed territory. Authorities declined to explain why they arrested Downey as he arrived on Sunday at London’s Gatwick Airport nearly 31 years after the attack. Sinn Fein demanded Downey’s immediate release. The Irish nationalist party accused Britain of violating an agreement not to pursue Downey, who had been on a list of suspects “on the run” from investigators. Sinn Fein official Gerry Kelly called Downey’s arrest “vindictive, unnecessary and unhelpful” and an act of “bad faith” by the British government. The party said Britain should no longer be pursuing Irish Republican Army suspects in keeping with the spirit, if not the letter, of the 1998 Good Friday pact.
Hung jury at Arias trial
Jurors in the Jodi Arias murder trial in Phoenix, Arizona, have told the judge they have been unable to reach a unanimous verdict on whether she should be sentenced to life or death. The judge sent them back to deliberate, saying they should identify areas of agreement and disagreement as they work toward a decision. The case went to the panel on Tuesday afternoon and jurors deliberated for about an hour, before adjourning for the day. They resumed on Wednesday morning. The deliberations come after Arias spoke to jurors in the penalty phase of her murder trial, asking them to spare her life. She says she would use her time in prison to bring about positive change, including helping recycle trash and raising money for victims of domestic abuse.
Tiger goes under the knife
It is not unusual for a cat to get a hairball, but a 180kg tiger needed help from veterinary surgeons when he could not hack up a soccer ball-sized hairball by himself. The 17-year-old tiger named Ty underwent the procedure on Wednesday at a veterinary center in the Tampa Bay area community of Clearwater. Doctors said in a statement that they safely removed the 1.8kg obstruction from Ty’s stomach. The tiger, which is cared for by Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation in Florida, was brought to veterinarians after not eating for nearly two weeks. Doctors said they detected the hairball using a scope with a camera.
Pigeon fetches record price
Flying high above Europe’s economic crisis, a local lightning-fast pigeon called Bolt became the world’s most expensive racing bird when his breeder sold him for 310,000 euros (US$400,000) to a Chinese businessman. One-year-old Bolt, named after the Jamaican Olympic superstar sprinter Usain Bolt, and with an outstanding pedigree of proven champions, was the latest Belgian-bred pigeon to claim a record price. Yet the sums paid surprised everyone involved in the sport, auction house Pipa said. The previous record for the sale of a single bird stood at 250,000 euros in January last year. “I was stunned by the prices offered,” Pipa chief executive Nikolaas Gyselbrecht said on Tuesday. The full auction of the Leo Heremans coop, 530 birds in all, also yielded a world record of 4.345 million euros, more than double the previous record set last year.