Royal insult man pardoned
A Thai man who was serving a 13-year term for posting online content deemed offensive to the kingdom’s monarchy said on Friday he had been given a royal pardon and released from prison. Thantawut Thaweewarodomkul, a former administrator of the Nor Por Chor USA Web site, which has links to the “Red Shirt” protest movement, was convicted under controversial lese majeste and computer crime laws. “I was in there for three years, three months and five days. I am a bit confused by the outside world after getting used to being behind the [prison] wall,” the 41-year-old said after he was released from the high-security Bangkok Remand Prison. Under the controversial lese majeste rules, anyone convicted of insulting the Thai king, queen, heir or regent faces up to 15 years in prison on each count. The royal family is a highly sensitive subject in politically turbulent Thailand. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 85, is revered by many Thais, but has been in hospital since September 2009. Thantawut said last year that prison officials had ordered other inmates to beat him during his time in prison. Rights campaigners say the lese majeste law has been politicized, noting that many of those charged are linked to the Red Shirts, who are loyal to ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Thirty killed in school attack
Islamic extremists have killed 29 students and one teacher in an attack on a boarding school in the northeast of the country. Survivors being treated for burns and gunshots wounds say some students were burned alive in the attack before dawn yesterday on Government Secondary School in the town of Mamudo in Yobe state. As he wept over the bodies of his two boys, farmer Malam Abdullahi swore he would withdraw three remaining sons from a nearby school. He complained there was no protection for students despite the deployment of thousands of troops since the government declared a state of emergency in mid-May in three northeastern states.
Grandpa weds 22-year-old
A 92-year-old farmer married a woman 70 years his junior in a village north of Baghdad, he said on Friday, voicing happiness at getting hitched alongside two teenage grandchildren who also tied the knot. Musali Mohammed al-Mujamaie married 22-year-old Muna Mukhlif al-Juburi on Thursday evening, three years after the death of his first wife of 58 years, with whom he raised 16 children in his home village of Gubban, which lies just south of the central city of Samarra. “I am so happy to get married with my grandsons,” Mujamaie said after the ceremony. “I feel like a 20-year-old!” Mujamaie said the marriage of his two grandsons, aged 16 and 17, was repeatedly delayed while his own wedding was being arranged, so that the three could tie the knot on the same day.
Mafia boss caught: official
Police on Friday arrested an alleged boss of Italy’s Calabrian mafia, who is considered the most wanted drug trafficker in Europe, the defense ministry said. Roberto Pannunzi, who is wanted in Italy on drug trafficking charges, was detained in a Bogota shopping center with the help of the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the ministry said in a statement. “When he was captured, Pannunzi identified himself with a fake Venezuelan identification card bearing the name Silvano Martino,” it said. The statement said Pannunzi is the “chief of the ’Ndrangheta criminal organization.”