Guangzhou ending ‘laojiao’
Guangzhou will empty its hard labor camps by the end of the year, state-run media said yesterday, as some localities phase out the unpopular punishment. Critics say “re-education through labor,” known as laojiao (勞教) and which lets police issue sentences of up to four years without a trial, is open to abuse. “All [100 or so] detainees in Guangzhou labor camps will have completed their sentences and be released by the end of the year,” the China Daily reported, citing a senior judge in the city. Guangzhou is the capital of Guangdong Province, which stopped taking new re-education through labor cases in March, it added. Four cities designated as testing grounds have replaced the system with an “illegal behaviour rectification through education” program, media said earlier this year.
Obese man not deported
An overweight South African threatened with deportation because of his obesity was yesterday granted a 23-month reprieve. However, Albert Buitenhuis will not be entitled to any publicly funded healthcare over the next two years, Associate Minister of Immigration Nikki Kaye said. Buitenhuis — who weighs 130kg — appealed to the minister two months ago when his work visa renewal application was rejected because of the demands his obesity could place on the health system. When Buitenhuis and his wife moved to Christchurch six years ago, Albert topped 160kg and, until this year, his visa was renewed without any problem.
Prosecutor quits tribunal
A top prosecutor at the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal has announced that he will resign from his job next week. UN-appointed co-prosecutor Andrew Cayley said in a statement yesterday that he is resigning from the financially troubled court for personal reasons. About 140 local employees at the court have been striking to demand salaries that have not been paid for months. Cayley’s statement said he hopes the court can resolve its financial issues so the trial can proceed. A tribunal spokesman said Cayley’s departure was not expected to cause any disruptions and a temporary replacement was expected next month. The tribunal is tasked with seeking justice for atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s, when an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians died.
Russian diplomat shot dead
A Russian diplomat was shot dead yesterday by an unknown assailant in the capital of the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia, Russian state-run media said. Dmitry Vishernev, the first secretary in the consular section of the Russian embassy in Sukhumi, was shot in the head in the garage of his home at about 8:30am, state-run Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported, citing an unnamed representative of the Sukhumi Police Department.
Man captures lion in street
A passerby lured a runaway lion roaming in the upmarket Bayan District into his car and then called the police for help. Pictures in local media showed the animal glaring out of the back of a police car after it had been transferred from the passerby’s vehicle. The lion, which police said was a young adult, filled the back seat. “[The passerby] sat inside the car with the lion and then it became dangerous so the citizen called police who came and took it from that car to their car,” a police source said. Police are seeking the cat’s owner, believed to be someone who had it illegally as a pet.
Man, 107, killed in shootout
A 107-year-old man was killed in a shootout with a police Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team at a home in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where he had threatened two people with a gun, officials said on Sunday. The fatal shots were fired on Saturday night after police responded to a report that Monroe Isadore had pointed a gun at two people in the home. When police arrived at the home, they removed the two people and then entered the house to begin negotiations. Isadore shot at them through the door. The officers called for backup. Negotiations were started and SWAT officers inserted a camera into the room where Isadore was holed up. When negotiations failed, SWAT officers threw gas into the room. Isadore fired and officers entered the room. When Isadore shot at them again, the officers returned fire, killing Isadore.
Eleven killed in standoff
At least 11 people were killed and 15 injured in an armed standoff at a liquor store, rescue officials said. Rescue workers found victims dead in “hiding places,” in the store’s bathrooms and in surrounding streets, Sergio Vasquez, spokesman for the volunteer firefighters, told reporters. They arrived at the scene in the village of San Jose Nacahuil, about 25km from the capital, after getting an emergency call “and a person with a calm voice indicated there were several injured,” Vasquez said. An investigation is under way.
NAACP leader to resign
Benjamin Jealous, the leader of the nation’s largest civil rights organization, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), said on Sunday he will step down at the end of the year after five years in the job. The 40-year-old said he wants to focus on training future leaders and spend more time with his family. The former Rhodes scholar and ex-journalist has two young children. “Beginning next year, I look forward to pursuing opportunities in academia to train the next generation of leaders and, of course, spending a lot more time with my young family,” he said in a statement.
Family and friend slain
A couple, their two teenaged children and a friend were slashed to death in the city of Zapopan, police said on Sunday. Police found “the remains of five people, two adults and three minors,” all of whom had had their necks slashed, said Ernesto Ramos, police commander in the city. Neighbors heard screaming early on Sunday and spotted a van that sped away from the victims’ home, police said. The family were fruit vendors. An investigation is under way.
Man lost in Andes found
Authorities have rescued a 58-year-old Uruguayan man who had been lost in the Andes mountains since May. Raul Gomez Cincunegui was spotted at the Sardina Mountain shelter on Sunday, at an altitude of about 4,500m. Police transferred him by helicopter to a nearby hospital. Doctors said Gomez was recovering in the intensive care unit, but was “only dehydrated” and otherwise in good health, though he had signs of malnutrition. Gomez survived on sugar and raisins he had with him, as well as food stored in mountain shelters, police said. Gomez had been reported missing in May on a trip to Chile after his motorcycle broke down and he decided to cross the Andes on foot. He said he became disoriented after heavy snowfall. A search for Gomez was called off in July.