Court fines anti-Korea group
The Kyoto District Court yesterday ordered a group of anti-Korean activists to pay a pro-Pyongyang Korean elementary school in southern Kyoto ￥12 million (US$120,000) in compensation for disturbing classes and scaring children by holding “hate speech” rallies outside the school. Judge Hitoshi Hashizume said the hateful language used by members of the group Zaitokukai during the rallies was illegal. The landmark ruling stated for the first time that the insults used in the rallies constituted racial discrimination, human rights experts said, and could prompt a move to exempt hate speech from the constitutional right to free speech. Yesterday’s ruling also banned the group from staging further demonstrations around the school, court spokesman Naoki Yokota said. Zaitokukai, which boats more than 10,000 members, said it was protesting the school’s use of a park without permission. They also say that they protest against the “privileges” given to Koreans and that slurs against them are part of “freedom of expression.”
German killed in Yemen
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed yesterday that a security official at its embassy in Yemen has been killed, but denied reports of an attempted kidnapping of its ambassador. “We must unfortunately confirm that a German security official who was employed at the embassy in Sana’a was killed in Yemen,” a ministry spokeswoman said in a statement about Sunday’s incident. An earlier report had said Ambassador Carola Mueller-Holtkemper had been the target of a failed kidnap attempt, but the ministry told reporters that she was outside of Yemen at the time. On Sunday, a Yemeni security official and witnesses said gunmen in a vehicle opened fire and shot dead the ambassador’s bodyguard as he was leaving a store in Hada District, where foreign embassies are located.
Dozens killed by lightning
At least 32 people, including nine children, were killed over the weekend by lightning strikes in the eastern Bihar and Jharkhand states, officials said yesterday. “About 24 people, including seven children, were killed Saturday and Sunday by bolts of lightning across Bihar,” Bihar State Minister of Disaster Management Renu Kumari Kushwaha said. In Jharkhand, eight people died, including two children, said Puran Mahto, an official in Dhanbad District. Although lightning strikes during the June-to-October monsoon season are common, the weekend toll was unusually high.
Opposition TV station burned
Unidentified attackers set fire to the main pro-opposition television network yesterday ahead of a crucial court ruling on whether suspended presidential elections should go ahead, officials said. At least six men stormed the offices of the Raajje television network in a pre-dawn attack and set fire to equipment after assaulting an unarmed guard. “All broadcast equipment, transmission equipment, computer systems fully burnt and destroyed,” the station said on its Twitter feed. The police force, which has been accused of heavy-handed tactics when dealing with protesters demanding elections in recent weeks, said they were treating the incident as an arson attack. The country has been wracked by occasionally violent protests since Sept. 23, when the Supreme Court suspended a run-off election for which former president Mohamed Nasheed was the frontrunner.