Hanging survivor spared
Authorities have decided to spare the life of a convicted drug trafficker who survived a hanging, media reports yesterday quoted Minister of Justice Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi as saying. The reports follow calls from within Iran and appeals from international rights groups against the man found alive in a morgue facing execution for a second time. The convict, identified only as Alireza M., 37, was pronounced dead earlier this month by the attending doctor after hanging for 12 minutes from a noose suspended from a crane at a jail in the northeast. However, the next day, staff at the mortuary in the city of Bojnourd, where his shrouded body was taken, discovered he was still breathing.
Release reporter: paper
A newspaper published a front-page call yesterday for police to free a journalist detained after reporting “financial problems” at a partly state-owned company, in a rare example of media defying authorities. The New Express tabloid, based in Guangzhou in Guangdong Province, carried the full-page editorial under the headline “Please release our man” in oversized stark black print. Its journalist Chen Yongzhou was held on Friday by police on “suspicion of damaging business reputation” after he wrote 15 articles on “financial problems” at Zoomlion, a giant engineering company. “We are a small newspaper, but we have the backbone no matter how poor we are,” the editorial said, adding it was “ashamed” for not having spoken out earlier due to fears that Chen might be maltreated. Armed police from Changsha carried out the detention in a “cross-province” operation, the editorial said.
Police charged with killings
The prosecutor-general on Tuesday ordered the trial of four police officers charged with killing 39 Muslim Brotherhood members in August after they were picked up in the crackdown that followed the military overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi. The Islamists died after teargas was fired into the back of the police van in which they were being held. The four policemen have been arrested and charged with murder and unintended injury, a security source said. Also on Tuesday, hundreds of students demanding Morsi’s reinstatement protested for a fourth consecutive day at universities in several provinces. Security forces fired teargas at supporters and opponents of Morsi in front of Mansoura University, north of Cairo, a witness said.
Rainsy supporters protest
Thousands of opposition supporters staged a demonstration amid high security yesterday over fiercely disputed elections that extended strongman Prime Minister Hun Sen’s near three-decade rule, following bloody protests last month. The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), which is boycotting parliament over the controversial July polls, said it would work with authorities to stop any clashes if there was trouble from “elements” looking to provoke unrest. “It will be completely peaceful... If there is any violence, it would not come from us,” CNRP leader Sam Rainsy said at a press conference, adding that the protest would last for three days. Thousands of riot police were deployed along the streets and at significant locations in Phnom Penh yesterday morning to meet the first major show of strength by the opposition since tens of thousands of its supporters joined three days of rallies in the capital last month. Those demonstrations left one protester dead.
Spider invasion shuts school
A school has been forced to close after being overrun by “false widow” spiders, the latest in a series of sightings of the country’s most poisonous arachnid. Dean Academy in the Forest of Dean region was to shut its doors yesterday while experts dealt with the eight-legged invaders, vice principal Craig Burns said in a statement. The spiders, which resemble the potentially deadly black widow, have colonized parts of the south for more than a century and are thought to have spread further afield in the past 25 years, according to the Natural History Museum. Their bite can cause swelling or fever.
Public rally for raped teen
A day after a special prosecutor was named to re-investigate a sexual abuse case involving a Missouri teenager, a crowd of a few hundred people braved chilly conditions on Tuesday night to show support for a girl whose story has drawn worldwide attention. The rally on Maryville’s courthouse square was organized over the Internet by a women’s rights activist from the Kansas City area who used social media to garner support for Daisy Coleman, who was 14 when she said a 17-year-old boy gave her alcohol and sexually assaulted her last year. Daisy’s story generated new attention and an outpouring of responses on social media following a Kansas City Star investigation. Melinda Coleman, Daisy’s mother, claims justice was denied when Nodaway County prosecutor Robert Rice dropped felony charges against the 17-year-old boy in March last year, two months after she found her daughter passed out on the family’s front porch in below-freezing temperatures.
Complaint hotline heats up
People who called the San Francisco City Government to complain about noise from a Nike marathon on Sunday got an earful of racy language when they were incorrectly directed to a phone sex line. City officials now say they were given the wrong number and are investigating how the mix-up occurred. The phone sex number and marathon number differed only in their prefix: 800 versus 866. City official Nancy Alfaro said the wrong number was given out for about 30 minutes before city officials were alerted. It is not clear how many people were misdirected.
Mom charged with assault
The mother of a missing five-year-old girl whose emotional appeal to find her daughter elicited nationwide sympathy was charged on Tuesday with aggravated fatal assault after further questioning led police to raise four lesser charges she was facing, prosecutors said. Fiona Bourgeon disappeared in May during what her mother, Cecile, claimed was a moment of inattention when she fell asleep on a park bench, sparking a huge police search and an outpouring of grief. However, four months later, the 25-year-old and her partner, Berkane Makhlouf, admitted they had buried the girl in a forest near the central city of Clermont-Ferrand. The circumstances of the girl’s presumed death remain unclear, and Cecile Bourgeon and Makhlouf have accused each other of violence. Cecile Bourgeon said Makhlouf had hit Fiona after a heavy drinking session, but he turned the tables on her, saying she had kicked the little girl twice in the stomach and twice in the head that night, his lawyer said. They both maintain the violence was not the cause of Fiona’s death, which was caused by some form of “domestic accident.” Makhlouf was charged with aggravated fatal assault last month.