Family jailed for ‘exorcism’
A high court yesterday jailed three family members who suffocated their two-year-old to death by piling on top of her in a suspected exorcism ritual. Chua Wan Zuen, aged two, died after being pinned down under a blanket in August last year with eight people, including her parents, crushing her for several hours in an attempt to drive away evil spirits. A high court in Penang State ordered the parents — an engineer and a traditional herbalist — and an uncle to be jailed for one year, quashing an earlier fine of 10,000 ringgit (US$3,000) each, meted out by a lower court in August, their lawyer Ang Chun Pun said. It also overturned the conviction of the girl’s aunt, ordering her to be admitted to a mental health hospital as she was diagnosed to have been suffering from schizophrenia at the time of the girl’s death.
Abe names first female aide
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday named the nation’s first-ever female aide to the prime minister, just weeks after Caroline Kennedy arrived as the first female US ambassador to Tokyo. Makiko Yamada, a 53-year-old internal ministry veteran, will advise the conservative prime minister on policies affecting women, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.
Arson suspected at factory
Police yesterday said they were investigating a suspected arson attack at one of the country’s largest garment factories, which produces clothes for Western brands. Fires broke out at two Standard Group buildings in the industrial district of Gazipur at about 11pm on Thursday following clashes between workers and officers. The blaze in one of the plants was brought under control quickly, but the other burned throughout the night, with 15 fully laden trucks also going up in flames, senior fire officer Mahbubur Rahman said. Workers allegedly went on a rampage at the factory complex following rumors that two workers had been killed during protests for higher wages and better conditions..
Men cleared of terror threat
Two men were cleared on Thursday of endangering a Pakistan International Airways plane after a court heard that they were “idiots, not terrorists.” Mohammed Safdar, 42, and his friend Tayyab Subhani, 30, were arrested in May after their flight from the Lahore to Manchester had to make an emergency diversion to London’s Stansted Airport. Britain scrambled Typhoon fighter jets to intercept the flight. It had been claimed that Safdar, supported by Subhani, made threats to blow up the plane and kill its crew and passengers after an argument broke out with air stewards. However, the judge instructed the jury to find the pair not guilty after concluding that the case against them was “tenuous and peppered with inconsistencies.” Witnesses said that although the men acted like “idiots,” they had not made serious threats to blow up the plane. ”
Pope coins planned
On Thursday, the country moved a step closer to issuing commemorative coins to honor Pope Francis after the lower chamber of congress backed the move. “We believe that the personality, charisma and humility of Pope Francis have helped revive goodwill toward the Roman Catholic Church worldwide,” reads the bill passed by the House of Deputies. It now will go before the senate, which has been swept by papal fever since the pontiff was selected in March. The measure honoring the Buenos Aires-born Jorge Bergoglio, the first pope from the Americas, calls for a coin to be minted with the motto “Homage of the Argentine people to Pope Francis.”
Bishop’s lesson in disguise
A Mormon congregation in Utah encountered someone they thought was a homeless man at church on Sunday. However, the man was a bishop for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At least five people asked David Musselman to leave the church property, some gave him money and most were indifferent. He said he disguised himself as a homeless man to teach his congregation a lesson about compassion. “The main thing I was trying to get across was, we don’t need to be so quick to judge,” Musselman told KUTV-TV. Musselman walked to the pulpit during the service and revealed his identity, taking off his wig, fake beard and glasses.
No prison for pianist
A court has acquitted a pianist facing seven years in prison on charges of causing psychological damage and noise pollution. Public prosecutors demanded a custodial sentence for Laia Martin, 28, over her piano playing. Martin’s neighbor, Sonia Bonsom, complained she suffered anxiety from hearing eight-hour practice sessions, five days a week, between 2003 and 2007. Bonsom told the court that Martin’s practice schedule disrupted her sleep patterns and led her to develop serious anxiety issues. Prosecutors reduced their demand for jail time from seven years to 20 months. According to a written ruling issued on Tuesday, the court absolved Martin of the charges. The judge expressed disapproval that the case had gone as far as it had.
Female drivers evil: cleric
The grand mufti said a ban on women driving in the conservative Persian Gulf state protects society from “evil,” in remarks published in the press on Thursday. Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah al-Sheikh, in a speech delivered on Wednesday in the western city of Medina, said the issue of giving women the right to drive should not be “one of society’s major concerns.” The kingdom’s most senior cleric called for “the matter to be considered from the perspective of protecting society from evil,” which, according to him, included not letting women drive.
Prison for slayer of family
A businessman who butchered a Chinese family of four in Britain was told he would likely die in jail as he was sentenced on Thursday for the frenzied revenge attack. Chinese national Du Anxiang (杜安祥), 54, was sentenced at Northampton Crown Court in central England to life in jail with a minimum term of 40 years. “These were cold-blooded murders which, in my view, were premeditated and were considered acts of revenge in which you wiped out an entire family,” judge Julian Flaux said as he passed sentence. He told Du: “You will grow old, if not die, in prison.”