Murder charges dismissed
Bangkok’s Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court yesterday dismissed a case against five men, including a senior police officer, charged with murdering a Saudi businessman over the theft of US$20 million worth of jewels in 1989. The court ruled there was insufficient evidence to try the five men. The theft and subsequent disappearance of Mohammad al-Ruwaili severely strained relations with Saudi Arabia. The gems and jewelry were stolen from a Saudi prince’s palace by a Thai gardener, who shipped the loot back home. He was arrested, but he had already sold many of the gems. Saudi authorities sent Ruwaili to Bangkok to investigate the case. Three Saudi diplomats were shot execution-style in Bangkok days before Ruwaili vanished in 1990. Some of the jewels were eventually returned to their owner, but Riyadh later complained most of them were fake.
PM appears in court
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra showed up to defend herself yesterday against charges linked to a ruinous government rice pledging scheme that could lead to her removal from office. The charges were brought against her by the National Anti-Corruption Commission. Should the commission forward the case to the senate for possible impeachment, Yingluck would be suspended from official duties. It was unclear when such a decision would be made, but it could take weeks. Yingluck has been charged with dereliction of duty for her role in overseeing a government rice-buying scheme that has run up huge losses and left hundreds of thousands of farmers unpaid.
Shootout suspect nabbed
A band of robbers armed with guns and hammers shot it out with police inside one of the world’s largest shopping malls on Sunday, sending Manila shoppers scrambling for safety, police and witnesses said. Waves of police commandos in bulletproof vests and helmets and armed with assault rifles stormed the SM Mall of Asia after the gang entered a jewelry shop inside. “We were in the grocery when we heard gunshots. We ran for the door immediately and my wife nearly fell with our 10-month-old boy,” office worker Stacy Mercado, 32, said. Police said no one was seriously hurt in the firefight, and the authorities arrested one of at least four armed suspects.
Police beat protesters
Police yesterday beat anti-government demonstrators who tried to defy a ban on public demonstrations in Phnom Penh to demand a license for what would be the nation’s first opposition television channel. Several hundred supporters of Mam Sonando, a fierce government critic, came out to protest and at least two people were injured in the clash while several more were punched and kicked by security forces. Am Sam Ath, of the local rights group of Licadho, said one protester was clubbed in the head with a baton and another was punched in the eye.
Tibet nun self-immolates
A Tibetan nun set herself on fire in Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province on Saturday, British-based advocacy organization Free Tibet and US-funded Radio Free Asia said. Kalsang Gyaltsen, a lawmaker in the Tibetan government-in-exile in India, told radio station that the nun set herself alight while circumambulating a monastery. “The Tibetans who were at the scene intervened and put out the fire, and sent her to the hospital,” Gyaltsen said.