Pricey painting goes missing
A painting that was auctioned for HK$28.8 million (US$3.7 million) on Monday has gone missing, police said, with media reports yesterday suggesting cleaners may have inadvertently thrown the artwork out. The 2012 painting Snowy Mountain by Chinese artist Cui Ruzhuo (崔如琢) was reported missing by Chinese auctioneers Poly Auction on Tuesday afternoon after the auction on Monday, police said. Ming Pao reported that police had checked CCTV footage at the Grand Hyatt hotel, where the auction took place, which showed cleaners removing the painting. That raised fears that the painting had been sent out with the garbage to the city’s landfill. Gladis Young, director of communications at the Grand Hyatt hotel, said hotel staff were not involved because organizers of events involving valuable items usually hired external staff to deal with security and handling goods.
Berlusconi faces social work
A government agency has asked a court whether former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi can serve a one-year sentence for tax fraud by working in a center for the elderly, judicial sources said on Tuesday. The 77-year-old has dominated politics in Italy for decades, but was expelled from the Senate in November last year after being convicted for tax fraud at his Mediaset television network. A four-year sentence was commuted to one. At a hearing today, judges are due to begin deliberating whether Berlusconi, who denies the tax fraud charge, should serve his time under house arrest or by doing social work. Prison was always unlikely because of the media mogul’s age and the non-violent nature of the crime. According to the proposal by the social services agency deposited with the court, Berlusconi would work just one day a week at the elderly center, judicial sources said.
Police hunt man’s identity
Police on Tuesday put out a public appeal to help identify a central European man who was found in the snow suffering from amnesia, yet understands five languages. The man in his mid-20s was found “helpless in the snow” on an Oslo street in the middle of December last year, a statement said. “The man did not possess any form of identification and did not remember his name, origin, how he ended up in Norway or any other details of his life,” it said. Police said a broad Interpol search to identify the man, who now calls himself John Smith, had so far yielded no results. The man is 1.87m tall, speaks very good English and understands Czech, Slovak, Polish and Russian.
Cop charged over images
A police officer from the squad tasked with guarding the prime minister’s Downing Street residence has been charged with sharing obscene images via his mobile phone, prosecutors said on Tuesday. The Diplomatic Protection Group (DPG) controls access to Downing Street and Scotland Yard, the police headquarters in London, and protects government ministers, former prime ministers and visiting heads of state and government. “Following a review of the evidence, we have concluded that James Addison, a police constable in the DPG, should be charged with 11 offenses,” Jenny Hopkins of the Crown Prosecution Service said. It is alleged that between February and June last year, he distributed “moving images via his mobile telephone” of an indecent nature. The maximum punishment for such an offense is a fine, up to three years in jail, or both. Addison is due to appear at in court in London on April 23.
Woman in topless rampage
A bare-breasted woman wearing only bikini bottoms was observed by security cameras vandalizing a Florida McDonald’s. In the video, which went viral on Tuesday, the woman is seen shoving cash registers onto the floor, overturning a drinks dispenser and throwing items at staff before helping herself to ice cream. Sandra Suarez, 41, entered the McDonald’s in Pinellas Park on March 24 and when an employee asked her to put on some clothes, she refused and became destructive, according to a police report obtained by the Tampa Bay Times. “She destroys it,” Pinellas Park police spokesman Sergeant Adam Geissenberger told the newspaper. The police report said she caused about US$10,000 in damage. Suarez was taken to a local hospital and was charged with felony criminal mischief and resisting arrest.
Drug complainer arrested
A Texas woman who complained to police that a drug dealer sold her a bad batch of marijuana that did not pack much of a punch has been arrested, police said on Tuesday. Evelyn Hamilton, 37, was jailed on Friday after also telling police in Lufkin, Texas, that the dealer refused to give her a refund. She was later released on US$500 bail for a drug paraphernalia charge. She had in her possession a bag with a small amount of pot, Lufkin Police Sergeant David Casper said. The person Hamilton said was the dealer has not been arrested. “We had no actual link to them at the time,” Casper said. A day after her release, the woman was again taken into custody, this time on a public intoxication charge, Casper said.
Boys check in WWI shells
Baggage screeners at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport have discovered two World War I artillery shells in checked luggage that arrived on a flight from London. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says the bags belonged to a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old who were returning from a school field trip to Europe. TSA spokesman Jim McKinney says a bomb disposal crew determined the shells were inert and no one was ever in danger. The teens told law enforcement they obtained the shells at a French World War I artillery range. It was not clear how. The teens were questioned, but not charged.
Convicts can get marijuana
Prisoners will be able to use marijuana if a doctor says it will benefit their health. Drug czar Julio Calzada said on Tuesday that any inmates with doctors’ orders will be prescribed marijuana to improve their physical or mental health. Meanwhile, Social Development Minister Daniel Olesker told a medical marijuana symposium in Montevideo that medicinal pot will be incorporated into the country’s public health system, alongside acupuncture and homeopathic remedies.
A court has handed down tough sentences of 10 to 22 years in prison to 10 defendants accused of kidnapping and forcing into prostitution a young woman whose disappearance raised global awareness about people-trafficking. The search for Marita Veron continues. The court ruled in provincial Tucuman after a new trial was ordered following not-guilty verdicts for all the defendants. Brothers Jose and Gonzalo Gomez received 22 years for kidnapping Veron. The others received lesser sentences.