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Stiff sentences urged for Christian defendants

JAKARTA — Indonesian prosecutors pushed yesterday for between 15- to 20-year sentences for 17 Christians charged under anti-terror laws for the slayings of two Muslims by a mob angry about the execution of Christian militants last year.

The defendants were part of a gang that was charged with killing a Muslim fishmonger and his assistant in the Poso region of Sulawesi island, a Christian pocket of predominantly Muslim Indonesia.

Thousands protested last September’s executions, arguing the punishment for the three militants convicted of leading a mob that killed hundreds of Muslims in a boarding school in 2000 was unjust.


Rare manta ray dies in aquarium

TOKYO — A nearly 6-foot baby manta ray thought to have been the world’s first one bred in captivity was found dead in a tank at a Japanese aquarium yesterday, just a few days after it was born.

The baby manta’s death may have been caused by harassment and injury by its father, according to a statement by the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium.

Scientists know little about the life of manta rays, which can grow to 22 feet or more as adults, and had hoped the details of the yearlong pregnancy and birth would add valuable scientific data to studies of the species.

From wire dispatches and staff reports