- - Thursday, November 17, 2011

CHINA

Spacecraft returns from docking mission

BEIJING | An unmanned Chinese spacecraft returned to Earth on Thursday after it docked twice with an orbiting module in preparation for the country launching its own space station.

The Shenzhou 8 craft landed by parachute in China’s western desert after more than two weeks in space.

It docked twice with the Tiangong 1 module, which remains in orbit, during a mission proving China capable of successfully docking by remote control. Early U.S. astronauts did so manually.

China will conduct two more space docking missions next year, one of them manned, and plans to complete a manned space station around 2020.

At about 60 tons, the Chinese station will be considerably smaller than the 16-nation International Space Station.

China has made steady progress toward a space station since a 2003 launch that made it only the third nation to put a man in space.

Two more manned missions have followed, and China separately seeks to launch a lunar rover next year.

CAMBODIA

Genocide defendant ruled unfit for trial

PHNOM PENH | Cambodia’s U.N.-backed tribunal on Thursday ruled a former senior Khmer Rouge leader unfit to stand trial for genocide and other crimes because she has Alzheimer’s disease.

The tribunal said the illness diminishes Ieng Thirith’s mental capacity and ordered the 79-year-old defendant freed from detention. She behaved erratically at earlier court appearances, and her lawyers had requested the medical exams.

The ruling came just four days before the start of her trial with three co-defendants, one of whom is her husband, Ieng Sary, foreign minister in the late 1970s Khmer Rouge regime. He informed the tribunal last month that he intends to exercise his right not to testify.

Ieng Thirith was minister for social affairs and is accused of involvement in the “planning, direction, coordination and ordering of widespread purges” and has been charged with crimes against humanity, genocide, homicide, torture and religious persecution.

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