- The Washington Times - Friday, June 7, 2002

Hong Kong court rejects arson charges

HONG KONG Hong Kong's High Court dismissed charges yesterday against 14 of 15 mainland Chinese migrants accused of setting fire to the immigration headquarters, killing two persons and injuring 46.

Ruling that prosecutors had not presented enough evidence, Judge Azizul Rahman Suffiad dropped charges of arson and manslaughter against the 14 migrants, said Jackie Hung, a director of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese and a supporter of the migrants.

Mr. Hung said the remaining defendant, 19-year-old Lee Sai-yau, would reply to the two charges in court on Monday.

Philippines to form special forces units

CAMPO UNO ARMY BASE, Philippines The Philippine military will form special rapid-response units to take over from U.S. Special Forces in dealing with terrorists and other armed threats on a southern island that is the base of Muslim extremist rebels, a Philippine general said yesterday.

The two companies of 90 soldiers each would help maintain stability on the southern island of Basilan after the scheduled departure next month of the U.S. Special Forces at the end of their counterterrorism exercise. The U.S. and Philippine governments, however, may extend the operation.

"Our American friends will not be here forever," said Brig. Gen. Emmanuel Teodosio. "We should be ready to react to threats on our own."

Gen. Teodosio announced the plan to 80 soldiers during a visit to an army post in the Basilan coastal town of Lamitan where U.S. military advisers also were camped.

Nepalese police said to torture journalists

KATMANDU, Nepal Some journalists who have written about rebels trying to overthrow the government in Nepal have been tortured after illegal arrests under emergency rule, a New York-based media rights group said yesterday.

"We are alarmed by the arrest of journalists in Nepal who are tortured, blindfolded and even threatened with death while in custody," Josh Friedman, of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said at a news conference. "This has no place in a democracy like Nepal."

Bus bomb kills four in central Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia A bomb exploded inside a bus packed with commuters in central Indonesia, killing four persons and injuring 17, law enforcement officials said.

The explosion occurred Wednesday afternoon as the bus, which was carrying 25 persons, was heading toward Poso, the district capital of Central Sulawesi, a province with a history of violence between Muslims and Christians.

Because of the region's remoteness, it took time for the news to reach Jakarta. A sprawling nation of about 17,000 islands, Indonesia is the world's largest archipelago; Poso is about 1,000 miles northeast of the capital.

Weekly notes

Australian Archbishop George Pell of Sydney and Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne issued a written apology yesterday to victims of sexual abuse. The Catholic leaders said their goal was to move "towards healing." Japan's largest automaker, Toyota Motor Corp., plans to build a new plant in China to produce a luxury car targeting wealthy Chinese, Japan's Nihon Keizai financial daily reported yesterday.

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