- The Washington Times - Friday, April 23, 2010

KOREA

South warned of North sub attack

SEOUL | Military intelligence officers warned earlier this year that North Korea was preparing a suicide submarine attack on a South Korean vessel in retaliation for an earlier defeat in a sea battle, a newspaper said Thursday.

There has been growing speculation that North Korea was behind the March 26 explosion that split the 1,200-ton Cheonan in two and sank it, killing at least 39 people and leaving seven missing.

Seoul has not directly blamed Pyongyang for the blast, and the North has denied involvement, but suspicion remains given the country’s history of provocation and attacks on the South.

On Thursday, the mass-circulation Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported the Korea Defense Intelligence Command alerted the navy weeks ahead of the ship sinking that North Korea was preparing underwater suicide teams in mini-submarines to attack the South.

CHINA

Tycoon stands trial on graft charges

BEIJING | The former head of a top appliance chain who was once China’s richest person went on trial Thursday nearly two years after being detained on charges of insider trading and bribery.

The trial of Huang Guangyu, founder of the Hong Kong-listed GOME chain of home appliance and consumer electronics stores, opened in Beijing, a court official told Agence France-Presse.

Mr. Huang, believed to be in his early 40s, disappeared into police custody in late 2008 and was charged in January 2009 with “illegal business practices,” including insider trading and bribery, state press reports said earlier.

Xinhua news agency said Mr. Huang is being charged with offering bribes of up to $667,600 to a number of officials.

PHILIPPINES

Jail chief punished for warlord’s briefing

MANILA | A jail warden has been suspended after allowing a Muslim warlord standing trial for the Philippines’ worst political massacre to hold a bizarre jailhouse news conference, officials said Thursday.

The interior department said the warden had been relieved of his duties amid an investigation after the defendant, Andal Ampatuan Jr., spoke to the media outside his jail cell on Tuesday.

Spokesmen for the department said the warden, Senior Inspector Lloyd Gonzaga, may have violated procedures for allowing the press conference, which generated outrage from the relatives of the massacre victims.

The warden will be suspended until the results of the investigation are known, the spokesmen said.

Mr. Ampatuan is charged with murder over the massacre of 57 people in the southern province of Maguindanao in November that prosecutors say was aimed at preventing a rival from running against him in the May 10 elections.

CHINA

Human rights lawyers fight for their jobs

BEIJING | Two Chinese human rights lawyers battled to keep their working licenses Thursday after their defense of a Falun Gong practitioner a year ago, in a case that has caused concern among rights groups.

Tang Jitian and Liu Wei attended a hearing in Beijing over the proposed revocation of their licenses for “disrupting court order and interfering with the normal conduct of litigation activities.” No decision was announced.

The accusations came after they represented a practitioner of Falun Gong - the spiritual movement labeled illegal and “evil” in China - last April in the southwestern province of Sichuan.

Both lawyers walked out of the courtroom after they felt they could not go on with their defense due to constant interruption by the judge, who was apparently being directed by a man in the courtroom using eye contact, Mr. Tang told Agence France-Presse.

INDONESIA

Cigarette sponsor pulled from pop singer’s show

JAKARTA | Pop star Kelly Clarkson’s upcoming concert in Indonesia will no longer be sponsored by a cigarette company, the promoter said Thursday after protests from fans and anti-tobacco groups.

Miss Clarkson, the first winner of “American Idol,” had previously said that while she was surprised to learn that billboards announcing her April 29 concert in Jakarta were prominently branded with the logo of the popular cigarette L.A. Lights, the show would go on with the controversial sponsorship.

“I refuse to cancel on my fans,” she wrote in a posting on her blog. She added that she’s not a smoker and does not advocate it.

Though Miss Clarkson initially indicated that the sponsorship could not be pulled, promoter Adrie Subono said that his company Java Musikindo had reached a “final agreement” with cigarette company Djarum, the maker of L.A. Lights, and the sponsorship had been canceled. He said it would take one or two days to remove all the billboards and pull other advertisements, including those on TV.

Djarum has declined to comment.


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