World Digest: Dec. 12, 2013

December 12, 2013
BANGLADESH
Opposition leader hanged over 1971 war

An opposition leader convicted of war crimes during Bangladesh’s war of independence in 1971 was executed Thursday, a move that raised fears of new violence before next month’s elections.

Abdul Quader Mollah was hanged hours after the Supreme Court rejected a last-minute appeal, officials said. Mollah’s Islamic party, Jamaat-e-Islami, immediately called a nationwide general strike for Sunday.

Hundreds of people gathered at a major intersection in Dhaka, the capital, to celebrate the execution, saying it delivered justice for crimes committed four decades ago.

Mollah, 65, is the first person executed after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina launched trials in 2010 for those suspected of crimes during the country’s nine-month fight for independence from Pakistan in 1971. The government says Pakistani troops, aided by local collaborators, killed 3 million people during the war.

Most of the defendants are opposition members.

— Associated Press

SOUTH AFRICA
Interpreter at event claims hallucinations

The man accused of faking sign interpretation while standing alongside world leaders at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela in a South African stadium said Thursday that he hallucinated that angels were entering the venue, has schizophrenia and has been violent in the past.

Thamsanqa Jantjie said that his hallucinations began while he was interpreting and that he tried not to panic because there were “armed policemen around me.” He added that he was once hospitalized in a mental health facility for more than 18 months. At the same time, he claimed to have properly interpreted Tuesday’s speeches.

A deputy minister in the South African cabinet, Hendrietta ­Bogopane-Zulu, later held a news conference to announce that “a mistake happened” in the hiring of Jantjie.

However, many questions remain, including who in the government hired the company that contracted Jantjie, which has since “vanished,” according to Bogopane-­Zulu; how much the government paid the company; and Jantjie’s involvement with it.

— Associated Press

Mexican lower house approves historic energy bill: Mexico’s Congress voted to open the country’s moribund state-run oil industry to private investment after a raucous, 20-hour debate over the most dramatic energy reform in decades. The 353 to 134 vote in the lower house all but guarantees that President Enrique Peña Nieto will achieve the crowning piece of his first-year reform package, allowing the government to grant contracts and licenses to private companies to explore and drill for oil and gas. The bill must be approved by 17 of Mexico’s 31 states.

Thai protesters cut power, water to premier’s offices: Protesters in Thailand cut off electricity to the prime minister’s office compound while their leaders met with businesspeople to explain why they want to oust the caretaker government before upcoming elections. The government and the military announced that they will hold public meetings this weekend in a bid to resolve the political crisis. But the protesters insisted they would stick with their demand.

Spain says it will block Catalan independence vote: The leader of Spain’s regional government of Catalonia announced Nov. 9, 2014, as the date for a referendum on independence, but the Spanish government rejected the plan as illegal. Catalan President Artur Mas said the referendum would ask the region’s voters whether they want Catalonia to be a state and, if so, whether it should be independent.

Car bomb kills a police officer in Suez Canal city: An Egyptian police officer was killed and 35 others, including six civilians, were injured when a car blew up near their base in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia, security officials said. Militant attacks on the police and army have risen sharply in Egypt since the army ousted President Mohamed Morsi, an Islamist, in July after mass protests against him.

Top Russian court mandates review of Pussy Riot case: The Russian Supreme Court has ordered a review of the case against two women from the punk band Pussy Riot, saying lower courts failed to provide full evidence of their guilt and overlooked mitigating factors in sentencing them to two years in prison. The ruling could lead to shorter sentences for Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina; a reversal of their convictions is far less likely.

Gouged-eye Chinese boy discharged from hospital: A 6-year-old Chinese boy whose eyes were gouged out in an attack more than three months ago — police suspected an aunt, who later killed herself — was discharged from a hospital in the southern city of Shenzhen. Guo Bin was fitted with prosthetic eyes, which look and move much like normal eyes but do not restore vision, and doctors plan to fit him with navigation sensors in the summer.

— From news services

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