Briefs, February 5, 2013

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 February, 2013, 3:07am

Life sentence for dissident in Vietnam

BANGKOK - A Vietnam court sentenced a man to life in prison and gave jail terms of up to 17 years to other defendants after they were found guilty of subversive activities, state-run television announced yesterday. The People's Court of Phu Yen province gave a life sentence to Phan Van Thu, head of a group that wanted to establish a new government in Vietnam, the television bulletin said. Thu spent time in prison for anti-government activities in the late 1970s. The verdict follows a series of harsh punishments handed down for dissent in the communist-ruled country. Reuters


Rebels attack Abu Sayyaf in Philippines

MANILA - A Muslim rebel group said it attacked Abu Sayyaf gunmen after the al-Qaeda-linked militants refused to free hostages, sparking fierce jungle clashes that left up to 22 combatants dead in the southern Philippines. There was no word on whether the hostages were hurt in the fighting, but they remained in the grip of Abu Sayyaf, police said. Rebel commander Khabir Malik of the Moro National Liberation Front, which has an autonomy deal with the government, said his group decided to attack after negotiations collapsed on the release of several hostages. AP


Sri Lanka PM in U-turn over Tamil autonomy

COLOMBO - Sri Lanka's president yesterday ruled out giving Tamils greater political autonomy, appearing to back away from his long-stalled promise to empower the ethnic minority as part of the country's reconciliation process following a bloody quarter-century civil war. President Mahinda Rajapaksa made his about-face despite growing international pressure to compromise with the minority and to investigate allegations of war crimes. AP