Briefs, November 22 2012

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 November, 2012, 4:08am

Boatpeople sent to PNG, says Australia

SYDNEY - Australia said it had begun sending boatpeople to Papua New Guinea as it admitted that its offshore refugee processing system was straining to cope with the number of recent arrivals. Canberra announced in August that refugees arriving by boat would be sent to two Pacific islands. Almost 400 are now held on the tiny nation of Nauru, despite criticism of conditions there as "completely unacceptable". Immigration minister Chris Bowen said the first transfer of asylum-seekers to PNG went ahead on Tuesday, with four children and 15 adults belonging to seven families from Sri Lanka and Iran sent to Manus Island. AFP

Turkey asks Nato for Patriot missiles

BRUSSELS - Turkey's government requested the deployment of Nato's Patriot surface-to-air missiles to bolster its defences along its border with Syria and prevent a spillover of the civil war in that nation, officials said. Any deployment of Nato forces needs the approval of the alliance's governing body, the North Atlantic Council. But this is seen as a formality since Nato has already said it has plans in place to protect Turkey from a spillover of Syria's civil war. Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said it would be discussed "without delay". AP

UK report finds 2,400 child abuse victims

LONDON - An extensive report has found high levels of child abuse in England, with more than 2,400 victims during a 14-month period. The Office of Children's Commission interim study also found about 16,500 children were at "high risk" of sexual exploitation based on behavioural changes. The report, which did not cover Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales, is the largest ever study of child sex abuse in England. AP

Opposition activist on robbery charge

MOSCOW - A Russian opposition activist who claimed he has been kidnapped and tortured was charged with armed robbery, the latest step in a case activists say is meant to stifle dissent against President Vladimir Putin. Leonid Razvozzhayev is accused of leading an armed robbery in the eastern Siberian city of Angarsk in December 1997. He was allegedly part of a group that burst into a businessman's apartment and stole a video camera and 500 fur hats. Razvozzhayev, who faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted, is currently in jail facing charges of organising mass riots aimed at overthrowing the government. AP

Europeans stung by dengue fever outbreak

LONDON – Europe is experiencing its first sustained transmission of dengue fever since the 1920s, with more than 1,300 people infected with the mosquitoborne disease in the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira. In a rapid risk assessment, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said 25 cases of the disease – also called “breakbone fever” due to the severe pain it causes – have been found elsewhere in Europe, in travellers returning from Madeira. Such cases have been picked up in Portugal, Britain, Germany, Sweden and France. There have been no deaths and 89 people have received hospital treatment. Reuters

Kazakh guard tries to slit wrists in court

TALDYKORGAN – The Kazakh border guard accused of killing 14 fellow servicemen and a huntsman in one of the country’s worst post-Soviet crimes has tried to slit his wrists in court. Vladislav Chelakh tore off a piece of a bench he was sitting on and attempted to slash one of his wrists with it during a hearing in Taldykorgan, southeast Kazakhstan. Chelakh – the sole survivor of the May killings at a Kazakh border post with China – had initially confessed to the murders. He subsequently retracted his statement, saying his confession had been made  under psychological pressure. A doctor said he had suffered little more than a scratch. AFP

Alarm as Afghanistan resumes executions

KABUL – Human rights groups reacted with dismay to Afghanistan’s resumption of executions after a virtual fouryear moratorium on a penalty that characterised the austere rule of the former Taliban regime. Eight men found guilty of “crimes against the people, especially women and children” were hanged and eight more were soon to meet the same fate, according to a government official. The news alarmed activists who said the return of executions in a country with a weak judiciary was a step backwards. Previously, there had been only two executions in Afghanistan in the past four years. Reuters

Military plane bursts into flames, kills 10

SANAA – A Yemeni military transport plane crashed near Sana’a airport and burst into flames, killing all 10 people on board. The plane came down in an abandoned market in the Hasaba district near the Yemeni capital’s airport after suffering a technical problem. An airport official said the Antonov plane had been on a training exercise, with seven new graduate officers and three crew members on board. The pilot reported a problem with one of the engines moments before the plane went down. Reuters