Briefs, November 24, 2012

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 November, 2012, 3:27am

Aide of sacked Russian defence minister held

MOSCOW - A close associate of a former Russian defence minister was placed under house arrest yesterday on charges of defrauding the state. Yevgeniya Vasilyeva, the 33-year old former head of the Defence Ministry's property department, is accused of stealing more than 360 million rubles (HK$89.5 million) in a scheme that involved the sale of the military's prized land plots and real estate. He faces up to six years in prison if convicted. AP

Pussy Riot prisoner isolated after threats

MOSCOW - Jailed Pussy Riot punk protester Maria Alyokhina has been moved to a single cell at her own request because of tensions with fellow inmates, Russia's prison service said. Alyokhina, 24, is serving a two-year sentence for carrying out a raucous protest against President Vladimir Putin in Moscow's main Russian Orthodox cathedral. The Life News website said she had received violent threats. Reuters

Power of One author Courtenay succumbs

CANBERRA - Best-selling Australian author Bryce Courtenay, who wrote about the struggles of life in Australia and South Africa, died at his home in Canberra two weeks after his latest novel was published. His death late on Thursday came less than three months after he told fans he had stomach cancer. He was 79. Courtenay's debut, The Power of One, sold more than eight million copies and was made into a movie. Reuters

Berry's ex-boyfriend arrested over assault

LOS ANGELES - Halle Berry's former boyfriend Gabriel Aubry has been arrested for investigation of battery after he and the Oscar-winning actress' current partner got into a fight during America's Thanksgiving holiday. Los Angeles police said Aubry went to Berry's house on Thursday and there were reports of an assault. Police say Aubry was injured and taken to a hospital. AP

Swedish serial killer sentenced to life in jail

STOCKHOLM - A Swedish gunman convicted of two murders and five attempted murders has been sentenced to life in prison for a spate of shootings that mainly targeted immigrants in the southern city of Malmo. The court also ordered 40-year-old Peter Mangs to pay 1.2 million kronor (HK$1.39 million) in damages to survivors and their families. The court had already found Mangs guilty in July. AP

Army chief accused of arming Congo's rebels

GOMA - President Joseph Kabila said he was suspending the chief of staff of Congo's army after the publication of a UN report that alleges General Gabriel Amisi has overseen a criminal network selling arms to rebel groups. This week, the M23 rebel group seized the important, eastern city of Goma in a humiliating defeat to Kabila's government in the Democratic Republic of Congo. AP