Briefs, March 13, 2013

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 March, 2013, 4:27am

Open hearing in case of 'Canadian Psycho'

MONTREAL - A preliminary hearing in the grisly murder and dismembering of a Chinese man allegedly by a former porn actor dubbed the "Canadian Psycho" will remain open to the public, a judge ruled yesterday. Lawyers for Luka Rocco Magnotta, 30, had asked for a closed-door hearing at the start of the pre-trial proceedings on Monday. The judge denied the motion, saying a routine publication ban on evidence presented during the hearing, expected to last at least 12 days, is sufficient to guarantee a fair trial. AFP

Judge enters plea for Colorado gunman

CENTENNIAL, US - The judge in the deadly Colorado shooting case entered a not guilty plea on behalf of defendant James Holmes after his lawyer said he was not ready to enter a plea. The judge said Holmes can change his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity later if he chooses. Holmes sat silently at yesterday's hearing with unruly hair and a thick beard. AP

Bulgaria's interim PM aims to calm protests

SOFIA - Bulgaria's new interim prime minister Marin Raikov pledged to retain fiscal discipline with a cabinet of professionals aiming to maintain market confidence and placate protesters ahead of May 12 elections. President Rosen Plevneliev's choice of Raikov and other independents as ministers is designed to prove to protesters that there has been a clean break with a political class they view as corrupt. Reuters

No bail for accused South African officers

BENONI, South Africa - A South African court refused bail for nine policemen accused of dragging a Mozambican taxi driver behind their van and then beating him to death in custody. "I do not think it's in the interest of justice that they be released on bail," said Magistrate Sam Makamu, indicating that the group could threaten witnesses. The ruling came after three days of hearings into the killing of Mido Macia, 27. AFP

Iran leader faulted for hugging Chavez's mum

TEHRAN - Senior Iranian clerics criticised President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for consoling Hugo Chavez's mother with a hug - a physical contact considered a sin under the country's strict Islamic codes. The controversy follows a widely published photo showing the embrace at the late Venezuelan president's funeral. Iranian papers cited clerics from the religious centre of Qom who described the contact as "forbidden behaviour. AP

Meteorite-wary Russia plots anti-asteroid plan

MOSCOW - Russian officials proposed ideas ranging from planting beacon transmitters on asteroids to megaton-sized nuclear strikes to avert the threat from meteor collisions with the earth. Russian space agency chief Vladimir Popovkin told a special conference at the upper house that Russia was closely following the asteroid Apophis, due to come close to the earth in 2036. A meteor exploded over the Urals last month. AFP

Suspect refuses to help with Litvinenko inquest

MOSCOW - The chief suspect in the polonium poisoning of Russian dissident and ex-security agent Alexander Litvinenko said he would take no part in the British inquest into the death, blaming London's decision to keep some sensitive material a secret. Russian lawmaker Andrei Lugovoi said his legal representatives would no longer take part, claiming that he had lost faith in the British justice system. AFP