October 31, 2018

Blasphemy ruling: The judges risking their lives

Asia Bibi: Pakistan Supreme Court's 'historic' ruling Image caption Asia Bibi's case has been hugely divisive in religiously conservative Pakistan This could have been an open and shut case. The complainants had quarrelled with Asia Bibi, and could be reasonably suspected of having dragged her to the court out of malice. The fact that a formal police complaint was lodged at least five days after the incident created further suspicions that evidence could have been fabricated. And if that were not enough, some glaring disparities emerged in the depositions of different witnesses about the specifics of what happened when, where, and in whose presence. As in many countries, Pakistan's criminal justice system puts the burden of proof on the prosecution. It applies strict rules of evidence to ensure the case is proved beyond all reasonable doubt. The slightest deficiency anywhere along the process translates into a benefit for the defendant. But, for eight years, t..
October 31, 2018

Lion Air crash: Indonesian search homes in on black box

Lion Air crash: Indonesian search homes in on black box Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionDebris found from Lion Air crash in sea A signal from the black box of the Lion Air plane which crashed on Monday with 189 people on board has been located, Indonesian rescuers believe. Indonesia's military chief said divers were trying to check the location some 30-40m (100-130ft) down in the Java Sea but had to battle strong currents. Flight JT610, a Boeing 737, went down shortly after take-off from Jakarta. No survivors have been found. Meanwhile Lion Air has sacked its technical director. The company said its dismissal of Muhammad Asif had come on the orders of the transport ministry. Representatives from Boeing are meeting Indonesian officials on Wednesday as part of the investigation. How could a brand new plane crash? Mourning siblings and mystery couple on ill-fated plane How likely are you to survive a plane crash? Air disasters timeline There is no indicatio..
October 31, 2018

Asia Bibi: Imran Khan attacks hardliners over court case

Asia Bibi: Imran Khan attacks hardliners over court case Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionAsia Bibi's escape from Pakistan death row Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan has attacked hardliners and appealed for calm after the acquittal of a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy. In a televised broadcast, Mr Khan said hardliners were "inciting [people] for their own political gain", claiming they are "doing no service to Islam". The landmark Asia Bibi case has already set off violent protests by hardliners who support strong blasphemy laws. Her lawyer has told the BBC she would need to move to abroad for her safety. Asia Bibi was convicted in 2010 after being accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad in a row with neighbours. She always maintained her innocence, but has spent most of the past eight years in solitary confinement. Pakistan's 'historic' Asia Bibi ruling Why Pakistan's Christians are targeted Wednesday's verdic..
October 31, 2018

Jin Yong: The ‘Tolkien of Chinese literature’ dies at 94

Jin Yong: The 'Tolkien of Chinese literature' dies at 94 Image copyright Reuters Image caption Mr Cha is a legend in the Chinese literary world He's been referred to as the JRR Tolkien of Chinese literature and the grandfather of martial arts novels - but very few people have heard of him outside the Chinese-speaking world. Novelist Louis Cha, who wrote under the name Jin Yong, died on Tuesday at a hospital in Hong Kong at the age of 94. He had become a household name across many Chinese-speaking parts of Asia, having sold millions of books and inspiring a whole genre of TV shows, comics and even video games. "I don't think there's another writer that's been read by more people [in the Chinese-speaking world], period," Eileen Chow, a visiting associate professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Duke University in North Carolina, told the BBC. "Like JRR Tolkien, his writing has really endured." A career stalled by Cultural RevolutionMr Cha was born ..
October 31, 2018

Australian awarded house in ‘bizarre’ 20-year squatting case

Australian awarded house in 'bizarre' 20-year squatting case Image copyright ABC Image caption Mr Gertos discovered the house was empty in 1998 Two decades ago, Australian property developer Bill Gertos found a house sitting empty in Sydney. So he changed the locks, repaired the property - and began leasing it to tenants. Now Mr Gertos has won a legal battle to be declared the official owner of the house - which is estimated to be worth A$1.6m (£0.9m; $1.1m). It followed a court battle with descendants of its previous owner. Mr Gertos was granted ownership under a law recognising squatters' rights. Squatting is when someone occupies an empty or abandoned property which they don't own or rent, and without the owner's permission. In New South Wales, squatters can be awarded ownership if they have occupied a property for more than 12 years. The court granted Mr Gertos those rights because he had repaired and maintained the property since 1998. Australian media ou..
October 31, 2018

Japan bullet train stops ‘scary’ safety drills

Japan bullet train stops 'scary' safety drills Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Japan has one of the world's most reliable railways and is known for its Shinkansen bullet trains A Japanese railway firm has stopped an unusual training drill that required employees to crouch in tunnels while trains rushed past to "feel" the wind speed. The West Japan Railway said the exercises were designed to improve safety awareness. Trainee mechanics observed the trains which can hit speeds of 300km per hour. The move to stop the practice, in place since 2016, comes after rising union pressure. Japan is known for its high-speed rail network where bullet trains, or Shinkansen, snake across the country at hundreds of kilometres per hour. Participants in the safety training would crouch down in a trench, in-between two sets of train tracks, as bullet trains whizzed by. Squatting in the ditches - which are around one metre deep and one metre wide - allowed the workers to "feel"..
October 31, 2018

India unveils the world’s tallest statue

India unveils the world's tallest statue Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionStunning visuals of the world's tallest statue India has unveiled the world's tallest statue, which cost 29.9bn rupees (£330m; $430m) to build. The 182m (600ft) high structure in the western state of Gujarat is a bronze-clad tribute to independence leader Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the "statue of unity" would serve as a major tourist attraction. But some see this as a wastage of public money and argue that the funds could have been put to better use. Mr Modi, who unveiled the statue at a grand inaugural event, said it is "a symbol of India's integrity and resolve." Air Force planes showered flowers on the statue, which was designed by decorated Indian sculptor Ram V Sutar. The Gujarat government is reported to have paid more than half of the funds for the statue, while the remainder came from the federal government or public donat..
October 31, 2018

Maori ceremony for duke and duchess as royal tour ends

Maori ceremony for duke and duchess as royal tour ends Image copyright Reuters The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have donned traditional Maori cloaks during a welcome ceremony in New Zealand on the final day of their overseas tour. Prince Harry was handed a carved weapon during the visit to Tamatekapua Meeting House in Rotorua in which he gave a speech partially in Maori. Hundreds of people turned out in the town for the couple's last walkabout. The duke and duchess visited the Redwoods Tree Walk - their 76th and final engagement of the 16-day visit. They have also been to Australia, Tonga and Fiji during their first overseas trip as a married couple. In pictures: Harry and Meghan's first tourAt the welcome ceremony, the duke and duchess both exchanged Maori "hongi" greetings with well-wishers - pressing their nose and forehead together. They were given Korowai cloaks, inspired by the Sussexes own coat of arms and featuring blue, gold, white and red silk. The Duke of Sussex wa..
October 31, 2018

Asia Bibi: Pakistan acquits Christian woman on death row

Asia Bibi: Pakistan acquits Christian woman on death row Image caption Asia Bibi's case had been hugely divisive in religiously conservative Pakistan A Christian woman who was sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy has won her appeal and been acquitted in a landmark ruling. Asia Bibi was convicted in 2010 after being accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad in a row with her neighbours. She always maintained her innocence, but has spent most of the past eight years in solitary confinement. Her acquittal is widely expected to spark protests in Pakistan, where there is strong support for the laws. There is high security in the capital, Islamabad, amid fears of violence. Hardline religious clerics have called on their supporters to take to the streets. The ruling was read out by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar at the Supreme Court in Islambad. "The appeal is allowed. She has been acquitted. The judgement of high court as well as trial court is reversed. Her conviction is set as..
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