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World and nation briefs

Saturday, August 31, 2013 - 11:50 am

One convicted in fatal Delhi gang rape

NEW DELHI – An Indian juvenile court convicted a teenager of rape and murder Saturday in the first conviction stemming from the December gang rape of a young woman on a moving New Delhi bus.

The defendant, who was 17 at the time of the attack, has been sentenced to three years in a reform home, the maximum sentence he could have faced, his lawyer Rajesh Tewari said. Indian law forbids the publication of his name, though he has since turned 18.

The attack, which left the victim with such extensive internal injuries that she died two weeks later, sparked protests across the country and led to reforms of India's antiquated sexual violence laws. The government, facing immense public pressure, had promised swift justice in the case.

The convicted defendant was one of six people accused of tricking a 23-year-old woman and her male companion into boarding an off-duty bus Dec. 16 after they had seen an afternoon showing of “Life of Pi” at a upscale shopping mall. Police say the men raped the woman and used a metal bar to inflict massive internal injuries to her. They also beat her male companion. The victims were dumped naked on the roadside, and the woman died from her injuries in a Singapore hospital.

Sri Lanka seizes 250 kilos of heroin

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Sri Lankan customs agents have seized 250 kilograms (550 pounds) of heroin worth $19 million from a container sent from Pakistan, in the largest-ever seizure of the drug in South Asia, an official said Saturday.

The heroin, concealed inside 17,500 small grease cans packed into a large container sent from the Pakistani city of Karachi, was found Friday at a customs terminal in Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo, said Mali Piyasena, a customs director.

A Pakistani national and three Sri Lankans were arrested in connection to the seizure and will be handed over to the police narcotics division after the completion of a customs investigation, Piyasena said.

He said customs agents received a tip about the heroin in July and were “waiting till the importer came to clear it.”

Piyasena said it was the largest-ever haul of heroin seized in South Asia.

Mandela remains in S. Africa hospital

JOHANNESBURG – The office of South Africa's president says Nelson Mandela remains hospitalized in a critical but stable condition.

The statement from the office of President Jacob Zuma followed reports that Mandela had been released from the hospital. The update on the 95-year-old anti-apartheid hero's condition is unchanged from last week, when Zuma said Mandela showed “great resilience” although at times he was unstable.

Mandela was admitted to a Pretoria hospital June 8 with what officials said was a recurring lung infection.

Mandela spent 27 years as a prisoner under apartheid and then emerged to negotiate an end to white minority rule before becoming president in the country's first all-race elections in 1994.

Liquid ammonia leak kills 15 in Shanghai

BEIJING – At least 15 people were killed Saturday after liquid ammonia leaked from a refrigeration unit at a cold storage plant in Shanghai, the government and state media said.

The Shanghai government Information Office said the accident happened at a plant in the Baoshan district of the east coast city, and that six of the injured were in serious condition.

The official Xinhua News Agency identified the plant as Weng's Cold Storage Industrial Co. Ltd. It did not give any other details.

The Information Office said rescue work at the plant was over. The cause of the leak was not known.

Sri Lanka police dog wedding probed

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Sri Lankan police have started an inquiry into a group wedding for police dogs trained to detect explosives, after Sri Lanka's minister of culture condemned the event and demanded an investigation, a spokesman said Saturday.

The police have already apologized for the wedding earlier this week in which nine pairs of police sniffer dogs dressed in shawls, hats and socks were placed on a decorated platform like those used in traditional Buddhist weddings.

Today, police spokesman Buddhika Siriwardena said that police Chief N.K. Ilangakoon had ordered the inquiry at the request of Culture and Arts Minister T.B. Ekananayake, who said the wedding undermined traditional wedding rituals and should be strongly condemned.

Police have said the wedding was a humorous way to encourage the breeding of sniffer dogs, which are expensive to import.

The dog marriages were registered by an official in the presence of a crowd of veterinary surgeons, medical doctors, top police officers and the public at a ceremony Monday in the central town of Kandy. Local television showed the dog couples later being driven away in a decorated police jeep for their “honeymoons.”

Alaskan island area hit by quake, aftershocks

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Several aftershocks rattled a remote Aleutian Island region off Alaska in the hours after a major 7.0 temblor struck with a jet-like rumble that shook homes and sent residents scrambling for cover. At least three dozen aftershocks, including one reaching magnitude 6.1 in strength, struck after the major quake Friday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

There were no reports of damage or injuries from the earthquake, which occurred in a seismically active region. It was strongly felt in Atka, an Aleut community of 64 people, and the larger Aleutian town of Adak, where 320 people live.

The Alaska Earthquake Information Center said the primary earthquake was centered 67 miles southwest of Adak, about 1,200 miles southwest of Anchorage. Shaking lasted up to one minute. The 6.1 aftershock struck in the same general area at 10:39 p.m. Friday.

Bank robbery suspect survives 200-foot fall

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A bank robbery suspect trying to elude police searching for him in an apartment building jumped into a garbage chute and survived a 200-foot fall onto trash in the basement, police said Friday.

Robin Gutheridge, 26, plunged from the 21st floor of the Clinton Plaza Apartments, a few blocks from the Chase Bank Branch he had robbed earlier, according to Sgt. Tom Connellan.

He was conscious and told police he had climbed into the garbage chute to avoid being captured. Police estimate he fell about 210 feet before landing on garbage in a compactor at the bottom.

“He was able to slow himself down by holding the sides of chute, and the garbage may have cushioned the fall, but he did get severe injuries,” Connellan said.

Grave excavation at ex-reform school

MARIANNA, Fla. – University of South Florida researchers were to begin exhuming dozens of graves Saturday at a former reform school in hopes of identifying the buried boys and learning how they died. Researchers were to remove dirt with trowels and by hand to find the remains, which are believed to be 19 inches to 3-plus feet under the surface.

Former inmates at the reform school from the 1950s and 1960s have detailed horrific beatings that took place in a small, white concrete block building at the facility. A group of survivors call themselves the “White House Boys” and five years ago called for an investigation into the graves. In 2010, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement ended an investigation and said it could not substantiate or refute claims that boys died at the hands of staff.

Apple offers iPhone trade-in before release

LOS ANGELES – Excited about the new iPhone expected to be unveiled Sept. 10? Apple will now join others in allowing you to trade in your old model.

The company said starting Friday that it would give customers credit for functioning older models at Apple Stores. The credit can be used toward the purchase of a new iPhone, which will be activated in the store.

It didn't say how much older phones would be worth. But other brokers such as Gazelle.com offer anywhere from $10 for a working iPhone 3G to $350 for an iPhone 5 that is in pristine condition.

– From wire reports