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CentralWorld arson teens win acquittals

Posted by arnon_k On December - 13 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

The Juvenile Court has acquitted two youths of carrying out an arson attack on CentralWorld and the Zen department store during the 2010 riots.

Their lawyer, Chokechai Angkaew, said the court acquitted them for lack of evidence.

Prosecutors filed the case on Sept 7, 2010 against the young men, then aged 16 and 17, accusing them of setting fire to CentralWorld on May 19 of that year during the military crackdown on red-shirt protesters.

“The arson charge was added afterward,” Mr Chokechai said. “Pathumwan police had laid only theft charges during their arrest. No arson materials were found.”

Prosecutors alleged the pair committed the crime together with two other men identified as Saichon Phaebua and Pinij Channarong, who are being tried on the arson charge in a separate court.

Warrants have been issued for another five suspects.

The two young men were also acquitted in October of the theft charge, along with seven other adults.

The fire and thefts caused damage of more than 8 billion baht.

One youth said after the ruling he was glad to see justice was done but would like authorities to be more careful before filing charges against innocent people.

“Our futures have been shattered and we’ve been stigmatised as arsonists, which is untrue,” he said.

The other juvenile defendant said he would not be happy until the prosecutor decides not to appeal against the theft and arson rulings. The prosecutor has sought an extension of the appeal deadline.

The youngsters said they wanted to lead normal lives with job and education possibilities. “It’s been quite difficult and we’ve been sort of begging [for help] throughout these years,” they said.

CentralWorld shopping centre was set on fire after leaders of the red-shirt protest surrendered to police on May 19, 2010.

1,200 South schools halt classes

Posted by arnon_k On December - 13 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Fresh teacher killings by militants spur move

Teachers at 1,200 schools in the deep South have decided to suspend classes today and tomorrow following a spate of attacks by insurgents.

The Confederation of Teachers in the Southern Border Provinces (CTSBP) decided to suspend classes after meeting school administrators Wednesday.

The closure of all schools in 10 secondary educational service areas will allow security forces to review their performance, lay out plans to protect teachers, and hunt down the assailants, Boonsom Tongsriprai, the confederation chairman, said.

The confederation called an urgent meeting with school administrators in Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat yesterday after a fresh insurgent attack on teachers earlier this week.

On Tuesday, five armed men entered Ban Ba-ngo school in Pattani’s Mayo district and opened fire, killing the school director and a teacher.

Last week, one female teacher was also killed and a male teacher seriously injured in attacks in Narathiwat.

Mr Boonsom said security plans to better protect teachers must be rolled out by Monday.

The group also called for the transfer of both Muslim and Buddhist teachers in high-risk areas to safer locations.

Schools are expected to resume class on Monday if the demands are met, Mr Boonsom said.

The teachers would take further action if nothing is done, he said, without elaborating.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said she will travel to Pattani today to gather first-hand information as well as give support to people affected by the violence.

The government has approved the deployment of more police in the South but this was not sufficient to solve the shortage of security staff there.

State agencies must stand ready to provide manpower and equipment to ensure public safety, Ms Yingluck said.

The prime minister will be briefed on the situation on her arrival in the deep South at Pattani City Hall this morning.

She will meet members of the Women’s Development Fund and other groups at CS Pattani Hotel in the afternoon before travelling to Bang Lang Dam in Yala to preside over the inauguration of a bridge across the dam.

Paradorn Pattanathabutr, secretary-general of the National Security Council, said more than 4,000 police will be deployed gradually to the troubled region by April next year to help ease the shortage of manpower there.

Thongthong Chandrangsu, the permanent secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office, said a new working group will be created to work on education programmes for the far South.

Piya Kijthavorn, deputy secretary-general of the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre, said the agency will propose the Education Ministry encourage university graduates from the region to teach in the far South.

The Yala-based 12th Regional Education Office said 124 teachers and 34 education staff have been killed in the violence between Jan 7, 2004 and Dec 11 this year.

Meanwhile, a villager, Siteerohema Sama, 70, who was injured in a tea shop attack in Narathiwat’s Rangae district a couple of days ago, has died from his injuries, taking the death toll from Tuesday’s attack to six.

A combined force of 60 security officers yesterday combed Ba Ngoyare and Ba Ngolubo villages in Rangae district to hunt for the gunmen.

Sawawi Putae, 20, was caught during the raid after authorities discovered he was wanted for the theft of a pickup truck on Oct 18 in Yala’s Bannang Sata district.

Officials believe the vehicle was to be used to make a car bomb for an attack in the deep South.

In other news, a young man was found shot dead on a local road in tambon Na Tham, Muang district of Yala yesterday morning.

Police said Abdul-Hafiz Sueni, 24, was found lying face down under his motorcycle. He had been shot twice to the body.

They believe he was shot while riding a motorcycle from his friend’s house in the municipal area.

Internet connection fees cut by operators

Posted by arnon_k On December - 12 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Myanmar’s Red Link Communications, the service provider for WiMax, has reduced the initial fees for WiMax Internet connection and plans to cut the monthly fees in early 2013.

Initial fees for WiMax Internet connection has been reduced from 630,000 kyats (about Bt22,800) to 450,000 kyats, while monthly fees and the plan rates currently remain the same, according to the sources.

Red Link is selling WiMax with the initial fees of 360,000 kyats in a single promotion event on February 2, 2013, and the company plans to waive initial fees in 2015, according to representatives from Red Link Company.

The company has six types of WiMax service plans, which are Silver, Gold, Gold Plus, Platinum, Platinum Plus and Diamond. Monthly fees are charged depending on speed and usage quota. .

All Fees should be paid in the US dollars equivalent to market exchange rate in kyats.

Internet users can also use prepaid cards and the company is using data usage plan for the prepaid system. The prices vary with different usage plans, for instance, 16,000 kyats for 1GB and 27,000 kyats for 2 GB.

Other network operators have also reduced fees. Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications has reduced the initial fees for ADSL internet lines from 500,000 kyats to 50,000 kyats, and Yatanarpon Teleport has also reduced the fees from 500,000 kyats to 100,000 kyats.

Typhoon-hit Philippines appeals for help

Posted by Nuttapon_S On December - 10 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Government and UN ask international community to help the victims of Typhoon Bopha, as death toll rises to nearly 650.

The Philippine government and the United Nations are launching a global appeal to help the victims of Typhoon Bopha, as the toll continues to climb, while hundreds of people are still missing after the storm devastated the south of the country.

At least 650 people are killed, while millions are left homeless and in desperate need of food aid and other basic goods, the country’s disaster chief in Manila told Al Jazeera.

Benito Ramos said that 647 bodies had been found and 900 people were still missing, including hundreds of fishermen.

Rescuers continued searching for bodies or signs of life under tonnes of fallen trees and boulders in the worst-hit town of New Bataan, where rocks, mud and other rubble destroyed landmarks, making it doubly difficult to search places where houses once stood.

“This is a scale the Philippines has not previously seen, we’re talking about tens of thousands of homes destroyed across southeast Mindanao,” Joe Curry of Catholic Relief Service told Al Jazeera.

“People live in fragile housing and when storms like this hit … it wipes out entire communities.”

Hundreds of refugees, rescuers and aid workers took a break on Sunday to watch the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez fight on a big TV screen, only to be dismayed by their hero’s sixth-round knockout.

Nearly 400,000 people, mostly from Compostela Valley and nearby Davao Oriental province, have lost their homes and are crowded inside evacuation centres or staying with relatives.

Missing fishermen

Families and fishing companies reported losing contact with more than 300 fishermen at sea.

Ramos said the authorities were unprepared for the unprecedented weather in those areas worst affected, and that it was struggling to cope with the disaster.

“Right now, we have some international organisations and governments assisting us, but our supplies are still insufficient at this moment,” he said.

The fishermen from southern General Santos city and nearby Sarangani province left a few days before Bopha hit the main southern island of Mindanao on Tuesday, causing deadly flash floods.

Ramos said the fishermen were headed to the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea and to the Pacific Ocean and there had been no contact from them for a week.

He said the coast guard, navy and fishing vessels had launched a search.

Benigno Aquino III, the Philippine president, declared a state of national calamity on Friday, which allows for price controls on basic commodities in typhoon-affected areas and the quick release of emergency funds.

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