Khamis, 13 Mac 2014

The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

India court upholds death sentence for Delhi gang-rapists

Posted: 13 Mar 2014 03:58 AM PDT

NEW DELHI: An Indian court upheld Thursday the death penalty handed to four men convicted of the fatal gang-rape of a student in New Delhi, an attack that shocked the country and sparked weeks of protests.

The High Court rejected an appeal by the four who were sentenced last year to hang following a trial over the attack on the 23-year-old student on a moving bus in the capital in December 2012.

"Our appeal has been dismissed by the high court," AP Singh, a lawyer for the four, told reporters outside the court in New Delhi.

"The death sentence of the four convicts has been upheld. We will go to the Supreme Court (to appeal further)," Singh said.

"This is a politically motivated decision," he added, claiming that the judges were under political pressure ahead of the country's general elections next month.

Indian defense lawyer AP Singh (centre), representing two of the convicts of the Delhi gang rape band, talks to the media outside the Delhi high court. -EPA

The physiotherapy student was attacked by six men, including with an iron rod, after she boarded a private bus while going home from the cinema with a male friend. They were both later dumped naked and bleeding on the roadside.

She died 13 days later from the internal injuries inflicted.

The brutality of the attack, and her determination to survive long enough to identify her attackers to police, triggered large-scale angry street protests as well as soul-searching about India's treatment of women.

The case led to tougher rape and sexual assault laws and shone an international spotlight on what women's groups called a "rape epidemic" in the country.

Four of her attackers were convicted last September after the case was fast-tracked, while a juvenile was sentenced to the maximum of three years in a detention centre. A sixth man was found dead in jail in a suspected suicide.

The student's mother, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, welcomed the decision, saying the family was "inching closer to justice".

"Complete justice will be delivered when all the convicts are hanged to death," she said outside the court.

"The juvenile accused should also get the same punishment," she said.

The father said he was "satisfied" with the result, adding that he too wanted them hanged.

A small crowd gathered outside the court chanted in favour of the death penalty, saying "the rapists should be hanged to death".

The court dismissed the men's appeal as well as confirmed the death penalty handed down by the trial court, after consideration. As part of Indian legal procedure, the High Court is required to review the death penalty delivered by a lower court.

Rising from Haiyan’s ruins

Posted: 12 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

TACLOBAN: In the savage aftermath of the Philippines' deadliest storm, an exhausted young woman gave birth to a girl on a filthy floor with little more than determination to sustain them.

Emily Sagalis survived the tsunami-like ocean surges of Super Typhoon Haiyan by gripping a fence with one hand, while using the other to protect her swollen belly from chunks of metal and other fast-floating debris.

Three days later, the 21-year-old was lying on a concrete floor in labour amid broken glass, splintered wood and other wreckage of a destroyed airport building that had been turned into a makeshift medical centre.

A military doctor told a journalist who witnessed the birth – the first at the centre since the typhoon – that Sagalis' life was in danger as there were no antibiotics to treat seemingly inevitable infections.

But with the medics overwhelmed by a torrent of critically injured survivors, Sagalis was forced to leave with Bea Joy just seven hours after giving birth.

Haiyan, one of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded, claimed about 8,000 lives last November, with many people dying in the terrifying days that followed when medicines, food and water were scarce.

Sagalis and Bea Joy, however, defeated death.

"I am happy that Bea Joy is happy and healthy. That's the most important thing," Sagalis said on a recent visit to their shanty rebuilt alongside hundreds of tents provided by international relief agencies.

The home Sagalis shares with Bea Joy and her unemployed husband, Jobert, is so close to the Pacific Ocean that the grey sand beach forms the floor of their tiny kitchen and sleeping area.

It is built on the same site as their previous home in San Jose, where all the buildings were wiped out as waves generated by Haiyan powered inland.

Thousands of people have returned to San Jose and neighbouring towns to live in crudely built homes, or in white tents from the United Nations' Refugee Agency (UNHCR) that has helped lead relief efforts.

Sagalis, Jobert and Bea Joy have so far had a steady supply of food and water, thanks almost entirely to donations from foreign and local charities.

Sagalis never did suffer from infections from the cuts suffered during the storm and giving birth in unsterile conditions.

That is about where the mercies end.

Like their neighbours, Sagalis and Jobert have to continue living in San Jose as they have no money to go anywhere else and the government has yet to deliver on promises to relocate them.

Jobert was working as a delivery man in Manila when the typhoon hit. He lost his job when he decided to return home and care for his family.

Now, the family income is about a dollar a day, which Jobert earns by taking passengers in and around San Jose on a pedicab that was donated by a relief agency.

That money goes almost immediately on nappies for Bea Joy, plus some eggs and other supplements to the relief food.

Sagalis and Jobert are desperate for more, but not a lot.

"We are hoping we can have the life we had before, a normal life. We hope that we can have a new home, not like this one," Jobert said.

Asked if she felt fear then, or when she was in labour at the shattered airport compound, Sagalis shook her head in the negative and said: "I just tried to be strong for my baby." — AFP

Researchers find tumour-stunting protein complex

Posted: 12 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

RESEARCHERS at the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School have discovered a protein complex which they say can disrupt a process known to promote tumour development.

Known as dedifferentiation, the process causes tumours by leading mature cells to become ectopic neural stem cells.

These cells undergo uncontrolled growth, which eventually leads to brain tumours.

The team of researchers conducted a study using the brains of fruit flies uncovered a protein complex which can prevent the formation of ectopic neural stem cells.

The flies' neural stem cells are similar to those of humans.

The discovery will provide insight on how the tumour development process can be inhibited and also help with the "development of future cancer therapies". the school said in a statement. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network


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