While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Jan 3 edition

Military police officers track fugitives after a riot in a prison in Manaus, Amazonia state, Brazil on Jan 2, 2017.
Military police officers track fugitives after a riot in a prison in Manaus, Amazonia state, Brazil on Jan 2, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

60 inmates killed, many beheaded, in Brazil riot: officials

Rioting inmates in Brazil decapitated and brutally assaulted their rivals, killing at least 60, when fighting erupted between two gangs at a prison in the Amazon region, officials said Monday.

The 17-hour riot broke out Sunday afternoon and lasted through the night at a prison on the outskirts of Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state, said state public security secretary Sergio Fontes.

He called it "the biggest massacre" ever committed at a prison in the state.

Police were only able to restore order on Monday morning, freeing 12 guards who had been taken hostage, he said.


Israeli police question Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over alleged gifts - media

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the Knesset (Israel's Parliament) in Jerusalem on Jan 2, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

Police investigators began questioning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his official residence in Jerusalem on Monday (Jan 2, 2017) on suspicion of receiving gifts from businessmen in breach of his role as a public servant, Israeli media said.

The move was authorised by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who decided after a preliminary inquiry that there was enough evidence to open a criminal investigation, Haaretz newspaper reported.

Israeli media said the questioning by senior police investigators began on Monday evening, was expected last several hours and would almost certainly be followed by more interrogation.


Pope Francis tells bishops to have zero tolerance for sexual abuse of children

Pope Francis waves from a window at the Vatican on New Year's Day 2017.PHOTO: EPA

Pope Francis has told bishops around the world they must adhere to a policy of zero tolerance for clergy who sexually abuse children and begged forgiveness for "a sin that shames us".

In a letter sent on Dec 28 but released by the Vatican only on Monday, Francis said: "I would like us to renew our complete commitment to ensuring that these atrocities will no longer take place in our midst."

Since his election in 2013, Francis has taken some steps to root out sexual abuse in the Church and to put in place practices to protect children. But victims' groups say he has not done enough, particularly to hold to account bishops who tolerated sexual abuse or covered it up.


Cambodia seeks three behind photoshopped image of king

Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni and his mother former queen Monique (centre right) walk at the railway station in Phnom Penh on Dec 30, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

Cambodian police said they are seeking three suspects, including one believed to be in Thailand, over an offensive photoshopped image online of the country's king that placed him in a gay porn scene.

The image, which appeared on some Facebook accounts in both Cambodia and Thailand this week, is a rare public insult aimed at King Norodom Sihamoni, a monarch who is largely respected and deemed above the country's political fray.

While insulting the king is technically illegal in Cambodia, it is rarely prosecuted and does not carry the notoriously stiff penalties seen in neighbouring Thailand where critics of the monarchy have seen decades-long jail sentences handed down.


India court bans politicians from using religion, caste to win votes

A Sikh man takes a holy dip in the sacred pond of the Golden Temple on the first morning of the new year in Amritsar, India, on Sunday.PHOTO: EPA

 India's top court on Monday (Jan 2, 2017) banned politicians from using religion and caste to win votes, weeks ahead of crucial state polls where such affiliations dominate campaigns.

The Supreme Court panel ordered that voting must remain a secular activity and that candidates using religion or caste on the campaign trail would be barred from contesting polls.

The country is officially secular but politicians, including from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have been accused of exploiting religion and caste to garner votes.