World Briefs: Long prison terms for Catalan separatists

Long prison terms for Catalan separatists

MADRID/BARCELONA • Catalan separatists who tried to break away from Spain in 2017 were handed long prison sentences by the Supreme Court in Madrid yesterday in an unprecedented ruling that marks a watershed in ties with the troubled region.

Former Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras was handed the stiffest sentence of 13 years while eight other activists were given jail terms of between nine and 12 years for their part in an illegal referendum that triggered a month of unrest that shook the Spanish state in 2017.

Leading separatists were quick to condemn the court's decision and the jailed men sent out messages of defiance, calling for people to protest.

"This sentence is an attack on democracy and the rights of all citizens," the head of the regional Parliament Roger Torrent said.

Separatist supporters took to the streets in protest, blocking train and metro access to Barcelona airport and halting traffic.


British paedophile found dead in prison cell

LONDON • A British paedophile convicted in 2016 of raping 22 children in Malaysia has died in prison, officials said yesterday, with media reports suggesting he had been stabbed.

Richard Huckle, 33, who abused children and babies during a nine-year period, was serving 22 concurrent life sentences for his crimes.

Dubbed Britain's worst paedophile by the media, he was found stabbed to death in his cell on Sunday, the BBC reported.

Posing as a photographer, English teacher and philanthropist, Huckle won the trust of impoverished families before carrying out his abuse. His crimes included rapes which he recorded and shared online with paedophiles worldwide.

He may have targeted almost 200 children and boasted that those from poor communities made easier victims than well-to-do Westerners. His youngest victim was believed to have been around six months old.


Vietnam pulls US film over S. China Sea map

HANOI • Vietnam has pulled the animated DreamWorks film Abominable from cinemas over a scene featuring a map which shows China's unilaterally declared "nine-dash line" in the South China Sea, state media reported yesterday.

The U-shaped line is a feature used on Chinese maps to illustrate its claims over vast expanses of the resource-rich South China Sea, including large swathes of what Vietnam regards as its continental shelf.

China and Vietnam have been locked in a months-long stand-off in the disputed waterways after China sent a vessel to conduct an energy survey within waters controlled by Vietnam in early July.

"We will revoke (the film's licence)," Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Ta Quang Dong was quoted as saying by local media.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2019, with the headline 'World Briefs'. Print Edition | Subscribe