In brief: Missionary back in U.S. after N. Korea release

SUNDAY, FEB. 7, 2010

LOS ANGELES – An American missionary who illegally entered North Korea on Christmas Day and was detained by the communist regime for 43 days was welcomed back to the United States on Saturday evening at Los Angeles International Airport.

Robert Park was greeted by his parents and brother after arriving on a commercial flight from Beijing.

Robert Park crossed the frozen Tumen River from China into North Korea on Dec. 25, carrying letters calling on leader Kim Jong Il to close the country’s notoriously brutal prison camps and step down from power – acts that could have risked execution in the hard-line communist country.

Three killed when plane clips glider’s towline

BOULDER, Colo. – A small plane clipped the towline of another plane pulling a glider Saturday, sparking a fiery midair crash in Colorado and killing at least three people, authorities said.

The glider disconnected from the plane just before the second plane hit the tow rope, Boulder County sheriff’s office spokesman Rick Brough said.

The glider landed safely – with no injuries to any of the three people on board – just after the planes made impact, authorities said.

Gliders, or sailplanes, are lightweight aircraft that are often towed into the sky, then released to glide to the ground.

The crash spread debris over a 1 1/2-mile area, scorching several sections of prairie in the Rocky Mountain foothills.

U.S. Baptists’ lawyer denies bribery claim

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – The Haitian lawyer for 10 U.S. Baptists charged with child kidnapping tried to bribe the missionaries’ way out of jail and has been fired, the attorney who hired him said Saturday night.

The Haitian lawyer, Edwin Coq, denied the allegation. He said the $60,000 he requested from the Americans’ families was his fee.

Jorge Puello, the attorney in the neighboring Dominican Republic retained by relatives of the 10 American missionaries after their arrest last week, told the Associated Press that he fired Coq on Friday night. He had hired Coq to represent the detainees at Haitian legal proceedings.

Coq orchestrated “some kind of extortion with government officials” that would have led to the release of nine of the 10 missionaries, Puello charged.

Coq denied the requested $60,000 payment amounted to a bribe. “I have worked for 10 people for four days working all hours,” he said. “ … I have the right to this money.”

On Friday, Coq had told the AP that he was working for no fee.

Gunmen kill hostage, five others at bar

CULIACAN, Mexico – Gunmen killed six people at a bar Saturday in the northern state of Sinaloa, a drug-violence hot spot, state prosecutors said.

At least three gunmen walked into Las Herraduras bar in the resort city of Mazatlan early Saturday and opened fire, killing a customer and two waiters, said Martin Gatelum, spokesman for the Sinaloa state prosecutor’s office.

A taxi driver and a night watchman were killed ouside the bar, where the assailants also shot to death a hostage who had led them to the bar, Gatelum said.

Sinaloa, Mexico’s drug-smuggling heartland, is the birthplace of the leaders of four of the six major cartels.


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