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In brief: Gay couple receive pardon

Sun., May 30, 2010

Blantyre, Malawi – Malawi’s president on Saturday pardoned a gay couple who had been sentenced to 14 years in prison and ordered their release but insisted that homosexuality was still illegal in his conservative southern African nation.

President Bingu wa Mutharika announced the pardon on “humanitarian grounds only” during a press conference with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“These boys committed a crime against our culture, against our religion, and against our laws,” Mutharika said. “However, as head of state, I hereby pardon them and therefore order their immediate release without any conditions.”

But he added, “We don’t condone marriages of this nature. It’s unheard of in Malawi and it’s illegal.”

Malawi had faced international condemnation for the conviction and harsh sentencing of Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza, who were arrested in December, a day after celebrating their engagement.

Execution follows attack on children

Beijing – Chinese authorities today executed a man who attacked a kindergarten in eastern China last month, slashing 29 children and three teachers with a knife, a state news agency reported.

Xu Yuyuan was executed after being convicted in mid-May of attempted homicide by the Taizhou Intermediate Court in the eastern province of Jiangsu, the official Xinhua News Agency said. No one died in the attack.

The April 29 attack was one of five major assaults against schoolchildren in the last two months that left 17 dead and more than 50 hurt.

The 47-year-old Xu, who was unemployed, told the court during his May 15 trial that he had lost money in gambling and business and was venting his anger against society, Xinhua said.

The string of attacks prompted Chinese authorities to tighten security at schools, with police and security guards posted at entrances and video surveillance and intruder alarms installed on some school premises.


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