BEIJING – A Chinese boat and 16 fishermen seized for ransom by armed North Koreans two weeks ago were released today, easing the latest irritant in relations between the neighboring allies.
Owner Yu Xuejun, who wasn’t aboard the boat when it was seized May 5, wrote on his verified microblog that his captain called him at 3:50 a.m. to say the crew and boat were set free and that they were on their way home. He told the state-run Global Times newspaper all of the crew members were OK.
Yu, who had reported the seizure to Chinese authorities earlier, began publicizing the incident over the weekend as a deadline for a $100,000 ransom drew near. Chinese state media then began reporting on the incident, saying China was demanding that North Korea release the men.
Yu said on his microblog today that he had been unable to pay any ransom, and he thanked China’s Foreign Ministry for negotiating on behalf of his boat and crew.
Former Guatemalan dictator’s genocide conviction tossed
GUATEMALA CITY – Guatemala’s top court overturned the genocide conviction of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt and ordered on Monday that his trial restart, throwing into disarray proceedings that had been hailed as historic for delivering the first such guilty verdict for a Latin American leader.
Constitutional Court secretary Martin Guzman said the trial needs to go back to where it stood on April 19 to solve several appeal issues.
The ruling came 10 days after a three-judge panel convicted the 86-year-old Rios Montt of genocide and crimes against humanity for his role in massacres of Mayans during Guatemala’s civil war. It found he knew about the slaughter of at least 1,771 Ixil Mayans in the western highlands and didn’t stop it.
The tribunal sentenced him to 80 years in prison, drawing cheers from many Guatemalans. It was the first time a former Latin American leader was convicted of such crimes in his home country and the first official acknowledgment that genocide occurred during the bloody, 36-year civil war, something the current president, retired Gen. Otto Perez Molina, has denied.
Rios Montt’s lawyers immediately filed an appeal and he spent only one day in prison before he was moved to a military hospital, where he remains.