World briefs: Indonesia opens trials of 6 accused of enslaving fishermen

Published 10:13 am Monday, November 16, 2015

TUAL, Indonesia — An Indonesian court opened the trials Monday of five Thais and an Indonesian charged with human trafficking connected with slavery in the seafood industry.

The suspects were arrested in the remote island village of Benjina in May after the slavery was revealed by The Associated Press in a report two months earlier.

The defendants were being tried separately by a three-judge panel led by Edy Toto Purba, at the District Courtin Tual, a municipality in southeastern Maluku province, about 2,900 kilometers (1,800 miles) east of the capital, Jakarta.

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The six whose trials began Monday are Indonesian Muklis Ohoitenan, Thai captain Youngyut Nitiwongchaeron, 53, and four countrymen — Boonsom Jaika, Surachai Maneephong, Hatsaphon Phaetjakreng and Somchit Korraneesuk.

The trials of two other Indonesians, Hermanwir Martino and Yopi Hanorsian, are scheduled to start on Tuesday.

All are charged with violating a 2007 law against people smuggling that carries a maximum jail sentence of up to 15 years and fines as high as $46,000.

The eight defendants are employees at Pusaka Benjina Resources, one of the largest fishing firms in eastern Indonesia.

They are accused of locking up fishermen for one to six months in a prison-like cell located in the company’s compound in Benjina.

Shirt photos offer sometimes awkward moments of APEC unity

MANILA, Philippines — The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summits, which draw the U.S. president and 20 other regional leaders, are sometimes memorable for just one moment: the leaders posing for a group photo in unexpected attire.

Former President Bill Clinton started the tradition in 1993, when he handed out leather bomber jackets similar to those worn by American fighter pilots. The U.S. leader apparently wanted his fellow VIPs to feel relaxed at the meetings.

Dubbed the “silly shirts” photo by some, the occasionally awkward ceremony became a signature event at most annual APEC gatherings, elevating native garb of the host countries to a brief moment of world fame.

The 21 APEC leaders have posed for together in batik shirts (Malaysia in 1998), Chinese jackets (Shanghai 2001), flowing ponchos (Chile 2004) and in Vietnamese “ao dai” — elegant silken tunics in which several of the leaders were visibly ill at ease — in 2006.

The Philippines’ barong tagalog, a partially see-through, embroidered shirt sewn from pineapple fiber and silk, appeared at the 1996 summit and returns this week in Manila.

Designer Paul Cabral took months to craft the shirts for the leaders and their spouses, using different hand-embroidered themes.

It’s bamboo and leaves for Chinese President Xi Jinping, a Sarawak shield design for Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and cherry blossoms for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s wife, Akie.

Cambodia poised to arrest opposition leader; violence feared

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy was stripped of his lawmaker status and parliamentary immunity Monday, paving the way for his arrest in connection with a defamation case that the opposition says is politically motivated.

Rainsy, who was on a visit to South Korea, announced in a Facebook post that he would not fly home Monday evening as scheduled, but that he planned to return “in the next few days.” Officials from his party said he had delayed his return to avoid the possibility of violence.

“Sam Rainsy is not afraid of coming back and going to jail, but he is worried about a confrontation between his supporters and authorities,” said Eng Chhay Eang, an opposition lawmaker.

The prospect of Rainsy’s arrest sparked criticism and fears of unrest in the politically volatile nation, which has seen several bouts of violence following crackdowns by authorities on opposition supporters.

The U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh called on the National Assembly to “immediately” reinstate Sam Rainsy as a lawmaker and restore his immunity.