World briefly, Feb. 11

Chimps use branch to make ladder, escape

LONDON (AP) — Zookeepers say a group of chimpanzees used branches weakened by a storm to make a ladder and escape from their enclosure at the Belfast Zoo.

Video filmed Saturday by visitors to the Northern Ireland zoo showed several primates scaling a wall and perching atop it, with one walking down a path outside the enclosure.

Zookeeper Alyn Cairns said trees in the chimps’ enclosure had been weakened by recent storms, allowing the animals to break them and fashion a ladder to escape. He told the BBC “they’re intelligent primates and know they’re not supposed to be out of their enclosure, so got back in themselves.”

Two weeks ago a rare red panda escaped from the same zoo when its electric fences failed. The animal was recaptured in the driveway of a nearby house.

5 alleged Hitler watercolors go unsold

BERLIN (AP) — Five watercolors attributed to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler from his early days as a struggling artist have failed to sell at auction in the southern German city of Nuremberg, possibly over fears they could be fakes.

The Nuremberger Nachrichten newspaper reported Sunday that no bids were received on the paintings, which had starting prices of between $21,500 and $50,900.

Three days before Saturday’s auction, prosecutors seized 63 other paintings attributed to Hitler from the auction house to investigate allegations they were fakes.

In Berlin last month, prosecutors seized three other Hitler watercolors after receiving a complaint questioning their authenticity.

As a young man, Hitler unsuccessfully struggled to succeed as an artist in Vienna before World War I.

Indonesia police admit to terrorize man

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesian police have acknowledged officers terrorized a Papuan man with a live snake after a video of the incident circulated online showing the man screaming in fear and his interrogator laughing.

Police in Indonesia’s easternmost Papua region apologized but also attempted to justify the officers’ actions by saying the snake was not venomous and that they hadn’t resorted to beating the man, who was suspected of theft.

Human rights lawyer Veronica Koman said Sunday that the interrogation methods were torture and violated police policies as well as several laws. She said it was only the latest of several reports of police and military using snakes to terrorize Papuan detainees and symptomatic of a culture of racism against indigenous Papuans.

Sam Lokon, a member of the West Papua National Committee, which advocates for independence from Indonesia, was put in a cell with a snake and beaten after being arrested in January, Koman said.

Police indicated the incident with the alleged thief happened recently, during a crackdown on petty crime in Jayawijaya district.

The spread of the video had forced police into a “very rare” apology, Koman said, while also criticizing the attempt to provide a justification.

The one minute and 20 second video shows the dark brown snake, at least two meters long, wrapped around the handcuffed suspect’s neck and waist and an officer pushing its head into the man’s face as he becomes increasingly hysterical.

Officers appear to be asking how many times he’d stolen cellphones.

Jayawijaya police chief Tonny Ananda Swadaya said the officers had been disciplined by being given ethics training and moved to other locations.

The events are likely to further inflame tensions in the region where an insurgency has simmered since the early 1960s when Indonesia took control of the western half of the island of New Guinea, formerly a Dutch colony.

Police and military have carried out a sweeping crackdown on independence supporters after rebel fighters in December killed 19 people working on a construction site for the trans-Papua highway.

A Polish man who is being held in a Jayawijaya prison while on trial for treason said earlier this week he’d been assaulted by police officers visiting the prison as guards looked on.

Magnitude 5.2 quake injures 5 in Iran

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s official IRNA news agency is reporting a magnitude 5.2 earthquake has left five people injured in the country’s south.

The Sunday report said the five, including three women, were hospitalized after the quake hit the village of Laft, on Qeshm Island 680 miles south of the capital Tehran.

It said the quake damaged several buildings.

Iran is located on major seismic fault lines and the country experiences an earthquake per day on average.

In November, a magnitude 6.3 earthquake injured more than 700 people in western Iran.

In 2003, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake flattened the historic city of Bam in southern Iran, killing 26,000 people.

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