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A Malaysian couple was sentenced to hang for starving their Indonesian maid to death, a defence lawyer said Friday, in the latest shocking case to spotlight abuse of domestic helpers in the region. Isti Komariyah weighed just 26 kilograms (57 pounds) on her death in Kuala Lumpur in June 2011 from what a court ruled was deliberate starvation, according to Malaysian media reports on the ruling issued Thursday. "She was 26 and weighed barely 26 kg when she was taken to the University Malaya Medical Centre with bruises and scratch marks on her back, arms and forehead," The Star newspaper reported. Fong Kong Meng, 58, and his wife Teoh Ching Yen, 56, consistently withheld food from Isti during the three years she worked for them, the court found.
Stranded by floods and lost, a German backpacker survived for around two weeks in Australia's inhospitable Outback on a diet of insects, police said Friday. Daniel Dudzisz, 26, went missing in February south-west of Longreach in remote Queensland as he reportedly tried to walk solo more than halfway across Australia. Dudzisz -- who is diabetic and insulin-dependent -- told police he waded through floodwaters and ate flies to survive his ordeal in the vast and wild Outback. "If you hadn't heard it with your own ears -- and my officers have -- you certainly wouldn't believe it," Inspector Mark Henderson told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Simferopol (Ukraine) (AFP) - Ukraine on Friday faced the threat of breaking apart after Crimea's parliament voted to join Russia in a sharp escalation of the worst East-West security crisis since the Cold War. The powerful speaker of Russia's parliament said Moscow intended to respect Crimea's "historic choice," which both Kiev's new Western-backed interim leaders and US President Barack Obama denounced as illegal. "If this violation of international law continues, the resolve of the United States and our allies and the international community will remain firm," Obama said after imposing targeted visa bans and setting the stage for wider sanctions against Russia.