SHAH ALAM, Malaysia (AP) — A Vietnamese woman who is the only suspect in custody for the killing of the North Korean leader's brother pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in a Malaysian court Monday and her lawyer asked for leniency. Doan Thi Huong nodded as a translator read the new charge to her. She had faced a murder charge, which carried the death penalty if she was convicted. The new charge of voluntarily causing injury with a dangerous weapon, VX nerve agent, carries a maximum possible sentence of 10 years in jail. Her lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik told the court that her guilty plea showed Huong "has taken responsibility" for her actions.
TOKYO (AP) — The name of the era of Japan's soon-to-be-emperor Naruhito will be "Reiwa," the government announced Monday. Emperor Akihito is stepping down on April 30, in the first abdication in 200 years, bringing his era of "Heisei" to an end. The new era takes effect May 1. The name draws from the 7th century poetry collection "Manyoshu," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said after the announcement by the chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga. Abe said the name means that culture is born and nurtured as the people "beautifully care about each other." "With this selection of a new era name, I renew my commitment to pioneer a new era that will be filled with hope," Abe said.
KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Rescuers are struggling to reach villages in southern Nepal that were cut off by a rainstorm that has killed 25 people and injured hundreds more. The rainstorm swept through villages in a farming region of Bara and Parsa districts in southern Nepal on Sunday night. Nepal's Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli said on Twitter he had received a report of 25 people killed and 400 injured. Police official Sanu Ram Bhattarai said people were crushed by falling walls of their own homes and other debris. Bhattarai said police officers and soldiers from neighboring areas had reached the districts Monday and were trying to reach the villages.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea's military began searching for Korean War remains at the heavily armed inter-Korean border on Monday after North Korea ignored its calls to carry out a previously planned joint search. South Korean soldiers will remove mines and proceed with excavation work at an area south of the military demarcation line that bisects the rivals, said Choi Hyunsoo, spokeswoman for Seoul's Defense Ministry. The joint recovery of war remains was one of many peace agreements reached between the Koreas last year as they took steps to improve bilateral relations amid larger nuclear negotiations between North Korea and the United States.
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia's prime minister said on Monday he won't put officials in danger by retrieving three orphaned Australian children of a convicted terrorist who have reportedly been found in a Syrian refugee camp. Prime Minister Scott Morrison's response to the plight of former Islamic State group fighter Khaled Sharrouf's children is the same as his government's reaction to other Australians who have joined the fight with extremist groups in Syria and want to come home. "I'm not going to put one Australian life at risk to try and extract people from these dangerous situations," Morrison told reporters. But security experts say that Australians can and should be safely brought home from Syrian refugee camps since the defeat of Islamic State forces.
HERAT, Afghanistan (AP) — Too poor to even buy pens and notebooks for school, Mehdi left his home in Afghanistan soon after his 17th birthday and headed to Iran, hoping to make his way to Europe and find work. Instead, Mehdi ended up fighting in Syria's civil war, a conflict he had nothing to do with, 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) from home. He was one of tens of thousands of Afghans recruited, paid and trained by Iran to fight in support of Tehran's ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad. There, he found himself thrown into one of the war's bloodiest front lines, surrounded by the bodies of his comrades, under fire from Islamic militants so close he could hear their shouts of "Allahu akbar" ("God is greatest") before each mortar blast.
HONG KONG (AP) — Business and human rights groups are expressing concern over proposed changes to Hong Kong's extradition law that would allow suspects to be sent to mainland China, where they could be subject to torture and unfair prosecution. They say the move would harm the Asian financial hub's attractiveness to international business. Hong Kong currently limits such extraditions to jurisdictions with which it has existing extradition agreements or to others on an individual basis under a law passed before the semi-autonomous territory's handover from British to Chinese rule in 1997. China was excluded because of concerns over its poor record on legal independence and human rights.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minneapolis police officer is set to stand trial for the fatal shooting of an unarmed Australian woman who had called 911 to report a possible sexual assault happening in the alley behind her home. Mohamed Noor, who was fired after the July 2017 shooting, is charged with murder in the death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond. Here are some key elements as jury selection begins Monday: WHAT HAPPENED Noor, 33, shot Damond after she approached his police cruiser. Damond, a 40-year-old life coach and dual Australian-American citizen, had called 911 to report a possible assault. Officer Matthew Harrity was driving that night and told investigators he heard a voice and a thump and caught a glimpse of someone outside his window.
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Police in Bangladesh's capital have arrested two of the owners of a commercial complex that caught fire this past week, killing 26 people and injuring about 70, an official said Sunday. F.R. Tower's owners Tasvir-ul-Islam and S.M.H.I. Faruque were arrested in Dhaka and charged with negligence and violations of a building code that resulted in casualties, Additional Deputy Commissioner of the Detective Branch Shahjahan Shaju told The Associated Press. In cases where deaths occur as a result of negligence, defendants also usually face culpable homicide charges. The arrests were made late Saturday night and early Sunday. The blaze that burned for several hours Thursday trapped people inside the building, some shouting for help from windows on upper floors and the roof.
What's in a name? Quite a lot if you're a Japanese citizen just learning Monday that the soon-to-be-installed new emperor's next era will be called Reiwa. It's a proclamation that has happened only twice in nearly a century. Reiwa will follow Emperor Naruhito, after his May 1 investiture, for the duration of his rule — and beyond, becoming his official name after death. An era name is an inextricable part of public life and shared memory in Japan. A lot of what happens in the years to come — births, deaths, natural disasters, cultural and social phenomena, election glory and political scandal — will be connected to the new era name.