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World in brief: January 31, 2024

THAILAND: A court today convicted a prominent political activist of defaming the country’s monarchy and sentenced her to a two-year suspended jail term under a controversial law that criminalises any perceived criticism of the royal institution.

Patsaravalee Tanakitvibulpon was originally sentenced by the Bangkok Criminal Court to three years in prison for the remarks she made during a speech in the capital in March 2021.

But the sentence was reduced to a two-year suspended term due to her co-operation.

RUSSIA: Moscow and Kiev today confirmed that they had exchanged about 200 prisoners of war each, despite tensions stemming from last week’s shooting down of a military transport plane. 

Russia’s Defence Ministry said the countries exchanged 195 POWs each, although the Ukrainians said 207 of their countrymen were freed. 

There was no immediate explanation for the different figures.

BRAZIL: President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva sacked the deputy director of the national intelligence agency and four department heads on Tuesday.

The deputy, Alessandro Moretti, is accused of spying on right-wing ex-president Jair Bolsonaro’s enemies and passing information to former Abin boss Alexandre Ramagem, a politician in Mr Bolsonaro’s party.

Investigations are continuing into the claims.

SOUTH AFRICA: The planned auction of dozens of artefacts belonging to Nelson Mandela has been suspended pending a court application to completely halt it, the body that protects South Africa’s cultural heritage said on Tuesday.

The online auction had been scheduled by New York-based Guernsey’s auction house on February 24, in conjunction with Dr Makaziwe Mandela, the eldest daughter of the anti-apartheid leader and South Africa’s first democratically elected president who died in 2013.

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