Top Asian News 3:54 a.m. GMT

HONG KONG (AP) — The Hong Kong trial of a British banker accused of the grisly 2014 killings of two Indonesian women is expected to be "particularly horrifying," including photographic evidence of one victim's torture, the judge told prospective jurors as the case got underway Monday. The banker, Rurik Jutting, entered a plea of not guilty to two murder charges that were read out at the High Court, with prosecutors rejecting his attempt to plead guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter. Jutting is charged with the murders of Sumarti Ningsih and Seneng Mujiasih, whose bodies were found in his upscale apartment near the Asian financial center's Wan Chai red-light district, in a case expected to highlight the Asian financial hub's inequality and privileged lifestyle of its wealthy expat elite.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea's president has proposed revising the country's Constitution to change the current single five-year presidential system. Critics quickly criticized President Park Geun-hye's overture, saying it appears aimed at diverting public attention away from a snowballing corruption scandal involving a purported longtime confidant of hers. South Korea adopted the current system in 1987, ending decades of military-backed dictatorships. Under the current system, a president is barred by law from seeking a second term. Park's five-year term ends in early 2018. Park said in a speech Monday the current system makes it difficult for the government to maintain continuity of policies, including on rival North Korea.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Sunday that Filipino fishermen "may" be able to return to the Chinese-held Scarborough Shoal in a few days after he discussed the territorial rift with Chinese leaders, but he did not say whether China imposed conditions. Duterte said that in talks in Beijing this past week, he insisted that the shoal off his country's northwestern coast — which China effectively took control of in 2012 following a standoff with the Philippines — belonged to his country, but added that the Chinese also asserted their claim of ownership. If Filipinos are allowed to sail back to Scarborough, a traditional fishing ground and storm shelter, Duterte said they would be prohibited from fishing inside a sprawling lagoon that is a fish spawning ground that should be protected.

SYDNEY (AP) — A surfer sustained teeth wounds to his thigh on Monday in the third shark attack off New South Wales state north of Sydney in a month, police said. The man, aged in his 30s, was attacked at Byron Bay, 36 kilometers (22 miles) north of Ballina, where a 25-year-old man sustained minor leg injuries while surfing with friends on Oct. 12, a police statement said. On Sept. 26, a 17-year-old surfer required stiches to close a leg wound after he was bitten by a shark off Ballina, 600 kilometers (350 miles) north of Sydney. A 41-year-old Japanese surfer was killed by a shark off Ballina last year.

TOKYO (AP) — Two apparent explosions hit the Japanese city of Utsunomiya back-to-back Sunday, killing one person and injuring three others in what police are viewing as a possible suicide. Japanese media reports suggest that the victim, believed to be a 72-year-old former military officer, may have set his house on fire, blown up his car in a public parking lot and then blown himself up in a nearby park. A note found in the clothing of the badly burned victim included the name of the former officer, Japanese broadcaster NHK and other media reported. The name was not disclosed. One of the cars destroyed in a fiery blaze in the parking lot belonged to the retired military man, and his house burned to the ground earlier on Sunday, the reports said.

BANGKOK (AP) — A massive crowd gathered in central Bangkok on Saturday to sing a special version of Thailand's royal anthem in honor of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died this month. A large field in front of the ornate Grand Palace complex was packed with black-clad mourners, as were all the approach roads. Police eventually closed the roads to traffic. The king's body is lying in one of the palaces in the complex while royal funeral ceremonies are going on. No date has been set for cremation, which will likely take place after a year. Led by the Siam Philharmonic Orchestra and a 100-strong choir, the crowd sang an emotional version of "San Sern Pra Baramee," or "Salute to the Monarch." Another version was recorded Saturday night with the crowd holding candles.

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Following more than four years in captivity, 26 Asian sailors held hostage by Somali pirates have been rescued from their captors, China's Foreign Ministry confirmed Monday. The sailors arrived in Nairobi, Kenya, on Sunday, and international mediators said the action the marks a turning point in the long-fought battle against Somali piracy. The crew from Vietnam, Taiwan, Cambodia, Indonesia, China and the Philippines had been among the few hostages still in the hands of Somali pirates. The sailors were the crew of the FV Naham 3, a Taiwan-owned fishing vessel seized in March 2012, said pirate representative Bile Hussein.

TOKYO (AP) — The first woman to climb Mount Everest didn't stop there. Japanese mountaineer Junko Tabei, who died Thursday at 77, devoted her adult life to scaling peaks, climbing the tallest mountains in more than 70 countries. Her philosophy was to live life to the fullest. "I want to climb even more mountains," she said in a 1991 interview with The Associated Press, 16 years after conquering Everest. "To think, 'It was great,' and then die." To do so required defying stereotypes, and a supportive husband, in a country that thought a woman's place was in the home. She founded the Ladies Climbing Club in 1969 with the slogan "Let's go on an overseas expedition by ourselves," and reached the summit of Everest on May 16, 1975, as the leader of the climbing party of an all-female Japanese team.

BEIJING (AP) — Typhoon Haima forced the evacuations of more than 50,000 people in southern China after hammering the northern Philippines with ferocious wind and rain, triggering flooding, landslides and power outages and killing at least 13 people. No deaths were immediately reported Saturday in China from the typhoon. Residents in the cities of Shanwei and Shantou, in China's Guangdong province, were forced to move to safer ground as the storm hit, local authorities and state media reported. Some villages experienced power outages and authorities remained on the lookout for possible landslides. Chinese meteorological services said the typhoon made landfall shortly after noon Friday in Shanwei in Guangdong province, packing winds of up to 166 kilometers (103 miles) per hour before weakening to a tropical storm.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghanistan saw an increase of 10 percent in opium poppy cultivation and 91 percent decrease in eradication across the country, according to a new joint survey released Sunday by the UN and Afghan government. The report released Sunday showed the total area under cultivation in Afghanistan at an estimated 201,000 hectares (496,681 acres) in 2016, a 10 percent increase from the 183,000 hectares (452,200 acres) in 2015. It said no eradication took place in provinces with high levels of opium poppy cultivation due to the extremely poor security situation in those areas, as well as logistical and financial challenges.

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