German prosecutors have indicted a Pakistani man on charges of spying for an Iranian intelligence agency. Federal prosecutors said that the 31-year-old, identified only as Syed Mustufa H, was in contact with the unnamed spy agency since 2011. Prosecutors said the man began spying on the former head of a group that promotes German-Israeli relations by July 2015 at the latest.

Environmentalists are protesting against Poland's plan to allow hunters to shoot bison, while authorities say it is necessary for the well-being of the oversized herd and will earn money for its upkeep. Greenpeace had gathered almost 9000 signatures online on a letter asking Prime Minister Beata Szydlo to stop the plan. The opponents say Europe's largest mammals, which live in forests in northeastern Poland, are endangered and protected by law. There are over 1500 bison in Poland, mostly living in state-owned reserves but also on private farms. Environment authorities have allowed the hunting of 10 bison in the Borecka forest before April.

A woman has had a knife held to her throat after she and her husband discovered an intruder having a kip in their Melbourne home. Victoria Police are searching for a man in his 20s who they say produced the knife when woken by the returning Donvale home owners at about 11am last Thursday. The intruder had dragged a mattress into the living room and can be seen waking up in footage captured by the couple and released by police today. Police believe the man entered as a squatter rather than to steal items.

A bolt from above has set fire to a church in country Queensland but the parish priest says it has miraculously escaped serious damage. Father Franco Filipetto says quick-thinking residents saved the church after seeing a lightning bolt hit St Mary's Catholic Parish at Warwick, on the Darling Downs, during a storm yesterday. "There was smoke coming from the roof, some people called the fire brigade and they responded very quickly and the fire did not take hold," he told ABC radio. Damage to the ceiling had been confined to about 1 sq m.


Italy's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement says it will not automatically require its politicians to step down if they come under legal investigation, prompting critics to accuse it of hypocrisy. Italy's largest opposition group presents itself as a squeaky-clean counterweight to mainstream parties, which have repeatedly come under corruption probes for almost 25 years. Critics said founder Beppe Grillo was softening his stance now that the movement had taken charge of large towns and cities and was running into legal difficulties.

Pope Francis has exhorted Catholic bishops worldwide to do what's needed to ensure children are protected from sexual abuse by clergy. The Vatican released the text of a December 28 letter Francis sent to bishops about injustices to children. They included slave labour, malnutrition, lack of education and sexual exploitation, including abuse by priests. In the letter, Francis decried "the sufferings, the experiences and pain of minors who were abused sexually by priests". He wrote: "It is a sin that shames us. Persons responsible for the protection of those children destroyed their dignity."

- agencies