Travel special 2014: Breakfast on bed on a rail journey from Hanoi to

Springtime, just before the new century began. As Laos is now the new Cambodia, Vietnam was then the new Thailand, and my girlfriend and I had arrived – with our backpacks – to see what all the fuss was about. The capital Hanoi had dazzled, and we were due to take the train 420 miles down the coast to Hué. We were late, though. We were always late.

Martial arts experts give evidence in Lebedev trial

The court trying Alexander Lebedev on charges of “hooliganism motivated by political hatred” heard testimony from martial arts experts today, in another surreal twist in a case that has often bordered on farce. Mr Lebedev, Russian businessman and financial backer of The Independent, is on trial for punching fellow tycoon Sergei Polonsky on a 2011 television programme and could be jailed for up to five years in jail if convicted.

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Key witness against Lebedev 'can't testify'

Lawyers for the key witness in the case against Alexander Lebedev, the Russian businessman and financial backer of The Independent, have said he is unable to return to Russia to testify.