Argentina intensifies search for missing submarine with 44 crew

This undated photo provided by the Argentina Navy shows an ARA San Juan, a German-built diesel-electric vessel, docked in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (AP)
Updated 18 November 2017
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Argentina intensifies search for missing submarine with 44 crew

BUENOS AIRES: An Argentine submarine with 44 crew on board was missing in the South Atlantic two days after its last communication, prompting the navy to step up its search efforts late on Friday in difficult, stormy conditions.
The ARA San Juan was in the southern Argentine sea 432 km (268 miles) from the Patagonian coast when it sent its last signal on Wednesday, naval spokesman Enrique Balbi said.
The emergency operation was formally upgraded to a search-and-rescue procedure on Friday evening after no visual or radar contact was made with the submarine, Balbi said.
"Detection has been difficult despite the quantity of boats and aircraft" involved in the search, Balbi said, noting that heavy winds and high waves were complicating efforts.
"Obviously, the number of hours that have passed - two days in which there has been no communication - is of note."
The navy believes the submarine, which left Ushuaia en route to the coastal city of Mar del Plata in Buenos Aires province, had communication difficulties that may have been caused by an electrical outage, Balbi said. Navy protocol would call for the submarine to come to the surface once communication was lost.
"We expect that it is on the surface," Balbi said.
The German-built submarine, which uses diesel-electric propulsion, was inaugurated in 1983, making it the newest of the three submarines in the navy's fleet, according to the navy.
President Mauricio Macri said the government was in contact with the crew's families.
"We share their concern and that of all Argentines," he wrote on Twitter. "We are committed to using all national and international resources necessary to find the ARA San Juan submarine as soon as possible."
Argentina accepted an offer from the United States for a NASA P-3 explorer aircraft, which had been stationed in the southern city of Ushuaia and was preparing to depart to Antarctica, to fly over the search area, Balbi said.
A Hercules C-130 from the Argentine Air Force was also flying over the operational area. Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Peru, Britain and South Africa had also formally offered assistance. 


Video emerges of Macron bodyguard beating protester in Paris

Updated 19 July 2018
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Video emerges of Macron bodyguard beating protester in Paris

PARIS: A video showing one of French President Emmanuel Macron’s security chiefs beating a student demonstrator, until now cloaked in secrecy, is drawing a fierce public backlash over what is seen as mild punishment and a possible cover-up.
The video of the May 1 event in Paris, revealed by Le Monde on Wednesday evening, shows Alexandre Benalla in a helmet with police markings, and surrounded by riot police, brutally dragging off a woman from a demonstration and then repeatedly beating a young man on the ground. The man is heard begging him to stop. Another man in civilian clothing pulled the young man to the ground.
Police, who had hauled the man from the crowd before Benalla took over, didn’t intervene. Benalla then left the scene. The second man was apparently a gendarme who Le Monde said had worked with Benalla in the past.
The uproar over Benalla’s punishment — a two-week suspension and a change in responsibilities — forced top French officials to address the issue Thursday. But Macron has remained silent. Benalla, who hasn’t commented on the matter, handled Macron’s security during the presidential campaign.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, responding to questions in the Senate, called the event “shocking,” but stumbled to respond to questions, notably whether all French are equal before the law.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said that the two men “obviously had no legitimate (reason) to intervene.” He said he has demanded that a police unit which investigates suspected criminal behavior by officers explain the rules for observers and verify whether they were respected.
Condemning the “unacceptable behavior,” Macron spokesman Bruno Roger-Petit said that Benalla was also removed from his responsibilities of organizing security for presidential trips — though he maintains his office at the Elysee Palace.
In addition, authorities launched a preliminary investigation that could lead to charges against Benalla, a judicial official said on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss an ongoing case.
Despite this, Benalla has been seen this month on the ground with police at several high-profile events, including the return home Monday of France’s champion World Cup team, an event attended by hundreds of thousands.
Macron, in the Dordogne region to officially launch a new postage stamp, didn’t respond to questions about the scandal. The upstart centrist elected last year had promised an exemplary presidency during his term to break with unending cases of corruption in French politics.
Roger-Petit said the punishment dealt out to Benalla was the “most serious” ever given to a top aide at the presidential Elysee Palace and served as a “last warning before dismissal.”
Opposition politicians expressed shock, with some denouncing a climate of impunity at the top of the French political hierarchy and asking Macron to personally address the issue.
The head of France’s main conservative party The Republicans, Laurent Wauquiez, asked on Europe 1 radio if the government was trying to “hush the affair.”
Roger-Petit stressed that Benalla had requested authorization to use his day off “to observe” security forces’ operations on May Day when marches are traditionally held. It was granted.
It was unclear why the young man under attack, who wasn’t detained, was singled out by police before Benalla intervened.
“An observer doesn’t act like that,” said the spokesman for the UNSA-Police union. They are typically equipped and briefed in advance, and the framework is “completely clear,” Philippe Capon told BFM-TV.
He couldn’t say why police didn’t stop Benalla.
The context was “special,” he said. “He was an observer from the Elysee. When police officials hear the word ‘Elysee’ there is a particular apprehension.”