Skripals’ blood can be taken for testing by chemical weapons body: UK judge

Photo showing a bus carrying expelled Russian diplomats from Britain leaves Vnukovo 2 government airport outside Moscow, after they were expelled over a nerve agent attack on British soil. (AP)
Updated 22 March 2018
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Skripals’ blood can be taken for testing by chemical weapons body: UK judge

LONDON: A British court revealed that samples taken from the ex Russian spy and his daughter were analyzed by UK’s military laboratory in Porton Down point to exposure to Novichok nerve agent or a related agent.

The same court said that Blood samples from former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia can be taken for testing by the world chemical weapons body (OPCW), an English judge ruled Thursday.
The Skripals, victims of a nerve agent attack that Britain has blamed on Russia, are in a coma in a critical but stable condition in hospital in Salisbury, southwest England but sources revealed that even if they survived the poisoning they might suffer damage to their nervous system.
High Court judge David Williams ruled it was lawful for doctors “to take blood samples for provision to OPCW (the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) and to provide copies of medical notes to OPCW.”
In slasbury today, British police briefed the public about the latest in their investigation. A police spokesperson said that UK policeman in poisoned ex-spy incident has been discharged from hospital. 
Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey was left seriously ill after taking part in the early response to the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the southern English city of Salisbury on March 4.
“People ask me how I am feeling – but there are really no words to explain how I feel right now,” he said in statement issued by his local force. “Surreal is the word that keeps cropping up — and it really has been completely surreal.” 


Philippine president wants to end anti-drug war in three years

Updated 21 March 2019
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Philippine president wants to end anti-drug war in three years

  • Philippines being investigated for extrajudicial killings
  • Anti-drug campaign signature policy of president

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday he wanted to finish his war on drugs in three years, defying an international probe into his controversial and deadly campaign to rid the country of narcotics.
Duterte, who came to power in 2016, has made a ‘war on drugs’ the hallmark of his administration. 
But it has been reported that 20,000 people have been killed in what rights groups call a wave of “state-sanctioned violence.”
The firebrand president remains unfazed by the condemnation, and the cases filed against him by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over his crackdown.
He insisted he would assume full responsibility for any consequences due to his decision to enforce the law, telling a military audience his goals.
“I’d like to finish this war, both (with the) Abu Sayyaf (a militant group) and also the communists, and the drug problem in about three years … we'd be able (to) ... reduce the activities of the illegal trade and fighting to the barest minimum.
“I’m not saying I am the only one capable (of achieving these goals) ... I assume full responsibility for all that would happen as a consequence of enforcing the law — whether against the criminals, the drug traffickers or the rebels who’d want to destroy government.”
Earlier this month, the Philippines withdrew from the ICC, citing the global body's interference in how the country was run as the reason.
On Tuesday, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said that investigations into alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines would continue despite its exit.
But the government has said it will not cooperate with the ICC, and has even warned its personnel about entering the country for the investigation.
There are Filipinos who support Duterte’s campaign, however, and believe it works. Among them is former policeman Eric Advincula.
He said there had been an improvement in the situation since Duterte came to power. 
“For one, the peace and order situation has improved, like for example in villages near our place where there used to be rampant drug peddling,” he told Arab News. 
“The price of illegal drugs is now higher, an indication that the supply also went down. Also, it was easy to catch drug peddlers before because they were doing their trade openly. But now they are more careful, you can't easily locate them.”
Official data from the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in February indicated that 5,176 ‘drug personalities’ were killed in the anti-drugs war between July 1, 2016 to Jan. 31, 2019.
More than 170,000 drug suspects have been arrested during a total of 119,841 anti-narcotics operations in the last two and a half years.