UK: Nerve agent that poisoned spy was in liquid form

File Photo showing UK police officers guard the spot where former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found poisoned. (AP)
Updated 17 April 2018
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UK: Nerve agent that poisoned spy was in liquid form

London: The nerve agent used on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia was delivered in liquid form, British officials said Tuesday, as they revealed it will take months to clean up the toxic trail the poison left around the city of Salisbury.
The UK Environment Department said nine sites need “specialist cleaning,” including a restaurant visited by the Skripals on March 4, the day they were found unconscious on a park bench in the city in southwest England.
About 190 specially trained troops are assisting environmental, health and defense officials with the cleanup, it said.
“Work to clean each site will involve a process of testing, removal of items which may have been contaminated, chemical cleaning and retesting,” the agency said in a statement, adding the effort will take “a number of months.”
British officials say the Skripals were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent that was smeared on a door handle at Sergei Skripal’s house.
Father and daughter were hospitalized for weeks in critical condition. Yulia Skripal was released last week from Salisbury District Hospital, where her father continues to be treated.
British officials say the Russian government was behind the attack using a Soviet-developed type of nerve agent known as Novichok. The international chemical weapons watchdog, the OPCW, has confirmed that a Novichok agent “of high purity” was used, although it has not identified where it was made.
Russia denies involvement in the attack and has accused Britain of failing to share its evidence.
The poisoning has sparked a Cold War-style diplomatic crisis between Russia and the West, including the expulsion of hundreds of diplomats from the two sides.


Indian politician gets life over 1984 anti-Sikh riots

Updated 32 min 47 sec ago
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Indian politician gets life over 1984 anti-Sikh riots

NEW DELHI: A veteran Indian politician was given a life sentence on Monday over anti-Sikh riots in 1984 that killed nearly 3,000 people following the assassination of then-premier Indira Gandhi.
The Delhi High Court found Sajjan Kumar, 73, guilty of instigating mobs during the mass killings triggered by the death of Gandhi at the hands of her Sikh bodyguards.
At the time Kumar was an MP with the then-ruling Congress party. He was acquitted in 2013 but the High Court reversed the judgment on appeal from federal investigators.
He was found guilty over a case involving the murder of five members of a Sikh family in New Delhi after key testimonies from eye witnesses.
A two-judge bench convicted Kumar for criminal conspiracy, promoting enmity and acting against communal harmony, the Press Trust of India and other local media reported.
“It is important to assure the victims that despite the challenges truth will prevail,” the court said, according to the NDTV news network.
“The aftershock of those atrocities is still being felt.”
Kumar, who has been asked to surrender by the end of this month, will have to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
The 1984 carnage erupted just hours after Gandhi was shot dead at her residence in New Delhi.
It lasted three days with Sikhs raped and murdered, their homes and businesses torched.
Gandhi was killed over her decision to use military force to expel Sikh separatists from inside the Golden Temple — Sikhism’s holiest shrine in the northern Indian city of Amritsar.
Critics accuse Congress of turning a blind eye to the killings and the role of leaders such as Kumar and Jagdish Tytler.
Last week, Congress named Kamal Nath as the chief minister of the central state of Madhya Pradesh despite allegations that he had led one of the mobs during the riots.
Kumar, Tytler and others have always denied any wrongdoing.
Kumar last won a parliamentary election in 2004 but was forced to withdraw from the 2009 polls over the rioting allegations.
Last month, another accused, Yashpal Singh was sentenced to death for murder and rioting.
Sikhs make up some two percent of Hindu-majority India’s population of 1.25 billion.