Armenia opposition stages show of force

Armenian opposition supporters hold a rally in Yerevan, Armenia April 29, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 30 April 2018
0

Armenia opposition stages show of force

  • Ex-Soviet Armenia has been in the grip of a severe political crisis for the past two weeks

Supporters of Armenia’s protest leader Nikol Pashinyan took to the streets Sunday, hoping that a massive show of force will propel the opposition politician to power in a key election two days away.

Ex-Soviet Armenia has been in the grip of a severe political crisis for the past two weeks, with the country’s veteran leader Serzh Sargsyan stepping down after a decade in power in the face of major protests.

Pashinyan, 42, has thrown down the gauntlet, saying his colleagues in Parliament should elect him to succeed Sargsyan. On Saturday, two major parties said they would back Pashinyan, but the opposition lawmaker was still six votes short of the 53 he needs from the 105-seat legislature. AFP

He needs the backing of the ruling Republican Party, which has 58 seats, and said it would announce its position on Monday.

Eduard Sharmazanov, vice speaker of Parliament and the ruling party’s spokesman, has said he personally doubted that Pashinyan was a suitable candidate for the top job.

In a bid to break the deadlock and drum up support, Pashinyan called on his supporters to block roads in the capital Yerevan throughout the day on Sunday and to stage a jumbo rally in the evening.

“Our fantastic rallies and meetings across the country have affected the situation in a powerful way,” he told supporters in a video address.

“Everything will be fine, we just need to consolidate our victory.”  AFP


Sharer of New Zealand mosque shooting video gets 21 months

Philip Neville Arps, left, appears for sentencing in the Christchurch District Court, in Christchurch, New Zealand, Tuesday, June 18, 2019. (AP)
Updated 19 min 40 sec ago
0

Sharer of New Zealand mosque shooting video gets 21 months

  • Under New Zealand laws aimed at preventing the distribution of objectionable material, Arps faced up to 14 years imprisonment on each count

WELLINGTON, New Zealand: A Christchurch businessman who shared a video of worshippers being slaughtered at a New Zealand mosque was sentenced on Tuesday to 21 months in prison.
Philip Arps had earlier pleaded guilty to two counts of distributing the video, which was livestreamed on Facebook by a gunman on March 15 as he began killing 51 people at two mosques.
Christchurch District Court Judge Stephen O’Driscoll said that when questioned about the video, Arps had described it as “awesome” and had shown no empathy toward the victims.
The judge said Arps had strong and unrepentant views about the Muslim community and had, in effect, committed a hate crime. The judge said Arps had compared himself to Rudolf Hess, a Nazi leader under Adolf Hitler.
“Your offending glorifies and encourages the mass murder carried out under the pretext of religious and racial hatred,” the judge said.
O’Driscoll said Arps had sent the video to 30 associates. The judge said Arps also asked somebody to insert crosshairs and include a kill count in order to create an Internet meme, although there was no evidence he’d shared the meme.
Under New Zealand laws aimed at preventing the distribution of objectionable material, Arps faced up to 14 years imprisonment on each count.
In other cases, at least five other people were also charged with illegally sharing the shooting video. An 18-year-old was jailed in March while the others weren’t kept in custody. The teen is accused of sharing the video and an image of the Al Noor mosque with the words “target acquired.” He is next due to appear in court on July 31.
The judge said Arps had argued he had a right to distribute the video under the banner of freedom to pursue his political beliefs.
Arps’ lawyer Anselm Williams told the judge that Arps should not be sent to prison.
“It’s my submission that this court needs to be very careful to sentence Mr. Arps based on what it is that he has actually done, and what he accepts he has done, not on the basis of the views that he holds,” Williams said.
After the hearing, Williams said Arps had filed an appeal against his sentence at the High Court, but declined to comment further.
Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, last week pleaded not guilty to 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one count of terrorism in the mosque shooting case. His trial has been scheduled for next May.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has helped lead a global pledge named the “Christchurch Call,” aimed at boosting efforts to keep Internet platforms from being used to spread hate, organize extremist groups and broadcast attacks. New Zealand has also tightened its gun laws and banned certain types of semi-automatic weapons since the attack.