Philippines’ Duterte says no ‘justice’ for families of drugs war casualties

More than 4,200 suspected drug dealers have been killed by police in Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-narcotics campaign since June 2016. (Reuters)
Updated 19 June 2018
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Philippines’ Duterte says no ‘justice’ for families of drugs war casualties

MANILA: Outspoken Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday the families of people killed in his controversial war on drugs will not receive “justice,” rejecting calls from rights groups seeking redress for the thousands of deaths.
More than 4,200 suspected drug dealers have been killed by police in Duterte’s anti-narcotics campaign since June 2016, as well as several thousand more by unknown gunmen who authorities have described as vigilantes, or rival gang members.
Rights groups and critics of the campaign say some of the killings were summary executions.
Police deny the allegations, saying they had to use deadly force because the suspects were armed and had resisted arrest. They also deny activist allegations that they have falsified reports, staged crime scenes and systematically murdered small-time peddlers and users.
“If you think that you can get justice simply because you lost somebody who’s a bullshit into drugs, I’m sorry to tell you I will not allow it,” Duterte said in a speech on Monday.
He also reiterated that he would not allow the police and the military to go to jail for killing drug users and pushers.
“If you are shot and I know you are a drug lord, I will run over you five times,” said Duterte, who won the presidency in May 2016 on a platform of fighting corruption, crime and drugs.
Duterte has stopped police anti-drugs operations twice due to questions over the conduct of the force, including the killing of a teenager in a supposed anti-drug operation in 2017.
The 73-year old leader’s popularity had not diminished, according to opinion polls, despite drawing international criticism for his bloody war on drugs and human rights record.


Macron’s security aide charged over assaults caught on video

Updated 22 July 2018
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Macron’s security aide charged over assaults caught on video

  • The incident is the most damaging scandal to hit Macron since he took office last year
  • An aide to Macron and an employee of the ruling party were caught on video assaulting May Day protesters

PARIS: A former top security aide for French President Emmanuel Macron was charged Sunday along with an employee of the ruling party after they were caught on video assaulting May Day protesters, footage that went viral on social media.
In the most damaging scandal to hit Macron since he took office last year, Alexandre Benalla and Vincent Crase were charged with “gang violence,” Paris prosecutors said.
Three high-ranking police officers, already suspended on suspicion they illegally gave Benalla video surveillance footage of the incidents to help him try to clear his name, were charged with misappropriation of the images and violating professional secrecy.
The president has yet to comment on the scandal, but his office said Benalla was punished in May with a two-week suspension from active duty.
Yet Benalla continued to appear in Macron’s security details.
The opposition accuses Macron, who came to power on pledges to restore transparency and integrity to the nation’s highest office in order to ensure a “republic of responsibility,” of covering up for Benalla.
Benalla, 26, was fired Friday after video footage emerged showing him hitting a man at least twice as riot police looked on while breaking up a May Day protest in Paris.
Benalla, who was wearing a police helmet with visor as well as a police armband, was additionally charged with impersonating a police officer, as well as complicity in the unauthorized use of surveillance footage.
Interior Minister Gerard Collomb is to appear before parliament on Monday morning, with some MPs warning they will demand his resignation if he knew about the incident but kept quiet.
After publishing the first video of the incident last Wednesday, French daily Le Monde posted a second video showing Benalla violently wrestling a young woman to the ground during the scuffles on a square near the Rue Mouffetard, a picturesque Left Bank street.
Just days after the May 1 demonstrations, which were marred this year by anarchists who clashed with police, Macron had tweeted that “everything will be done so that those responsible will be identified and held accountable for their actions.”
In a third video, published by the Mediapart investigative news site, police officers are seen kicking and punching the young man even after he has been immobilized on the sidewalk.
The man and woman seen in the videos have come forward and plan to testify, a source close to the inquiry said.
The government has been forced to suspend debate on a constitutional reform bill after a revolt by lawmakers, who have announced investigations by both the National Assembly and Senate.
“If Macron doesn’t explain himself the Benalla affair will become the Macron affair,” far-right leader Marine Le Pen posted on Twitter.
“Why the devil did he insist on protecting a second-rank employee who should have been kicked out of the Elysee months ago?” rightwing daily Le Figaro asked in an editorial Sunday.
But ruling Republic on the Move (LREM) party spokesman Gabriel Attal defended the president’s silence.
If Macron speaks now, “we’d have indignant commentators everywhere saying his comments could influence the inquiry,” Attal said.
Adding to the controversy, Le Monde reported Friday that despite his suspension Benalla was allowed this month to move into a palatial mansion along the Seine reserved for Elysee workers.
He was also being provided with a car and chauffeur, the paper said.
Investigators have searched Benalla’s home in the Paris suburb of Issy-Les-Moulineaux, where a city hall official said Benalla was supposed to have married on Saturday.
The scandal could hardly have come at a worse time for Macron, whose approval ratings fell to a record low of 39 percent last week, defying analysts’ expectations of a post-World Cup bump.
“Macron defenseless,” the Journal du Dimanche said in a front-page headline on Sunday over a picture of the president and Benalla.