Jury picked for US trial of Mexican drug lord El Chapo

In this Jan. 19, 2017 file photo provided U.S. law enforcement, authorities escort Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, center, from a plane to a waiting caravan of SUVs at Long Island MacArthur Airport, in Ronkonkoma, N.Y. (AP)
Updated 08 November 2018
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Jury picked for US trial of Mexican drug lord El Chapo

  • Earlier this week, a defense lawyer asked US District Judge Brian Cogan to grant a “humanitarian gesture” of letting Guzman greet his wife in the courtroom before the jury enters

NEW YORK: Jury selection at the US trial for Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was completed Wednesday with Guzman waiting for word on whether he can hug his wife for the first time in nearly two years.
A jury of seven women and five men are to hear opening statements Tuesday in the drug-conspiracy case against Guzman in federal court in Brooklyn.
Guzman has pleaded not guilty to charges accusing him of overseeing a drug cartel known for violence and for breaking him out of Mexican jails.
The notoriety has prompted security measures that include keeping the jurors anonymous. Guzman also has been held in solitary confinement and barred from seeing his wife out of concerns he could pass messages to his cohorts.
Earlier this week, a defense lawyer asked US District Judge Brian Cogan to grant a “humanitarian gesture” of letting Guzman greet his wife in the courtroom before the jury enters.
Allowing “an embrace with the railing between them would not pose a threat to security,” the letter read. The judge didn’t immediately rule on the request.
Most of the people picked either for the jury or to serve as six alternates said in initial screening that they had heard of Guzman through news reports or TV shows. They include a man and a woman said they are fluent in Spanish and a man who’s a retired corrections officer.
The judge put off swearing in the jurors until next week out of concern some still might try to duck duty for a trial expected to last into next year. He told lawyers that one of the jurors, after learning she was picked, wept while privately telling him she was afraid of the unwanted attention she would get if it was found out she was on the panel.
The woman was kept on after defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman argued that dismissing her would set the precedent that jurors could get out service “with a few tears.”


Kenyan police say gunmen kidnap Italian volunteer, wound 5 in attack on coast

Updated 15 min 19 sec ago
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Kenyan police say gunmen kidnap Italian volunteer, wound 5 in attack on coast

  • The wounded, who were all under the age of 25, were taken to hospital
  • The men, armed with AK-47 rifles, attacked the town of Chakama

NAIROBI: Kenya said on Wednesday gunmen kidnapped an Italian volunteer in the coastal region of Kilifi during an attack in which five people were wounded, the first time a foreigner has been abducted in the East African country in several years.
“The gang ... abducted an Italian lady aged 23 years who is a volunteer of Africa Milele Onlus, an NGO operating in the area,” the National Police Service said on Twitter.
The wounded, who were all under the age of 25, were taken to hospital and officers were pursuing the attackers, police said.
The men, armed with AK-47 rifles, attacked the town of Chakama on Tuesday evening, police said. The town is west of Malindi, a major tourism destination on the coast.
There was no immediate comment from the Italian government.
Police did not say if the gunmen were suspect militants from Al-Shabab, an Islamist group based in neighboring Somalia that has launched deadly attacks in Kenya for years, including the 2013 attack on a shopping mall in the capital, Nairobi, in which nearly 70 people were killed.
“Neither the reasons for the attack nor the identity of the attackers have been established,” police said.
An unidentified witness told Kenyan TV channel KTN News: “The European lady got out of her room, instead of lying on the ground, to inquire what was going on. One of the attackers then slapped her.”
“Their aim was to get money but they took off with her to the river and, before leaving the village, they started shooting in the air and they shot one woman and four boys,” the witness said.
The Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab aims to topple Somalia’s foreign-backed government and impose its own strict interpretation of Islam. They have intensified attacks in Kenya since it sent troops into Somalia in 2011.
Suspected Shabab militants have launched several attacks in recent months in which Kenyan soldiers have been killed but those attacks have all taken place in Lamu County, which is north of Kilifi and borders Somalia. The group has beheaded people in more than one of those attacks in Lamu County.
The town of Chakama in Kilifi County where the attack occurred is nearly 300 km (185 miles) southwest of the Kenya-Somalia border.