Judge denies El Chapo-wife embrace, deems too risky

Authorities escort Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzman from a plane to a waiting caravan of SUVs in New York(Reuters)
Updated 08 November 2018
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Judge denies El Chapo-wife embrace, deems too risky

  • Guzman has been held in solitary confinement since he was extradited to the US in January 2017
  • Guzman is on trial, accused of smuggling drugs into the United States over a quarter of a century

NEW YORK: The US judge overseeing the New York trial of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman ruled Thursday that the notorious drug baron could not hug his beauty queen wife, as requested, just before opening statements are to begin.
Guzman has been held in solitary confinement since he was extradited to the United States in January 2017, after twice escaping from prison in Mexico, subjected to the strictest inmate security protocols in the United States.
This week, with jury selection underway in a Brooklyn federal court for his trial, he asked Judge Brian Cogan, in a letter submitted by his lawyer, if he could greet and embrace wife Emma Coronel before opening statements begin next Tuesday, kicking off the substantive part of the four-month trial.
But while Cogan praised Guzman’s “exemplary” behavior in court and confinement to date, and for having “displayed considerable grace under pressure,” the request was denied as “contrary to all” security procedures.
Guzman, 61, is banned from communicating with or having any physical contact with 29-year-old Coronel, the mother of the couple’s seven-year-old twin girls.
The restrictions, Cogan noted, were “tailored to the government’s legitimate objectives of preventing” Guzman from “coordinating any escape from prison or directing any attack” on cooperating witnesses.
“This is especially true on the eve of trial, when the reality of the potential liability defendant faces if convicted may be setting in and his motivation to escape or threaten witnesses might be particularly strong.”
Guzman is on trial, accused of smuggling drugs into the United States over a quarter of a century, and is likely to spend the rest of his life behind bars in a maximum security US jail if convicted.
A jury of seven women and five men have been selected to determine whether Guzman is guilty on 11 trafficking, firearms and money laundering charges.


Sri Lanka parliament to meet in showdown between rival PMs

Updated 14 November 2018
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Sri Lanka parliament to meet in showdown between rival PMs

  • Sri Lanka has been locked in a power struggle since the prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was sacked
  • The power struggle has crippled the work of the administration

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s parliament will meet under tight security Wednesday, after the top court ruled its dissolution illegal and opened the door to a vote on which of two rival prime ministers has the support to rule.
Sri Lanka has been locked in a power struggle since the president sacked prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on October 26 and replaced him with former strongman president Mahinda Rajapaksa.
On Tuesday the Supreme Court overruled President Maithripala Sirisena’s dissolution of parliament, and halted preparations for a snap election, in a major boost for the ousted prime minister.
Wickremesinghe is confident he can command a majority and wants a vote on the floor of the 225-member assembly to determine the legitimacy of the government installed by presidential diktat.
“Speaker Karu Jayasuriya ordered the police to ensure that MPs have free access to parliament,” a spokesman for the Speaker said. “There will be tight security.”
Thousands of armed police have been deployed along the key approach roads to parliament, which is located on a man-made lake island, with several anti-riot units on standby.
Parliament officials fear that supporters of Rajapaksa’s party may try to stop legislators getting to parliament.
However, by early Wednesday there were no large crowds and only small pockets of Wickremesinghe supporters gathered near the parliament complex.
Rajapaksa’s party was divided Tuesday on facing a test in parliament. His legislator son Namal Rajapaksa said they will attend the legislature, but other party seniors said they would not.
Sirisena sacked the legislature after his party admitted that they did not have an absolute majority despite engineering the defections of eight legislators from Wickremesinghe’s party.
Since then, at least two legislators have ditched Rajapaksa and joined Wickremesinghe’s UNP party which insists it has a comfortable majority in the House.
Wickremesinghe, who insists he is still the prime minister, has refused to vacate the official Temple Trees residence which is a symbol of state power in the island.
The power struggle has crippled the work of the administration, according to lawmakers on both sides.