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.


Radical cleric behind Bali bombing to be freed from prison

Updated 9 min 36 sec ago
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Radical cleric behind Bali bombing to be freed from prison

  • Abu Bakar Bashir is believed to have been a key figure in terror network Jemaah Islamiyah
  • ‘He is old ... and his health condition was also part of the consideration’

JAKARTA: A radical cleric thought to be the spiritual leader of the Bali bombers will be released from prison on medical grounds, Indonesia’s president said Friday.
Abu Bakar Bashir, 80, is believed to have been a key figure in terror network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), which was blamed for the 2002 bombings on the holiday island which killed more than 200 people, mostly foreign tourists.
It was Indonesia’s deadliest militant attack and prompted Jakarta to beef up anti-terror cooperation with the US and Australia, which has previously opposed clemency for Bashir.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said on Friday that he had agreed to order the ailing preacher’s release from a prison on the outskirts of the capital.
“The first reason is humanitarian,” Widodo told reporters.
“He is old ... and his health condition was also part of the consideration.”
Widodo did not say when Bashir would be released, but one of the cleric’s lawyers said it could be as early as next week.
Bashir, speaking from Gunung Sindur prison, welcomed the news.
“If I am released, I’ll praise Allah,” he told reporters, adding he was not hostile to the state.
In 2011, the firebrand preacher — once synonymous with militant Islam in Indonesia — was sentenced to 15 years in jail for helping fund a paramilitary group training in the conservative Islamic province of Aceh.
Bashir, the co-founder of an infamous Islamic boarding school known for producing militants, was jailed after authorities in the world’s biggest Muslim majority country broke up the camp.
Several militants convicted over their involvement in the Bali bombings have been executed while two others, including Malaysian Noordin Mohammed Top, were killed in police raids in 2009 and 2010.
Bashir, who has repeatedly denied involvement in terror attacks, was also previously jailed over the Bali bombings but that conviction was quashed on appeal.
Al-Qaeda-linked JI was founded by a handful of exiled Indonesian militants in Malaysia in the 1980s, and grew to include cells across Southeast Asia.
As well as the 2002 Bali bombings, the radical group was blamed for a deadly 2003 car bomb at the JW Marriott hotel in Jakarta and a suicide car bomb the following year outside the Australian embassy.
An anti-terror crackdown weakened some of Indonesia’s most dangerous networks, including Jemaah Islamiyah.
The Daesh group proved to be a potent rallying cry for Indonesia’s radicals, with hundreds traveling to the Middle East to join the militants.
Last year, a wave of deadly suicide bombings at churches and a police post rocked Indonesia’s second biggest city Surabaya.
Those attacks were carried out by families — including children — linked to local extremist network Jamaah Ansharut Daulah, which has pledged allegiance to Daesh.