Advance UN truce monitors arrive in Yemen’s Hodeidah

Retired Dutch general Patrick Cammaert in Aden. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 December 2018
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Advance UN truce monitors arrive in Yemen’s Hodeidah

  • Retired Dutch general Patrick Cammaert is heading a joint committee including members of the government and the Houthi rebels
  • He stopped in Sanaa before he arrived in Hodeidah

UNITED NATIONS: A UN advance team arrived in Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah on Sunday to start monitoring a cease-fire and withdrawal of forces agreed by the Iranian-aligned Houthi group and Saudi-backed government forces, the United Nations said.

The warring parties in Yemen’s nearly four-year war reached the deal at UN-sponsored peace talks in Sweden earlier this month. The truce began on Tuesday but skirmishes continued on the outskirts of the city.

The UN Security Council on Friday unanimously approved the deployment — for an initial 30 days — of an advance monitoring team led by retired Dutch General Patrick Cammaert. He is chair of a Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC) that includes representatives from both sides of the conflict.

“General Cammaert is encouraged by the general enthusiasm of both sides to get to work, immediately. One of the priorities in the coming days will be the organization of the first joint RCC meeting, which is projected for 26 December,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

Cammaert’s team, which the United Nations has said will not be uniformed or armed, will oversee the truce and troop withdrawal from Hodeidah city and three ports.

The United Nations will also provide support for the management of and inspections at the ports of Hodeidah, Salif and Ras Issa; and strengthen its presence in the war-torn region.

Hodeidah, the main port used to feed Yemen’s 30 million people, has been the focus of fighting this year, raising fears abroad that a full-scale assault could cut off supplies to nearly 16 million people suffering from severe hunger.

The deal reached in Sweden is meant to pave the way for a wider cease-fire in the impoverished country and a second round of talks in January on a framework for political negotiations.

A Sunni Muslim Arab alliance led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates entered the war in 2015 against the Houthis to restore the internationally recognized government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, which was ousted from the capital Sanaa.

The Houthis control most urban centers, including Sanaa, while Hadi’s government is based in the southern port of Aden.


Knox accuses media of having built false story around her

US journalist Amanda Knox cries as she addresses a panel discussion titled "Trial by Media" during the Criminal Justice Festival at the Law University of Modena, northern Italy on June 15, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 31 min 57 sec ago
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Knox accuses media of having built false story around her

  • Knox said she came back to Italy despite the fact that she was afraid of being “molested, derided, framed, that new accusations will be directed against me for telling my truth”

ROME: Taking the stage Saturday at an Italian conference on justice, Amanda Knox accused the media of having built a false narrative around her during her yearslong murder trial and appeals process, depicting her as guilty even though she was eventually acquitted.
The former exchange student from the United States who became the focus of a sensational murder case returned to Italy this week for the first time since an appeals court acquitted her in 2011 in the slaying of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher.
Knox, speaking in Italian on a panel discussion at the Criminal Justice Festival in Modena titled “Trial by media,” said she was depicted “on the global scene as cunning, psychopath, drug-addicted, whore. Guilty.”
Speaking through tears, she said the media that labelled her “Foxy Knoxy” invented a “false and baseless story, which fueled people’s fantasies and talked to their fears.”
Knox’s 2011 acquittal was part of a long legal process that saw multiple flip-flop rulings before she was definitively acquitted in 2015 by Italy’s highest court.
Knox said she came back to Italy despite the fact that she was afraid of being “molested, derided, framed, that new accusations will be directed against me for telling my truth.”
She also criticized Italian prosecutors, who described a scenario made up of “orgies and sex toys” during her first trial, even though that version of the story was toned down in the appeal.
Knox acknowledged that despite her final acquittal “I remain a controversial figure in the public opinion, especially here in Italy.”
She had been accused with her Italian boyfriend at the time, Raffaele Sollecito, and Ivorian-born Rudy Guede of killing Kercher on Nov. 1, 2007, in the university town of Perugia. After multiple rulings, Italy’s highest court definitively acquitted Knox and Sollecito in 2015. Guede is still serving a 16-year sentence.
During her speech, which was followed by a standing ovation, Knox recalled Perugia prosecutor Giuliano Mignini as the one who accused her in his search for justice.
“One day I’d like to meet the real Mignini, and I hope that when he comes, he will also see that I am not a monster, I simply am Amanda,” Knox said.
On Friday, the lawyer for Kercher’s family described Knox’s invitation to speak at the Criminal Justice Festival as “inappropriate.”
“Inviting her to a technical panel on justice was a mistake,” Francesco Maresca told The Associated Press, adding that “lawyers for both parts should have been involved.”