Spanish PM to block Catalonia referendum

Updated 02 August 2014

Spanish PM to block Catalonia referendum

MADRID: Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy repeated on Friday his threat to block attempts by leaders of the economically powerful Catalonia region to hold an independence referendum in November.
“The head of the government is obliged to enforce the law and this (referendum) is illegal,” he said at his first news conference since holding talks on Wednesday with the president of the regional government of Catalonia, Artur Mas.
During the meeting, the first between the two leaders since August 2013, Mas told Rajoy that he was “absolutely determined” to hold the referendum.
“I don’t know what will happen on November 9. Mr.Mas has said that he will not do anything illegal,” Rajoy added during the press conference.
Rajoy insists a referendum would be illegal under Spain’s constitution as it states sovereignty must be held nationally and not regionally.
But Mas points to polls that show a large majority of Catalans back his planned vote.
Mas, who has headed the Catalan government since 2010, began pushing for a referendum after he failed to clinch a better financial deal from the central government in 2012.
After regional polls that year, his conservative Convergence and Union party allied with the separatist Esquerra Republicana party, which has pressurised Mas into committing to a referendum.
With an economy roughly the size of Portugal’s, Catalonia, a region of 7.5 million — 16 percent of the Spanish population — has long been an economic powerhouse in a country where just under a quarter of people are unemployed.
Proud of their distinct language and culture, a growing number of Catalans resent the redistribution of their taxes to other parts of Spain and believe the region would be better off on its own.
Support for independence itself was about 45 percent in April, according to the regional government’s most recent poll, compared with about 20 percent before Mas took office.


Indian woman who alleged gang rape dies after burn attack

Updated 27 min 23 sec ago

Indian woman who alleged gang rape dies after burn attack

  • The woman was attacked in the state of Uttar Pradesh by a group of men that included two of the five she had accused of gang rape last year
  • The 23-year-old woman suffered extensive injuries and was airlifted Thursday from Uttar Pradesh to Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi, where she died late Friday of cardiac arrest

NEW DELHI: An alleged rape victim in northern India who was set on fire while heading to a court hearing in the case has died in a New Delhi hospital, officials said Saturday.
The woman was attacked in the state of Uttar Pradesh by a group of men that included two of the five she had accused of gang rape last year, police said. The two were out of custody on bail.
Five men were arrested in connection with the burn attack, police said.
The 23-year-old woman suffered extensive injuries and was airlifted Thursday from Uttar Pradesh to Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi, where she died late Friday of cardiac arrest, said Dr. Shalab Kumar, head of the hospital’s burn unit.
Yogi Adityanath, the state’s chief minister, said that the case would be heard in a fast track court and that the “strictest of punishment will be given to the culprits.”
Priyanka Gandhi, general secretary of the opposition Congress party, faulted the Uttar Pradesh government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, for failing to provide the woman with security, even after a similar case in the state in which a woman who accused a BJP lawmaker of rape was severely injured in a vehicle hit-and-run incident.
Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, is known for its poor record regarding crimes against women. According to the most recent available official crime records, police registered more than 4,200 cases of rape in the state in 2017 — the most in India.
Government figures for 2017 also show that police registered 33,658 cases of rape in the country. But the real figure is believed to be far higher as many women in India don’t report cases to police due to fear.
Indian courts also seem to be struggling to deal with these cases. Data shows that more than 90% of cases of crimes against women are pending in city courts.
The burn victim’s death came on the same day police in the southern state of Telangana fatally shot four men being held on suspicion of raping and killing a 27-year-old veterinarian after investigators took them to the crime scene. Their deaths drew both praise and condemnation in a case that has sparked protests across the country.
The woman’s burned corpse was found last week by a passer-by near the city of Hyderabad, India’s tech hub, after she went missing the previous night.
Police took the four suspects, who had not been charged with any crime, to the scene to help them locate the victim’s phone and other items, officials said. They said the men grabbed police firearms and began shooting, and were killed when police returned fire.
The Telangana High Court ordered authorities to preserve the bodies of the suspects and submit a video of the autopsies ahead of a court hearing set for Monday.
Separately, the National Commission on Human Rights, an autonomous body within India’s Parliament, sent a fact-finding mission to the crime scene and mortuary where the suspects’ bodies were held on Saturday amid questions from opposition lawmakers about the circumstances of the suspects’ deaths.