Life in prison for neo-Nazi in Charlottesville attack

Susan Bro, mother of Heather Heyer, talks to the media in front of Charlottesville Circuit Court after a jury recommended life plus 419 years for Alex James Fields Jr. for the death of Heyer as well as several other charges related to the White the Right rally in 2017 in Charlottesville. (AP)
Updated 11 December 2018

Life in prison for neo-Nazi in Charlottesville attack

  • The same seven-woman, five-man jury that convicted Fields sentenced him to life in prison on Tuesday and an additional 419 years
  • President Donald Trump drew broad criticism in the aftermath of the mayhem when he spoke of “blame on both sides,” appearing to establish a moral equivalence between the white supremacists and those who opposed them

WASHINGTON: An American neo-Nazi who drove his car into a group of counter-protesters last year during a white supremacist rally in Virginia, killing a woman, was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday.
James Alex Fields Jr, 21, was found guilty of murder and other charges last week following a two-week jury trial in Charlottesville.
The same seven-woman, five-man jury that convicted Fields sentenced him to life in prison on Tuesday and an additional 419 years.
Fields rammed his car into the counter-protesters on August 12, 2017, killing 32-year-old paralegal Heather Heyer and injuring dozens of other people.
Those counter-protesters had gathered in opposition to a group of white supremacists who came to the university town to protest the removal of a Confederate statue.
President Donald Trump drew broad criticism in the aftermath of the mayhem when he spoke of “blame on both sides,” appearing to establish a moral equivalence between the white supremacists and those who opposed them.
The incident turned Charlottesville into a symbol of the growing audacity of the far right under Trump.
Fields had driven overnight from his hometown of Maumee, Ohio, to support the “Unite the Right” rally to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E Lee, the top general of the pro-slavery Confederacy during the 1861-1865 American Civil War.
Dressed in a white polo shirt and khaki pants, the uniform of the white supremacists, he took part in racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic chants, according to footage played in the courtroom.
The prosecution played videos that showed Fields stop his car and reverse up a hill before commencing his deadly assault on counter-protesters who were singing and celebrating after city officials had ordered the far-right demonstrators to leave.
In order to build their case of a pre-meditated attack, prosecutors presented a text Fields sent to his mother before departing for the rally after she had asked him to be careful
“We’re not the one (sic) who need to be careful,” he replied, alongside a photo of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, whom he has long admired.
They also showed the jury two Instagram posts Fields uploaded in May last year that depicted a car ramming into a group of protesters, arguing that he ultimately chose to live out that fantasy when the opportunity arose three months later.


Italy has nothing to fear from ESM reform, PM Conte says

Updated 38 min 50 sec ago

Italy has nothing to fear from ESM reform, PM Conte says

  • Critics of the planned changes to the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) say they would make it more likely that Italy will have to restructure its debt
  • During his speech to parliament, Conte sharply rejected criticisms by the right-wing League and Brothers of Italy parties

ROME: Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte dismissed criticisms of planned reforms to the euro zone bailout fund on Wednesday, saying the proposals, which have been heavily attacked by right-wing opposition parties, posed no threat to Italy.

Critics of the planned changes to the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) say they would make it more likely that Italy will have to restructure its debt, the highest in the euro area as a proportion of national output after Greece’s.

“Italy has nothing to fear ... its debt is fully sustainable, as the main international institutions, including the (EU) Commission have said,” Conte told parliament ahead of a European Council meeting this week to discuss the reform.

He repeated that Rome would not agree to any restrictions on banks holding sovereign debt.

During his speech to parliament, Conte sharply rejected criticisms by the right-wing League and Brothers of Italy parties, saying they appeared aimed at undermining Italy’s membership of the single currency.

“Some of the positions that have emerged during the public debate have unveiled the ill-concealed hope of bringing our country out of the euro zone or even from the European Union,” Conte said.

The League and Brothers of Italy have attacked the planned reforms to the ESM, which they say will open the door for a forced restructuring of Italy’s public debt that would hit Italian banks and savers who invest in government bonds.

Some members of the anti-establishment 5 Star Movement have made similar criticisms, adding to tensions with their partner in the ruling coalition, the center-left Democratic Party.

Lawmakers from 5 Star and the Democratic Party appeared to have smoothed over their differences on Wednesday, however, agreeing to drop demands for a veto on measures that could make it easier to reach a debt restructuring accord.

In a final resolution, they scrapped calls for a veto on so-called single limb collective action clauses (CACS), that limit the ability of individual investors to delay any restructuring agreement by holding out for better terms.

Under the new system, restructuring would go ahead after a single, aggregate vote by bondholders regarding all affected bonds while the clauses currently in place require an aggregate vote as well as an individual bond-by-bond vote.

Italy has asked to clarify that the new clauses will not rule out the so-called sub-aggregation, allowing separate votes for different groups of bond issuances to protect small investors, a government official told Reuters.