UK's Johnson to meet EU's Juncker on Monday for Brexit talks

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits Doncaster Market, in Doncaster, Britain, September 13, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 13 September 2019

UK's Johnson to meet EU's Juncker on Monday for Brexit talks

  • Johnson will "hold talks with President Juncker on Brexit," his Downing Street office said without providing further details
  • On Thursday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson denied that he had lied to Queen Elizabeth II when requesting she suspend Parliament this month in the run-up to Brexit

LONDON: Boris Johnson will meet EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker in Luxembourg on Monday, officials said, as the British prime minister bids to broker a Brexit compromise ahead of the October 31 deadline.
Johnson will "hold talks with President Juncker on Brexit," his Downing Street office said without providing further details.
EU spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud told reporters that the two would have a working lunch that was arranged by "common accord".
The British pound gained one percent against the dollar in Friday trading on speculation that the two sides were edging closer to a compromise over the contentious Irish border issue.
Johnson refuses to sign off on an agreement that includes the "backstop," a compromise intended to keep the frontier open for trade and crossings in all post-Brexit scenarios.
It was accepted by his predecessor Theresa May but repeatedly failed to win backing in the British parliament.
Eurosceptics fear the stop-gap measures designed for the border between EU member Ireland and the UK province of Northern Ireland would keep Britain indefinitely trapped in bloc's trade zone.
The Times reported on Friday that the DUP, a small Northern Irish party that had helped the ruling Conservatives in London form a majority in parliament since 2017, was now ready to abide by some EU rules.
But DUP leader Arlene Foster denied the report, calling it "nonsense".
"UK must leave as one nation," she tweeted.
Johnson no longer commands a working majority in the House of Commons, and lawmakers have instructed him to seek a deadline extension from Brussels if no deal emerges.
Johnson has refused, vowing to get Brexit done on schedule and insisting he would strike a new deal.

On Thursday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson denied that he had lied to Queen Elizabeth II when requesting she suspend Parliament this month in the run-up to Brexit.
Johnson asked the British head of state to shutter Parliament for five weeks from last Tuesday, claiming it was necessary ahead of rolling out a new domestic agenda.
The unusually long suspension — known as prorogation — was widely seen as a bid to thwart opposition to a no-deal Brexit on October 31 and provoked uproar across the political spectrum as well as legal challenges.
The government was forced Wednesday to release its no-deal Brexit contingency plans after a parliamentary vote, but the opposition has accused it of withholding information.
A Scottish court this week sided with critics of the prorogation, ruling it was “unlawful” and intended to “stymie parliament.”
Asked if he had misled Queen Elizabeth over his motives for the suspension, which will see the House of Commons closed until Oct.14, Johnson said: “Absolutely not.”
“We need to get on and do all sorts of things at a national level,” he added.
Johnson’s government has appealed against Wednesday’s decision by Scotland’s highest civil court and the case is set to be heard in Britain’s Supreme Court next Tuesday.
In the meantime, Parliament remains suspended.
Northern Ireland’s High Court on Thursday dismissed several lawsuits filed there arguing the prorogation was illegal and that a no-deal Brexit would breach the terms of the province’s 1998 peace accord.
Tom Brake, Brexit spokesman for the pro-EU opposition Liberal Democrats, said the government was sitting on internal documents, messages and emails about the decision to prorogue Parliament.

“I suspect that those documents ... will confirm that the prime minister lied about the reason why,” he said.
“We all know that the reason he wanted to shut down parliament is because he didn’t want parliament holding him to account.”
 


Two accomplices in Kenya’s Westgate attack jailed for 33 and 18 years

Updated 30 October 2020

Two accomplices in Kenya’s Westgate attack jailed for 33 and 18 years

  • Mohamed Ahmed Abdi and Hassan Hussein Mustafa, both 31, were found guilty on October 7 of conspiring with and supporting the four assailants
  • The convicted men were in regular contact with the attackers who at midday on September 21, 2013, stormed the upscale Westgate mall in the Kenyan capital

NAIROBI: A Kenyan court Friday handed prison terms of 33 and 18 years respectively to two men accused of conspiring with the Al-Shabab extremists who attacked Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall in 2013, killing 67 people.

Mohamed Ahmed Abdi and Hassan Hussein Mustafa, both 31, were found guilty on October 7 of conspiring with and supporting the four assailants from the Somalia-based extremist group who died in what was then Kenya’s worst terrorist attack in 15 years.

The accused asked the judge for leniency, saying they had already served seven years behind bars and had family to care for.

“Despite mitigation by their defense lawyers on their innocence, the offense committed was serious, devastating, destructive, that called for a punishment by the court,” Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi told a Nairobi courtroom.

He sentenced the men to 18 years for conspiracy and 18 for supporting extremists, but ordered they serve both terms together. Abdi was also given an additional 15 years for two counts of possessing extremist propaganda material on his laptop.

He will serve 26 years and Mustafa 11, taking into account their pre-trial detention.

The convicted men were in regular contact with the attackers who at midday on September 21, 2013, stormed the upscale Westgate mall in the Kenyan capital and began throwing grenades and firing indiscriminately on shoppers and business owners.

A four-day siege ensued — much of it broadcast live on television — during which Kenyan security forces tried to flush out the gunmen and take back the high-end retail complex.

Although there was no specific evidence Abdi and Mustafa had provided material help, the court was satisfied their communication with the attackers amounted to supporting the armed rampage, and justified the guilty verdict for conspiracy.

The marathon trial began in January 2014. A third accused was acquitted of all charges.
The Westgate attack was claimed by Al-Shabab in retaliation for Kenya intervening military over the border in Somalia, where the extremist group was waging a bloody insurgency against the fragile central government.

Kenya is a major contributor of troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which in 2011 drove Al-Shabab out of Mogadishu and other urban strongholds after a months-long offensive.

In a car the attackers drove to Westgate, police found evidence of newly-activated SIM cards used by the gunmen. Their communications were traced, including calls to Mohamed Ahmed Abdi and Hassan Hussein Mustafa.

A fourth defendant, Adan Mohammed Abdikadir, was acquitted in early 2019 for lack of evidence.

The Westgate attack was the deadliest incident of violent extremism on Kenyan soil since the 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi, which killed 213 people.

But since the assault on the shopping complex, Al-Shabab has perpetrated further atrocities in Kenya against civilian targets.

In April 2015, gunmen entered Garissa University and killed 148 people, almost all of them students. Many were shot point blank after being identified as Christians.

In January 2019, the militants struck Nairobi again, hitting the Dusit Hotel and surrounding offices and killing 21 people.

Al-Shabab warned in a January statement that Kenya “will never be safe” as long as its troops were stationed in Somalia, and threatened further attacks on tourists and US interests.

That same month, Al-Shabab attacked a US military base in northeast Kenya in a cross-border raid, killing three Americans and destroying a number of aircraft.