British PM vows to strengthen prison sentences after London attack

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Cars, buses and lorries remain in position as police officer stands guard inside a cordon on the south side of London Bridge in the City of London, on December 1, 2019, following the November 29 deadly terror incident. (AFP)
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Members of the public walk past police vans, blocking off the south side entrance to London Bridge in the City of London, on December 1, 2019, following the November 29 deadly terror incident.(AFP)
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A photograph of the first victim to be named, Jack Merritt, is pictured among floral tributes left close to London Bridge in the City of London, on December 1, 2019, following the November 29 deadly terror incident. (AFP)
Updated 01 December 2019

British PM vows to strengthen prison sentences after London attack

  • law and order has raced to the top of the election agenda after Usman Khan, wearing a fake suicide vest and wielding knives, killed two people
  • Johnson’s Conservatives have long championed tough police and prison measures

LONDON: Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday he would strengthen prison sentences, vowing to boost security after an attack in the British capital by a man convicted of terrorism who was released early from prison.
With less than two weeks before Britain heads to the polls, law and order has raced to the top of the election agenda after Usman Khan, wearing a fake suicide vest and wielding knives, killed two people on Friday before being shot dead by police.
Johnson’s Conservatives have long championed tough police and prison measures, but opposition parties have criticized the governing party for overseeing almost a decade of cuts to public services.
Trying to distance himself from those cuts, Johnson said if he won the Dec. 12 election he would invest more money in the prison system and make sentences tougher.
“We are going to bring in tougher sentences for serious sexual and violent offenders and for terrorists,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show.
“I absolutely deplore the fact that this man was out on the street, I think it was absolutely repulsive and we are going to take action.”
He was keen to portray his rival for prime minister, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, as being weak on crime, blaming the opposition party for bringing in a law that automatically released some prisoners early when it was in government.
Corbyn, a veteran peace campaigner, said he believed convicted terrorists should “not necessarily” serve their full prison terms, suggesting it would depend on the nature of their sentence and also how they had behaved in prison.
“It depends on the circumstances, it depends on the sentence, but crucially it depends on what they’ve done in the prison,” Corbyn told Sky News.
Despite criticizing cases where police and the army were accused of operating a shoot-to-kill policy in Northern Ireland, the Labour leader said the police had no choice but to shoot the attacker dead.

INVESTIGATION
Khan’s attack on a Friday on London Bridge stirred memories of Britain’s last election in 2017, when three militants drove a van into pedestrians in the same part of the capital and attacked people, killing eight and injuring at least 48.
Khan’s rampage was brought to an end, in part, because of bystanders, who wrestled him to the ground before the police shot him dead. So far the police have found no evidence to suggest Khan was working with others.
Queen Elizabeth expressed her “enduring thanks to the police and emergency services, as well as the brave individuals who put their own lives at risk to selflessly help and protect others.”
Three people remain in hospital, two of them in a stable condition, after Friday’s attack. The third person is suffering from less serious injuries.
The attack brought a somber tone to what has often been an ill-natured election campaign, which is presenting voters with a stark choice — Labour’s promise to raise taxes on the rich and businesses to fund a much expanded state or the Conservatives’ pledge to “get Brexit done” and move onto other issues.
While Corbyn’s team struck a moderate tone, with his top legal policy adviser Shami Chakrabarti questioning whether it was the time to make “knee-jerk” policy changes, Johnson again said only he could deliver Brexit, allowing Britain to move on to reforms such as to the criminal justice system.
“Obviously, I think we should be investing more in the criminal justice system,” said Johnson.
“What we are doing now, under this new one nation Conservative administration, (is) we are investing ... It is new in our approach and it is new in the way we will tackle the issue of public services.”


Four killed in India clash ahead of Trump arrival

A man supporting a new citizenship law throws a stone at those who are opposing the law, during a clash in New Delhi, India, February 24, 2020. (REUTERS)
Updated 31 min 17 sec ago

Four killed in India clash ahead of Trump arrival

  • The new law has raised worries abroad — including in Washington — that Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to remold secular India into a Hindu nation while marginalizing the country’s 200 million Muslims, a claim he denies

NEW DELHI: A policeman was among at least four people killed in New Delhi on Monday during violent clashes over a contentious citizenship law, local media said, hours before US President Donald Trump arrived in the Indian capital for an official visit.
Protesters torched at least two houses and shops before later setting a tire market on fire, the Press Trust of India said. Local TV channels showed plumes of black smoke billowing from buildings.
One video posted on social media showed crowds of men shouting “Jai Shree Ram” or “Hail Lord Ram,” a revered Hindu deity, as they went on a rampage.
Protests have broken out across India since the citizenship law came into force in December, leaving at least 30 people killed in clashes with police. Critics say the law discriminates against Muslims.
The new law has raised worries abroad — including in Washington — that Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to remold secular India into a Hindu nation while marginalizing the country’s 200 million Muslims, a claim he denies.
The latest unrest erupted between several hundred supporters and opponents of the law in a Muslim-dominated area of northeast Delhi on Sunday, and continued Monday.
A constable died after receiving a critical head injury, while another senior officer was among the injured.
Local media said three civilians also died and many people were hurt.
“Please renounce violence. Nobody benefits from this. All problems will be solved by peace,” Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia tweeted that schools in the capital’s northeast would be shut on Tuesday and exams postponed.
Trump arrived in the western state of Gujarat on Monday and addressed about 100,000 people at a rally with Modi before he visited the Taj Mahal monument in Agra.
Later Monday the US president landed in Delhi before official talks in the city on Tuesday.
A senior US official told reporters that Trump would raise concerns about religious freedom in the Hindu-majority nation during the trip, calling them “extremely important to this administration.”