Trial begins over Charlie Hebdo terrorist killings that shook France

Trial begins over Charlie Hebdo terrorist killings that shook France
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Hooded gunmen Cherif Kouachi and his brother Said Kouachi aiming Kalashnikov rifles toward police officer Ahmed Merabet, before shooting him dead after leaving the office of the satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7, 2015. (FILE/AFP/Courtesy of Jordi Mir)
Trial begins over Charlie Hebdo terrorist killings that shook France
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Hooded gunmen Cherif Kouachi and his brother Said Kouachi aiming Kalashnikov rifles toward a police officer, before shooting him dead after leaving the office of the satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7, 2015. (FILE/AFP/Courtesy of Jordi Mir)
Trial begins over Charlie Hebdo terrorist killings that shook France
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The covers of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo reading “All of this, just for that,” to be published on Sept. 2 to mark this week’s start of the trial for 14 accused in Jan. 2015 jihadist attacks in Paris. (AFP)
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Updated 02 September 2020

Trial begins over Charlie Hebdo terrorist killings that shook France

Trial begins over Charlie Hebdo terrorist killings that shook France
  • Evidence will be presented by 150 witnesses and experts
  • The Daesh-claimed France attacks that started on Jan. 7, 2015 saw 250 people killed

PARIS: Fourteen people accused of helping terrorist gunmen attack the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket went on trial Wednesday, over five years after days of terror that sent shockwaves through France.
The attacks that began on Jan. 7, 2015 sparked a series of terrorist attacks on French soil, including “lone wolf” killings by people said to be inspired by the Daesh group that have since claimed more than 250 lives.
The weekly — whose taboo-shattering style makes it for supporters a beacon of free speech — in a typically defiant move in its Wednesday issue republished cartoons of the prophet Mohammed that had angered Muslims around the world.
The trial got underway at a special court in Paris and will over the next two-and-half-months hear from some 150 experts and witnesses in hearings that will again open up one of the most painful chapters in France’s modern history.
Although the three assailants were killed by police, prosecutors have rejected claims that the trial will focus only on “little helpers” suspected of providing weapons or organizational support.
“It is about individuals who are involved in the logistics, the preparation of the events, who provided means of financing, operational material, weapons, a residence,” national anti-terror prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard told France Info radio on Monday.
“All this is essential to a terrorist operation,” he said, adding that relatives of the 17 victims and others would testify at the trial.

Twelve people, including some of France’s most celebrated cartoonists, were gunned down on Jan. 7, 2015, when brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi stormed the paper’s offices in eastern Paris.
A day later, Amedy Coulibaly, who became close to Cherif Kouachi while they were in prison, killed a 27-year-old police officer, Clarissa Jean-Philippe, during a traffic check in Montrouge, outside Paris.
Then on Jan. 9, Coulibaly killed four men, all Jews, during a hostage-taking at the Hyper Cacher supermarket in Paris. He recorded a video saying the three attacks were coordinated and carried out in the name of the Daesh terror group.
Coulibaly was killed when police stormed the supermarket. The Kouachi brothers were killed when officers carried out a nearly simultaneous operation at the printing shop where they were holed up in Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris.
“We will never lie down. We will never give up,” Charlie Hebdo director Laurent “Riss” Sourisseau, who was wounded in the attack and will attend the trial, wrote in an editorial published Wednesday.
The publication of the cartoons drew fresh condemnation from Pakistan’s foreign ministry, which said the decision to print them again was “deeply offensive.”
But French President Emmanuel Macron defended the “freedom to blaspheme” and paid tribute to the victims of the attack.
“A president of France should never judge the editorial choice of a journalist or editorial staff because there is freedom of the press which is rightly cherished,” he said on a visit to Beirut.
Christophe Deloire, the head of the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) press freedom group, hailed the decision to republish the cartoons.
“It is a courageous move and a very strong affirmation of their freedom of expression and their refusal to be intimidated,” he said outside the court.

The trial was originally set for last spring but was delayed by the coronavirus crisis that shut down most French courthouses.
Of the 14 suspects, three are being tried in absentia: Hayat Boumedienne, Coulibaly’s girlfriend, and two brothers, Mohamed and Mehdi Belhoucine, all of whom fled for IS-controlled areas in Syria or Iraq just days before the attacks.
The Belhoucine brothers were reportedly killed while fighting alongside IS, while French officials suspect Boumedienne is on the run in Syria. Arrests warrants remain outstanding for all three.
Mohamed Belhoucine and Ali Riza Polat, a French citizen of Turkish origin, face the most serious charges of complicity in a terrorist act, which carried a a maximum sentence of life in jail.
The former is thought to have become the ideological mentor of Coulibaly after meeting him in jail, opening up channels of communication for him to IS.
Polat, seen as close to Coulibaly, is suspected of playing a central role in preparing the attacks, notably by helping to build up the arsenal of weapons used.
Most of the other suspects are on trial for association with a terror group, a crime that comes with a prison sentence of up to 20 years.
Given its historical importance, the trial at the Paris courthouse will be filmed for France’s official archives, a first for a terror trial. It is scheduled to run until Nov. 10.


Top diplomats from Israel, UAE, Greece, Cyprus meet

Israeli, Emirati, Greek and Cypriot foreign ministers held meetings in Cyprus for two days starting from Friday. (Supplied/Greek MOFA)
Israeli, Emirati, Greek and Cypriot foreign ministers held meetings in Cyprus for two days starting from Friday. (Supplied/Greek MOFA)
Updated 15 min 42 sec ago

Top diplomats from Israel, UAE, Greece, Cyprus meet

Israeli, Emirati, Greek and Cypriot foreign ministers held meetings in Cyprus for two days starting from Friday. (Supplied/Greek MOFA)
  • The ministers were discussing economic and security issues, the coronavirus pandemic, and possible travel corridors

PAPHOS: The Israeli, Emirati, Greek and Cypriot foreign ministers held meetings in Cyprus for two days starting from Friday, Cyprus and Israel said.

Israel said the talks in Paphos on the island's west coast would be the first meeting of its kind involving the four nations, as part of efforts to advance regional strategic interests.

The ministers were discussing economic and security issues, the coronavirus pandemic, and possible travel corridors to encourage tourism, Israel's foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

Cyprus said the unprecedented four-way talks, lasting into Saturday, would "take advantage of the prospects opened" by "the recent normalisation of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates."

The UAE and Israel formalized ties last year, one of four deals the US brokered between Israel and Arab countries.

The talks also follow tensions between Turkey and its neighbours over gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.

The Cypriot ministry said the meetings would touch on the "pandemic and its effects, economic cooperation, energy (and) tourism", among other issues, and aimed "to enhance peace, stability, and security in the wider region."


Myanmar’s ousted MPs form new shadow government

Myanmar’s ousted MPs form new shadow government
Updated 16 April 2021

Myanmar’s ousted MPs form new shadow government

Myanmar’s ousted MPs form new shadow government
  • Helming the so-called ‘National Unity Government’ is Aung San Suu Kyi, in her position as State Counsellor, and President Win Myint — who is also under house arrest
  • The junta has said anyone working with the CRPH is committing ‘high treason,’ and have announced arrest warrants for hundreds of prominent activists and politicians

YANGON: A “parliament” working in hiding to oust Myanmar’s junta from power announced a new shadow government Friday, with deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi at its helm alongside ethnic minority politicians.
The country has been in turmoil since the military detained Suu Kyi and seized power, triggering a massive uprising that the junta has sought to quell with lethal force.
Besides demanding for democracy’s return, protesters are also increasingly calling for more of a governing role for the country’s minority groups — which have long seen their voices marginalized by the ethnic Bamar majority.
The Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) — a group of lawmakers mostly from Suu Kyi’s party attempting to govern underground via a shadow parliament — on Friday announced its leaders.
Helming the so-called “National Unity Government” is Suu Kyi, in her position as State Counsellor, and President Win Myint — who is also under house arrest and facing a barrage of charges from the junta.
They are flanked by a vice president who is ethnic Kachin and a prime minister who is ethnic Karen, said Min Ko Naing, a prominent democracy leader, in an address on the CRPH’s official Facebook page.
“We have organized a government which has the largest number of ethnic minority groups,” he said.
A list of appointed ministers also included prominent leaders from the Chin, Shanni, Mon, Karenni and Ta’ang ethnic groups.
The politicians were chosen based on results from the 2020 election, input from a nationwide anti-coup protest movement, and ethnic minority groups — including armed rebels in the country’s border territories, said Min Ko Naing.
“We have to pull it from the root... we must try to eradicate it,” he said, as he raised the three-finger salute — the symbol of resistance
“Only the people can decide the future.”
The junta has said anyone working with the CRPH is committing “high treason,” and have announced arrest warrants for hundreds of prominent activists and politicians — some of whom now hold positions in the new “National Unity Government.”
Myanmar has more than 130 official ethnic minority groups.
But the country’s political fate has long been tightly held by the Bamar majority — first under a nearly five-decade junta regime which forced a so-called “Bamarization” on minorities; and then under Suu Kyi’s administration.
Since the coup, more than 720 people have been killed in anti-coup unrest, according to the local monitoring group.


Pakistan appoints new finance minister in latest cabinet shake-up

Pakistan appoints new finance minister in latest cabinet shake-up
Updated 16 April 2021

Pakistan appoints new finance minister in latest cabinet shake-up

Pakistan appoints new finance minister in latest cabinet shake-up
  • Hammad Azhar, who was made finance minister less than a month ago, has now been replaced by Shaukat Tarin
  • Pakistan is currently working on national budget and on implementing economic reforms suggested by the IMF

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan appointed a new finance minister on Friday, replacing Hammad Azhar, who received the portfolio less than a month ago.

Shaukat Tarin, the new appointee, is a banker who also served at the same position from 2009 to 2010 under the Pakistan Peoples Party administration of former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.

The news was announced by the newly appointed information minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain who shared the notification of the recent cabinet reshuffle in a Twitter post:

“Prime Minister Imran Khan has made changes in the cabinet, the details of these changes are attached.”

 

 

Azhar will now look after the Energy Ministry. He was given the additional portfolio of finance and revenue after Abdul Hafeez Shaikh was recently asked to step down last month over what the government described as rising inflation.

The change to the finance ministry comes at a time when the government is working on the annual budget which is likely to be presented in June. Pakistan's economic managers are also implementing structural reforms suggested by the International Monetary Fund to the country's economy.

Apart from the two cabinet changes, the prime minister also took the Economic Affairs Ministry from Makhdoom Khusro Bukhtiar and gave him the Ministry of Industries and Production.

Omar Ayub, who was previously supervising the Power and Petroleum Divisions, has now been tasked to take care of the Economic Affairs Ministry.

Senator Shibli Faraz has also been assigned the Ministry of Science and Technology which fell vacant when Chaudhry Fawad Hussain was appointed as federal minister for information and broadcasting.

“As info minister my task is to change misperceptions about Pak[istan] and highlight the vibrant effort of the Government,” Hussain wrote on Twitter.

 

 


Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai jailed for 12 months over huge democracy rally

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai jailed for 12 months over huge democracy rally
Updated 16 April 2021

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai jailed for 12 months over huge democracy rally

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai jailed for 12 months over huge democracy rally
  • Jimmy Lai currently in custody after his arrest under Beijing’s sweeping national security law

HONG KONG: Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai was jailed for 12 months on Friday over one of the city’s biggest ever protests in 2019.
It is the first time the 73-year-old – who is currently in custody after his arrest under Beijing’s sweeping national security law – has received a sentence for his activism.


Police: 8 dead in shooting at FedEx facility in Indianapolis

Police: 8 dead in shooting at FedEx facility in Indianapolis
Updated 16 April 2021

Police: 8 dead in shooting at FedEx facility in Indianapolis

Police: 8 dead in shooting at FedEx facility in Indianapolis
  • The shooter wasn’t immediately identified
  • At least four were hospitalized, including one person with critical injures
INDIANAPOLIS: Eight people were shot and killed in a late-night shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, and the shooter has killed himself, police said.
Multiple other people were injured Thursday night when gunfire erupted at the facility near the Indianapolis International Airport, police spokesperson Genae Cook said.
At least four were hospitalized, including one person with critical injures. Another two people were treated and released at the scene, Cook said.
The shooter wasn’t immediately identified, and Cook said investigators were still in the process of conducting interviews and gathering information.
Police were called to reports of gunfire just after 11 p.m. and officers observed an active shooting scene, Cook said. The gunman later killed himself.
FedEx released a statement saying it is cooperating with authorities and working to get more information.
“We are aware of the tragic shooting at our FedEx Ground facility near the Indianapolis airport. Safety is our top priority, and our thoughts are with all those who are affected,” the statement said.
Family members gathered at a local hotel to await word on loved ones. Some said employees aren’t allowed to have their phones with them while working shifts at the facility, making it difficult to contact them, WTHR-TV reported.
Live video from news outlets at the scene showed crime scene tape in the parking lot outside the facility.
A witness who said he works at the facility told WISH-TV that he saw a man with a gun after hearing several gunshots.
“I saw a man with a submachine gun of some sort, an automatic rifle, and he was firing in the open,” Jeremiah Miller said.
Another man told WTTV that his niece was sitting in her car in the driver’s seat when the gunfire erupted, and she was wounded.
“She got shot on her left arm,” said Parminder Singh. “She’s fine, she’s in the hospital now.”
He said his niece did not know the shooter.