Briton facing death penalty in Iraq over pottery smuggling pleads with court

Briton facing death penalty in Iraq over pottery smuggling pleads with court
Jim Fitton, left, and Volker Waldmann outside a courtroom in Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, May 15, 2022. (AP Photo)
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Updated 16 May 2022

Briton facing death penalty in Iraq over pottery smuggling pleads with court

Briton facing death penalty in Iraq over pottery smuggling pleads with court
  • Jim Fitton, 66, took 12 stones and shards of broken pottery from an archaeological site in Eridu, southeastern Iraq
  • Fitton said that his background as a geologist meant that he liked to collect fragments as a hobby, but did not intend to sell them

LONDON: A retired British geologist facing an Iraqi court over allegations that he attempted to smuggle historical items has argued that he did not realize he was committing a crime.

Jim Fitton, 66, took 12 stones and shards of broken pottery from an archaeological site in Eridu, southeastern Iraq.

Fitton, who is facing the death penalty, appeared in the Baghdad court with German national Volker Waldmann.

He told the three-judge panel that he did not act with criminal intent, adding that there were no signs warning him against taking the shards of pottery.

Fitton told the judges that he “suspected” the items had ancient heritage, but that he “didn’t know about Iraqi laws” at the time, and that he was unaware that taking the shards was a criminal offense.

He was confused because “there were fences, no guards or signage.”

Fitton said that his background as a geologist meant that he liked to collect fragments as a hobby, but did not intend to sell them.

The chief judge in the Baghdad court told Fitton that the location and importance of the site meant that the items were clearly protected.

“These places, in name and by definition, are ancient sites. One doesn’t have to say it is forbidden,” Jaber Abdel Jabir said.

Fitton pleaded that some of the shards he had recovered were “no larger than my fingernail,” but the judge responded: “Size doesn’t matter.”

The 66-year-old and Waldmann were arrested as they attempted to fly out of the country at the end of a geological tour in March. Pottery shards and stones were recovered from their luggage.

Waldmann said that the two artifacts found among his belongings were given to him by Fitton.

The court will reconvene on May 22 to determine if the men hoped to profit from the shards. They are facing the death penalty, but some legal experts have said that this is an unlikely result, even if it is the statutory sentence for smuggling artifacts.

Fitton’s lawyers are expected to submit further evidence, including information from government employees who were present at the sites where the shards and stones were recovered.


Oman hospital carries out cardio first on 2 patients

Oman hospital carries out cardio first on 2 patients
Updated 8 sec ago

Oman hospital carries out cardio first on 2 patients

Oman hospital carries out cardio first on 2 patients

MUSCAT: A medical team at the Cardiac Centre in Salalah, Oman have transplanted two Watchman devices for elderly patients suffering recurrent thrombosis due to atrial fibrillation, the Oman News Agnecy reported.

It is the first time the heart implants used for patients have been fitted to a patient in the governorate of Dhofar, Oman, explained Dr Said Musallam Al Ma’ashani, Director of the Cardiology and Surgery Centre.

Previous operations for people in the country have either been taken abroad or to the Royal Hospital in Muscat.


Palestinian cause ‘alive and well’ in Kuwait: Minister 

Palestinian cause ‘alive and well’ in Kuwait: Minister 
Updated 45 min 18 sec ago

Palestinian cause ‘alive and well’ in Kuwait: Minister 

Palestinian cause ‘alive and well’ in Kuwait: Minister 
  • His comments came after holding a meeting with Kuwait’s Ambassador to Jordan and Palestine Aziz Al-Dihani

AMMAN: The Palestinian cause is “alive and well in the hearts of the leaders, government and people of Kuwait,” the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) cited Palestine’s Minister of Awqaf and Religious Affairs Sheikh Hatem Al-Bakri as saying. 
His comments came after holding a meeting with Kuwait’s Ambassador to Jordan and Palestine Aziz Al-Dihani on Tuesday. 
“The State of Kuwait is keen on supporting the Palestinian political leadership in their quest to establish an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital,” the minister said. 
The meeting reviewed matters related to the Awqaf ministry and service sectors, with a focus on the support from Kuwaiti charitable organizations to the Palestinian people, KUNA reported. 
Ambassador Al-Dihani said Kuwait strongly believes in the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights to independence and maintains its support of Palestine on the regional and international scale. 


Jordanian king meets Bahraini officials meet to discuss bilateral ties

Jordanian king meets Bahraini officials meet to discuss bilateral ties
Updated 17 August 2022

Jordanian king meets Bahraini officials meet to discuss bilateral ties

Jordanian king meets Bahraini officials meet to discuss bilateral ties
  • Various challenges that threaten the stability and security of countries in the region were discussed in the meeting

DUBAI: Jordan’s King discussed regional and international issues with Bahrain’s minister of foreign affairs on Tuesday during a meeting in Al Husseiniya Palace in Amman. 
King Abdullah II discussed with Bahrain’s Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani ways to further enhance cooperation between the two nations, according to state news agency BNA. 
Al Zayani, who was on an official visit to Jordan, also met with Ayman Safadi, the deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs of Jordan. 
The pair spoke about developments, and the various challenges that threaten the stability and security of countries in the region. 
Bahrain’s foreign minister said a number of regional issues were discussed such as the Palestine, the war in Yemen, the Iranian nuclear file, the war in Ukraine, global food security and the energy crisis.’
With a focus on the Palestinian issue, Al Zayani called for an end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. 
The two ministers agreed that a ‘comprehensive and just settlement that preserves the rights of the Palestinian people’ must be reached in order to begin the peace process. 
They also praised efforts made by Egypt to achieve a ceasefire in Gaza, and the ‘necessity of its extension’ to benefit both Palestinians and Israelis. 
Al Zayani and Safadi agreed that a two-state solution was the way forward. 
“There is no other solution to this conflict,” said Safadi. “If the two-state solution is not achieved, we are going towards a one-state situation, which would perpetuate apartheid; this would not lead to peace."
When discussing Syria, Jordan’s foreign minister stressed the need to ‘activate pan-Arab action to solve the Syrian crisis’ that will help the country abolish terrorism. 


Safadi added that Jordan and Bahrain would continue to reiterate their support for Iraq, its security and stability. 
He added that both nations also welcomed the Yemen ceasefire, which he hoped would lead to a comprehensive political solution that will help end hostilities in Yemen and uphold security in GCC member states.


Palestinian President Abbas skirts apology for Munich attack

Palestinian President Abbas skirts apology for Munich attack
Updated 17 August 2022

Palestinian President Abbas skirts apology for Munich attack

Palestinian President Abbas skirts apology for Munich attack
  • Germany has long argued the term should only be used to describe the Nazis’ singular crime of killing six million Jews before and during World War II

BERLIN: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expressed no regret Tuesday for the deadly attack by Palestinian militants on Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics a half century ago, countering that Israel had committed “50 Holocausts” against Palestinians over the years.
Eleven Israeli athletes and a German police officer died after members of the Palestinian militant group Black September took hostages at the Olympic Village on Sept. 5, 1972. At the time of the attack, the group was linked to Abbas’ Fatah party.
Asked whether as Palestinian leader he planned to apologize to Israel and Germany for the attack ahead of the 50th anniversary next month, Abbas responded instead by citing allegations of atrocities committed by Israel since 1947.
“If we want to go over the past, go ahead,” Abbas told reporters after a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin. “I have 50 slaughters that Israel committed.”
Standing next to Scholz, Abbas explicitly used the word “Holocausts” in his reply, drawing a grimace from the German chancellor. Germany has long argued the term should only be used to describe the Nazis’ singular crime of killing six million Jews before and during World War II.
While Scholz had earlier rejected the Palestinian leader’s description of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as “apartheid,” he did not immediately rebuke Abbas for using the term “Holocaust.”
In a statement to German daily Bild, Scholz later criticized Abbas’s choice of words, saying any downplaying of the horrors of the Holocaust was “unacceptable.”
Conservative German lawmaker Armin Laschet likewise expressed outrage at Abbas’ comments.
“The (Palestinian) leader would have gained sympathy if he had apologized for the terrorist attack on Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics 1972,” he wrote on Twitter. “Accusing Israel of ‘50 Holocausts’ instead is the most disgusting speech ever heard in the German Chancellery,” he said.
In his response, the Palestinian president also said he was committed to building trust and achieving a peaceful solution to the conflict with Israel.
“Please come to peace,” he said. “Please come to security, let’s build trust between us and you. This is better than other kinds of talking.”
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said Abbas’ remarks about “50 Holocausts,” made on German soil, were “not only a moral disgrace, but a monstrous lie.”
“Six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, including one and a half million Jewish children,” Lapid tweeted. “History will never forgive him.”
Weeks before a planned somber commemoration marking the 50th anniversary of the Munich attack, Germany has also found itself embroiled in controversy in its dealings with the relatives of the Israelis who were killed.
Victims’ families announced last week that they planned to boycott the ceremony after failing to reach agreement on bigger compensation from the German government.
Relatives of the athletes have long accused Germany of failing to secure the Olympic Village, refusing Israeli help and botching a rescue operation in which five of the attackers also died.

 


Tunisia intercepts nearly 100 Europe-bound migrants

Tunisia intercepts nearly 100 Europe-bound migrants
Updated 16 August 2022

Tunisia intercepts nearly 100 Europe-bound migrants

Tunisia intercepts nearly 100 Europe-bound migrants
  • Tunisia and Libya are the main points of departure for migrants trying to reach Europe from Africa

TUNIS: Tunisia said Tuesday it had foiled several attempts by almost 100 migrants to reach Europe via the Mediterranean Sea since the previous day.

Tunisia and Libya are the main points of departure for migrants trying to reach Europe from Africa. Sea crossing attempts tend to increase during spring and summer.

Tunisia’s National Guard said it had prevented five maritime crossings and rescued 80 people, mostly Tunisians and including 35 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa.

It said “preventive operations” were also carried out near Menzel Temime in the north, Mahdia and Kerkennah on the central coast and Zarzis in the south, leading to 11 arrests.

The National Guard said it had seized “a sum of money” without specifying the amount, and an inflatable boat in these operations.

On Monday, maritime and military authorities said 657 people were rescued or prevented from trying to cross in 46 separate incidents between Friday and Monday.

The Defense Ministry said that 42 Egyptians who had set sail from Libya were rescued Sunday off Kerkennah, after their boat sank and they took refuge on an oil platform.

Tunisia is in the throes of political and economic crises, and Libya has been gripped by lawlessness since 2011 that has seen militias turn to people trafficking.

The two countries are also the gateway for sub-Saharan Africans hoping for a better life by escaping impoverished and strife-torn countries such as Sudan.

The EU’s Frontex border agency says the central Mediterranean route was used by more than 42,500 migrants between January and July, up 44 percent compared with the first seven months of 2021.