Defendant in Vatican trial takes case to UN, accuses pope of violating his rights with surveillance

A gust of wind lifts Pope Francis mantilla during the weekly general audience on June 19, 2024 at St Peter's square in The Vatican. (AFP)
A gust of wind lifts Pope Francis mantilla during the weekly general audience on June 19, 2024 at St Peter's square in The Vatican. (AFP)
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Updated 20 June 2024
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Defendant in Vatican trial takes case to UN, accuses pope of violating his rights with surveillance

Defendant in Vatican trial takes case to UN, accuses pope of violating his rights with surveillance
  • Mincione’s complaint to the UN focused on the role of the pope during the investigation, an area that was flagged as problematic by defense lawyers during the trial and external experts in its aftermath

NEW YORK: One of the defendants in the Vatican’s big financial trial has formally complained to the United Nations that Pope Francis violated his human rights by authorizing wide-ranging surveillance during the investigation.
A lawyer for Raffaele Mincione, a London-based financier, submitted a complaint last week to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights via a special procedure that allows individuals or groups to provide the UN with information about alleged rights violations in countries or institutions.
The filing marks the latest and highest-profile complaint about the Vatican trial, highlighting the peculiarity of the Vatican’s criminal justice system and its seeming incompatibility with European and democratic norms. The Vatican is an absolute monarchy where the pope wields supreme legislative, executive and judicial power.
The trial, which opened in 2021 and ended in December, focused on the Holy See’s money-losing 350 million euro investment in a London property but also included other tangents. Vatican prosecutors alleged brokers and Vatican officials fleeced the Holy See of tens of millions of euros in fees and commissions, and then extorted the Holy See for 15 million euros ($16.5 million) to cede control of the property.
The trial ended in December with convictions for nine of the 10 defendants, including Mincione and a once-powerful cardinal, Angelo Becciu. The court’s motivations for the sentence still haven’t been published, but both Vatican prosecutors and the nine convicted defendants have announced appeals.
Mincione’s complaint to the UN focused on the role of the pope during the investigation, an area that was flagged as problematic by defense lawyers during the trial and external experts in its aftermath.
The complaint cited four secret executive decrees Francis signed in 2019 and 2020 that gave Vatican prosecutors wide-ranging powers to investigate, including via unchecked wiretapping and to deviate from existing laws. The decrees only came to light right before trial, were never officially published, provided no rationale or timeframe for the surveillance, or oversight of the wiretapping by an independent judge.
The chief prosecutor argued Francis’ decrees provided unspecified “guarantees” for the suspects, and the judges rejected the defense motions at the time that argued they violated the fundamental right to a fair trial. In a somewhat convoluted decision, the judges ruled that no violation of the principle of legality had occurred since Francis had made the laws.
Mincione’s complaint also alleged the tribunal is not independent or impartial, a claim the Vatican has rejected previously. Francis can hire and fire judges and prosecutors, and recently decided such things such as their compensation, pension and term limits.
It is not clear what, if anything, the UN will do with the complaint. The Geneva-based office fields special rapporteurs, or experts, to monitor specific areas of human rights, including the judiciary and independence of judges and lawyers.
Previous complaints to the UN human rights office about the Vatican or Catholic Church, in the areas of child sexual abuse and LGBTQ+ discrimination, resulted in letters from the UN special rapporteur to the Vatican’s UN ambassador in Geneva listing problems and requesting responses and changes.
Mincione has also tried to engage the Council of Europe on the matter, given the Holy See is subject to periodic review as part of the COE’s Moneyval process to guard against money laundering. In January, a British representative asked if the COE would look into the Vatican’s human rights situation given the trial outcome.
The plenary assembly chairman dodged the question.
In ongoing litigation, Mincione has also sued the Vatican secretariat of state in a British court over the reputational harm he says he suffered as a result of the Vatican trial.

 


Widespread technology outage disrupts flights, banks, media outlets and companies around world

Widespread technology outage disrupts flights, banks, media outlets and companies around world
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Widespread technology outage disrupts flights, banks, media outlets and companies around world

Widespread technology outage disrupts flights, banks, media outlets and companies around world
  • DownDectector, which tracks user-reported disruptions, recorded growing outages in Visa, ADT security and Amazon
  • News outlets in Australia, including the ABC and Sky News, were unable to broadcast on their TV and radio channels

WELLINGTON: A widespread Microsoft outage was disrupting flights, banks, media outlets and companies around the world on Friday.
Escalating disruptions continued hours after the technology company said it was gradually fixing an issue affecting access to Microsoft 365 apps and services.
The website DownDectector, which tracks user-reported internet outages, recorded growing outages in services at Visa, ADT security and Amazon, and airlines including American Airlines and Delta.
News outlets in Australia reported that airlines, telecommunications providers and banks, and media broadcasters were disrupted as they lost access to computer systems. Some New Zealand banks said they were also offline.
Microsoft 365 posted on X that the company was “working on rerouting the impacted traffic to alternate systems to alleviate impact in a more expedient fashion” and that they were “observing a positive trend in service availability.”
The company did not respond to a request for comment. It did not explain the cause of the outage further.
Meanwhile, major disruptions reported by airlines and airports grew.
In the U.S., the FAA said the airlines United, American, Delta and Allegiant had all been grounded.
Airlines, railways and television stations in the United Kingdom were being disrupted by the computer issues. The budget airline Ryanair, train operators TransPennine Express and Govia Thameslink Railway, as well as broadcaster Sky News are among those affected.
“We’re currently experiencing disruption across the network due to a global third party IT outage which is out of our control,’’ Ryanair said. “We advise all passengers to arrive at the airport at least three hours before their scheduled departure time.”
Widespread problems were reported at Australian airports, where lines grew and some passengers were stranded as online check-in services and self-service booths were disabled. Passengers in Melbourne queued for more than an hour to check in.
Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport said on its website that the outage was having a “major impact on flights” to and from the busy European hub. The outage came on one of the busiest days of the year for the airport, at the start of many people’s summer vacations.
In Germany, Berlin Airport said Friday morning that “due to a technical fault, there will be delays in check-in.” It said that flights were suspended until 10 a.m. (0800GMT), without giving details, German news agency dpa reported.
At Rome's Leonardo da Vinci airport, some US-bound flights had posted delays, while others were unaffected.
Australian outages reported on the site included the banks NAB, Commonwealth and Bendigo, and the airlines Virgin Australia and Qantas, as well as internet and phone providers such as Telstra.
News outlets in Australia — including the ABC and Sky News — were unable to broadcast on their TV and radio channels, and reported sudden shutdowns of Windows-based computers. Some news anchors broadcast live online from dark offices, in front of computers showing “blue screens of death.”
Shoppers were unable to pay at some supermarkets and stores due to payment system outages.
The New Zealand banks ASB and Kiwibank said their services were down.
An X user posted a screenshot of an alert from the company Crowdstrike that said the company was aware of “reports of crashes on Windows hosts” related to its Falcon Sensor platform. The alert was posted on a password-protected Crowdstrike site and could not be verified. Crowdstrike did not respond to a request for comment.


Indian soldiers kill two suspected militants in Kashmir

Indian soldiers kill two suspected militants in Kashmir
Updated 19 July 2024
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Indian soldiers kill two suspected militants in Kashmir

Indian soldiers kill two suspected militants in Kashmir
  • Kashmir has seen a string of battles between insurgents and Indian security forces in the past two months
  • Five Indian security personnel were killed on Monday during a firefight with gunmen in Doda forest

SRINAGAR, India: Two suspected militants were killed in a firefight with soldiers in Indian-administered Kashmir, the defense ministry said Friday, following a spate of attacks in the disputed territory.
The two men were killed on Thursday while trying to cross the de facto frontier that divides the Himalayan region between Pakistan and India.
Troops saw the pair crossing over from the Pakistani side through thick foliage, a defense spokesman said in a statement.
“The infiltrating terrorists were challenged, following which they opened fire leading to an intense firefight,” he said.
Kashmir, particularly its southern Hindu-majority region Jammu, has seen a string of battles between insurgents and Indian security forces in the past two months.
Five Indian security personnel were killed on Monday during a firefight with gunmen in Doda forest.
Last month, nine Indian Hindu pilgrims were killed and dozens more wounded when a gunman opened fire on a bus carrying them from a shrine in Reasi district.
Muslim-majority Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since their independence from British rule in 1947, and each side claims it in full.
Rebel groups have waged an insurgency since 1989, demanding independence or merger with Pakistan, in fighting that has killed tens of thousands of civilians, soldiers and rebels.
New Delhi and Islamabad accuse each other of stoking militancy and espionage to undermine each other, and the nuclear-armed rivals have fought multiple conflicts for control of the region.


Major airlines grounded over IT outage, affecting thousands of passengers

Major airlines grounded over IT outage, affecting thousands of passengers
Updated 5 sec ago
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Major airlines grounded over IT outage, affecting thousands of passengers

Major airlines grounded over IT outage, affecting thousands of passengers
  • ‘Large-scale technical outage’ caused by an issue with a ‘third-party software platform’
  • Airport operator Aena also reported a computer systems ‘incident’ at all Spanish airports

WASHINGTON: Air passengers around the world faced delays, cancellations and problems checking in as airports and airlines were caught up in a massive IT outage that also affected industries ranging from banks to media companies.

The travel industry was among the hardest hit with airports around the world, including Tokyo, Amsterdam, Berlin and several Spanish airports reporting problems with their systems and delays.
International airlines, including Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline by passenger numbers, warned of problems with their booking systems and other disruptions.

According to an alert sent by Crowdstrike to its clients and reviewed by Reuters, the company’s “Falcon Sensor” software is causing Microsoft Windows to crash and display a blue screen, known informally as the “Blue Screen of Death”.
The alert, which was sent at 0530 GMT on Friday, also shared a manual workaround to rectify the issue.
A Crowdstrike spokesperson did not respond to emails or calls requesting comment.
There was no information to suggest the outage was a cyber security incident, the office of Australia's National Cyber Security Coordinator Michelle McGuinness said in a post on X.
The outages rippled far and wide, wreaking havoc on global computer systems. Microsoft users worldwide, including banks and airlines, reported widespread outages, hours after the technology company said it was gradually fixing an issue affecting access to Microsoft 365 apps and services.

The cause, exact nature and scale of the outage was unclear. Microsoft appeared to suggest in its X posts that the situation was improving but escalating outages were still being reported around the world hours later.

The UAE’s Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority issued a statement, warning Crowdstrike users of a “technical issue” with the “software update.”

“We advise users of the program to hold off on any updates or downloads of CrowdStrike software until the issue is resolved.”

 

Major US air carriers including Delta, United and American Airlines grounded all flights early on Friday over a communication issue, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

“All... flights regardless of destination” were grounded due to the “communication issues,” the FAA said in a notice to airlines.

However, The global outage is not being treated as a malicious act, a UK government security source said.
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said security experts were not treating it as a cyber-related security issue.

The UK’s largest rail franchise is facing “widespread IT issues”, its four train lines said, warning of possible cancellations.
“We are currently experiencing widespread IT issues across our entire network”, the four lines operated by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) posted on X.

Other transport systems across the UK faced similar IT issues, with Ryanair experiencing disruption due to “a global third party IT outage”.

British airports including London Luton and Edinburgh warned of longer waiting times for passengers because of the glitch, while Sky News television was temporarily off air.

Passengers at Britain’s Edinburgh Airport were unable to use automated boarding pass scanners, and monitors at security displayed a message saying “server offline”, a Reuters witness reported.

Edinburgh Airport was checking boarding passes manually, the witness said.

A health booking system used by doctors in England was also offline, medical officials said on X on Friday.

Similarly, passengers at Dusseldorf airport are facing disruptions to Eurowings’ check-in and boarding processes due to the malfunction.

Hong Kong Airport Authority said airlines affected by a Microsoft outage have switched to manual check-in and flight operations have not been affected.

Three Indian airlines announced disruptions to their booking systems on Friday, matching widespread technical problems reported by flight operators around the world.

“Our systems are currently impacted by a Microsoft outage,” budget carrier IndiGo said in a post on social media platform X, with airlines Akasa Air and SpiceJet also reporting technical issues.

Air France says it also suffered IT disruption, but not at Paris airports.

Spanish airport operator Aena on Friday also reported a computer systems “incident” at all Spanish airports which may cause flight delays.

“We are working to solve it as soon as possible. Meanwhile, operations are continuing with manual systems,” the airport operator said in a post on X platform.

In Berlin, airport authorities have halted all flights until 10 a.m. (0800 GMT) due to a technical fault, a spokesperson said.

Earlier on Friday, airport operator BER said in a post on social media platform X that check-ins were delayed due to the error.

The spokesperson did not give details about the nature of the problem, which comes amid reports of technical outages affecting some companies around the globe.

Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, one of Europe’s busiest hubs, is being affected by a global cyber outage, a spokesperson said .

“The outage has an impact on flights flying from and to Schiphol,” he said, adding that it was not yet clear how many flights were affected.

A large-scale outage wrought havoc on IT systems across Australia on Friday, with the country’s national broadcaster, its largest international airport, and a major telecommunications company reporting issues.

Australia’s National Cyber Security Coordinator said the “large-scale technical outage” was caused by an issue with a “third-party software platform.”

National broadcaster ABC said its systems had been crippled by a “major” glitch.

Photos posted online showed large queues forming at Sydney Airport, which said some airline operations and terminal services had been affected.

Some self-checkout terminals at one of the country’s largest supermarket chains displayed error messages.

Telecommunications firm Telstra also said some of its systems had been disrupted.

Major companies report outage

The website DownDectector, which tracks user-reported Internet outages, recorded growing outages in services at Visa, ADT security and Amazon, and airlines including American Airlines and Delta.

Microsoft 365 posted on X that the company was “working on rerouting the impacted traffic to alternate systems to alleviate impact in a more expedient fashion” and that they were “observing a positive trend in service availability.”

The company did not respond to a request for comment. It did not explain the cause of the outage further.

Australian outages reported on the site included the banks NAB, Commonwealth and Bendigo, and the airlines Virgin Australia and Qantas, as well as Internet and phone providers such as Telstra.

News outlets in Australia — including the ABC and Sky News — were unable to broadcast on their TV and radio channels, and reported sudden shutdowns of Windows-based computers.

An X user posted a screenshot of an alert from the company Crowdstrike that said the company was aware of “reports of crashes on Windows hosts” related to its Falcon Sensor platform. The alert was posted on a password-protected Crowdstrike site and could not be verified. Crowdstrike did not respond to a request for comment.


Oil tankers on fire off Singapore, crew members rescued

Oil tankers on fire off Singapore, crew members rescued
Updated 19 July 2024
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Oil tankers on fire off Singapore, crew members rescued

Oil tankers on fire off Singapore, crew members rescued
  • Singapore is Asia’s biggest oil trading hub and the world’s largest bunkering port

SINGAPORE: Two large oil tankers were on fire in waters near Singapore, the authorities said on Friday, raising concerns about the environment as well as the impact on operations at the world’s biggest refueling port.
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said it was alerted to a fire on Friday at 6:15 a.m. (2215 GMT) onboard both a Singapore-flagged tanker, Hafnia Nile, and a Sao Tome and Principe-flagged tanker, Ceres I.
A helicopter had evacuated two crew members to Singapore General Hospital, it said, without elaborating.
In a statement on social media, Singapore Navy said the frigate RSS Supreme had rescued the crews from the vessels and was providing medical assistance. It did not immediately give details.
The vessels were about 55km (34 miles) northeast of the Singaporean island of Pedra Branca on the eastern approach to the Singapore Straits. Photographs released by the Navy showed thick black smoke billowing from one tanker.
The cause of the fires was not immediately clear.
The 74,000 deadweight-tons capacity Panamax tanker Hafnia Nile (IMO 9766217) was carrying about 300,000 barrels of naphtha, according to ship-tracking data from Kpler and LSEG.
It was not immediately clear what fuel Ceres I (IMO 9229439) was carrying. The tanker is a very-large-crude-carrier (VLCC) of 300,000 deadweight-tons capacity and was last marked as carrying Iranian crude between March to April, ship-tracking data showed.
Singapore is Asia’s biggest oil trading hub and the world’s largest bunkering port and surrounding waters are vital trade waterways between Asia and Europe and the Middle East.


US-bound Air India plane makes emergency landing in Russia

US-bound Air India plane makes emergency landing in Russia
Updated 19 July 2024
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US-bound Air India plane makes emergency landing in Russia

US-bound Air India plane makes emergency landing in Russia
  • The Boeing 777 aircraft, carrying 225 passengers and 19 flight crew, made a precautionary landing safely in the Russian region of Siberia at the Krasnoyarsk International Airport

NEW DELHI: An Air India airplane flying from Delhi to San Francisco made an emergency landing in Russia after the crew detected a potential issue in the cargo hold area, the airline said on Friday, its second such incident on the route in just over a year.
Many carriers, including US and European Union airlines, avoid Russian airspace following the war in Ukraine, but Air India uses that route, giving it a flying time and cost advantage on US-bound flights.
The Boeing 777 aircraft, carrying 225 passengers and 19 flight crew, made a precautionary landing safely in the Russian region of Siberia at the Krasnoyarsk International Airport, the airline said in a statement.
It added Air India was “concerned about the passengers and staff and are making every effort possible to operate the ferry flight as soon as possible.”
The airport said the flight’s crew had been moved to hotels, and passengers were in the international departure area, which angered some of those stranded, according to social media posts.
Mayank Gupta, whose mother was on the flight, wrote on X he was “sad and angry” that her medicines and luggage remained on the airplane.
A passenger said on X that people were struggling to get food and water, posting a photo showing some passengers sleeping on the floor inside the airport area.
In another statement on Friday, Air India said representatives from the Indian consulate in Moscow traveled to Krasnoyarsk overnight and “are working with Russian authorities to allow passengers to move to hotels, which have been on standby throughout the night.”
The airport said the plane landed due to an activated smoke detector. Regulatory clearances have been obtained for a relief flight that will depart Mumbai at 11 a.m. India time (0530 GMT) on Friday and ferry the guests out of the airport, Air India said.
Shortly after the incident, Russia’s civil aviation agency, Rosaviatsiya, said the aircraft had taxied to a parking spot after landing and there had been no signs of a fire or smoke onboard.
Boeing and a spokesperson for the US State Department deferred to Air India for comment on the incident.
Russia banned many foreign carriers from its airspace in retaliation for Western sanctions over the Ukraine war, and many countries and airlines also banned their planes from crossing over all or part of Russia.
The bans have redrawn air routes and upset business models for some airlines that now need to fly around the world’s largest country. United Airlines canceled many of its non-stop US-India flights due to the issue.
In June 2023, an Air India Boeing plane on the same route was stranded for a day after reporting a technical issue. Passengers on that flight, including US citizens, were housed in makeshift accommodation at Russia’s remote Magadan airport.
Air India sent an aircraft a day later to pick up the stranded passengers.