News & Current Affairs

July 19, 2009

Man charged over six US killings

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Man charged over six US killings

Jacob Shaffer

Jacob Shaffer was arrested on Saturday at a house in Tennessee

A man has been charged with murder after six people were found dead in the US states of Tennessee and Alabama.

Jacob Shaffer, 30, was arrested after five bodies were found in Fayetteville, about 90 miles (145km) south of Nashville, Tennessee, on Saturday.

Another body was found in Huntsville, Alabama. Police said the victims were four adults and two juveniles.

A spokeswoman for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said it appeared to be a domestic incident.

“Most of the victims are suspected to be related. The motive of the killings is domestic,” Kristin Helm said.

Five of the bodies were found at two neighbouring homes in the town of Fayetteville.

Map

The sixth was found at a business in Huntsville, in neighbouring Alabama, police said.

Mr Shaffer was found sitting on the porch of one of the two houses in Fayetteville.

The names of the victims and the cause of death have not been released. But Lincoln County Sheriff Murray Blackwelder described the killings as “horrendous”.

Mr Shaffer has been remanded in custody. He has been charged with five counts of murder in Tennessee and faces an additional charge in Alabama, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said.

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September 1, 2008

All Spain crash bodies identified

All Spain crash bodies identified

EFE]

The plane crashed in a field near Madrid’s airport and burst into flames

All 154 bodies from last week’s plane crash in Madrid have been identified, the Spanish interior ministry says.

It says the bodies – some of them badly burned – are now being returned to grieving relatives for burial.

The Spanair flight from Madrid to the Canary Islands crashed after take-off on 20 August. Only 18 of 172 passengers and crew survived the accident.

An investigation is now under way into the crash – the country’s worst air accident in 25 years.

The MD82 plane veered into a dry river bed just after take-off from Madrid’s Barajas airport. It then broke up and burst into flames, setting light to surrounding vegetation.

Experts had to use DNA analysis, fingerprints and dental information to identify some of the badly burned bodies.

Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said last week that was the main reason why the identification process was taking longer than expected.

Investigation

Spanair had considered switching the aircraft at the last minute, a Spanish government minister said earlier this week.

The flight JK 5022 was delayed for about an hour because of a problem with an air temperature gauge.

Sources close to the inquiry, quoted by the newspaper El Pais, have said the plane may have lacked sufficient engine power during take-off.

Video footage showed the plane travelled much further along the runway than normal before getting airborne, the paper reported.

Kremlin critic shot in Ingushetia

Kremlin critic shot in Ingushetia

Magomed Yevloyev (photo from Russian news website lenta.ru)

Yevloyev’s website is said to be one of the most visited for Ingush news

The owner of an internet site critical of the Russian authorities in the volatile region of Ingushetia has been shot dead in police custody.

Magomed Yevloyev, owner of the ingushetiya.ru site, was a vocal critic of the region’s administration.

The Russian prosecutor’s office said an investigation into the death had been launched, Russia media report.

A post on Yevloyev’s site says he was detained by police after landing at the airport of the main town, Nazran.

The website owner was taken to hospital but died from his injuries.

Reports quoting local police said Yevloyev had tried to seize a policeman’s gun when he was being led to a vehicle. A shot was fired and Yevloyev was injured in the head.

Fierce critic

Yevloyev was a thorn in the side of Ingush President Murat Zyazikov, a former KGB general.

Ingushetia map

His website reported on alleged Russian security force brutality in Ingushetia, an impoverished province of some half a million people, mostly Muslims, which is now more turbulent than neighboring Chechnya.

President Zyazikov had been on the same flight as Yevloyev.

Ingushetia borders Chechnya and has suffered from overflowing unrest.

There is a low-level insurgency, with regular small-scale ambushes against police and soldiers.

In June 2008, the Human Rights Watch group accused Russian security forces there of carrying out widespread human rights abuses.

HRW said it had documented dozens of arbitrary detentions, disappearances, acts of torture and extra-judicial executions.

August 17, 2008

Murdered man ‘conned’ university

Murdered man ‘conned’ university

Xi Zhou and her boyfriend Zhen Xing Yang

Xi Zhou and her boyfriend Zhen Xing Yang studied at Newcastle University

A Chinese student who was tortured and murdered along with his girlfriend may have lied about his qualifications to get into university, police have said.

Zhen Xing Yang and girlfriend Xi Zhou died after a “frenzied” knife attack at a flat in Newcastle’s West End.

Police believe the pair, both 25, were involved in a betting scam, which may have been a motive for their murders.

Officers are now investigating whether Mr Zhen forged documents to enroll on a masters course at Newcastle University.

Police are in telephone contact with the couple’s families and are trying to speed up Visa applications so they can come to the UK.

Police said Mr Zhen dropped out of a Cardiff University undergraduate degree course in 2005.

A university spokesperson said: “Cardiff University can confirm that Zhen Xing Yang, born 1 February, 1983, attended Cardiff Business School from 2004-5.

He may have gained entry to his MA degree course at Newcastle University as a result of producing fraudulent documentation
Det Supt Steve Wade

“Mr Yang did not continue with his course and left without an award.”

Mr Zhen then gained a place on a postgraduate course at Newcastle University, gaining a masters degree in 2006.

Det Supt Steve Wade, leading the investigation, said: “We can confirm new evidence has been provided about Zhen Xing Yang.

“It suggests he may have gained entry to his MA degree course at Newcastle University as a result of producing fraudulent documentation stating he had successfully completed an undergraduate degree.

“Officers are continuing to work with Newcastle University to establish if this information is correct.

“Community intelligence supported by the examination of computer equipment and mobile call data has shown that both of the victims have been involved in fraudulent activity which has angered and upset a number of people.”

Murder scene

The bodies were discovered in a ground floor flat

One line of inquiry into the murders is that Mr Zhen recruited spectators online to send live updates from UK football matches as part of a betting scam.

It is claimed syndicates in China, where matches are televised a minute behind, could take advantage of this.

The couple were found dead in separate bedrooms at the downstairs flat by friends.

Police said Mr Zhen was assaulted for more than an hour before being stabbed.

Examinations also showed Miss Xi may have been asphyxiated as well as stabbed during the attack.

August 8, 2008

Israeli PM faces corruption quiz

Israeli PM faces corruption quiz

Israeli PM Ehud Olmert (03/08)

Mr Olmert had faced growing calls to resign over the claims

Israeli police are questioning Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for a  fifth time over corruption allegations.

Mr Olmert denies claims that he double billed charities and state bodies for overseas trips and improperly accepted donations from a US businessman.

Last week Mr Olmert revealed plans to stand down amid growing pressure over the two latest fraud investigations.

He said he would not stand in his party’s leadership elections, paving the way for a successor to take over.

But if the new leader of the Kadima party is unable to form a coalition government after the September elections, Mr Olmert could remain as caretaker prime minister until a general election is held.

In all Mr Olmert has faced six corruption investigations relating to before he became prime minister, although no charges have been filed in any of them.

EHUD OLMERT’S POLITICAL LIFE
1993: Begins 10-year stint as mayor of Jerusalem
2005: Leaves right-wing Likud party with former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to form Kadima
2006: Takes over as leader when Ariel Sharon suffers a stroke
2007: Helps re-launch Israeli-Palestinian peace talks after seven-year hiatus
2008: Announces plans to resign

In the most recent case, he is accused of submitting duplicate claims for travel expenses for overseas travel and using the money to fund family trips abroad.

That followed claims by a US businessman, Morris Talansky, that he gave Mr Olmert cash-stuffed envelopes.

Mr Talansky has said the money may have been used on luxury items, but Mr Olmert has said he only received legitimate funds for his campaigns for re-election as mayor of Jerusalem and for the leadership of the Likud party.

He has said he will resign if charged.

In the succession race for the leadership of the centrist Kadima party, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni leads Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz in the polls.

Public Security Minister Avi Dichter and Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit are also seen as potential successors.

But the leader of the right-wing Likud party, Binyamin Netanyahu, has been performing well in polls for a potential general election.

The political uncertainty in Israel has cast a shadow over a faltering US-backed peace process with the Palestinians and indirect talks with Syria.

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