British teenager defiant in court as she joins supporters wearing protest masks after judge dismisses her as a fantasist

As the teenage defendant filed into the courtroom she glanced back to acknowledge the women lined up in the last row of the public gallery.

Each had a gag over their mouths with an image of stitched-up lips, in a show of support.

“We believe you, we are with you,” they shouted before the judge ordered silence.

The teenager threw them a quick thumbs up before turning round to hear her fate.

Six months earlier she had filed a complaint to police that she had been gang raped in her hotel room during a summer break in Cyprus.

Now she was on trial for fabricating the incident, charged with “causing public mischief”, defined by the Cypriot criminal code as knowingly providing police with “a false statement…

Fukushima operator accused of cover-up over ‘contaminated’ water set to be poured into the Pacific

The Japanese government has been accused of a cover-up after it refused to allow independent testing of water from the Fukushima power plant that is likely to be released into the Pacific Ocean.

Officials at the industry ministry on Monday said the water stored at the crippled nuclear site was "safe" to release into the Pacific Ocean, despite concerns about radioactive material from environmental and citizens’ groups.

Following a recent visit to the plant, the Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) told The Telegraph that concerns over security prevented independent testing.

"Other organisations are not permitted to carry out tests of the water”, Hideki Yagi, a spokesman for Tepco, told The Telegraph.

“If we are going to allow external organisations to test the treated water then we would need to go through very strict procedures and due process because that water is contaminated. If it is taken outside this facility, then there need to be strict regulations”.

Both Greenpeace and the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Centre (Cnic), an anti-nuclear lobbying group, suggested that Tepco may be trying to cover up the true scale of contamination of water stores at the site.

Shaun Burnie, senior nuclear specialist for Greenpeace, says the refusal to permit third-party testing only serves to raise new concerns about plans to discharge the water into the ocean. 

March 11, 2011: the tsunami engulfed the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant Credit: AP

“Moving nuclear material always carries risk, but for the purpose of independent analysis it would be justified”, he said. “Tepco has lost trust across society in Japan as well as in the international community, including in South Korea, and providing samples for analysis would be in their best interests – unless they are covering something up. 

“There are many questions about the effectiveness of Tepco’s … technology so providing samples that could verify their reports on content would go some way to demonstrating their commitment to transparency”, Mr Burnie added. 

“It won’t remove doubts that they are covering up major issues at the site – but would be an improvement on the current situation”. 

Hideyuki Ban, co-director of Cnic, said: "There would need to be lots of checks because there is a lot of water, but right now it looks very much to the outside world that they are trying to cover something up – as they have a long history of doing – and it would be very much in their best interests to be transparent on this.

“If they don’t, how will they ever get back any of the public trust that they have lost completely since the accident?” Mr Ban said. 

During a recent visit to the plant, Tepco officials told The Telegraph that a decision on how to dispose of the water must be made soon as tanks at the site are already near capacity and there is limited space to construct new storage facilities. The company estimates that capacity will be reached in the summer of 2022. 

The industry ministry on Monday told a government committee considering methods to dispose of the more than a million tons of water presently being stored in hundreds of tanks at the site that the risk to humans associated with releasing the water into the ocean would be “small”. 

Discharging the water into the Pacific over the course of a year would amount to between just one-1,600th and one-40,000th of the radiation to which humans are naturally exposed, the ministry officials told the committee. 

Estimates indicate that annual radiation levels near the release point after a release would be between 0.052 and 0.62 microsieverts at sea, the officials said, and 1.3 microsieverts in the atmosphere. That compares with around 2,100 microsieverts that humans come into contact with each year in everyday life.

The ministry how emphasised that no final decision has been reached on how or when the water will be disposed of.

The water became contaminated with radiation when it was used to cool three of the six reactors at the plant that suffered melt-downs after being damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Ground water is also seeping into the basement levels of the reactor buildings, with an additional 120 tons of water accumulating every day. 

Tepco was forced to admit earlier this year that efforts to remove varying amounts of 62 radionuclides – including strontium, iodine, caesium and cobalt – from the water through the ALPS equipment had not been completely successful. 

Officials of the company have added that testing of the water is presently carried out by Tokyo Power Technology Ltd, which it claims has advanced analytical skills and “very high” reliability. Tokyo Power Technology is a subsidiary of Tepco that was set up two years after the Fukushima disaster. 

The magnitude 9.0 earthquake triggered a huge natural disaster Credit: EPA

Monitoring is also conducted by the government-funded Japan Atomic Energy Agency and the Japan Chemical Analysis Centre.

Azby Brown, lead researcher for Tokyo-based monitoring organisation Safecast Japan, a group that monitors radiation, said the lack of transparency means the risks to marine life of releasing the water are relatively unknown.

"We don’t have enough data to evaluate the impact that any release with those concentrations will have on marine life," he said. 

"The expected doses that they are talking about are quite low and therefore the amount of radiation that is absorbed into marine life and then into humans when they eat fish would also be quite low.

"But that has to be full of caveats because the way that information has been presented is confusing and not transparent so ordinary people do not understand and cannot make informed decisions."

Ministers deny war crimes ‘cover-up’ as leaks detail SAS night raid probe

Ministers have denied a “cover-up” of alleged war crimes involving the torture and murder of innocent civilians by British soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Military detectives have reportedly probed a 2012 SAS raid on a compound in Helmand Province where three “unarmed” children and a young man were shot dead, as well as the alleged “daily” abuse of prisoners by the Black Watch regiment in Basra in 2003, and the fatal shooting of an Iraqi policeman in the same year.

According to BBC Panorama and The Sunday Times, leaked documents indicate the incidents were then covered up by senior officers and only cursorily interrogated by the Royal Military Police (RMP).

Investigators on the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) and Operation Northmoor – for Afghanistan – were then put under pressure by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to wind up the inquiries, the media outlets claim.

Yesterday the government denied allegations of a cover-up, with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab telling Andrew Marr that the prosecuting authorities for the British armed forces are “some of the most rigorous in the world”.

"All of the allegations that had evidence have been looked at by the armed forces prosecuting authorities because we want to have accountability where there’s wrongdoing,” he said.

"What we’re quite rightly doing is making sure spurious claims or claims without evidence don’t lead to the shadow of suspicion, the cloud of suspicion hanging over people who have served their country for years on end – and we’ve got the right balance."

IHAT was shut down in 2017 after it emerged that the disgraced solicitor Phil Shiner, who was behind more than 1,000 cases, paid fixers in Iraq to find clients.

But some former IHAT and Operation Northmoor investigators have now said Mr Shiner’s actions were used as an excuse to close down the inquiries.

IHAT spent around three years investigating the actions of the Black Watch in 2003, when the unit was responsible for policing and security in the Southern Iraqi city of Basra following the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s forces.

The team reportedly gathered evidence that at least two detainees were unlawfully killed amid a regime of physical and sexual violence by British troops at Camp Stephen.

Despite allegedly photographing one of the men, Radhi Nama, in hospital with injuries on his face, RMP investigators allegedly accepted the soldiers’ account that he had died of a heart attack and declined to interview their senior officers.

During the 2012 SAS raid on the village of Loy Bagh near Camp Bastion, one special forces soldier reportedly entered a side building and killed four young inhabitants.

According to the leaked documents, he told superiors he fired because they were standing up with what looked like weapons, despite bullet marks on the walls suggesting they were all sitting when shot.

The documents allege a senior SAS commander later emailed International Security Assistance Force headquarters describing the raid as Afghan-led, thereby avoiding an immediate RMP probe.

Lord Macdonald, the former Director of Public Prosecutions, described the decision to wind up the inquiries as “absolutely reprehensible”, suggesting the allegations could be investigated by the International Criminal Court.

However, Hilary Meredith, visiting professor of law and veterans’ affairs at the University of Chester, who has represented several soldiers investigated by IHAT, said: “This so-called new evidence has no credibility whatsoever.

“It is flawed, baseless and biased.”

An MoD spokesman said: "Allegations that the MoD interfered with investigations or prosecution decisions relating to the conduct of UK forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are untrue.

"Throughout the process the decisions of prosecutors and the investigators have been independent of the MoD and involved external oversight and legal advice."

Astronomers around the world warn massive satellite build-up could ‘cut us off from the cosmos’ forever

Astronomers have warned that the exponential number of satellites being sent into orbit in the coming months risked “cutting us off from the cosmos” for good.

The prediction came a day after SpaceX, whose CEO and chief engineer is Elon Musk, launched 60 satellites at once as part of a project to send up to 42,000 into space in the coming years.

They were part of the company’s Starlink constellation of small satellites designed to provide seamless internet connections back on Earth – even in the remotest of locations.

The 60 satellites launched on Monday will add to the dozens launched in May on the first Starlink flight.

Throughout history, only about 8,000 satellites have ever been sent to space, and there are about 2,000 currently active satellites.

But SpaceX has permission from regulators to launch more than 12,000 satellites and it recently requested permission to add as many as 30,000 to that number. Mr Musk has said the project could generate $30 billion or more in revenue each year.

SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk insists his Starlink satellites won't clutter up the sky but astronomers remain unconvinced Credit: Mike Blake/Reuters

Philippe Zarka, an astronomer at the Paris observatory, issued a stark warning on Tuesday, telling Le Parisien that the multiplication of such satellites “risks polluting space forever.”

“Low-Earth orbit, the one near our planet, is already cluttered by numerous satellites and debris and he wants to put up to 42,000 more up there. It’s madness,” he told the newspaper.

With the light pollution and “radio fog” these are liable to create, astronomers would have been hard pushed to clinch the first-ever image of a black hole recently,” he said.

“This screen will cut us off from the cosmos.”

He is not alone in voicing such worries. The International Astronomical Union has also expressed “concern”.

Astronomers warn that the multiplication of satellites around Earth will make observation of deep space well-nigh impossible Credit:  Malcolm Denemark/ Florida Today

SpaceX has pledged to work with experts to jointly minimise potential impacts of its satellites, moving some to higher orbits and promising to paint their Earth-facing bases black to reduce their reflectiveness.

But American astronomers are not convinced, particularly as other companies, including Amazon, Telesat and OneWeb, plan to launch similar mega-constellations.

“If there are lots and lots of bright moving objects in the sky, it tremendously complicates our job,” James Lowenthal, an astronomer at Smith College, told The New York Times. “It potentially threatens the science of astronomy itself.”

Mr Zarka said: "Space for people like Elon Musk is like a new Wild West, apparently virgin and where a lot of money can be made. But let’s be careful this doesn’t end up turning into a bad Western."