Suspected killer of British businessman arrested in Argentina

A man sought by police in Argentina on suspicion of killing a British businessman outside a five star hotel has been arrested.

Angel Eduardo Lozano Azuaje, a 21-year-old Venezuelan, was intercepted by officers 1,000 miles north of Buenos Aires, on a bus heading towards Bolivia.

Police sources told Clarin newspaper that the suspect was captured after his girlfriend was interviewed by officials and reportedly provided key information on his whereabouts. 

After she was interviewed on Sunday, officers were able to locate the northbound bus on which he was travelling.

Police suspect that Lozano was one of the men filmed getting out of a grey Chevrolet outside the Fauna hotel, where Mr Gibbard was killed and his stepson Stefan Zone was injured.

Lozano and another man were arrested 1000 miles north of Buenos Aires Credit: La Nacion

Lozano had recently entered the country via Argentina’s northern border. He will be brought to Buenos Aires this morning. 

Police are still hunting more suspects, including the gang’s ‘marker’ – the individual tasked with observing tourists at Ezeiza airport, and choosing the victims of subsequent thefts.

Four suspects are already in custody, although it is understood that none of them were directly involved in the attack on Saturday.

One is thought to be the gang leader, who organised the logistics behind the operation, including arranging the cars and motorbikes.

Yesterday, it emerged that the gang held welcome signs in the airport arrivals hall as cover to spot wealthy tourists.

Property magnate Matthew Gibbard and his family arrived at Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires on Saturday morning, and were identified as targets because of their “high-end watches”, according to a spokesman for the Ministry of Justice and Security in Argentina.

CCTV shows that they were followed to their five star hotel across town, where Mr Gibbard, 50, and his stepson Stefan Zone, 28 were held up and shot while trying to fight off their attackers.

Yesterday, Tom Hartley, a friend of Mr Gibbard’s described how the businessman enjoyed fast cars and helicopters.

“He was a petrol head and a big super car collector,” Mr Hartley told The Times. 

“He had at least half a dozen Ferraris. He used to fly his own helicopter too, which he kept at his home.”

On Sunday, the president, Alberto Fernandez branded the incident “atrocious” adding: “We must be severe, we cannot tolerate this."

New Zealand rescuers unable to locate bodies as volcano death toll rises to 16

New Zealand recovery teams returned to the volcanic White Island on Sunday but were unable to locate two remaining bodies in their search, as the death toll from Monday’s eruption rose to 16, police said.

Authorities said eight police search and rescue staff were deployed for 75 minutes to an area in which their information suggested one body may remain.

“I can say we have found no further bodies in that area,“ Deputy Police Commissioner Mike Clement told a media conference on Sunday.

On Friday, six bodies were successfully retrieved from the island by a New Zealand military team and taken to the mainland for disaster victim identification.

Police said they remained committed to recovering the two bodies and that police and military divers were continuing to scour the waters around the island.

“Everyone went out there absolutely desperate to find bodies and return them to loved ones,“ Clement said.

On Saturday, divers faced contaminated waters and low visibility as they searched the sea surrounding the island.

The volcano, a popular destination for day-trippers, erupted on Monday, spewing ash, steam and gases over the island. Among the 47 people on the island at the time were Australian, U.S., German, Chinese, British and Malaysian tourists.

The death toll rose to 16 on Sunday as one more person died in an Australian hospital. That death is the first to occur in Australia following the eruption, where many of the victims were from and have been transferred.

The toll may rise further as more than two dozen people are still hospitalised across New Zealand and Australia, most with severe burn injuries.

Police on Saturday began formally releasing the names and nationalities of those killed, with 21-year-old Australian Krystal Browitt the first person identified.

On Sunday, police also released the names of New Zealander Tipene Maangi and Australians Zoe Hosking, Gavin Dallow and Anthony Langford.

There has been criticism that tourists were allowed on the island at all, given signs of increasing tremor activity in the days before the eruption.

A minute’s silence will be observed in New Zealand on Monday, December 16 at 2.11 p.m. local time (0111 GMT), exactly one week after the fatal eruption occurred. 

Five Italians sentenced to jail for gang rape of British tourist in popular holiday resort

Five Italians have been jailed for the gang rape of a British woman in the popular resort of Meta di Sorrento, south of Naples.

The men, who were all employees of a hotel where the woman was staying, set up a WhatsApp group after the rape which they called “Bad Habits”.

They were accused of slipping the 50-year-old Kent woman a date rape drug and then subjecting her to multiple rapes in the Hotel Alimuri on the night of October 6 2016.

They filmed and took photos of the assault and some were identified by tattoos on their bodies.

The woman was on holiday with her 25-year-old daughter, who went to bed early on the night the attack happened and was not targeted by the Italians.

They were sentenced on Friday to prison terms of between four and nine years by a court in the nearby town of Torre Annunziata.

The rapists were named as Gennaro Davide Gargiulo, who was given the heaviest sentence of nine years; Antonino Miniero and Fabio De Virgilio, who were sentenced to eight years; Francesco D’Antonio, who will go to jail for seven years; and Raffaele Regio, who was given a four-year sentence.

Sorrento is popular with British tourists Credit: Look

The British victim was not in court but had been in “a state of anxiety all day” while awaiting the verdict from a panel of three judges, said Lucilla Longone, her Italian lawyer.

She was “delighted” with the tough sentences handed down, her lawyer said.

When the sentences were read out there was uproar in court, with the defendants’ families shouting and yelling abuse at the judges.

Police officers escorted the judges out of the courthouse through a side entrance as around 30 relatives hurled threats at them.

The woman was allegedly given a date-rape drug in a drink that she accepted from two of the Italians on the last night of her holiday.

The two barmen then took her to a nearby swimming pool and raped her. They then passed her onto the other men, who raped her in a part of the hotel used as staff accommodation.

The men photographed her and later shared the photos on a WhatsApp group that they called “Bad Habits”.

The judges will deliver their “motivazione” or explanation of the guilty verdicts within 90 days, as is customary under Italian law.

Meta di Sorrento is close to Sorrento, a picturesque town which commands views of the Bay of Naples and is a favoured base for exploring the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii and the island of Capri.

When the men were arrested, Costanzo Iaccarino, the head of the local hoteliers’ association, said he was appalled by what had happened.

"We treat our guests with great care and the British, for us, have always been our preferred visitors. We participate in travel fairs in London every year."

Sorrento is so popular with tourists from Britain that one guidebook nicknames it “Eastbourne-on-the-Med”.

America’s deceit over Afghanistan quagmire disclosed in blunt confidential interviews

Senior US officials routinely misled the public about success in Afghanistan, fiddling statistics and metrics to spin a conflict they knew was going badly, according to a trove of confidential assessments.

Diplomats and military chiefs painted a rosy picture of progress despite evidence the campaign was mired in corruption, that the Afghan government was often disliked by the populace and Afghan forces were poor quality.

The 2,000 pages of interviews and notes with insiders from America’s longest war were published by the Washington Post after a three-year legal battle.

The often forthright interviews had meant to be confidential as part of a US government programme to learn lessons from the 18-year-long conflict.

“Our biggest single project, sadly and inadvertently, of course, may have been the development of mass corruption,” Ryan Crocker, who twice served as ambassador, told government interviewers.

He added, “Once it gets to the level I saw, when I was out there, it’s somewhere between unbelievably hard and outright impossible to fix it.”

Gen Douglas Lute, who advised George W Bush and Barack Obama in the White House, said America was “devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn’t know what we were doing.”

He added: “What are we trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking.”

Interviewees said the US government had squandered huge sums on a mission estimated to have cost the US taxpayer around £720bn since 2001. They also said they were under pressure to show the costly project was working and went to great lengths to spin evidence and data that showed otherwise.

“It was impossible to create good metrics,” one senior National Security Council official told interviewers in 2016. “We tried using troop numbers trained, violence levels, control of territory and none of it painted an accurate picture. The metrics were always manipulated for the duration of the war.”

“It was their explanations,” the senior NSC official said. “For example, attacks are getting worse? ‘That’s because there are more targets for them to fire at, so more attacks are a false indicator of instability.’ Then, three months later, attacks are still getting worse? ‘It’s because the Taliban are getting desperate, so it’s actually an indicator that we’re winning.’”

Number of pregnant women detained for migration offences rises 52 per cent under Trump

The number of pregnant women sent to jail for migration offences has risen by 52 per cent under President Donald Trump, a government report has found.

The Government Accountability Office announced on Thursday that 2,098 pregnant women were jailed for immigration violations in 2018. Hundreds of them were held for weeks or longer.

The rise in detention of pregnant women came after the Obama-era policy of leniency towards expectant mothers was ended.

All US governments have detained pregnant women, but under Mr Obama the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) was instructed, in a 2016 memo, that pregnant women should “generally” be released from detention and that agents should pay attention to expectant mothers’ “particular needs and vulnerabilities.”

That was reversed in December 2017, when the then-acting director of ICE, Thomas Homan, issued a new directive that officials said “ended the presumption of release for all pregnant detainees.”

During the next year, the number of detained pregnant women rose to 2,098.

Most pregnant women taken into custody last year had no prior criminal record, according to the report.

Most were apprehended by border agents at or near the southern border – a sign that many were among the thousands of Central American families seeking asylum.

The report said the majority of pregnant detainees were held for 15 days or less, but 615 were held for longer than that. That marks a sharp increase from the last year of the Obama administration, in which 92 pregnant women were held for more than 15 days.

Lawyers for pregnant migrant women argue that it is unfair to force women to remain in jail, fighting nausea and other pregnancy symptoms, while pleading their asylum cases.

The number of immigrant women who have miscarried in ICE detention has nearly doubled under Trump, according to a report in March from the Daily Beast.

Some of the women have fled domestic violence in Central America, while others were raped and became pregnant on their journeys through Mexico to the US border.

The report, which examined ICE enforcement from 2015 through 2018, said arrests and deportations rose overall, including increases in the number of migrants who are elderly, transgender and disabled.

Nigerian table tennis players wrongfully arrested in Croatia and forced across border into Bosnia 

Two Nigerian table tennis players who traveled to Croatia for a sports competition were arrested by police, bundled into a van and forced over the border into Bosnia, it has emerged.

When they protested that they were not illegal migrants and had legitimate visas, Croatian police allegedly threatened to shoot them.

Police in the Balkans are regularly accused of pushing migrants and refugees back over national borders, four years after the Balkan migration route was all but shut down by countries in the region.

Thousands of migrants are stranded in camps, enduring sub-zero temperatures and squalid conditions.

Abia Uchenna Alexandro and Kenneth Chinedu flew from Nigeria to Zagreb last month and then traveled to the Croatian town of Pula to compete in a global student games contest called the World InterUniversities  Championships.

Migrants face freezing conditions in camps in Bosnia Credit: Anadolu

Having taken part in the contest they returned to Zagreb on November 17, checked into a hostel and went for a stroll.

They were due to fly home to Nigeria, via Istanbul, the next day. But they were stopped by police, who demanded to see their documents – which they had left in their hostel.

The Nigerians were arrested and taken by road to a forest near the town of Velika Kladuša, on the border with Bosnia-Herzegovina.

“They put us in a van. They were laughing at us. They said ‘you go to Bosnia’. I said I flew on Turkish Airlines to Zagreb. I’ve never been in Bosnia. He said ‘no, you go to Bosnia’,” Mr Chinedu told Žurnal, a Balkan news website.

“After a while, the van stopped and we were pushed into the bushes. I refused to go into the woods. The policeman told me if I didn’t move he was going to shoot me.”

Migrants face a struggle for existence in camps like Vucjak in Bosnia Credit: Anadolu

They were forced over the border, with police telling them never to return to Croatia. Police allegedly tried to force them to sign documents that they did not understand.

“I said ‘I will not sign’. The officer hit me. The other one brought out his gun – if I didn’t sign he said he would shoot me. They forced me to sign. It was not in English so I didn’t understand it. I was scared. I started crying,” said Mr Chinedu.

As they were pushed over the border into Bosnia, a Pakistani migrant told them they were all being sent to a migrant camp.

“I said ‘camp’? I’m not going to a camp. I have a valid visa,’” said Mr Chinedu. Once in the camp, they had their money taken away – $210 and €100. “They took everything, we had no means to eat, nothing.”

They have been in the Miral camp, run by the International Organisation for Migration, for the last three weeks.

The organisers of the sports event are trying to help the Nigerians get back to Croatia and return home.

The students had valid visas and should never have been arrested, Alberto Tanghetti, an organiser, told Žurnal.

“These two students were in the competition, they had Croatian visas and return plane tickets from Zagreb to Istanbul and from Istanbul to Lagos.”

Dragan Mektić, Bosnia-Herzegovina’s minister of security, told Al Jazeera: “Those people are victims of illegal acts of the Croatian side. Respecting legal procedures, we now have to take them back to Croatia. It is obvious that they have Croatian visas, that they are in Bosnia and Herzegovina illegally. Croatian police forcibly displaced them and we have to bring them back there.”

Humanitarian organisations say at least 6,000 migrants face freezing temperatures in camps in north-west Bosnia, close to the border with Croatia.

“The situation is particularly concerning around the cities of Bihać and Velika Kladuša, where more than 3,800 people choose to remain outside formal camps, sleeping rough without access to basic services,” Medecins Sans Frontieres said in a recent report.

“MSF medical teams have referred a number of patients for specialist care for injuries caused by violence allegedly committed by Croatian and Slovenian border authorities. Teams have also treated patients who have reported being pushed back from the border.”

Police kill suspects held over rape and murder of Indian vet after they ‘attacked officers and tried to escape’

Police in India have shot dead four men who were being held as suspects over the rape and murder of a vet in Hyderabad last week.

The charred remains of the victim, 27, were found a day after she disappeared and the case caused widespread anger in India over the police’s handling of rape and violence against women.

The suspects were taken back to the scene of the crime but were shot after they attempted to escape and steal guns from officers, according to Hyderabad’s police.

"They tried to snatch weapons from the guards but were shot dead," Prakash Reddy, the deputy commissioner of police in Shamshabad, near Hyderabad, said. "They were killed in crossfire."

"We called an ambulance but they died before any medical help could reach them."

Mr Reddy confirmed that two police officers were injured in the incident.

Her family welcomed the news of the killings of the alleged perpetrators.

"It has been 10 days to the day my daughter died," the victim’s father told ANI news agency. "I express my gratitude towards the police and government for this. My daughter’s soul must be at peace now." 

The four men were arrested on charges of raping, murdering and burning the body of the veterinary doctor, who had parked her scooter on a busy highway on November 27.

Protesters burned effigies of "rapists" in Shiv Sena on Thursday Credit: NARINDER NANU/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Police said the men deflated her scooter tyre and lured her to a truck yard with the promise of fixing the machine. They allegedly then raped and murdered her before setting her body on fire under an isolated bridge, where her remains were found by a milkman last Thursday morning.

High-profile cases of violence against women have provoked fury in India. Thousands of people took to the streets across the country on Monday to protest the brutal attack in Hyderabad. Activists have called for rape cases to be fast-tracked through the courts and for tougher sentences. 

Three officers were suspended last week after the family of the victim accused the police of inaction after some officers told the family that she may have eloped. She had left home on her scooter on Wednesday evening for a doctor’s appointment but had later called her family when she had a flat tyre.

On Thursday, a 23-year-old woman was left in a critical condition after being set on fire by a group of men, including two of her alleged rapists, as she made her way to court for the case in Unnao, in the northern district of Uttar Pradesh.

According to government statistics, nearly 100 women are raped in India every day.

At least 10 killed in attack on church in Burkina Faso 

 

At least 10 people including children were killed in an attack Sunday on a church in eastern Burkina Faso where places of worship have already suffered several Islamist assaults, security sources said.

The victims were attending a service at a Protestant church in the town of Hantoukoura, one of the sources told AFP, putting the death toll at "more than 10".

Around 10 "heavily armed individuals" carried out the attack in the village near the border with Niger, "executing the faithful including the pastor and children," the source said.

Another source said 14 worshippers were killed, all of them male.

Soldiers in the region were hunting down the assailants, who fled on scooters, the second source said.

The poor West African country has suffered a series of attacks on Christian targets since February, leaving 21 dead before Sunday’s attack.

Burkina Faso’s population is around two-thirds Muslim and one-third Christian.

Jihadist groups target Christian clerics as well as Muslim ones they do not consider sufficiently radical in a country where traditionally the two religions have co-existed peaceably.

 

Rare mass protest breaks out in Chinese province near Hong Kong

Chinese police clashed with protesters in a southern province near Hong Kong over the weekend, in a rare case of public dissent which saw hundreds demonstrate against the building of a crematorium. 

Video footage circulated on Twitter, purported to be of the protests, showed police firing tear gas and chasing people in the town of Wenlou, Guangdong province. The footage also showed rows of police vehicles  tipped onto their sides. 

Some citizens, including one elderly person, were seen lying unconscious on the ground, while others were shown surrounding police vehicles and shouting: “Protest!”

Major protests are rare in China, where the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has little tolerance for dissent. 

The clashes took place around 60 miles north of Hong Kong, where pro-democracy protestors have been taking to the streets since June, initially demonstrating against a proposed extradition bill between the semi-autonomous region and mainland China.

Protesting being illegal without government approval, large-scale demonstrations against the central government are all but unheard of on the mainland in modern times. 

Though protests against local authorities about issues such as environmental concerns, city planning and workers’ rights occur from time to time, it is rarely on the scale of the Wenlou skirmishes.

The protest began on Thursday, continuing for two days before authorities announced that they had suspended plans to build the crematorium.

#Guangdong protest is ongoing. Local government of Wenlou City, Guangdong province is trying to build a crematory bigger than 13 standard soccer fields in a sudden. How many people are you going to burn? And who? pic.twitter.com/w2Oalc2NQk

— Voice of Guo Media (@VOG_2020) November 30, 2019

Wenlou residents had reportedly been told that a new park was being built, before they discovered that the land was actually earmarked for the crematorium.  

Guangdong authorities have not released any information about the protests, which were extended on Saturday by a few hundred residents despite officials suspending the building plan.

Witnesses said that dozens of citizens were injured and that many people were detained as confrontations unfurled. 

The videos showed protestors holding a sign reading: "If you don’t want to be reviled for 10,000 generations, say ‘no’ bravely".

Another read: “Love our beautiful Wenlou town, say ‘no’ to crematorium."

One resident of Wenlou, which has a population of 60,000, told the South China Morning Post: “The [proposed crematorium site] is close to housing and the source of our drinking water. We’re afraid of pollution. We don’t want money or compensation; we just want the crematorium project scrapped.”

She said local officials “thought the town was poor and its people stupid”. Mentions of the protests were censored on Chinese social media and not reported in the country’s news outlets, which are strictly controlled by the (CCP). 

Eyewitnesses said that journalists were prevented from accessing the areas in which the skirmishes took place.

Dutch police on manhunt to find Hague attacker who stabbed three teenagers

Dutch police kept up a huge manhunt on Saturday for an assailant who stabbed three youths in The Hague’s main shopping area.

Officials said they were keeping an open mind about the motive for the attack, which came as shoppers hunted bargains on Black Friday.

The incident caused panic in The Hague as it happened just hours after two people were stabbed to death in London allegedly by an ex-prisoner convicted of terrorism offences.

The male attacker ran off after the stabbings at a department store in the city centre’s Grote Marktstraat, The Hague’s main shopping area.

"We haven’t arrested a suspect yet. So we are currently very busy trying the find the suspect," police spokeswoman Marije Kuiper told AFP.

"It’s a little too early to speculate about that kind of thing," she said when asked about a possible terrorist motive, adding that investigators were still looking at several possible scenarios.

Police officers work near the site of a stabbing on a shopping street in The Hague Credit: Reuters

Police forensics officers were seen examining a knife found at the scene overnight.

The victims were a 13-year-old boy from The Hague, a girl of 15 from Alphen aan den Rijn and a 15-year-old girl from Leiderdorp, the ANP news agency said, quoting police. They did not know each other, police said.

They were all allowed to go home from hospital overnight.

Images on social media showed shoppers running in panic away from the scene, on a nighttime retail street lit by Christmas fairy lights.

Two teenage girls came running into the store after being stabbed, broadcaster NOS quoted witnesses as saying.

"I saw two girls screaming and running away. A man fled. He jumped very athletically over benches to get away. He looked like a cheetah," one witness told NOS.

"People were trying to get away. but that didn’t work. I was shocked."

Police helicopters flew overhead and several emergency vehicles were on site, the correspondent said.

Police initially gave a description of a man they were looking for aged between 40 and 50 but later withdrew it, saying they were still investigating.

The stabbing took place not far from parliament, which is the seat of government for the Netherlands and home to many international organisations and courts.

In Britain, two members of the public were killed in a stabbing on London Bridge in the heart of the capital on Friday.

The Netherlands has seen a series of terror attacks and plots, although not so far on the scale of those in other European countries.

In March four people were killed when a Turkish-born man opened fire on a tram in the city of Utrecht.

In August 2018 an Afghan man stabbed and seriously wounded two American tourists at Amsterdam’s central station, saying he wanted to "protect the Prophet Mohammed".

He was jailed for 26 years in October this year.

Earlier this month a Pakistani man was sentenced to 10 years in jail for a plot to kill far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders.