Kidnap-murder pair in court
Two women, suspected of belonging to a kidnap gang which killed a man, appeared before a judge on Saturday prior to being charged, a judicial source said. The two were placed under formal investigation, a precursor to criminal charges as "accessory to kidnap attempts" and association with criminals to carry out "kidnapping, detention and confinement," the source said. Ilan Halimi went missing last month after being lured into a trap by a woman and was held prisoner for three weeks by a gang that sent ransom demands to his family. He was discovered bound and gagged, with horrific burns and stab injuries. He died on the way to hospital.
Police seize cocaine boat
Police said on Saturday they had seized 3 tonnes of cocaine on a boat between the Canary Islands and Africa, matching a similar-sized seizure on Tuesday. Following the operations, police said Africa had grown in importance as a stopping point for Colombian drug traffickers wanting to smuggle their cargo to Spain and on to Europe. Police arrested eight crewmen and detained three Colombians in Madrid.
Mugabe warns of threats
President Robert Mugabe told a crowd of thousands on Saturday that Zimbabwe was under threat from imperialism, and delivered a blistering attack on gays. "Bear in mind that the monster of imperialism is continuously and dangerously lurking in the bush awaiting a more favorable opportunity to devour our national sovereignty," Mugabe said at his official birthday party in the city of Mutare. He also launched another blistering attack on homosexuality -- he has previously described gays as worse than dogs and pigs -- saying it was abhorrent. He said "leave whites to do that", and condemned churches for blessing gay marriages. He said his government would jail clergy who granted gay marriages in Zimbabwe.
Hooligan skiers targeted
Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy has a new target: hooligan skiers. During a visit to Chamonix, he announced he favors "zero tolerance" against "risky skiers" who endangered the health of others. Skiers were split over the new plans, which will apply to foreign visitors and locals. "I'm here to relax, not be followed around by gendarmes," said Pierre Bonelli, 44, on holiday at Les Arcs: "What are they going to do? Put speed cameras on the pistes? Ski with a blue light on their helmets?"
Espionage suspects jailed
Authorities have jailed two men suspected of buying weapons and missile technology on behalf of Iranian intelligence services, a government official said on Saturday. The two men, identified as a 59-year-old German citizen named Joseph Edward G. and a 41-year-old foreigner named Yousef P., were jailed pending completion of the prosecutors' investigation of possible espionage activities. A government official familiar with some aspects of the case said on condition of anonymity that they were suspected of acting on behalf of Iran. The prosecutors office said the two men "were occupied in recent months with shopping for control components for projectiles, equipment for the production of European Ariane IV launch vehicle rockets, military radio and night-vision equipment" and other items.
‘OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE’: The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been researching bat coronaviruses to trace the SARS pathogen, which is 80 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2 The Chinese virology institute in the city where COVID-19 first emerged has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new contagion wreaking havoc around the world, its director has said. Scientists think COVID-19 — which first emerged in Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal. However, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster China Global Television Network that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others that the novel coronavirus could have escaped from the facility were
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES? An institute of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and a company are to be sanctioned over ‘human rights violations and abuses’ The US Department of Commerce on Friday said that it would sanction a Chinese government institute and eight companies over alleged human rights abuses against Uighurs and other minorities in China’s western Xinjiang region. “These nine parties are complicit in human rights violations and abuses committed in China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region,” the department said in a statement. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security’s Institute of Forensic Science and Aksu Huafu Textiles Co are to be sanctioned “for
SPACE RACE: The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp mission aims to land a robotic rover and put a probe into orbit around the planet China is targeting a July launch for its ambitious Mars mission, which includes landing a remote-controlled robot on the surface of the Red Planet, the company in charge of the project has said. Beijing has invested billions of dollars in its space program in an effort to catch up with its rival, the US, and affirm its status as a major world power. The Mars mission is among a number of new space projects China is pursuing, including putting Chinese astronauts on the moon and having a space station by 2022. Beijing had been planning the Mars mission for some time this year,
Former US vice president Joe Biden on Friday said he “should not have been so cavalier” after he told a radio host that African Americans who back US President Donald Trump “ain’t black.” In a call with the US Black Chamber of Commerce that was added to his public schedule, Biden said he would never “take the African American community for granted.” “I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy,” Biden said. “No one should have to vote for any party based on their race or religion or background.” Biden faced criticism after his comments earlier on Friday on The Breakfast Club, a