Taylor says witness ‘crazy’
Former Liberian president Charles Taylor said on Tuesday that a key prosecution witness at his war crimes trial was a low-level official who “went crazy” years before testifying against him. Taylor used his fifth day on the witness stand at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague to try to discredit witness Varmuyan Sherif. Sherif said last year he saw Taylor smuggle weapons and ammunition to rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone in rice sacks in defiance of an arms embargo. He also accused Taylor of using child soldiers in fighting formations called Small Boys Units. But Taylor insisted Sherif was responsible only for his presidential motorcade and later “lost his mind.” “He went crazy,” Taylor said. “Varmuyan was on the streets, naked and eating from garbage.”
Dozens arrested over drugs
Police on Tuesday arrested 49 people who were allegedly part of an international ring involved in smuggling drugs from Latin America into Europe, officials said. Most of the suspects were picked up in and around Milan during several dawn raids. Many of those arrested are believed to belong to crime families of the ’Ndrangheta, the local version of the mafia in Italy’s southern Calabria region. Thirteen foreign nationals, including nationals from Peru, Chile, Uruguay, Romania, Albania and Montenegro were also among those apprehended, police said.
Two murderers hanged
Two men convicted of murder have been hanged in executions carried out in prison in the city of Isfahan, the Etemad newspaper reported yesterday. The men were only identified by their first names as Esmail, 23, who was found guilty of strangling a 19-year-old woman, and Muslim, 28, who had stabbed a friend to death, the report said.
Man, sons kill six
A man and two of his sons opened fire at random on Tuesday, killing six people and wounding seven, an official said. The assailants fired their shotguns on their neighbors in the village of Karaali, said Muammer Musmal, governor of Elazig Province. Three of the wounded were in critical condition, he said. The motive of the attack was not clear, but the governor said the assailants were said to be mentally disturbed.
Natives 22% of prisoners
The country’s native population accounts for 22 percent of prisoners, despite making up only 3 percent of the country’s population, according to figures released by the government on Tuesday. The disproportionate representation of natives, who include American Indians, Inuits and mixed-race Aboriginals, is worst in prisons in western Canada, particularly in Saskatchewan province. According to the analysis by Statistics Canada, 81 percent of prisoners in Saskatchewan province are natives, though only 11 percent of the province’s inhabitants come from indigenous communities. The situation is only slightly better in Manitoba, where natives make up 69 percent of prisoners and around 12 percent of the province’s residents. In Quebec, natives account for less than 2 percent of the prison population and around 1 percent of the province as a whole. The analysis found that age, educational background and employment status were factors that contributed to the native incarceration rate, but said that the rate remained higher for natives than non-natives, even where figures were controlled for those factors.