‘Black Death’ grave found
Workers building a new railway in London have unearthed 13 skeletons thought to be victims of the Black Death plague that swept through Europe in the 14th century, archeologists said on Friday. The remains were dug up at Charterhouse Square in central London during excavation work for the city’s ￡15 billion (US$22.7 billion) Crossrail project. Archeologists believe the site could be the location of a plague cemetery described in medieval records, where up to 50,000 victims of the Black Death were buried. The plague wiped out a third of Europe’s population between 1348 and 1353. Records refer to a burial ground in London’s Farringdon area, where Charterhouse Square is located, that opened in 1348. The 13 skeletons were found over the past two weeks, laid out in two rows 1m below road level. They will be taken to the Museum of London Archaeology for laboratory testing and carbon-dating to try to establish their burial dates. Scientists are hoping to use the skeletons to map the DNA signature of the plague to help combat modern diseases.
HIV needle ‘healer’ arrested
Police have arrested a self-styled healer after he stopped attending a trial where he stands accused of infecting 16 people with HIV using acupuncture needles. Police said on Friday that they stormed the home of the 54-year-old man, who had barricaded himself inside with a knife and had issued repeated threats. An unidentified woman with him was also arrested. The man had been free on bail since August last year. His trial began on March 6, but he stopped turning up in court on Thursday. The case came to the attention of the Swiss authorities after an HIV-positive patient told a Berne hospital he had traced his infection back to acupuncture treatments carried out by the accused. The man has denied the charges.
Doctor guilty of sex attacks
A doctor pleaded guilty on Friday to using a secret camera hidden in his wristwatch to film himself sexually assaulting female patients. Davinderjit Bains, 45, admitted that he assaulted 30 women at his practice in southern England. The Indian-trained doctor filmed the attacks on his high-definition Tieex Spy Watch, which has been compared to a gadget from the James Bond films. He admitted a total of 39 charges: 13 charges of assault by penetration, 13 charges of voyeurism, 11 charges of sexual assault and two charges of sexual activity with a child. He asked for a further 65 offenses to be taken into account when the judge passes sentence. Police branded Bains a “sexual predator” and said he had covertly filmed more than 100 women.
MP released after bar brawl
A lawmaker, suspended from the opposition Labour Party for fighting in a House of Commons bar, was released on Friday following an alleged brawl in another parliamentary watering hole. Eric Joyce, 52, the member of parliament (MP) for Falkirk in Scotland, who now sits as an independent, told reporters he had not been charged, but had no other comment to make as he left a London police station. The Met Police confirmed they were called shortly before 10:30pm on Thursday to deal with reports of a disturbance at the Sports and Social Club bar. Joyce was convicted of four counts of assault and given 12 months’ community service after headbutting Conservative MP Stuart Andrew, hitting two Conservative councilors and striking Labour MP Phil Wilson last year.
A shipyard worker who set fire to rags aboard a nuclear submarine because he wanted to go home was sentenced to a little more than 17 years in US federal prison on Friday for the blaze that transformed the vessel into a fiery furnace, injured seven people and caused US$450 million in damage. Casey James Fury was also ordered to pay US$400 million in restitution. The judge imposed the sentence under a plea agreement that limited his time in prison to roughly 15 to 19 years for arson. The 25-year-old Fury pleaded guilty to setting the May 23 fire while the submarine was undergoing a 20-month dry dock overhaul at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery. The civilian painter and sand blaster told authorities that he needed to go home because he was suffering from an anxiety attack and had no more vacation or sick leave.
Impostor trial to start
The murder trial of a German man who allegedly passed himself off as a member of the Rockefeller family will start tomorrow, after a jury was selected last week, a court clerk said. Christian Gerhartsreiter, accused of killing his ex-landlord, was present as lawyers questioned prospective jurors to narrow them down on Friday to the 12-strong panel which will decide the trial. Gerhartsreiter is charged with murder in the February 1985 death of his former landlord John Sohus. The victim and his wife were last seen in 1985. A short time after they disappeared, a man calling himself Christopher Chichester, who lived in a home behind the victim’s in San Marino, northeast of Los Angeles, also vanished. Investigators discovered that Christopher Chichester was one of many aliases used by Gerhartsreiter, who also passed himself off as Clark Rockefeller, a member of the storied US family. Sohus’ body was finally discovered in 1994 in his garden. His wife has never been found.
Angry mob incinerates man
A man was caught by an angry crowd and burned to death near Guatemala City’s historic downtown after a shooting that wounded a driver and passenger on a city bus, firefighters said on Friday. “They beat him and then they set him on fire,” municipal fire department spokesman Raul Hernandez said. The incident happened on Thursday in the center of the city after two men on a motorcycle shot at a city bus, wounding the driver and a passenger, he said. The driver of another car, who witnessed the shooting, drove into the motorcycle. One of the two men on the motorcycle escaped, later to be arrested by police. An angry crowd trapped the other man, beat him, doused him with gasoline and then set him on fire, he said. There have been a wave of attacks recently on public transport in Guatemala City that have claimed the lives of two drivers.
Gunmen kill seven in bar
Gunmen burst into a bar in a blue-collar neighborhood of the beach resort of Cancun, killing seven people, including the head of a taxi union, the state prosecutor’s office said. Four men with weapons arrived in a convoy of cars in front of bar before entering the place and shooting at a group of people on Thursday, the Quintana Roo state prosecutor’s office said. A number of people were wounded. Six victims died on the spot while another one succumbed to his wounds while being taken to a hospital. Cancun, the country’s most popular tourist destination, has mostly avoided the drug-related violence since 2006.