Pistorius trial adjourned
The murder trial of Oscar Pistorius was adjourned yesterday until April 7, when the Paralympian is expected to take the stand in his own defense in a bid to prove his innocence and avoid life in prison. Judge Thokozile Masipa postponed proceedings for more than a week due to the illness of one of the judge’s legal assistants in one of the most high-profile trials in the country’s history. Prosecutors took 15 days to lay out their case against the 27-year-old, arguing he deliberately killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine’s Day last year by firing four rounds from a 9mm pistol through a closed toilet door.
Defense official sacked
Turkey has removed undersecretary of national defense Murad Bayar from his post with immediate effect, the official gazette said on Thursday. The ministry did not give a reason for the decision. Bayar had been influential in Ankara’s negotiations with Beijing over the procurement of a missile defense system. Turkey’s NATO allies voiced concern when it said in September last year that it had chosen China’s FD-2000 missile defense system over rival offers from the Franco-Italian Eurosam SAMP/T and US-listed Raytheon Co. It said China had offered the most competitive terms and would allow co-production in Turkey.
Anti-graft body attacked
Police say a grenade was thrown into the anti-corruption office in what apparently was the latest in a string of politically related attacks. Police General Ake Angsananont said a building in the compound was slightly damaged, but there were no injuries from the incident, which occurred on Thursday night at the National Anti-Corruption Commission in Nonthaburi Province, outside Bangkok. Police seized a cache of weapons and arrested four pro-government protesters during an overnight raid at a house close to the office. They were investigating whether those arrested were linked to the attack. The commission has accused Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra of negligence in failing to prevent corruption and massive losses in the government’s rice subsidy scheme. Yingluck is due to submit her defense to the agency on Monday.
UN says 400,000 displaced
UN envoy to Iraq Nickolay Mladenov says about 400,000 people have been displaced this year by ongoing violence, and the UN Security Council is expressing “grave concern” about recent developments, particularly in Ramadi and Fallujah. Mladenov also warned the council on Thursday that without more funding, the UN “very soon will be unable to continue its humanitarian assistance to those fleeing the fighting in Anbar.” Islamic militants took control of Fallujah, a main city in western, Sunni-dominated Anbar Province, in December.
Ten killed in shootout
Soldiers and police killed 10 Zetas drug cartel suspects in a gunfight that erupted on Thursday in the eastern state of Veracruz, authorities said. The clash erupted after security forces were shot at from a house as they searched for a kidnapping gang while driving down an avenue in the city of Perote, the Veracruz state public security agency said. “As a result of this clash, nine men and one woman were killed,” the agency said. Authorities said the suspects were part of a Zetas unit dedicated to kidnapping and one of the cartel’s most dangerous cells. Authorities seized 10 rifles, munitions, shirts with federal police insignias and hats with the shield of an investigative unit, the statement said.
US Navy identifies killer
The US Navy on Thursday identified the civilian who killed a sailor aboard a destroyer in Virginia this week, saying he stripped a guard of his gun before opening fire. The incident has raised fresh questions about security at military installations after a shooting rampage in September last year at the Washington Navy Yard, when a civilian contractor killed 12 people. Authorities said Jeffery Savage, 35, a truck driver who had driven his vehicle on to the Norfolk naval base on Monday, tried to board the USS Mahan, but was told to stop and confronted by security officers. “A struggle occurred and Savage was able to disarm the petty officer of the watch,” a statement said. Savage used the gun to kill Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Mark Mayo, before other security guards shot him dead, it said.
Peanut butter to be dumped
Nearly a million jars of untainted peanut butter are being dumped at a New Mexico landfill. The US$2.6 million worth of peanut butter is being hauled to a landfill this week to expedite the sale of bankrupt Sunland Inc, a peanut-processing plant in Portales that was at the heart of a 2012 salmonella outbreak and nationwide recall. Bankruptcy trustee Clarke Coll says the peanut butter was produced for Costco Wholesale before the plant shut in fall last year, but Costco refused to take shipment of the product and it declined requests to let it be donated to food banks, repackaged or sold to brokers who provide food products to institutions such as prisons, even though tests showed it was safe.
Officers sacked for cheating
The US Air Force said on Thursday it had sacked nine nuclear missile officers and would discipline dozens of others over an exam cheating scandal that has sparked concerns about lax ethics. The officers, including chiefs of four squadrons, were all working at Malmstrom Air Force base in Montana, which has been rocked by cheating allegations that implicated up to 100 airmen. An internal investigation had found that commanders had not engaged in any cheating, but had “failed to provide adequate oversight of their crew force.”
Baggage handlers arrested
Police said a US$15,000 camera, Gucci bags and brand-name clothing and jewelry were among the thousands of dollars in valuables stolen by baggage handlers at Los Angeles International Airport. Los Angeles Police Captain Raymond Maltez said on Thursday that while some thieves worked together, most acted on their own, seizing opportunities to pocket items from luggage in transit. He said there was a culture of acceptance of theft among the baggage handlers. Six people have been arrested.