Home' Greymouth Star : February 3rd 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
8 - Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former
International Monetary Fund chief
tipped to become French president
before a New York hotel maid accused
him of sexual assault in 2011, went on
trial in France overnight in a separate
case of alleged procuring of prostitutes.
Strauss-Kahn, 65, who settled a United
States civil case with chambermaid
Nafissatou Diallo after criminal charges
were dropped, risks as much as 10 years
in jail and a fine of up to 1.5 million
euros ($2.327 million) if convicted in the
French trial taking place in the northern
city of Lille.
The court rejected a prosecutor’s
request for the trial to be held behind
closed doors to protect the identity of
prostitutes who are due to testify about
their encounters with Strauss-Kahn and
“The court considers that plaintiffs
always have the choice” whether or not
to speak, the court’s president said.
Defence lawyers had argued against
the trial being held behind closed doors.
Investigating magistrates who sent
Strauss-Kahn to trial with 13 others
argue he knew he was dealing with
prostitutes when taking part in sex
parties in Paris, Lille and Washington
from 2008 to 2011, a judicial source said.
He is charged with “procuring with
Prosecutors say the charge of procuring,
or pimping, is applicable because, under
the French legal definition, it extends
to any activity seen as facilitating
In Strauss-Kahn’s case, judicial
investigators allege he allowed his rented
apartment to be used for sex parties
involving prostitutes and that he was
involved in organising them.
Defence lawyers for Strauss-Kahn
have flatly dismissed those allegations,
arguing he never made a secret of his
penchant for sex parties but was unaware
the women present were prostitutes and
did not play any pivotal organisational
Strauss-Kahn, wearing a black suit
and white shirt and tie, was driven into
the courthouse in a dark-windowed car
without stopping to speak to journalists
posted outside. He was accompanied by
his three defence lawyers.
The matter has come to be known as
the Carlton Affair, named after a hotel
in Lille that is at the centre of police
investigations into a broader sex ring.
Strauss-Kahn, French finance minister
in a boom-time Socialist government in
the late 1990s, became one of the world’s
most influential decision-makers in
2007 as head of the IMF, a public lender
that plays a central role worldwide in the
rescue of failing economies.
That high-flying career ended in May
2011 when the world witnessed live
television images of the then-IMF chief
being escorted handcuffed into custody
in New York after the accusations of
Sofitel room cleaner Diallo.
Strauss-Kahn, who had been preparing
to run for French president and was
enjoying a runaway lead in opinion polls
ahead of the 2012 contest, resigned from
the IMF. The fall from grace destroyed
his political ambitions, leaving the way
free for Francois Hollande.
Since returning to France, Strauss-
Kahn has separated from his celebrity
journalist wife, Anne Sinclair, met a new
partner and pursued a career in private-
The trial is expected to run for at least
three weeks, a court official said.
The widow of poisoned spy
Alexander Litvinenko has told the
public inquiry into his death that her
husband accused Russian president
Vladimir Putin of being a paedophile.
Marina Litvinenko said ex-KGB
agent Litvinenko wrote an article
shortly before his death in 2006
which questioned why Putin kissed a
young boy ’s stomach under his t-shirt
during a tour of the Kremlin.
The inquiry at the Royal Courts of
Justice in central London was shown
a copy of the article which featured a
photograph of Putin and the boy and
the headline “Kremlin Paedophile”.
Giving evidence today, Mrs
Litvinenko, 52, said: “It was written
in 2006 after everybody saw how
Putin behaved when he met a little
boy in a Kremlin tour group. He
went under his t-shirt and kissed his
Robin Tam, QC, counsel to the
inquiry, said: “ You have no idea if that
allegation is true?”
Mrs Litvinenko replied: “No, I have
She told the inquiry her husband
was paid £2000 ($4113) a month
for “consulting” British intelligence
ser vices after claiming political
asylum in Britain.
Litvinenko, 43, died at University
College Hospital nearly three
weeks after drinking tea laced with
radioactive polonium-210 while
meeting two Russian men — one
a former KGB officer — at the
Millennium Hotel in London’s
His family believes he was working
for MI6 at the time and was killed in
November 2006 on the orders of the
Former KGB bodyguard Andrei
Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun have
been identified as the prime suspects
in the killing, but both deny any
involvement and remain in Russia.
Poisoned Russian spy said Putin a paedophile
The four sur viving original Magna
Carta copies have gone on display
together for the first time as Britain
marks the 800th anniversary of the
Considered the cornerstone of
freedom, modern democracy, justice
and the rule of law, the English
document forms the basis for legal
systems across the globe, the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and the
United States constitution.
In June 1215, the wayward King John
agreed to the demands of rebellious
barons to curb his powers and sealed
the charter at Runnymede, a meadow
by the River Thames west of London.
At the British Library in London,
the two priceless copies held by the
institution were joined by those from
Lincoln and Salisbury Cathedrals for
a unification event this week that few
will get to witness.
A total of 1215 people — drawn from
a ballot from 20-plus countries — have
won the chance to see the four originals
together tomorrow. World-leading
Magna Carta experts get the chance to
study them side by side on Thursday.
“ Today is a really exciting day:
the first time ever we have brought
together the four sur viving original
copies of Magna Carta,” Claire
Breay, the library’s head of medieval
With each copy framed in individual
glass cases, the four manuscripts were
installed together behind thick glass
on Sunday in the British Library’s
The four parchments will be moved
to parliament for a private display,
before returning to their respective
homes. — AFP
Magna Car ta originals reunited
A woman looks at the four sur viving original copies of the 1215 Magna Carta, at the British Library in London.
Iceland plans temple
to pagan gods
Icelanders will soon be able
to publicly worship at a shrine
to Thor, Odin and Frigg with
construction starting this month
on the island’s first major temple
to the Norse gods since the
Worship of the gods in
Christianity around 1000 years
ago but a modern version of
Norse paganism has been gaining
popularity in Iceland.
“I don’t believe anyone believes
in a one-eyed man who is riding
about on a horse with eight feet,”
Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson, high
priest of Asatruarfelagid, an
association that promotes faith
in the Norse gods, said.
“ We see the stories as poetic
metaphors and a manifestation of
the forces of nature and human
Membership in Asatruarfelagid
has tripled in Iceland in the last
decade to 2400 members last
year, out of a total population
of 330,000, data from Statistics
The temple will be circular and
will be dug 4m down into a hill
overlooking the Icelandic capital
Reykjavik, with a dome on top to
let in the sunlight.
“The sun changes with the
seasons so we are in a way having
the sun paint the space for us,”
The temple will host ceremonies
such as weddings and funerals.
The group will also confer names
to children and initiate teenagers,
similar to other religious
celebrate the ancient sacrificial
ritual of “Blot ” with music,
reading, eating and drinking, but
nowadays leave out the slaughter
of animals. — Reuters
Architect Frank Gehry says he will
never again design a building quite like
the “crumpled paper bag” which officially
opened at Sydney ’s University of Technology
The Dr Chau Chak Wing building, which
will house a new business school in the inner-
city campus, is being hailed as a masterpiece
rivalling the Sydney Opera House in
Gehry, the 85-year-old Canadian-American
architect best known for the Guggenheim
Museum in Bilbao and the Walt Disney
Concert Hall in Los Angeles, said his first
Australian work was unique.
“ I won’t do this building anywhere else,” he
Constructed from more than 320,000
hand-placed bricks and glass slabs, the
$A180 million building with its cur vy facade
obliterates all the usual “sandstone university”
conventions. Traditional lecture halls have
been replaced with undulating walls, circular
classrooms and a grand chrome-silver
“ It’s the idea that you can humanise a
building,” Gehry said.
He took his inspiration from Sydney ’s
colonial sandstone buildings, and chose to
work in amber-coloured brick as a tribute to
“The 19th-century buildings in Sydney are
the most accessible. They have a humanity
while the modern buildings tend to be cold
and off-putting,” Gehry said.
It got the thumbs-up from Governor-
General Peter Cosgrove, who called it “the
most beautiful squashed brown paper bag
I’ve ever seen”.
“It’s bold. It ’s inspiring. The walls invite you,
the glass embraces you,” Cosgrove said at the
The building is named after Chinese
businessman Dr Chau Chak Wing, who
donated $20m to the project. His son had
previously studied architecture at UTS,
which has undertaken a $1.2 billion campus
upgrade over the past decade.
The Gehry building is the centrepiece of
that plan. — AAP
Sydney’s ‘paper bag’ building hailed
The Sydney University of Technology building designed by Frank Gehry is getting
plenty of positive responses.
Lucky escape as
bus roof torn off
A bus travelling through central
London has had its roof ripped
off after it hit a tree in a “freak
Five people were injured
when the No 91 clipped the
overhanging tree in Kingsway
overnight, sending the roof
crashing into the road behind it.
Pictures on Twitter showed a
double decker with upper-floor
seats and handrails visible and
its roof on the ground. One
showed the bus in front of a tree
with skinned bark next to a road
sign that warned of “overhanging
Speaking at the scene, London
Fire Brigade’s Euston station
manager Gary Squires said those
involved were “very lucky to
escape serious injury”.
“ You can see the missing bark
from the tree and the roof has
come up and off the bus,” he said.
“This is a very unusual incident.
It is a freak accident.”
Squires said a man sitting on
the top deck was left with a
suspected broken nose while
another passenger was taken to
hospital with injuries to the side
of their head.
Three others were treated at the
scene and discharged.
London School of Economics
student Ethan Meade, who
posted pictures of the scene on
Twitter, said he turned around
after hearing a crash.
“ I saw the roof fall down off
the side of the bus, and the
glass shatter everywhere. The
passengers seemed to be sitting
there pretty stunned as you’d
expect,” he said.
Transport for London said
there would be a full investigation
into the crash. — PA
The No 91 bus after hitting the tree.
A British pensioner who has
received more than £270,000
($550,000) in donations after
he was mugged has personally
thanked the fundraiser.
Alan Barnes, who is frail and
visually impaired, suffered a
broken collarbone when he was
shoved over outside his home in
Gateshead just over a week ago.
The 67-year-old met beautician
Katie Cutler, who set up the
donation page on Go Fund Me
with a target of £500 after seeing
reports of the attack.
She presented him with
chocolates and a card, and he
told the 21-year-old she would
be a friend for life.
“I’ve heard of fundraising
for charities but I’ve only got
a fractured collarbone, I didn’t
expect that sort of response,” he
“Thank you doesn’t really seem
to answer it, does it?”
Barnes has lived with disabilities
after his mother contracted
German measles when she was
pregnant. — PA
Mugged pensioner overwhelmed
Monopoly with real money
There cannot be a Monopoly
fan in the world who has not
dreamed of one day playing a
round with real money.
Now, for the 80th anniversary
of the game’s first appearance
in France, manufacturers are
providing exactly that — at least
for 80 lucky buyers.
Only one set will land the major
jackpot, in which every game
note is replaced by real money
for a total windfall of 20,580
In addition, 10 sets will contain
five real 20-euro notes, two 50-
euro notes and one 100-euro
A lesser prize can be scooped
in 69 sets, which will have five
10-euro notes and five 20-euro
“ We wanted to do something
unique,” F lorence Gaillard, brand
manager at Hasbro France, which
started rolling out the prize sets
“ When we asked our French
customers, they told us they
wanted to find real money in their
Monopoly boxes,” she added.
The operation to switch the
notes was carried out in secret,
in the small eastern town of
Creutzwald, where the games are
packed up before being shipped
“ First of all, it wasn’t easy to get
the notes. They had to be escorted
discretely,” Gaillard explained.
Appropriately for a game where
players try to cruelly bankrupt
their opponents, Monopoly even
roped in a bailiff to count and
re-count the real notes.
“ When they asked me, I was
giddy as a child,” the bailiff in
question, Patrice Wimmer, an
aficionado of the game, said.
The board game of Monopoly
was created after the Great
Depression in the United States
and has been tearing families and
friends apart ever since. — AFP
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