Home' Greymouth Star : February 4th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
8 - Wednesday, February 4, 2015
‘Earth-shaking’ revenge vow
Captive fighter pilot burned alive
Islamic State militants released a
video overnight appearing to show a
captured Jordanian pilot being burned
alive, and Jordan vowed to avenge
his death with an “earth-shaking”
A Jordanian official said the
authorities would execute several
militants jailed in Jordan in response,
including a Iraqi woman who Amman
had sought to swap for the pilot taken
captive after his plane crashed in Syria
The content of the video could not
be immediately confirmed. It showed
a man resembling airman Mouath
al-Kasaesbeh standing in a black
cage before being set ablaze. But the
reaction of the Jordanian authorities
made clear they treated it as genuine.
Jordan, which has been mounting
air raids in Syria as part of the United
States-led alliance against Islamic
State insurgents, would deliver a
“strong, earth-shaking and decisive”
response, a government spokesman
“The revenge will be as big as the
calamity that has hit Jordan,” army
spokesman Colonel Mamdouh al
Ameri said in a televised statement
confirming the death of the pilot,
who was seized by Islamic State in
The fate of Kasaesbeh, a member of a
large tribe that forms the backbone of
support for the Hashemite monarchy,
has gripped Jordan for weeks and
provoked rare protests against King
Abdullah over the government ’s
handling of the crisis.
The king cut short a visit to the
US to return home following word
of Kasaesbeh’s death. In a televised
statement, he said the pilot ’s killing
was an act of “cowardly terror” by a
deviant group that has no relation to
Jordan had sought to swap the pilot
for Sajida al-Rishawi, the Iraqi woman
militant who was sentenced to death
for her role in a 2005 suicide bombing
in Amman that killed 60 people.
Islamic State had demanded her
release in exchange for the life of
Japanese hostage Kenji Goto. The
beheading of Goto, a veteran war
reporter, was shown in a video released
by the group on Saturday.
The Jordanian security source said
Rishawi would now be executed
“ within hours”.
The Jordanian military might also
escalate attacks on Islamic State,
retired air force General Mamoun
Abu Nowar said. “ We might even see
in a couple of days the rate of sorties
increased dramatically. We might have
some special operations against their
leadership too,” he said.
In the Islamic State video, Kasaesbeh
is inter viewed, describing the mission
he was due to carry out before his F16
fighter crashed. The video also showed
footage of the aftermath of air strikes,
with people trying to remove civilians
A man resembling Kasaesbeh is
shown inside the cage with his clothes
dampened, apparently with flammable
liquid, and one of the masked fighters
holds a torch, setting alight a line of
fuel which leads into the cage.
The man is set ablaze and kneels to
Fighters then pour debris, including
broken masonry, over the cage which a
bulldozer then flattens, with the body
still inside. The video showed a desert
setting similar to previous videos of
In the pilot ’s hometown of Karak
in southern Jordan, people demanded
“I want to see Sajida body’s burned
and all the other terrorists in Jordanian
prisons. Only then will my thirst
for revenge be satisfied,” Abdullah
al-Majali, a government employee
among dozens of demonstrators in
the centre of Karak, said.
Witnesses said anti-government
protests briefly broke out in the
town when Kasaesbeh’s death was
announced as angry relatives blamed
the authorities for failing to save him.
Jordanian State television said he
had been killed a month ago, on
The White House said the
intelligence community was studying
when the video was recorded and that
President Barack Obama had ordered
his team to devote all resources to
locate other hostages held by Islamic
A staunch US ally, Jordan is part of
the alliance against the Islamic State
group that has seized large areas
of Syria and Iraq. King Abdullah
has defended the campaign against
domestic criticism, saying that
moderate Muslims need to combat a
group whose ideology and brutality
have insulted Islam.
Obama praised al-Kasaesbeh for
his bravery and said he was “in the
vanguard of the effort to degrade and
defeat the threat ” posed by militants
from Islamic State, also known as
“ Today, the coalition fights for
everyone who has suffered from ISIL’s
inhumanity. It is their memory that
invests us and our coalition partners
with the undeterred resolve to see
ISIL and its hateful ideology banished
to the recesses of history,” Obama said.
In the video, the burned man wore
orange clothes similar to those worn
by other foreign Islamic State captives
who have been killed since the US-
led coalition started bombing the
militants in July.
Islamic State has released videos
showing the beheadings of five US and
British hostages and said that it killed
two Japanese captives in the same way.
It has meted out the same treatment to
many more Arab prisoners, including
Syrian government soldiers.
The militants have stepped up the
gruesome killings while coming under
increased military pressure from the
air strikes and a ground campaign by
Kurdish and Iraqi troops to reverse
their territorial gains in Iraq and Syria.
Islamic State emerged out of al
Qaeda in Iraq. It expanded into Syria
as the country was plunged into a civil
war estimated to have killed 200,000
people since 2011.
The Syrian Obser vatory for Human
Rights monitoring group said
overnight that 51 civilians, including
children, had been killed by Syrian air
force strikes inside the country within
the past day.
The US-led coalition says it does
not co-ordinate with the Syrian
government of President Bashar al-
Assad. It does work with the Iraqi
government, which is also fighting
Islamic State. — Reuters
A church minister, the undertaker and
several pallbearers have fallen into a
grave during the funeral of a young man
in the town of Bethlehem, in central
South Africa, local media reports.
A witness told the Afrikaans
newspaper Volksblad that shortly after
the coffin was lowered into the ground, a
wooden plank on the edge of the burial
pit snapped, sending the undertaker
tumbling into the grave.
The minister then slipped and fell into
the grave, followed by several pallbearers.
“The undertaker landed on the coffin
and bruised his arm,” the unnamed
witness said. “ Then the minister fell on
top of the undertaker.
“He was quickly followed by four or
five of the pallbearers. ”
They were helped out of the grave by
mourners. — AFP
pallbearers fall into grave
Bobbi Kristina Brown, the daughter
of Whitney Houston and rhythm and
blues singer Bobby Brown, is fighting for
her life, the Houston family says.
Police said the 21-year-old was taken
to a hospital on Saturday after she was
found face down and unresponsive
in a bathtub in a suburban Atlanta
A Houston family statement said
overnight that Brown was surrounded
by immediate family and they were
requesting privacy. “ We are asking you
to honour our request for privacy during
this difficult time,” the statement read.
Whitney Houston was found dead in a
hotel bathtub in 2012. — AP
Whitney Houston’s daughter fights for life
The Hague (The Netherlands)
The United Nations’ highest court
has rejected rival claims of genocide
by former foes Croatia and Serbia
in landmark rulings over the bloody
Balkans wars of the 1990s.
International Court of Justice
chief judge Peter Tomka dismissed
Zagreb’s c laim that Serb forces
committed genocide during Croatia’s
war of independence.
He made a similar ruling in a
counter-claim by Belgrade over a
Croatian counter-offensive that
forced 200,000 Serbs to flee after
the last major battle of the 1991-95
The case had been described by
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica
Dacic as perhaps one of the “most
important events” determining his
country’s relations with Croatia.
Zagreb dragged Belgrade before
the ICJ in 1999 on genocide charges
linked to the war in Croatia during
the bloody break-up of the former
Serbia was accused of ethnic
cleansing as a “form of genocide” in
the town of Vukovar and other areas,
leading to large numbers of Croats
being displaced, killed or tortured
and their property destroyed.
About 20,000 people died in
the conflict, one of several bloody
wars that shook the Balkans in the
Vukovar was captured after a three-
month-long attack by the Yugoslav
army and Serb rebels.
After its fall, about 22,000 non-
Serbs were expelled, and about 350
people from the Vukovar region are
still reported missing.
Zagreb had wanted the ICJ
judges to order Belgrade to pay
Belgrade responded with a counter-
suit in 2010, saying about 200,000
ethnic Serbs were forced to flee
when Croatia launched a military
operation to retake its territory in
offensive, called Operation Storm,
the proportion of ethnic Serbs in
Croatia shrank from 12% to 4%.
Belgrade was outraged in 2012
when Operation Storm’s Croatian
military commander, Ante Gotovina,
was acquitted on appeal before the
Hague-based International Criminal
Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
“The irony is that Croatia . . .
which with its forceful separatism,
triggered an avalanche of the horrid
civil war in the former Yugoslavia, is
accusing someone else of genocide,”
Serbia said in a statement as the case
was being heard last year.
The decisions in the current case,
which was heard in March last year,
were reached by a 17-judge bench.
Both Belgrade and Zagreb had
said ahead of the verdict they would
accept the ruling. — AFP
Pope Francis has approved a decree
declaring slain Salvadoran Archbishop
Oscar Romero a martyr for the church.
The cleric, a defender of the poor and
vocal critic of the military in El Salvador,
was shot dead in 1980 while celebrating
He had delivered a sermon the day
before urging rank-and-file soldiers not
to carry out orders which would lead
them to become involved in human
Declaring him a martyr clears the way
for him to be beatified — a move which
would lead to him being referred to as
“ blessed” and can lead to sainthood.
In most cases beatification is justified
by a miracle having occurred as a result
of prayers to the person concerned,
but martyrdom for the Church is an
Romero’s support for the oppressed has
seen him held up by some as a champion
of Liberation Theology, a political
movement rooted in South America
which advocates the Church working
with the poor to bring about social
While Romero was not actually a
subscriber to the theology, his support
for the oppressed meant some within the
Church were reluctant to beatify him due
to concerns his death could be exploited
for political or ideological reasons.
UN court rejects Balkans
rival genocide claims
babies get nod
Britain has become the first country in
the world to allow the creation of babies
with DNA from three people.
MPs at the House Commons overnight
voted by 382 to 128, a majority of 254,
in favour of allowing the creation of
in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) babies with
DNA from three people.
The move is aimed at preventing serious
inherited diseases being passed on from
mother to child.
Under the change to the laws on IVF,
as well as receiving the usual “nuclear”
DNA from its mother and father, the
embryo would also include a small
amount of healthy so-called mDNA
from a woman donor.
The bill is expected to be rubber-
stamped by the House of Lords, the
upper chamber of parliament, later this
month, paving way for the procedure to
begin next year.
The change could apply to up to 2500
women of reproductive age in Britain
with hereditary mitochondrial diseases.
Lurid details of sex parties have
emerged as an ex-prostitute took
the stand in a French trial over
a high-end prostitution ring
that landed former IMF chief
Dominique Strauss-Kahn in
court on pimping charges.
The first part of the trial with
14 accused is focused on a
prostitution ring allegedly run
by the owners and a publicist for
the luxury Carlton hotel in the
northern city of Lille.
Investigators of the so-called
“Carlton Affair” stumbled across
the name of Strauss-Kahn,
whose high-flying career and
presidential prospects imploded
when a New York hotel maid
accused him of sexual assault in
Strauss-Kahn will testify next
week but a now-retired prostitute
nicknamed Jade made references
to “a public figure” she met
through the “Carlton” vice ring.
Members of the ring allegedly
procured prostitutes for the
and threw sex parties for the
minister in Paris, Brussels and
Jade explained how Rene
Kojfer, 74, former public
relations manager for the Carlton
and her employer Dominique
Alder weireld, a brothel owner
in Belgium known as “Dodo
the Pimp” would organise for
her and other women to attend
lunchtime sex parties at a Lille
“Each person had a partner,
there was no orgy where
everyone gets involved, the men
made their choice,” she said,
describing a “classy ” environment
with champagne and a buffet.
Jade had earlier in the
investigation described the orgies
with Strauss-Kahn as “carnage
with a heap of mattresses on the
floor”, prosecution sources said.
Prostitution is legal in France
but procuring — the legal term
for pimping which includes
encouraging, benefiting from or
organising prostitution — is a
Kojfer denies the charge of
“aggravated pimping”, saying he
was merely doing a ser vice for
his friends by introducing them
Strauss-Kahn said yesterday he
never set foot in the Carlton and
did not know Kojfer and “Dodo”.
The man once tipped as a
potential challenger to former
Sarkozy was paraded handcuffed
in front of the world’s cameras
after a New York hotel maid
accused him of sexual assault
in May 2011 — a case that was
eventually settled in a civil suit.
Strauss-Kahn admits to being
a “ libertine” who took part in
orgies, but denies knowing that
the women at the parties were
The economist faces 10 years
million euros ($2.33 million)
for “aggravated pimping in an
organised group”, with judges
arguing he played a role in
initiating the sex parties and
organising the prostitutes.
Sex orgy details emerge in Strauss-Kahn trial
Israel wants UN Gaza war probe dropped
Israel has called for a United Nations inquiry
into its 50-day war in Gaza last summer to
be shelved, as its chairman quit over Israeli
accusations of conflict of interest.
Canadian international law expert William
Schabas tendered his resignation yesterday
after Israel complained he had prepared a
legal opinion for the Palestine Liberation
Organisation in October 2012, the UN said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
welcomed the departure of a man he said
was “ biased against Israel” but said the whole
investigation needed to be abandoned as it had
been commissioned by the UN Human Rights
Council, which he described as an “anti-Israel
“This is the same council that in 2014 made
more decisions against Israel than against Iran,
Syria and North Korea combined. ”
Israel has long had stormy relations with the
UN Human Rights Council.
In January 2012, it became the first country to
refuse to attend a periodic review of its human
rights record. Two months later, it cut all ties
with the council over its plans to probe how
Jewish settlements were harming Palestinian
In his resignation letter, Schabas strongly
denied he was in any way beholden to the
PLO but said he was reluctantly stepping down
to avoid the UN inquiry into the war being
compromised in any away.
Council spokesman Rolando Gomez said the
commission, which is scheduled to present its
findings to the council next month, was in “the
final phase of collecting evidence”.
The Gaza conflict ended with a truce between
Israel and the territory’s Islamist de facto rulers
Hamas on August 26.
The conflict resulted in the deaths of more
than 2140 Palestinians, most of them civilians,
and 73 people on the Israeli side, mostly
soldiers. — AFP
Briton to swim Antarctic in Speedos
British endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh
is embarking on the “most dangerous swims
ever undertaken in the world” to call for a vast
protected area in Antarctic waters.
The swimmer is taking to the waters of
Antarctica’s Southern Ocean, braving freezing
temperatures, leopard seals and killer whales
in nothing more than his Speedo swimwear
to raise awareness of the need to protect the
region’s pristine Ross Sea.
Over the next five weeks he will undertake five
swims, four of which will be further south than
the current world record — held by Pugh — for
the most southerly swim, in waters expected to
be as cold as around -1.7degC.
The swims include a long-distance swim
around Cape Adare, home to the largest colony
of Adele penguins in the world and patrolled by
the penguins’ predators, leopard seals.
He will also be swimming at Cape Evans,
where British explorer Captain Robert Falcon
Scott built a hut before his journey to the South
Another swim will take place in the Bay
of Whales, so-named by explorer Sir Ernest
Shackleton due to the large number of killer
whales seen in the area.
Pugh said he was worried about the leopard
seals, which could try to grab him in their
powerful jaws and drag him under, the killer
whales and the bitterly cold water, which he has
already experienced swimming in the Arctic.
“ When you have been there before and felt
that pain, it’s all the more daunting to go back
there,” he said.
“These will collectively be the most dangerous
swims ever undertaken in the world”.
Pugh hopes his swims will encourage the
Commission for the Conser vation of Antarctic
Marine Living Resources, 24 countries and the
European Union responsible for creating marine
protected areas in the region, to designate the
sea as a protected area. — PA
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