Home' Greymouth Star : March 27th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
8 - Friday, March 27, 2015
Indian police have made their first
arrest over the rape of an elderly nun
that has shocked the country.
Investigators traced the suspect
to the western city of Mumbai
and detained him yesterday, police say.
“He was picked up from a hideout,”
said an official on condition of
“He is being brought to headquarters
of the investigating agency in Kolkata.”
The nun, who is in her 70s, needed
surgery after she was attacked earlier
this month when a gang of robbers
broke into the convent school in the
state of West Bengal where she lived.
Police identified four of the six
robbers through CCTV footage
and had detained eight people for
But no arrests were made until
yesterday and authorities in Kolkata
had faced criticism over the pace of
Last week, the West Bengal
government said it was handing
over the case to the country’s top
investigators after coming under fire.
The assault was the latest in a string
of high-profile rapes in India and
added to the fears of the country’s
Christian minority following a spate
of attacks on churches.
Detectives have posted a reward of
100,000 rupees ($2000) for any leads.
Police have launched a gang-rape
inquiry, although officers say only one
person sexually assaulted the nun.
First arrest over rape of Indian nun
A young German co-pilot locked
himself in the cockpit of Germanwings
flight 9525 and flew it into a mountain,
killing all 150 people on board including
himself, prosecutors said overnight.
After listening to black box voice
recordings, French prosecutors left
no doubt that they believe 28-year-
old Andreas Lubitz was in control of
the Airbus A320 and set it on its fatal
descent. They offered no explanation for
Prosecutors in the German city of
Duesseldorf said police were searching
his home for evidence.
French and German officials said
there was no indication the crash in
the French Alps was a terrorist attack.
Acquaintences described Lubitz as an
affable young man who had given no
sign of harbouring harmful intent.
According to Marseille prosecutor
Brice Robin, Lubitz acted “for a reason
we cannot fathom right now but which
looks like intent to destroy this aircraft”.
“He voluntarily ... allowed the loss of
altitude of the plane, which he had no
reason to do. He had ... no reason to stop
the pilot-in-command from coming
back into the cockpit. He had no reason
to refuse to answer to the air controller
who was alerting him on the loss of
altitude,” Robin said.
The captain, who had stepped out of
the cockpit, probably to use the toilet,
tried to force his way back in: “ You can
hear banging to try to smash the door
down,” Robin said.
Describing sound recordings from
one of the plane’s black boxes, Robin
said most of the passengers would not
have been aware of their fate until the
“Only towards the end do you hear
screams,” he said. “And bear in mind that
death would have been instantaneous ...
the aircraft was literally smashed to bits.”
The chief executive of Lufthansa,
parent company of Germanwings, said
its air crew were picked carefully and
subjected to psychological vetting.
“No matter your safety regulations, no
matter how high you set the bar, and we
have incredibly high standards, there is
no way to rule out such an event,” chief
executive Carsten Spohr said.
The world’s attention will now focus
on the motivations of Lubitz, a German
national who joined the budget carrier in
September 2013 and had just 630 hours
of flying time — compared with the
6000 hours of the flight captain, named
in German media only as “Patrick S” in
accordance with usual practice.
Robin said there were no grounds
to suspect that Lubitz was carrying
out a terrorist attack. ‘Suicide’ was also
the wrong word to describe actions
which killed so many other people, the
prosecutor added: “I don’t necessarily call
it suicide when you have responsibility
for 100 or so lives.”
The family of the co-pilot arrived in
France for a tribute alongside other
victims but was being kept apart from
the others, Robin said.
Police set up guard outside Lubitz’s
house in Montabaur, Germany.
Acquaintances in the town said they
“I’m just speechless. I don’t have any
explanation for this. Knowing Andreas,
this is just inconceivable for me,” said
Peter Ruecker, a long-time member
of the local flight club where Lubitz
received his flying licence years ago.
“He was a lot of fun, even though he
was perhaps sometimes a bit quiet. He
was just another boy like so many others
A photo on Lubitz’s Facebook page,
which was later taken down, shows a
smiling young man posing in front of
San Francisco’s Golden Gate bridge.
Robin said the conversation between
the two pilots before the captain left
the cockpit started normally but that
Lubitz’s replies became ‘ laconic’ as they
started readying what would have been
the normal descent to the airport of
“His responses become very brief.
There is no proper exchange as such,” he
Investigators were still searching for
the second of the two black boxes in the
ravine where the plane crashed, 100km
from Nice, which would contain data
from the plane’s instruments.
Pilots may temporarily leave the
cockpit at certain times and in certain
circumstances, such as while the aircraft
is cruising, according to German aviation
Cockpit doors can be opened from
the outside with a code, in line with
September 11, 2001 attacks in the United
States, but the code can be overridden
from inside the cockpit. Lufthansa’s
chief executive said that either the pilot
had entered the code incorrectly, or the
co-pilot inside had overridden it.
Germanwings said 72 Germans were
killed in the first major air passenger
disaster on French soil since the 2000
Concorde accident just outside Paris.
Madrid revised down overnight the
number of Spanish victims to 50 from
As well as Germans and Spaniards,
victims included three Americans,
a Moroccan and citizens of Britain,
Colombia, Denmark, Israel, Japan,
Mexico, Iran and the Netherlands,
officials said. However, DNA checks
to identify them could take weeks, the
French government said.
The families of victims were being flown
to Marseille before being taken up to the
zone close to the crash site. Chapels had
been prepared for them with a view of the
mountain where their loved ones died.
French gendarmes and investigators work among the debris of the Airbus A320 at the site of the crash, near
Seyne-les-Alpes, French Alps.
Conflict in Yemen risks spilling out
into the busy sea lanes that pass it and
potentially disrupt the narrow Bab
el-Mandeb passage through which
nearly four million barrels of oil are
shipped daily to Europe, the United
States and Asia.
Oil prices rose as much as 6%
overnight after neighbouring Saudi
Arabia and its allies launched air
strikes on Yemen that targeted Iran-
backed Houthi rebels fighting to oust
The development is a gamble by
the world’s top oil exporter to check
Iranian influence in its backyard.
“The collapse of Yemen as a political
reality and the power of the Houthis
will enable Iran to expand its presence
on both sides of the Bab el-Mandeb,
in the Gulf of Aden and in the Red
Sea. Already discrete numbers of
Iranian naval vessels regularly sail
these waters,” J Peter Pham of United
States think tank the Atlantic Council
Analysts say Houthi forces do
not themselves have the maritime
capabilities or the interest to target
the Bab el-Mandeb, while warning of
“If the Iranians were to gain access
to a de facto base in some port or
another controlled by the Houthis
whom they have aided in the latter’s
fight, the balance of power in the sub-
region would shift significantly,” said
Pham, who also advises US, European
and African governments
The United States and its allies
regularly stage naval exercises in
the Gulf. The head of US forces in
the region said on Thursday the US
military would work with Gulf and
European partners to ensure the Bab
el-Mandeb remained opened.
Militants have launched successful
maritime attacks in the area before.
Yemen has a 1900km coastline that
also juts into the Gulf of Aden and
A suicide bombing carried out by
al Qaeda killed 17 sailors on the US
warship Cole in Aden’s port in 2000.
Two years later, al Qaeda hit a French
tanker in the Gulf of Aden, south of
the Bab el-Mandeb.
Egypt has said it could not stand by
if its interests were threatened.
Maritime sources said four Egyptian
naval vessels have crossed the Suez
Canal en route to Yemen to secure the
Gulf of Aden and were expected to
reach the Red Sea later today.
Iran, which denies providing money
and training to Houthi militia,
demanded an immediate halt to all
military “aggressions” in Yemen.
Last year Israel seized a ship in the
Red Sea on suspicion of smuggling
arms from Iran to the Gaza Strip.
“If such operations were to increase
or an intrusive inspection regime
introduced, there would be obvious
repercussions to shipping through the
Bab el-Mandeb, possibly even creating
a real choke point,” the Atlantic
Council’s Pham said.
The area has also witnessed multiple
hijackings on merchant ships by
Somali pirate gangs in recent years,
which has abated due to the presence
of international naval forces including
the United States and Iran.
Shipping and insurance sources say
disruptions to shipping would raise
costs. Yemen shut its major seaports
overnight due to the fighting.
“If a ship is attacked or damaged that
would lead to an immediate market
reaction. No one at the moment
wants to be first to do anything. But
everyone is watching this minute by
minute,” a top ship insurer said.
Any closure of Bab el-Mandeb,
Arabic for ‘Gate of Tears’ due to
its precarious navigation, would
close off the Suez Canal and the
Sumed pipeline that connects to the
Mediterranean and supplies oil to
“If an escalating conflict results in
the closure of the Bab el-Mandeb
Straits, tankers from the Persian
Gulf would be unable to reach the
Suez Canal and the Sumed pipeline,
diverting them around the southern
tip of Africa, a journey of at least 40
days,” said shipping analyst Natasha
Boyden with MLV and Co.
Yemen was already considered a
higher risk area than Syria and Iraq,
“Because of recent events, Yemen
is now really in a category where no
one is binding new business. Instead
they are working on evacuation and
business interruption for existing
clients who are abandoning assets,”
said Smita Malik of insurance
provider Clements Worldwide.
“It is like the analogy that you can’t
insure your house when it is already on
fire.” — Reuters
Yemen conflict could affect world oil supply
Shi’ite Muslim rebels hold up their weapons during a rally against air
strikes in Sanaa, Yemen.
Britain’s Supreme Court ruled
on Thursday that 27 ‘frank’ letters
written by Prince Charles to
ministers in 2004-2005 can be
disclosed to the media, a step that
could cast doubt over the political
neutrality of the future king.
The Guardian newspaper has
sought for a decade to obtain the
letters sent to ministers under
then-Prime Minister Tony Blair,
but successive governments have
acted to prevent publication for fear
of undermining the position of the
heir to the throne.
Prime Minister David Cameron
called the Supreme Court judgment
‘disappointing’ and said the
government would now consider
how to release the letters.
“This is about the principle that
senior members of the royal family
are able to express their views to
government confidentially. I think
most people would agree this is fair
enough,” Cameron said.
A spokeswoman for Charles
at Clarence House, his official
London residence, said: “Clarence
House is disappointed the principle
of privacy has not been upheld. ”
constitution, the royal family is
supposed to remain politically
Queen Elizabeth has kept her
opinions to herself during her
63-year reign, but Charles has
expressed views about subjects
close to his heart such as nature
conser vation and architecture.
His letters, nicknamed ‘black
spider memos’ because of his
potentially controversial if they
create the perception he disagreed
with ministers and tried to
The ruling is an unwelcome public
relations setback for Charles, whose
aides have worked hard to improve
his image after his 1996 divorce
from his popular wife Princess
Diana and the fallout from her
death in a Paris car crash in 1997.
Charles biographer Catherine
Mayer, who had unusually free
access to him while researching,
said she thought the letters would
cause a media furore when they
were released but would not harm
him in the long term.
“Although I think there will
be headlines and there will be
embarrassment for him in here and
I imagine he’s going to be in a deep
funk about the whole thing, I don’t
think this will in the end derail his
prospects of ascending the throne,”
Then-Attorney General Dominic
Grieve, who called the letters
ministerial veto in 2012 to block
their disclosure, but the veto was
declared unlawful by the Court of
Appeal last year.
In a final effort to stop disclosure,
Grieve went to the Supreme Court,
but it dismissed his appeal.
Grieve had argued that disclosure
“ would be seriously damaging to
his role as future monarch because,
if he forfeits his position of political
neutrality as heir to the throne, he
cannot easily recover it when he is
chief of the Guardian, said he was
hundreds of thousands of pounds
trying to cover up these letters,
admitting their publication would
‘seriously damage’ perceptions of
the prince’s political neutrality.
Now they must publish them so
that the public can make their own
judgment,” Rusbridger said in a
Only the 27 letters will be released
because freedom of information
laws have been tightened to prevent
publication of correspondence
involving the monarch or heir to
the throne for 20 years or five years
after their death, whichever comes
Cameron hinted the law might
be changed again as a result of
Thursday ’s ruling.
“Our freedom of information
laws specifically include the option
of a governmental veto, which we
exercised in this case for a reason.
If the legislation does not make
parliament ’s intentions for the veto
clear enough, then we will need to
make it clearer,” he said. — Reuters
Court rules Charles’s letters
can be disclosed to media
US President Barack Obama will
host Pope Francis at the White
House on September 23, following
an invitation extended during talks
at the Vatican last year.
The White House said overnight
that the president and the Pope will
continue a dialogue about poverty,
the environment, immigration and
promoting religious freedom.
“The president looks for ward to
continuing this conversation with
the Holy Father during his first
visit to the United States as Pope,”
a statement said.
The 78-year-old leader of
the world’s Roman Catholics
confirmed late last year that he
would visit the United States to
take part in a Catholic Church
congress in Philadelphia.
During the trip, he will also
address the United Nations in New
York and become the first pontiff
to address the US Congress.
Obama to host Pope Francis
Sharm el Sheikh (Egypt)
Arab foreign ministers meeting in
Egypt have agreed on the formation of
a joint military force, the Arab League’s
chief and the Egyptian foreign minister
The plan forms part of a draft resolution
to be submitted to Arab leaders at a
weekend summit in Egypt’s Red Sea
resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
The ministers “agreed on an important
principle, to establish the force”, Arab
League secretary general Nabil al-Arabi
told a news conference on Thursday.
“This is the first time that a force will
be created and work under the name
of Arab states,” he said, describing the
move as ‘historic’.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh
Shoukry said the agreement was
The rapid response force envisaged by
the Arab League will work to counter
terrorists, Arabi told AFP in a recent
The issue has been brought to the
fore by Saudi-led air strikes overnight
yesterday against Shi’ite Huthi rebels in
Other Arab states in the Gulf and
Egypt have said they are participating in
the campaign. — AFP
Joint Arab military force agreed
channel run by the defence ministry,
unexpectedly revealed today that it has
offered a job to disgraced British Top
Gear host Jeremy Clarkson after he was
dropped by the BBC for assaulting his
The state-owned channel, which
promotes the armed forces but also airs
general entertainment shows, published
a letter to Clarkson on its website,
asking him to host a new motoring
show and inviting him to visit Moscow
to discuss the offer.
“ He will reply. I cannot reply
on his behalf,” a spokesman for
Clarkson named by the channel as
Daniel Rix told the channel by
Zvezda also published on its website
an excerpt from an e-mail written by
Rix late yesterday.
“ I can only imagine what an episode
of Russian vyshaya peredacha (a literal
translation of Top Gear into Russian)
would look like,” the e-mail said.
“ It could feature a Tzar in a reasonably
priced car!”, referring to a celebrity
feature on the show called “a star in a
reasonably priced car”.
It was not clear whether Zvezda got
the point of Rix’s play on words, since
its own translation of the letter was
more literal, saying the show could
become a “tsar among shows about
reasonably priced cars in Russia”.
“Possibly he’ ll learn a lot of new things
about our car industry and will change
his mind after becoming a presenter on
Zvezda,” it said.
Top Gear draws more than 350
million viewers around the world and is
popular in Russia, where the show airs
on State television. A licensed Russian
local version ran for a while but did not
prove a hit.
Clarkson has visited Russia to film the
programme and present roadshows for
fans. — AFP
Russian tv offers Clarkson a job
A large residential apartment building
collapsed and was engulfed in flames
overnight in New York City’s East
injuring at least one person, authorities
There was no immediate information
on the number of possible injuries, but
local television footage showed people
being carried on stretchers from the
Local television also reported a large
explosion at the scene and an adjacent
building also on fire.
One person was injured critically and
other injuries were possible, said the
Fire Department of New York.
The FDNY said the building was
located at Second Avenue and East
7th Street in Manhattan’s East village,
a neighbourhood of small businesses,
restaurants and apartments.
“ We heard a big sound, then three
or four people fell on the street,” said
Shameem Noor, a cashier at Veselka, a
restaurant about a block away.
“People were running and screaming,”
he said. “ There’s a big fire on the roof
and black smoke.”
Witnesses said it was a five-storey
apartment building. — Reuters
NY apartment building collapses
Flash floods in a normally bone-dry
region of northern Chile have killed
seven people and left 19 missing.
The downpour began late on
Wednesday in the Atacama region,
home to the world’s most arid desert,
and lashed the area for hours, turning
riverbeds that had been dry for years
Desperate residents climbed onto the
roofs of their houses or fled to high
ground to escape the floodwaters, which
turned streets into rivers that swept up
nearly everything in their path.
The interior ministry declared a state
of emergency late yesterday and invoked
a constitutional clause transferring
power from the regional government to
The weather forced State copper
company Codelco, the world’s largest
copper producer, to temporarily
halt operations in Atacama and the
neighbouring region of Antofagasta.
As Interior Minister Rodrigo
Penailillo urged residents to evacuate,
the army declared a curfew for the
Atacama region and the city of
Some 2400 soldiers and police have
been deployed to the disaster area.
President Michelle Bachelet said the
downpour — equivalent to at least
10 times the previously drought-hit
region’s average annual rainfall — had
caught authorities off-guard.
“The prior assessment was that there
was an enormous drought, so rain
would not necessarily be a catastrophe.
It is very difficult to plan for, because
there was no way to know,” said
Bachelet, who flew into the disaster
The heavy rains had eased, but
emergency workers were still scrambling
to deal with the aftermath.
About 40,000 people were left without
electricity and as many or more without
potable water, officials said. — AFP
hit arid desert
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