Home' Greymouth Star : August 12th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
6 - Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Australian man, 91, may be oldest drug mule
A 91-year-old Australian has been
charged with importing cocaine
inside packets of soap in a crime
that, if proven, would make him the
world’s oldest drug mule.
Police say retired Sydney surgeon
Victor Twartz was “ legitimately
scammed” by an organised crime
syndicate which had befriended him
and gained his trust before luring
Australian Federal Police organised
crime commander David Stewart
would not go into detail about the
case, but said Twartz had been in
contact with them for months. Police
were tipped off by Twartz’s family
but were unable to stop him leaving
“There is certainly some evidence to
suggest that this man was legitimately
scammed by this group and exploited.
There were warnings issued to him.
At the end of the day (people) make
their own choices. ”
Twartz was returning to Australia
from New Delhi on July 8 when he
was allegedly caught carrying 27 bars
of soap, filled with about 4.5kg of
cocaine. He has been charged with
importing a commercial quantity of
the drug, which carries a maximum
penalty of life imprisonment. Twartz
appeared at Downing Centre Local
Court yesterday. He did not enter a
plea and his bail was continued to
Asked outside court whether he
was taken advantage of, Twartz said:
He told the ABC he was duped by
people he met in Delhi whom he had
befriended on-line. He said he was
handed a bag just before he boarded
his flight and told it contained gifts
for a person in Australia.
Stewart said in the past two years
alone, 40 Australians have been
arrested over similar scams. But he
warned ignorance was not a defence.
Ola Mae Agee, who was imprisoned
at 87 for dealing crack from her house
in Florida in 2010, had previously
been labelled the world’s oldest drug
dealer. In 2012, Francis Cook was
labelled Britain’s oldest drug dealer
after he was convicted at 83 for
growing almost 200 cannabis plants.
Victor Twartz, who appeared in a Sydney court yesterday, says he is the
victim of a drug scam.
China is preparing to ordain a second
bishop with the Pope’s approval, the
spokesman for a Catholic diocese
said overnight, a possible sign of
easing relations between the Chinese
government and the Vatican.
The possible ordination in central
Henan province of Cosmos Ji Chengyi
as bishop of Zhumadian and last week’s
consecration of Joseph Zhang Yinlin
as coadjutor bishop of Anyang follow
a strained period between Beijing and
Rome since 2011, when the Communist
body that governs the Church appointed
bishops without Vatican approval.
China’s eight to 12 million Catholics
are divided into two communities
an official Church run by the
Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association
answerable to the Communist Party,
and an underground Church that swears
allegiance to only the Pope.
Zhang was ordained last week as
China’s first Catholic bishop in more
than three years, said Li Jianlin, a priest
and spokesman for Henan diocese.
He said both Zhang and Ji had
approval from Rome, though there was
no timetable set for Ji’s ordination as
the Church was undergoing “a lot of
“Catholics are thrilled because this
is the first time since the founding of
Henan province that there has been an
ordination ceremony recognised by both
sides,” Li said, referring to the approval
given by both Beijing and the Vatican to
Li said the diocese was renovating a
church to prepare for Ji’s ordination.
China’s Foreign Ministry and the State
Administration for Religious Affairs did
not immediately respond to a request for
ordinations were “good signs that the
Chinese government is more open”, said
Anthony Lam, a senior researcher at
the Holy Spirit Study Centre in Hong
Kong, an organ of the diocese of Hong
China has not ordained any bishops
since Thaddeus Ma Daqin publicly quit
the State-sanctioned Catholic Church
during his ordination as auxiliary bishop
of Shanghai in 2012.
The Vatican, which has had no formal
diplomatic ties to Beijing since shortly
after the Communist Party took power
in 1949, has been trying to improve
relations with China.
The main point of contention
between Beijing and the Vatican is
which side should have the final say in
the appointment of bishops. Another
stumbling block is the Holy See’s
recognition of self-ruled Taiwan, which
Beijing considers a renegade province.
Meanwhile, Christians in the eastern
province of Zhejiang say authorities have
been taking down crosses on churches
since last year, creating tension between
officials and congregations. — Reuters
HMS Hood at speed in 1941.
An American billionaire
philanthropist has recovered
the missing bell from a British
battlecruiser that was sunk with
nearly all hands, completing the
final wish of one of the ship’s few
Ted Briggs was one of only
three sur vivors from a crew of
1418 on board HMS Hood when
it was sunk by the Bismarck in
the North Atlantic more than 74
Before he died he had often
hoped the ship’s bell could be
salvaged from the seabed as a
fitting memorial to those killed in
the Royal Navy ’s worst loss of life
from a single ship during World
His wish was finally fulfilled last
week, seven years after his death,
when the bell was recovered by
research a team led by Microsoft
co-founder Paul Allen.
The bell was brought up from
the shattered wreck lying in the
Denmark Strait between Iceland
and Greenland at a depth of
more than 2800m. The bell will
now spend a year undergoing
restoration before being placed
in the National Museum of the
Royal Navy in Portsmouth.
David Mearns, director of Blue
Water Recoveries which supported
the search, said: “I am extremely
pleased that we have been able
to fulfil one of the last wishes
of Ted Briggs, one of only three
survivors of Hood’s crew of 1418
men, to recover the ship’s bell as a
memorial to his shipmates.
“Despite 74 years of immersion
in the hostile depths of Denmark
Strait the bell is in very good
“The bell we recovered is a
unique historical artefact, which
shows just how important Hood
was as flagship of the British
Battlecruiser Squadron. This was
clearly a special bell for a special
ship and it will forever ser ve as a
fitting memorial to the ‘Mighty
Hood’ and a reminder of the
ser vice and sacrifice of her men.”
The bell was recovered on Friday
using Mr Allen’s yacht Octopus,
which is equipped with a state-
of-the-art remotely operated
“This effort commemorates the
hundreds of brave sailors who
were lost at sea,” Allen said. “It
is a true honour to undertake
the expedition to recover the bell
from ‘ The Mighty Hood’.”
HMS Hood was sunk in
May 1941 as British warships
intercepted the Bismarck and
Prinz Eugen to stop them
striking convoys as they crossed
As HMS Hood closed in, a shell
from the Bismarck hit between
centre and stern, penetrated the
deck, exploded and detonated
ammunition in the 4-inch and
15-inch magazines. According to
one witness, the column of flame
generated was “four times the
height of the mainmast ”.
The blast broke the ship in
two and she sank within three
The bell was first discovered
and photographed in July 2001.
The bell was found lying on the
seabed well away from the parts
of the battlecruiser’s hull. Allen
led another expedition to recover
the bell in 2012, but it was
hampered by poor weather and
technical difficulties. — PA
Bell from HMS Hood recovered from seabed
The bell from HMS Hood was recovered from a depth of more than 2800m and will now go on display
at the National Museum of the Royal Navy.
At sea near Ronneby (Sweden)
A wooden figurehead of a sea
monster with ears like a lion and a
crocodile’s jaw was carefully lifted
from the sea in southern Sweden early
today by divers bringing up treasures
from the wreck of a 15th-century
The figurehead came from the
wreck of the Gribshunden, which
is believed to have sunk in 1495
after it caught fire on its way from
Copenhagen to Kalmar on Sweden’s
Although the hull suffered extensive
damage, the remaining bits make it
one of the best preser ved wrecks of its
kind, dating from roughly the same
period as Christopher Columbus’s
flagship, the Santa Maria.
“ Last time it looked at the world,
Leonardo da Vinci and Christopher
Columbus were still living,” Johan
Ronnby, professor of marine
archaeology at Sodertorn University,
said as the ferocious-looking
figurehead, which was intended to
scare the enemy, was brought to the
“ It ’s a monster. It’s a sea monster
and we have to discuss what kind of
animal it is. I think it ’s some kind
of fantasy animal — a dragon with
lion ears and crocodile-like mouth,”
“ I’m amazed, We knew that it should
be a fantastic figure, but it was over
our expectations when we saw it now.
It ’s a fantastic figure, unique in the
Researchers are hoping to bring
more of the wreck to the surface
in future. They say the hulk is well
preser ved, because sea worms do not
like the brackish waters of the Baltic
“The ship comes from a time just
when Columbus was sailing across the
ocean and Vasco da Gama also went
to India, and this is the same period
and we can learn very much about
how the ships were made, how they
were constructed since there are no
ships left from this time,” said Marcus
Sandekjer, head of the Blekinge
Museum, which is involved in the
“It’s unique in the world and I think
there are going to be more excavations
around here and we’re going to find
some more unique objects. But this . . .
today is just fantastic. ” — Reuters
‘Sea monster’ figurehead salvaged
The figurehead lying upside down and partially covered in silt.
Rare parrot caught in Outback
For more than a century, it has
been known as the “holy grail” of
birdwatching — a mysterious tiny
species seen by only a handful of people
since it was discovered fluttering across
the Australian bush 170 years ago.
The night parrot (Pezoporus
occidentalis) was described as one of
the world’s most elusive creatures by
conser vationists who spent decades
trying to confirm its existence.
Now researchers have captured the bird
for the first time after an 18-month hunt
in a 56,000ha stretch of the O utback.
The largely ground-dwelling bird was
found in remote western Q ueensland by
Dr Steve Murphy, an ornithologist. The
exact location has been kept secret to
“ When we had the bird it was terrible,
to be honest, there was an enormous
responsibility,” Murphy said.
The team used camera traps and
followed the bird’s calls before catching
it, removing some feathers and attaching
an electronic tag. They have named it
Pedro, although it has not been verified
whether it is male or female.
“For as long as we can, we’ll keep it as
secret as we can. It’s just such a critical
thing that we do everything that we can
to save this species, to bring it back from
the brink of extinction,” Rob Murphy,
from the conser vation group Bush
Heritage Australia, said.
Nocturnal and nomadic, the parrot
was discovered in 1845, but was barely
seen again until a carcass was found by a
roadside in western Queensland in 1990.
Another carcase was found in 2006.
It was not until 2013 that John Young,
a naturalist, claimed to have seen and
documented a live bird in Outback
Queensland. But the discovery proved
controversial, with some critics claiming
photographs had been retouched.
However, Young passed on the location
of the birds to several scientists, including
Experts estimate the population of the
species is between 50 and 250.
Pedro was caught on April 4 and
has been seen only once more, as the
tracking tag is believed to have fallen off.
Bear Grylls leaves son on rock
Television action man Bear Grylls is at
the centre of a row after his young son
was left on rocks for a lifeboat training
The sur vival specialist tweeted a picture
of Jesse Grylls, 12, standing on the rocks
to his 1.2 million followers, saying: “Jesse
and the RNLI on a training exercise to
rescue him off the rocks!”
But when the lifeboat station manager
at Abersoch, North Wales, returned
from holiday he criticised using the boy
during the rescue exercise.
Gareth Hughes said the lifeboat crew
understood it was a “ low-key ” routine
training exercise and were not aware the
youngster was to be involved.
Hughes told the Daily Post newspaper:
“ I certainly wouldn’t put my young
son on those rocks, and also it could
encourage people to do the same which
would be unfortunate.
“ No one was thankfully hurt, but in his
efforts to give the RNLI (Royal National
Lifeboat Institution) some publicity this
is the wrong kind.”
Grylls was understood to be on
holiday in north Wales at his home on
St Tudwal’s Island at the time of the
exercise, last Thursday.
The photo of Jesse Grylls on the rocks
appears to have been deleted from Bear
Grylls’ Twitter account. — PA
Berlusconi may sell villa
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio
Berlusconi is considering selling his
lavish Sardinian villa and has given a
tour of the luxury estate to Saudi Arabia’s
crown prince, a source said overnight.
Prince Mohammed bin Nayef looked
around Villa Certosa last week, but has
not yet made any offer for the property,
where Berlusconi used to entertain
world leaders and show girls.
The estate sprawls over 120ha on
Sardinia’s exclusive Emerald Coast and
comes complete with a fake volcano
that erupts on command. It also has
an amphitheatre and an underground
grotto where small boats can dock.
The crown prince “toured the villa,
but that is it so far. There have been no
further steps for ward,” the source said.
Italian daily Corriere della Sera
reported last week that Berlusconi
was seeking 500 million euros ($843
million) for the Mediterranean estate,
which came to symbolise his flamboyant
lifestyle during his years in power.
Russian President Vladimir Putin
visited and his two teenage daughters
were reported to have spent the summer
there in 2002.
Former British Prime Minister Tony
Blair once vacationed there with his wife
Cherie, and in 2009, Spanish daily El
Pais published a nude picture of former
Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek
standing by one of the villa’s several
The media tycoon also hosted wild
parties there with scantily clad women.
Corriere della Sera said that although
Saudi Arabia’s crown prince had seen the
property, it may be King Salman who is
really interested in buying the villa.
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