Home' Greymouth Star : December 30th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
8 - Wednesday, December 30, 2015
back to US
Fort Worth (Texas)
A wealthy Texan teen who had
been a fugitive after breaking his
probation sentence for killing four
people while driving drunk, was
likely to be returned to the United
States later today after being caught
in Mexico, Mexican authorities
Ethan Couch, 18, and his mother,
Tonya Couch, were taken into
custody on Monday evening in
the Pacific Ocean resort of Puerto
Couch became known in the US
as the “affluenza” teen during his
trial in juvenile court over the 2013
deaths, when a psychologist said he
was so wealthy and spoiled he could
not tell the difference between right
He has been ser ving 10 years
manslaughter, a sentence critics saw
as far too light.
Couch and his mother apparently
entered the country by land, said
Ricardo Vera, a local official for
Institute. He said the two did not
register when entering Mexico, but
it was not clear where they came in.
They were expected to be returned
to Houston on a commercial
flight from Jalisco’s State capital,
Guadalajara, Vera said.
In Texas, Tarrant County Sheriff
Dee Anderson said that when the
Couches arrived back in the United
States, the young man would appear
in juvenile court and his mother
would be arrested for hindering
“They had planned to disappear,”
Anderson told a news conference in
Fort Worth, Texas. “ They even had
something that was almost akin to
a going-away party before they left
Ethan Couch’s lawyer, Reagan
Wynn, said in a statement he had
not had the chance to speak with
his client and did not expect to be
able to until Couch was back in the
“ Until we have more information
concerning this situation, it would
not be prudent for us to make any
further public statement,” he said.
Couch and his 48-year-old
mother disappeared earlier this
month, prompting officials in
Tarrant County, to issue a warrant
for his arrest.
The two were captured at the
crossing of two streets near the
popular Malecon, or seafront
promenade, in Puerto Vallarta.
A police booking picture from
Mexico showed the previously
blond Ethan Couch with dark hair.
The sheriff said Couch’s darker hair
suggested he was trying to change
Tarrant County District Attorney
Sharen Wilson said that she
expected the judge to hold Couch
after his juvenile hearing, and
hoped it would be in an adult jail.
If Couch were transferred into the
adult court system, he could face
120 days in jail for fleeing and up
to 40 years in prison if he violated
probation again, Wilson said.
Mexican authorities said they
had been working with the US
Marshals Ser vice since Saturday to
locate Couch and his mother.
US Marshal Rick Taylor said
Mexico was treating Couch and
his mother as “undesirables” and
would likely expel them. He and
Anderson declined to say how
authorities tracked Couch down.
Police handed the pair over to
Mexican immigration authorities
for being in the country without
the proper permission so they could
be returned to the United States,
the Jalisco State Attorney General’s
Couch, then 16, was speeding and
had a blood-alcohol level of nearly
three times the legal limit when he
lost control of his pick-up truck and
fatally struck a stranded motorist
on the side of the road and three
people who had stopped to help.
Several passengers riding in
Couch’s vehicle were hurt, including
one friend who was permanently
investigating this month after a
video on Twitter appeared to show
the teen among a group around a
table littered with plastic cups and
cans of beer in a game of beer pong.
That would have been a violation of
his probation, the Tarrant County
District Attorney ’s office previously
Anderson had said last week it
was possible Couch and his mother
had fled the country. He said the
home they shared had been cleared
of its contents. Their passports had
been reported missing by the teen’s
father, who has co-operated with
The US Marshals Ser vice had
offered a $5000 reward in exchange
for information on his whereabouts.
Officials at the US Embassy in
Mexico City declined to comment
for privacy reasons, saying only that
they would provide any necessary
consular assistance. — Reuters
Israel’s top court slashed former
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ’s
prison sentence to 18 months from
six years overnight after overturning
the main count in his 2014 bribery
Olmert, 70, will begin ser ving his
term on February 15, according
to live reports from the Jerusalem
courtroom, making him the first
former head of government in Israel
to go to prison.
The charges related to his 1992-
2003 term as Jerusalem’s mayor and
real estate deals in the city.
The conviction ended speculation
that Olmert — a centrist credited
with working towards a peace
settlement with the Palestinians
until the graft scandal forced him
to step down — might return to
The Kadima party he formerly
headed is no longer in parliament.
Olmert, prime minister from 2006
to 2009, has denied any wrongdoing
in a major property deal that led
to the construction of the hilltop
Holyland apartment towers, a
hulking stone complex widely seen as
one of Jerusalem’s worst eyesores.
“A large weight has been lifted
from my heart with the Supreme
Court deciding to acquit me of the
main charge in the Holyland affair,”
Olmert told reporters after the
Supreme Court ruling.
“No bribe was ever offered to me
and I never accepted one,” Olmert,
who wore an open-neck blue shirt
and looked visibly relieved, said. “But
I respect the verdict of the Supreme
The Tel Aviv District Court found
Olmert guilty in March 2014 of
two bribery charges, finding that he
accepted 500,000 shekels ($186,755)
from developers of the Holyland
project and 60,000 shekels in a
separate real estate deal.
The six-year sentence handed down
by the lower court had been put on
hold until the culmination of the
Issuing its ruling, a five-member
Supreme Court panel said it had
not been proven beyond reasonable
doubt that Olmert had solicited
the 500,000 shekels from a real
estate developer, to help the veteran
politician’s brother get out of debt. It
upheld his conviction on accepting
the smaller amount.
A lawyer by profession, Olmert
began his political career in the 1970s
as a lawmaker who targeted organised
crime in Israel.
As the country’s leader, Olmert
waged war against militants in
Lebanon in 2006 and the Gaza Strip
He claimed significant progress in
talks with the Palestinians aimed at
security a final peace deal, offering
an Israeli withdrawal from much
of the occupied West Bank. But no
agreement was reached.
Olmert is expected to ser ve his
term, separated off from most other
prisoners, in the same jail holding
former Israeli President Moshe
Katzav. Katzav was convicted of rape
charges in 2010 and sentenced to
seven years. — Reuters
Former Israeli PM sent to jail
IS issues ruling on sex with slaves
Islamic State theologians have issued
an extremely detailed ruling on when
“owners” of women enslaved by the
extremist group can have sex with them,
in an apparent bid to curb what they
called violations in the treatment of
The ruling or fatwa has the force of law
and appears to go beyond the Islamic
State’s previous known utterances on
slavery, said Cole Bunzel, a leading IS
expert at Princeton University.
It sheds new light on how the group
is trying to reinterpret centuries-old
teachings to justify the rape of women in
the swaths of Syria and Iraq it controls.
The fatwa was among a huge trove
of documents captured by US Special
Operations Forces during a raid
targeting a top Islamic State official in
Syria in May.
Among the fatwa’s injunctions are
bans on a father and son having sex with
the same female slave; and the owner of
a mother and daughter having sex with
Joint owners of a female captive are
similarly enjoined from intercourse
because she is viewed as “part of a joint
The United Nations and human rights
groups have accused the Islamic State
of the systematic abduction and rape of
thousands of women and girls as young
as 12, especially members of the Yazidi
minority in northern Iraq.
Many have been given to fighters as a
reward or sold as sex slaves.
Far from trying to conceal the practice,
Islamic State has boasted about it and
established a department of “war spoils”
to manage slavery.
Fatwa No 64, dated January 29, 2015,
and issued by Islamic State’s Committee
of Research and Fatwas, appears to
codify sexual relations between IS
fighters and their female captives for the
first time, going further than a pamphlet
issued by the group in 2014 on how to
Professor Abdel Fattah Alawari,
dean of Islamic Theology at Al-Azhar
University, a 1000-year-old Egyptian
centre for Islamic learning, said Islamic
State “has nothing to do with Islam” and
was deliberately misreading centuries-
old verses and sayings that were
originally designed to end, rather than
encourage, slavery. — Reuters
A South African lion called Brutus
who fathered three “miracle” cubs
despite having had a vasectomy in his
youth is going back to the vet to have
the operation a second time.
Brutus and his partner Nala, who live
at the Drakenstein Lion Park near Cape
Town, stunned staff at the sanctuary
when she gave birth to the cubs just
“ We are a non-breeding sanctuary
and Brutus before he became sexually
mature had a vasectomy which we
assumed worked because for the last
three years there has been no offspring,”
the park’s owner Paul Hart said by phone
“So we were taken completely by
surprise by the cubs. ”
Local media reports jokingly referred
to a “Christmas Miracle” or “ White
Christmas” as the animals are rare white
lions — an unusual genetic mutation.
Mother and cubs, who have yet to be
named, are doing fine, while Brutus has
a date with a vet. “ Hopefully, this time
round, we’ll fix the problem,” Hart said.
The Drakenstein Lion Park is a private
sanctuary that rescues captive lions from
abusive environments that cannot be
released into the wild. — Reuters
Second vasectomy for lion IS leaders linked to
Paris attacks dead: US
A United States-led coalition has
killed 10 Islamic State leaders in the
past month with targeted air strikes,
including individuals linked to last
month’s attacks in Paris, a spokesman
for the coalition says.
“O ver the past month, we’ve killed 10
Isil leadership figures with targeted air
strikes, including several external attack
planners, some of whom are linked to
the Paris attacks,” US Army Colonel
Steve Warren, a spokesman for the US-
led military campaign against Islamic
State, also known by the acronym Isil,
said. “Others had designs on further
attacking the west.”
One of those killed was Abdul Qader
Hakim, who facilitated the militants’
external operations and had links to
the Paris attack network, Warren said
overnight. He was killed in the northern
Iraqi city of Mosul on December 26.
A coalition air strike on December 24
in Syria killed Charaffe al Mouadan, a
Syria-based Islamic State member with
a direct link to Abdelhamid Abaaoud,
the suspected ringleader of the co-
ordinated bombings and shootings in
Paris on November 13 which killed 130
people, Warren said.
Mouadan was actively planning further
attacks against the west, he said.
The effect of the air strikes on Islamic
State leadership can be seen in recent
battlefield successes against the group,
The Iraqi army recently saw its first
major victory against the ultra-hardline
Sunni militants, declaring the capture
this week of Ramadi, a provincial capital
west of Baghdad which fell to Islamic
State in May.
“ Part of those successes is attributable
to the fact that the organisation is losing
its leadership,” Warren said.
He warned, however, “It’s still got
fangs. ” — Reuters
A British couple have been convicted
of plotting an attack in London after
the husband sent out tweets asking for
advice on which targets he should hit,
alerting police to a stockpile of chemicals
at their home.
Mohammed Rehman, 25, and Sana
Ahmed Khan, 24, were found guilty by
a jury at the Central Criminal Court of
engaging in the preparation of terrorist
acts, with a view to hitting either a large
shopping centre in the capital or the
London underground network.
“ Westfield shopping centre or London
underground? Any advice would be
on Twitter, under the name “Silent
The couple, who denied the charges,
are to be sentenced at a later date.
The British prosecutor said overnight
the two Britons had carried out detailed
research into militant attacks, including
searching the internet for videos related
to the London transport bombings
which killed 52 people a decade ago.
Those attacks were carried out on
July 7, 2005, when four young British
Muslims travelled from northern
England to the capital to detonate
homemade bombs hidden in rucksacks
on three underground trains and a bus
during the morning rush-hour.
British media reports said Rehman and
Ahmed Khan had planned to carry out
an attack to coincide with the 10-year
anniversary of those earlier bombings.
Rehman, who was also found guilty of
possessing an article for terrorist purposes,
had carried out test bombs in his garden
which he filmed and sent to his wife,
an she had also helped to purchase the
chemicals, the prosecutor said.
“The pair had been very close to
carrying out an attack, all they required
was to purchase the chemicals to make
a detonator,” Susan Hemming, Head
of Counter Terrorism Division at the
Crown Prosecution Ser vice, said.
She added that the couple had already
acquired 10kg of urea nitrate. “ There
is little doubt that, had Rehman and
Ahmed Khan not been stopped when
they were, they would have attempted to
carry out an act of terrorism in London. ”
Britain is on its second highest alert
level of “severe”, meaning an attack by
militants is considered highly likely. The
designation remained the same after the
November 13 Islamist attacks in Paris
that killed 130 people. — Reuters
Couple convicted of
planning London attack
It was feared more than 30,000 litres
of sulphuric acid had spilled after all 26
wagons of a freight train carrying the
chemical derailed in remote northern
Australia, authorities said last night.
The train, belonging to locally listed
freight firm Aurizon Ltd, was carrying
about 819,000 litres of sulphuric acid, four
times the amount first estimated, when it
derailed in Q ueensland on Sunday.
“One of the carriages has likely
ruptured and it is possible that up to
31,500 litres of acid has leaked out,”
Queensland Police said in a statement.
Testing by the Department of
Environment and Heritage Protection
suggested that a nearby water way had
not been adversely affected by any leak,
the statement said.
Aurizon said the cause of the incident
was not yet known. Three train drivers
had received minor injuries but had been
released from hospital, it said.
A derailment and chemical spill adds
to pressure on the haulage company after
a downturn in coal shipping volumes
forced it to issue a profit warning last
week, sending its shares sharply lower.
It would also disrupt mining companies
already slashing production volumes
to cope with weak commodity prices.
Miners use sulphuric acid to separate
and clean some minerals.
The train was travelling from the
east coast port city of Townsville
to Phosphate Hill, 1000km inland,
The police statement did not give a
cause for the derailment but said the
area had experienced flooding, causing
a nearby highway to be cut off. Police
formed a 2km exclusion zone around the
crash site. — Reuters
Acid spill in Aust train crash
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