Home' Greymouth Star : January 5th 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
6 - Thursday, January 5, 2017
A young Israeli soldier who shot dead
a Palestinian assailant lying wounded
and motionless on the ground in the
occupied West Bank was convicted of
manslaughter overnight in one of the
most polarising cases in Israel’s history.
The decision to court-martial sergeant
Elor Azaria, who shot the Palestinian
after the assailant stabbed another
Israeli soldier last March, stirred public
controversy in Israel from the start, with
right-wing politicians calling after the
verdict on President Reuven Rivlin to
pardon the 20-year-old defendant.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
said he supported pardoning Azaria
in a post on his Facebook page. A
poll published overnight by Israel’s
Channel 2 television showed that 67% of
respondents favouring a pardon.
“This is a difficult and painful day —
first and foremost for Elor, his family,
Israel’s soldiers, many citizens and parents
of soldiers, among them me ... I support
granting a pardon to Elor Azaria,”
Netanyahu said on his Facebook page.
Ten months ago, Azaria was an army
medic ser ving in the Israeli-occupied
city of Hebron when two Palestinians
carried out the stabbing. Hebron has
been a longtime flashpoint of violence,
and the incident occurred during a wave
of Palestinian street attacks on Israelis.
One of the two assailants was shot
dead by troops. The other was shot and
wounded. Eleven minutes later, as the
wounded man, Abd Elfatah Ashareef, 21,
lay on the ground incapacitated, Azaria
shot him in the head with an assault rifle.
At the trial, Azaria contended that
he believed the Palestinian, though
motionless, still posed a danger because
his knife was nearby, and that he might
have been carrying explosives. “He
deser ves to die,” Azaria was quoted in
the verdict as telling another soldier after
pulling the trigger.
The three-judge panel rejected Azaria’s
Video footage of the shooting, taken by a
Palestinian human rights activist, showed
the knife was not within Ashareef ’s reach,
and no bomb was found.
The video was distributed to news
organisations, ensuring that the incident
drew international attention amid
allegations by Palestinians and rights
groups that Israeli soldiers have been
using excessive force against lightly
But despite a campaign by Azaria’s
family and rightist politicians that
described the conscript, 19 at the time
of the incident, as “everyone’s child”,
members of Israel’s military establishment
argued that the shooting violated rules
stating that soldiers can open fire only in
In Hebron, Ashareef ’s family watched
live television coverage of the 21⁄2-hour
reading of the verdict.
“ To say he is guilty is a good step, not
bad, and we hope that the sentencing will
be fair,” Ashareef ’s father, Yousri, said.
Sentencing will be handed down at a
later date. Azaria’s lawyer said they would
appeal to a higher military court. The
manslaughter charge carries a maximum
of 20 years’ imprisonment but legal
experts expect the sentence to be shorter.
Netanyahu wanted soldier pardoned
Cult leader and convicted mass
murderer Charles Manson, reportedly
taken from a California prison where
he is ser ving a life sentence to a
hospital for an undisclosed medical
issue, “is alive right now,” a State
prison official said overnight.
Celebrity gossip website TMZ
reported yesterday that Manson
was transported to a hospital in
Bakersfield, California, about an
hour from California State Prison in
Corcoran, where he was being held.
Manson, 82, was seriously ill, a source
told the Los Angeles Times but could
not provide further information.
A spokeswoman for the California
Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation, Krissi Khokhobashvili,
declined to confirm the media reports
or provide details on Manson’s location
or specifics on his medical condition.
“Charles Manson is alive right now,”
Khokhobashvili said by phone, adding
that Manson was still “assigned” to the
prison in Corcoran. She declined to
In the 1960s, Manson, a charismatic
ex-convict, assembled a group of
runaways and outcasts known as the
“ Manson Family.” In the summer of
1969, he directed his mostly young,
female followers to murder seven
people in what prosecutors said was
part of a plan to incite a race war.
Members of the cult stabbed heavily
pregnant Hollywood actress Sharon
Tate 16 times in the early-morning
hours of August 9, 1969. Manson’s
followers stabbed or shot to death four
other people at Tate’s home.
The following night, Manson’s group
entered the nearby home of grocery
store chain owner Leno LaBianca and
his wife, Rosemary, stabbed the couple
to death and used their blood to write
“ Rise,” “Death to Pigs,” and “Healter
Skelter,” a misplaced reference to the
Beatles song “Helter Skelter,” on the
walls and refrigerator door.
Manson was originally sentenced
to death but was spared execution
and his sentence converted to life in
prison after the California Supreme
Court declared the death penalty
unconstitutional in the state.
Charles Manson, left, in 1969 and right, in 2016.
Charles Manson hospitalised
The oldest member of the small
population of endangered Puget
Sound orcas has been missing for
months and is now probably dead,
bringing the toll of dead or missing
whales to seven in 2016, researchers
in Washington state reported.
The orca labelled J2 and
nicknamed ‘Granny ’ had been
spotted thousands of times over 40
years of orca surveys but has not
been seen since October, according
to the Centre for Whale Research
on San Juan Island, a non-profit
group that keeps the Federal
government ’s annual census of the
“ With regret we now consider her
deceased,” researcher Ken Balcomb
wrote in a post on the centre’s
She was typically seen at the head
of the J pod, one of three family
groups of whales that travel with
their mothers or grandmothers,
but has not been spotted for weeks.
Other members of her family have
been photographed and counted.
Individual southern resident
killer whales that spend time in
the inland waters of Washington
state are identified by unique black
and white markings or variations
in their fin shapes. Each whale is
given a number and a name.
A 1987 published study estimated
that J2 was born in 1911, putting
her age at 105. There is a 12-year
margin of error so she could be
older or younger, Howard Garrett
of the Orca Network said in an
— New Zealand Herald
PICTURE: New Zealand Herald
A photo provided by the Centre for
Whale Research, an orca whale designated
J2 pokes her head upward while swimming
in the Salish Sea near the San Juan Islands.
World’s oldest killer whale missing, presumed dead
The parents of a Brisbane boy who
choked himself to death playing a
game have warned families to be
vigilant about dangerous on-line
The 13-year-old, whose name has
been withheld at his parents’ request,
died on December 30 while playing
the so-called “good boys’ game”.
The game, which is also known
by several other names, calls for a
person to withhold oxygen to the
brain until they pass out, with videos
and instructions on how to play
Asphyxial games are not a new
phenomenon and have been linked
to dozens of deaths worldwide
in the past decade, including the
suffocation of a 12-year-old boy in
England in June, 2016.
Queensland Catholic Education
Commission executive director Lee-
Anne Perry confirmed the Brisbane
boy ’s death occurred while playing
“The student ’s parents wish this
information to be made public to
alert families to this danger,” Dr
“The parents wish for others to be
aware of this activity, particularly
on-line influences that encourage
young people to place themselves at
risk.” — AAP
Boy, 13, dies in on-line choking ‘game’
Queen Elizabeth has given an
honour to a member of her staff in a
private ceremony, resuming official
duties as she continued to recover
from a heavy cold that forced her
to miss Christmas and New Year
church ser vices, a spokeswoman
The 90-year-old monarch fell ill
before Christmas, delayed her trip
from L ondon to her country estate
at Sandringham in eastern England
by a day, then took the very rare
decision not to attend the festive
season church ser vices.
She has not been seen in public
since before she became unwell and
Buckingham Palace has said she
was recuperating from a heavy cold.
Yesterday, the Queen gave a
member of her staff, Raymond
Wheaton, the insignia of a
Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian
Order, an honour that usually
rewards personal ser vice to her or
the monarchy. — Reuters
Queen Elizabeth resumes official duties
‘practically empty’ during peak
season two months after four people
were tragically killed on a ride at the
Gold Coast theme park.
The park reopened on December
10 after being closed for six weeks
following the deaths of Kate
Goodchild, Roozi Araghi, Luke
Dorsett and Cindy Low on October
Since then it has not been able
to draw back crowds even after
slashing ticket prices, extending
opening hours and offering free
meals, Daily Mail reports.
On Monday ticket prices for
adults were $75, down from the
usual $95 and children’s tickets were
slashed from $65 to $55. Opening
hours were extended from 5pm to
Many rides including the popular
Tower of Terror and Giant Drop
were closed as they under went
further safety audits while parts of
the park remained deserted in what
is usually Dreamworld’s busiest
time of the year.
Samantha Edwards, who attended
the park with her family on Monday
said it was “practically empty”
compared to the same time last year.
“ Even with most of the rides still
shut, we didn’t have to line up for
more than five minutes on any given
ride. It’s very unusual given the time
of year”, Ms Edwards said.
The Thunder River Rapids ride,
which claimed the lives of four
people when they were thrown
from a malfunctioning raft, will be
The board of Ardent Leisure have
announced they would reopen the
park on December 10 following
a $10 million loss caused by the
extended closing period.
The meeting came after police
completed their on-site investigation
and the state government conducted
safety audits following the tragedy
on October 25.
Dreamworld has been ordered
to fix safety hazards following an
inspection by Workplace Health
and Safety Queensland.
Concerns were raised about the
maintenance of the safety harness
anchor points and the safety chain
on Dreamworld’s Buzzsaw Ride.
The inversion roller coaster was
closed down in February last
year over issues with the safety
But although the investigation
found no new issues with guest
safety they did hand down eight
prohibition notices for minor
improvements and procedures to
the Gold Coast park.
A coronial hearing into the
tragedy will be held later.
— New Zealand Herald
Dreamworld a virtual ghost town
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