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Swiss federal prosecutors have indicted
a 30-year-old Swiss woman from the
Zurich area suspected of trying to join
up with jihadist militants in Syria, they
The Office of the Attorney-General
said it had proof that the woman in
December 2015 travelled illegally with
her four-year-old child from Egypt
to Greece, intending to go to Syria via
Turkey to join the Islamic State. Greek
authorities prevented the woman from
travelling onward, and she was arrested
at Zurich airport in January 2016.
“The present indictment must be
considered within the overall context of
the office’s strict policy...of prosecuting all
jihadi travellers,” the Attorney-General’s
office said in a statement. — Reuters
Sandra Melgar tied up her hands and
locked herself in a bedroom closet.
She positioned herself next to the body
of her husband Jaime who she had just
killed by stabbing him 31 times in a
frenzied and bloodied attack. Then she
The pair was discovered in the closet
the next day by friends who arrived at
their Houston home in Texas for the
couple’s 32nd wedding anniversary party.
Melgar told investigators she had
blacked out and woke up in the wardrobe,
not knowing how she and her husband
ended up there, according to police.
A court heard Melgar staged the home
invasion which was designed to cover up
the murder so she could cash in on a life
On Wednesday, Melgar, 57, was
convicted by a jury of the 2012 murder.
Melgar reportedly slumped for ward,
put her hands over her face and let
out a howl as the Harris County judge
delivered the guilty verdict. Her family
and friends followed suit, letting out
shrieks in the courtroom before tears fell
from their eyes.
Moments later, Melgar, who had been
free on bail since her arrest, was taken
to a nearby jail. She faces five years to
life in prison and will return to court for
During the trial, prosecutor Colleen
Barnett argued that the crime scene
was not consistent with Melgar’s story
of a home invasion. The court heard her
motive was to draw on a $500,000 life
“ I would like to thank the jurors for
their patience and attention throughout
this long, difficult case,” Barnett said
in a statement released by the district
attorney ’s office.
“ Jaime Melgar was by all accounts a
Defence lawyer Mac Secrest argued
there were problems with one of the
former homicide investigators involved
in the case and “a couple of cowboys” at
the Harris County Sheriff ’s Office.
The lead investigator, who was later
fired for backdating a search warrant in a
different murder case, also took the stand
for the defence.
The jury deliberated for about eight
hours before the verdict was handed
The defence team and Melgar’s family
members declined to comment as
they left the courtroom. Melgar has
maintained her innocence.
— News.com .au
Massachusetts lottery officials have
identified a 53-year-old health care
worker who lives in Chicopee as the
winner of more than $US750 million
($1.041 billion) in a Powerball
drawing, the largest prize for a single
ticket-holder in the contest ’s history.
The woman, Mavis Wanczyk,
appeared at an afternoon news
conference to claim her prize.
“ I wanted to get this over and done
with, and then everyone would leave
me alone,” Wanczyk, the mother of a
31-year-old daughter and a 26-year-
old son, told reporters. She said she
had worked for the past 32 years at a
Springfield hospital, but added: “I ’ve
called them and told them I will not
be coming back.”
Powerball said on its website that
the single ticket matched all six
numbers drawn on Wednesday night:
6, 7, 16, 23, 26 and the Powerball of 4.
Wanczyk said she learned of her win
when a colleague encouraged her to
check her ticket as she left work on
“I said: ‘I know it’s never going to be
me; it ’s just a pipe dream’, ” Wanczyk
said, adding that she was shocked to
find “I am a winner”.
The winning ticket was sold at a Pride
convenience store in Chicopee, about
145km west of Boston, according to
the Massachusetts State Lottery. The
owner of that store plans to donate
to charity the $50,000 prize he will
receive for selling the winning ticket,
the commission’s executive director,
Michael Sweeney, told reporters.
The State lottery originally said the
winning ticket was sold in Watertown,
a suburb of Boston, but corrected its
announcement hours later.
“This was the result of a human
error,” Sweeney said. “Our internal
systems, and I want to be clear about
this, our internal systems always had
the correct information.”
Wanczyk will have a choice of
receiving annual payments totaling
$758.7m over 29 years, or a lump sum
of more than $440m, before taxes.
Beyond retiring, she did not say how
she planned to spend her winnings.
The odds of a ticket having all six
winning numbers are 292.2 million
to 1, according to the Multi-State
Lottery Association. — Reuters
Rescue crews are searching for up
to 14 people including Germans,
Austrians and Swiss missing for
more than a day after a landslide
struck a remote Swiss mountain
valley near the Italian border, police
said early today.
Authorities evacuated about 100
people from the village of Bondo
and airlifted trampers from nearby
huts in the eastern canton of
Grisons after rocks and mud hit the
Police said they were unable to
reach eight people, six of whom had
been reported missing by relatives,
despite intensified searches by
teams including an army helicopter
outfitted with thermal sensing
technology as well as rescue dogs.
At a televised news conference,
police said another group of six
people might also be missing,
though it was unclear from relatives
whether these individuals were
in the area where the landslide
occurred or somewhere else.
“The relatives don’t know just
where they were,” police lieutenant
Andrea Mittner said.
Those missing were described as
hikers and climbers. No children
or locals from the region were
Austria’s Foreign Ministry said
a married Austrian couple were
among those unaccounted for.
The landslide’s force registered
a magnitude of 3 on the Richter
scale, Mittner said, equivalent to a
small earthquake that can be felt
by people and might shake indoor
“ You can imagine just what a
mass had to come down to cause an
earthquake scenario,” he said.
Bondo was to remain sealed
off, Mittner said, as additional
landslides were possible. About 120
rescue workers were on the scene.
14 missing after landslide engulfs town
A still image taken from video shows the remote village of Bondo in Switzerland after a landslide struck it.
Massachusetts woman scoops $1b lottery prize
Swiss indict woman
for ‘ jihadi travelling’
Danish police say the headless torso
of Swedish reporter Kim Wall, who is
believed to have died on a submarine
that sank, was found naked and they are
now also searching for her clothes.
The 30-year-old Wall was last
seen alive on August 10 aboard the
submarine of Danish aerospace and
submarine enthusiast Peter Madsen.
Police have arrested him on suspicion of
Copenhagen police spokesman
Steen Hansen said investigators found
a “clothes-less” torso. He said that
investigators were looking for her
clothes, including an orange turtleneck
blouse, a black and white skirt and white
Divers and members of the Danish
Emergency Management Agency were
combing the coast of the Amager island
in Copenhagen, in the area where Wall
is believed to have died.
A cyclist discovered the torso on
Monday, and Copenhagen police later
said the body’s head, arms and legs had
“deliberately been cut off ”.
Madsen initially told police he had
let Wall off the submarine on an island.
According to her family, she was
working on a story about Madsen, 46,
who dreamed of launching a manned
He later told police he buried Wall
at sea after an accident aboard his
submarine, UC3 Nautilus.
The story has caught worldwide
attention. Last night, a candlelight vigil
was held by classmates at the Columbia
University’s School of Journalism in in
New York, where Wall studied.
Nor way-based investor Georg Poul
Artmann, who holds about 75% of the
shares in the Rocket Madsen Space
Lab company that owns the 40-tonne,
nearly 18m submarine, told Denmark’s
Berlingske newspaper he will “c lean up”
within the company following recent
events but gave no details.
Artmann said his fascination with
space had prompted him to invest
250,000 kroner ($55,000) to support
Madsen’s space activities. He also said
Madsen was the company’s day-to-day
leader and as “an investor I have not
interfered in the daily operations. ”
DNA taken from Wall’s hairbrush
and toothbrush at her home in Sweden
matched the grisly remains found washed
up on a beach south of Copenhagen on
There was metal attached to the
headless torso in order to sink it,
Copenhagen lead investigator Jens
Moller Jensen said.
The bizarre story began on the
morning of August 11 when four
friends fishing from a motorboat off
the southern coast of Denmark were
confronted by the 40-tonne submarine
with a single figure standing on the
vessel’s conning tower.
“Are you okay?” one of the fishing party
asked Madsen, the renowned Danish
engineer, inventor and submarine
“ Yes, but would you mind waiting, I
have to try and repair something, and
that could be dangerous,” he replied,
according to the Helsingor Dagblad
Madsen then disappeared inside his
homemade Nautilus sub and in less than
a minute the submarine started to sink,
leaving the onlookers to pluck him from
A valve on the vessel’s ballast tank had
broken and the handle snapped off as he
tried to repair it, he reportedly told his
In a subsequent statement to the police
the inventor claimed to have been on
board alone, having dropped Swedish
journalist Wall off at land the previous
Witnesses had seen the 30-year-
old woman boarding the Nautilus in
Copenhagen on August 10 for a piece
about the 46-year-old engineer and
his sub, which he built in 2008 with
Madsen is known as a dashing and
somewhat eccentric personality in his
native Denmark, having built three
submarines with other engineers.
His other hobby is space travel, and his
work over the years developing missiles
to eventually mount a manned flight
into space earned him the nickname
“Rockets Madsen” in the local media.
Because Wall had failed to contact
home later that evening, her boyfriend
alerted the sea rescue ser vice, which was
unable to establish radio contact with
Madsen did not answer until 10.30
the next morning, when he said he was
having technical problems. Half an hour
later his submarine sank.
It was quickly evident to the police that
there was no natural reason for Wall’s
Madsen was arrested and sent to a
detention centre the following day,
charged with manslaughter.
All other details were kept from the
public, supposedly out of consideration
for the missing journalist ’s family.
On August 12, the submarine was
raised from a depth of 7m in the Koge
Bay south of Copenhagen and taken
to port. A day later technicians with
protective clothing and gas masks went
on board but found no trace of the
“Not alive and not dead,” Jensen said,
adding there were signs that the Nautilus
had been deliberately scuttled.
Danish police are putting an additional
charge of abuse of a corpse to the court
investigating whether Danish inventor
Peter Madsen killed Swedish reporter
Kim Wall on board his submarine.
Police said the body had been weighted
down with metal and an attempt had
been made to remove gas and air from
inside it to keep it on the seabed.
Wall, who was researching a story on
inventor Peter Madsen, went missing
after he took her out to sea in his
submarine on August 10. He denies
killing her, saying she died in an accident.
Police charged Madsen
manslaughter, which carries a sentence
of between five years and life in prison,
on August 11 when he was rescued after
his submarine sank.
Police spokesman Jakob Buch-Jepsen
said the prosecutor was also adding a
charge of abuse of a corpse.
In its preliminary investigation, the
court ordered Madsen detained until
September 5, pending further inquires,
on the lesser charge of involuntary
Police will seek to extend the pre-trial
custody when it is reviewed next month,
again requesting he be held on the charge
on manslaughter, Buch-Jepsen said.
“ We maintain the (manslaughter)
charge that we’ve had all the time,
but now we would like the court
to change the basis for the custody
to manslaughter from involuntary
manslaughter,” he said.
Under the Danish penal code,
manslaughter is used to describe the
deliberate killing of a person and there
is no distinction between manslaughter
and murder. Involuntary manslaughter is
used when the killing is not intentional.
The submarine is one of three
constructed by Madsen and one of the
largest privately built ones in the world.
It can carry eight people. — Reuters
Abuse of corpse charge added
North Korea has opened its doors
to Russian tourists, issuing a licence
for the first travel agency in Moscow
to promise clients “full immersion” in
the nation’s culture and enjoyment
“safer than an evening walk in
Nkorean.ru, a Russian company
licensed by North
government, offers organised tours
for groups of up to 10 people or
individuals “to show the travellers the
multi-faceted life of this most closed
Guests to North Korea must
necessarily be “checked” before
their trip and will always be
accompanied by a guide who will
monitor the “adequate behaviour
of the tourist and guarantee his
Pictures of strategic and military
facilities are banned and long talks
with locals “are not recommended”.
North Korea has conducted two
nuc lear tests and dozens of missile
tests since the beginning of last year,
significantly raising tension on the
heavily militarised Korean peninsula
and in defiance of United Nations
Security Council resolutions.
Two tests of inter-continental
ballistic missiles in July triggered
a new round of tougher global
Faced with economic problems
made harder by sanctions, the
Pyongyang government is keen to
develop tourism to earn cash.
The most pricey tour, 15 days
“full immersion in the culture of
North Korea” costing 118,090
rubles ($2771), includes visits to
a farm, a mineral water factory, a
Buddhist temple, walks in the
mountains and an introduction to
Visits to numerous museums to
founding leader Kim Il-Sung are also
Other less demanding tours include
relaxation on a beach, an aviation
show and even a beer festival.
It is unclear how popular these trips
will be among Russians who have
already developed a fondness for
visiting Europe and the affordable
resorts of Turkey and Thailand.
North Korea opens door to Russian tourists
over assault claim
A South African model who has said
she was whipped with an electric cord
by Zimbabwe’s first lady Grace Mugabe
has filed court papers challenging the
government ’s decision to grant her
diplomatic immunity, advocacy group
Police had placed border posts on “red
alert” to prevent her from leaving but
South Africa’s international relations
minister said she had granted diplomatic
immunity to the wife of Zimbabwe’s
93-year-old President Robert Mugabe.
Afriforum has given legal backing
to Gabriella Engels, the 20-year-old
woman behind the assault allegation,
and is working on the case with Gerrie
Nel. He was the prosecutor who secured
a murder conviction against Olympic
and Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius.
“ We want to set aside the granting of
diplomatic immunity to Grace Mugabe,”
Afriforum chief executive Kallie Kriel
said, adding that it could take months
before the case is heard in court and that
no date for the hearing had been set.
Mugabe returned home from South
Africa early on Sunday, but her immunity
was widely-criticised in South Africa,
where August has been designated
Women’s Month to highlight concerns
around gender violence and abuse.
Engels has accused Mugabe of
whipping her with an electric extension
cable as she waited with two friends
in a luxury hotel suite to meet one of
Mugabe’s adult sons.
Harare has made no official comment
on the issue and requests for comment
from Zimbabwean government officials
have gone unanswered. — Reuters
British PM may have aimed
too high with EU demands
May always said she would be
“ambitious” in negotiating Britain’s
exit from the European Union, and
government documents published
this month show the scale of that
ambition — wanting the closest of
ties without the costs.
The new British proposals for
future ties with the EU have been
dismissed in Brussels as “fantasy ”
and no more than an “intra-UK
debate”. European officials have
suggested that Britain should
instead stick to a previously agreed
timetable for Brexit negotiations.
For Britain, the release over two
weeks of a series of strategy and
discussion documents was intended
to counter criticism that it was
unprepared for the talks, and to
speed up negotiations that have
moved slowly over the past 14
It was also a chance for May to
rally her troops and show she is
still on course for Brexit after her
authority was weakened when she
lost her parliamentary majority in
an election in June, a party source
“I want us to be a truly global
Britain — the best friend and
neighbour to our European
partners, but a country that reaches
beyond the borders of Europe
too,” May said in March after
triggering the divorce process with
theEU. “That is whyIhaveset out
a clear and ambitious plan for the
negotiations ahead. It is a plan for
a new deep and special partnership
between Britain and the European
This refrain has provided the
background to the three “position
papers” released since last week,
setting out Britain’s view that such
a “deep and special partnership”
requires little change.
But perhaps more surprising was
the strategy set out in the future
relationship papers, especially
those on customs and the role of
the European Court of Justice —
the latter seen by many pro-Brexit
lawmakers in the Conser vative
Party and beyond as a symbol of
EU influence over Britain and of
the country’s lack of sovereignty.
Guy Verhofstadt, the European
Parliament ’s Brexit point-man,
described the British government ’s
ideas for a future customs
agreement as “fantasy” after it
outlined measures for an interim
deal with no customs duties,
intended to allow the freest possible
trade in goods, and suggestions for
a possible new trade partnership.
“ To be in and out of the customs
union and ‘invisible borders’ is a
fantasy,” he said on Twitter.
“ First need to secure citizens
rights and a financial settlement,”
Verhofstadt said, referring to the
rights of EU nationals living in
Britain and of Britons living in
the EU, and to EU demands that
Britain settle a hefty Brexit bill.
After pointing to what he saw
as lack of clarity on Britain’s future
relationship with the European
Court of Justice, a European
Commission spokesman said: “ You
will not be surprised to hear me
refraining from injecting myself
into an intra-UK debate on their
He and other EU officials said
Brussels’ stance was the same:
Britain should first focus on
making progress on the three main
issues in the initial phase of talks —
the rights of expatriates, Britain’s
border with EU member state
Ireland, and a financial settlement.
Verhofstadt mocked comments
made by Dominic Raab, Britain’s
minister for courts and justice, that
Britain would have to keep “half an
eye” on the European court while
ensuring that London’s Supreme
Court was able to live up to its title.
“UK gov wants to keep ‘half an
eye’ on ECJ rulings. EP (European
Parliament) thinks ECJ must keep
both eyes open to protect citizens
rights,” he tweeted, referring to
the EU position that only its court
can guarantee the rights of citizens
living in Britain.
says it is being
“constructive” by coming up
with suggestions on ways to start
discussion on future ties. But after
publishing seven documents in just
over a week, it is clear that Brussels
is far from impressed.
Britain has published 10 papers
since June 26.
On Monday, after two papers were
released, Michel Barnier, the EU’s
chief negotiator, took to Twitter to
list the bloc’s nine position papers
already published, on issues ranging
from citizens rights to the financial
The gap in viewpoints in some
areas — namely the financial
settlement, role of the European
court and future trade and customs
arrangements - suggests talks next
week between Barnier and British
Brexit minister David Davis will be
difficult and both sides have not set
the bar high for progress. — Reuters
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