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Monday, 25 July 2011

50-year-old South African man thought to be dead woke up in a chilly morgue on Sunday and shouted to be let out, scaring off two attendants who thought he was a ghost

50-year-old South African man thought to be dead woke up in a chilly morgue on Sunday and shouted to be let out, scaring off two attendants who thought he was a ghost, local media reported.

 

"His family thought he had died," health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo told the Sapa news agency.

"The family called a private undertaker who took what they thought was a dead body to the morgue, but the man woke up inside the morgue on Sunday at 5:00 pm and screamed, demanding to be taken out of the cold place."

This caused two mortuary attendants on duty to flee the building in the small town of Libode in the rural Eastern Cape as they thought it was a ghost.

After calling for help and returning to find the man alive, an ambulance was sent to fetch the man who had "been exposed to extreme cold for nearly 24 hours" said Kupelo.

He said the public should not assume that a sick person had died and contact a mortuary, the report said.

"Doctors, emergency workers and the police are the only people who have a right to examine the patients and determine if they are dead or not."

Ongoing investigations by London’s Metropolitan Police have revealed at least 3,700 cases of phone hacking by journalists at the 168-year-old tabloid News of the World newspaper.

Ongoing investigations by London’s Metropolitan Police have revealed at least 3,700 cases of phone hacking by journalists at the 168-year-old tabloid News of the World newspaper. To try to dampen down public outrage, Murdoch – nicknamed “The Dirty Digger” in Britain - closed the newspaper down on July 10, and flew to London to issue an apology in front of a parliamentary committee. Yet, for years, police and politicians appeared to turn a blind eye to the practice of phone-hacking, partly out of a fear of reprisals from Murdoch’s papers, and partly because they craved the good publicity to be had from cosying up to the Australian media magnate.



Jonathan Tonge, a Professor of Politics at Liverpool University, said the scale of the phone-hacking affair, as well as the scale of public anger, would transform relations in what might be described as a “triangle of collusion” between media, police and politicians. 

“Politicians and the media will have to become more at arm’s length. For decades, it’s been too cosy to be healthy. You could say the tail has been wagging the dog. We’ve seen Tony Blair travelling half way around the world to curry favour with Murdoch because of a fear of his influence over political opinion. What’s been lacking is a healthy distancing. We won’t lose the relationships entirely because politicians rely on good publicity, but we will see less fawning and pleading,” he said.


Professor Tonge said Murdoch had had a direct influence on Government policy for three decades. “There are many examples, but one of the most important was when Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair was considering going into the euro and Murdoch refused to back him. They had a lot of arguments about it, and Blair decided to stay out.”

Murdoch has also had a major influence over public opinion whenever Britain has gone to war.

“There were several phonecalls between Blair and Murdoch in the days leading up to the Iraq invasion,” said Professor Tonge. “Blair was reliant on Murdoch’s support to dilute ant-war sentiment. In the event, public opinion was split 50-50, but Murdoch’s backing prevented it becoming 60-40 or 70-30 against the war. When you consider Blair lost half his majority as a result of the war at the next election, you see the importance of Murdoch’s support.”
  
The fawning attitude of politicians towards News International began with Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s decision to allow Murdoch to take over The Times and Sunday Times in 1981 without referring it to anti-trust authorities, even though he already owned The Sun and the News of the World.

Since Thatcher, every British Prime Minister has feared Murdoch’s power. Mainly staunchly Conservative, Murdoch’s papers switched to Labour ahead of the 1997 election, after Blair promised in a meeting with Murdoch that media ownership would not be onerous under his party. Blair later flew all the way to Australia for further talks with Murdoch. No doubt helped by News International’s patronage, Blair won the biggest landslide in Labour’s history, a majority of 179 seats, and the new Prime Minister headed off to enjoy Murdoch’s hospitality on a sun-kissed island.

“There’s no doubt that Murdoch’s backing influenced the percentage of votes for each party because his papers reached millions of voters,” said Professor Tonge. “Blair would have won the election anyway, but with far fewer seats.

“An even better example of Murdoch’s sway over voters was when The Sun published its famous front page on the day of the 1992 election, which Labour’s Neil Kinnock was expected to win. The headline read: ‘If Kinnock wins today, will the last person to leave Britain turn out the lights?’ When Labour lost, The Sun’s boast the following day that: ‘It’s The Sun wot won it’ was not at all absurd. Analysis of voting patterns showed that a much higher percentage of The Sun’s readers voted Conservative than would be expected from their age and class position.”
The current British Prime Minister, Conservative David Cameron, learned many lessons from Tony Blair, not least the importance of Mr Murdoch. Like Blair, he met Murdoch frequently in the run-up to the 2010 general election, and was rewarded with the Australian’s support. Murdoch was one of the first guests to congratulate Cameron after he won a narrow victory, entering number 10 Downing Street through the back door to avoid the unwanted attention of journalists and photographers.

But the Conservative Party’s collusion with News International is best exemplified by the appointment of the the former News of The World editor, Andy Coulson, as Communications Director in June 2007. Coulson had resigned as NoW editor just five months earlier over the first phone-hacking affair, which saw the jailing of journalist Clive Goodman. The Tories were well aware of the suspicions surrounding Coulson, but they appointed him in any case. This month, Coulson was arrested by the Metropolitan police under suspicion of ordering phone-hacking at the News of The World.

Cameron has also shamelessly socialised Rebekah Brooks, News International’s Chief Executive. The pair have become such intimate “friends” that Cameron attended Brooks’ Christmas party at her Oxfordshire home in December. The gathering came under scrutiny because it came just 48 hours after Cameron had stripped his Business Secretary, Vince Cable, an avowed enemy of Murdoch, of the power to decide if News Corp would be allowed to buy out the 61% of satellite broadcaster BSkyB it did not own.

Since the phone-hacking scandal erupted, Murdoch has pulled out of the BSkyB deal and Cameron has promised to confront the problem of collusion head on. The Prime Minister said:

 “The truth is, we have all been in this together - the press, politicians and leaders of all parties - and yes, that includes me.... Because party leaders were so keen to win the support of newspapers we turned a blind eye to the need to sort this issue, get on top of the bad practices, to change the way our newspapers are regulated.”
He described the scandal as a “wakeup call” and added:

“Over the decades, on the watch of both Labour leaders and Conservative leaders, politicians and the press have spent time courting support, not confronting the problems. Well, it's on my watch that the music has stopped and I’m saying, loud and clear - things have got to change.”
The focus of Cameron’s remarks was on the UK’s politicians, but he could just as easily have spoken about collusion between News International and the Metropolitan Police. Way back in July, 2009, the prestigious The Guardian newspaper, which has broken most of the phone-hacking stories, reported that several News of the World journalists had intercepted the voicemails of celebrities and politicians, with the knowledge of senior staff, and that its parent company had paid more than $1.6 million to settle phone-hacking cases that could have unearthed evidence of broader hacking. But the Metropolitan Police refused to re-open their earlier investigations.

But when the phone-hacking scandal broke this year, the decision to ignore the allegations blew up in the faces of police chiefs. Earlier this month, Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson, the highest-ranking UK police official, stepped down, following revelations that – like Cameron - he had hired a former News International journalist as a Communications Consultant. A few days later, assistant commissioner John Yates, who had taken the decision not to re-open the phone-hacking investigation in 2009, also resigned.

Home Secretary Theresa May announced an inquiry into “instances of undue influence, inappropriate contractual arrangements and other abuses of power in police relationships with the media and other parties”.

Professor Tonge said: “A generous view is that the Metropolitan Police were busy doing other things like fighting terrorism and so phone-hacking wasn’t a major priority. But a more sinister, and probably more accurate, interpretation is that the Met and News International were hand in glove.

Frankly, it’s laughable to suggest that The Met thought phone-hacking was merely the rogue activity of a minority of reporters. There was mounting evidence back in 2009. A whole range of people, including Labour MP Tom Watson, was saying there was a huge amount of hacking going on, but the police still closed their inquiry.”
Like Britain’s politicians, The Metropolitan Police knew the value of good publicity. “The Met needed News International’s help to publicise their campaigns, such as their Public Assistance Campaign,” said Professor Tonge.

“One strong indication of the closeness of the relationship was the seamless transfer into Met Police PR roles of former News International employees. Around 25% of Met PRs started life in Murdoch’s organisation. That will all change now. The police are unlikely to take phone-hacking lightly again and we won’t see such an interchange of personnel. They will stop cosying up to each other and professionalise their relationship.”  
One influential US commentator said the phone-hacking scandal exemplified the unhealthy links between power and money in the UK, extending his analysis to the British politicians’ desire to toady up to the wealthy elites in the financial sector.

“The bottom line is that for some time there has been undue influence on UK governments and public policy by powerful private interests,” said Daniel Kaufmann, senior fellow at the Brookings Institute in Washington DC.

Kaufmann said that, if unchecked, the “elite capture” of political systems became “privatization of public policy”. He said this was a growing danger in both Britain and the US.

As with media barons such as Murdoch, the influence of the financial services industry is so strong, Kaufmann argued, that politicians have long avoided questioning it. That acquiescence has contributed to the global financial crisis and has made Britain one of the key banking centres for the world’s most corrupt oligarchs and despots.

Professor Tonge agreed that British politicians had also colluded with the Financial Services sector.

“What we need is a reassertion of political authority. The expenses scandal in the UK last year made everyone think the UK’s politicians were morally bankrupt, but this is a great opportunity for them to restore political order by holding the powerful to account, such as properly regulating the financial sector,” he said.
The level of public interest in the phone-hacking story rocketed earlier this month when The Guardian revealed that journalists had hacked into the mobile phone of a murdered 13-year-old called Milly Dowler, then deleted her messages to prevent rival reporters gaining access to them. The activity on the girl’s phone impeded police from investigating her disappearance and gave her parents false hope that their daughter was still alive. The Dowler revelations sparked widespread outrage.

And the allegations kept on coming. The list of alleged targets grew to include victims of the July 7, 2005, terrorist attack in London, and the phones of families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the US, the FBI began investigating allegations that News Corporation employees had hacked into the mobile phones of 9/11 victims’ families, and several prominent lawmakers suggested that News Corporation may have violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by bribing British officials.

If the scandal hits the US, Murdoch has much more to lose financially. News Corporation has assets of $60 billion, sales of $33 billion and profits of $3 billion, but the News International arm is of marginal economic importance in this empire, which includes the Fox TV network, 20th Century Fox film studio, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The pie-thrower who attacked Rupert Murdoch is a renowned activist who is one of the founding members of a left-wing protest group.


Comedian Jonnie Marbles – real name Jonathan May-Bowles – has been involved in protests in the past, it has been claimed.

Moments before he carried out the attack he wrote on Twitter: ‘It is a far better thing that I do now than I have ever done before #splat’.


Splat: Rupert Murdoch is attacked with a foam pie during the select committee hearing. The man responsible has been named on Twitter as Jonnie Marbles, 26

The 26-year-old, from Croydon, south London, had been tweeting live updates from inside the hearing on an iPhone.

He is allegedly involved with UK Uncut – a protest group who have targeted Barclays, Topshop and Vodafone for alleged tax avoidance with a series of sit-ins.

After the security breach, the Met Police will face difficult questions about how a high-profile activist managed to get in to the Select Committee hearing.

Eyewitnesses said a member of the audience sitting at the back of the room stood up and walked around to the front where Mr Murdoch was giving evidence and threw what appeared to be a paper plate covered in shaving foam at him.


Left-wing activist Jonnie Marbles is one of the founding members of UK Uncut and a comedian

James Murdoch was in mid-sentence as the attacked was launched.

Wendi Murdoch, who had sat behind her husband throughout his appearance before the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, appeared to strike back at the assailant in defence of her husband.

Minutes after the protest he had apparently been ditched by his unimpressed girlfriend, Twitter user pageantmalarkey, who wrote: 'Not funny. Not clever. Not your girlfriend.'

 

Marbles had been tweeting throughout the hearing that he thought Rupert Murdoch had been giving limited answers to some questions.

This morning he had written: ‘Last night I had a dream that I was wrapped up in an epic battle between all that is right and good and the forces of darkness.’

Monday, 18 July 2011

Police must explain why they arrested and interviewed former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks for more than nine hours yesterday without confronting her with any allegations

Police must explain why they arrested and interviewed former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks for more than nine hours yesterday without confronting her with any allegations, her lawyer said.

The arrest caused Brooks, 43, “enormous reputational damage,’’ her solicitor Stephen Parkinson said today. She will still attend a U.K. parliamentary committee hearing on phone hacking at the News Corp. tabloid, he said.

“In time they will have to give their account of their actions, in particular their decision to arrest her with the enormous reputational damage this has involved,” Parkinson said in a televised statement. “She is not guilty of any criminal offense.’’

The revelations of phone hacking -- including breaking into the voice mail of a murdered schoolgirl -- have already seen News Corp. shutter the 168-year-old News of the World. Brooks will attend the Parliamentary hearing tomorrow after testimony from News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch, and his son James, deputy chief operating officer.

Brooks voluntarily went to a London police station by appointment yesterday. Police said in an e-mail that the arrest was on suspicion of corruption and conspiring to intercept communications. She was released on bail around midnight.

Ten Arrests

Brooks was the 10th person, including at least eight with links to News of the World, detained by police in the investigation. She resigned July 15 as chief executive officer of News International, which publishes New York-based News Corp.’s U.K. titles. Brooks edited the News of the World and then the Sun before being promoted to CEO of News International in 2009.

The scandal also led to the resignation of Les Hinton, head of the company’s Dow Jones unit and previously chairman of News International.

News Corp. dropped 1.4 percent to the equivalent of $15.02 at 1:25 p.m. in German trading. Its Australian shares fell 4.1 percent to the equivalent of $15.01, closing at a two- year low in Sydney and bringing their losses to 17 percent since July 4, when the scandal erupted.

Niri Shan, a lawyer at Taylor Wessing LLP, said Brooks’s ability to answer questions from lawmakers tomorrow will be limited because of the arrest.

‘Level of Knowledge’

“Her lawyers will advise her not to answer questions that might damage her defense,” Shan said in an e-mail. “All the questions will be directed to her level of knowledge. That’s going to be a key part of any case against her, and a key part of any successful defense.”

Brooks will attend the committee over the initial concerns of her lawyer, Wilson said.

The July 4 revelation by the Guardian that News of the World reporters deleted messages from murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s voice mail in 2002 turned phone hacking into a national scandal that led to the shuttering of the tabloid and the end of News Corp.’s bid for British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc. Since then, about $4.4 billion has been wiped off the market value of News Corp.’s Class A shares, and 2.5 billion pounds ($4 billion) from BSkyB’s.

Brooks “should have been arrested,” Mark Lewis, a lawyer for hacking victims including the parents of Dowler, said yesterday. “In the circumstances of her arrest, I’m not confident that she will offer any meaningful answers” at tomorrow’s hearing.

‘Putting Right’

Under the headline “Putting right what’s gone wrong,” News International said in advertisements published yesterday in U.K. national newspapers that it’s the company’s obligation to cooperate with the police and compensate those affected. The publisher is “committed to change” and said “apologising for our mistakes and fixing them are only the first steps.”

A News Corp. spokeswoman, who declined to be identified, reiterated yesterday the company’s intention to fully cooperate with the police.

In the U.K., people are often arrested at earlier stages in an investigation for questioning under caution and the investigation can continue for months before any charges are filed. The first two arrests in the current probe, of a former News of the World editor and the tabloid’s then chief reporter, occurred in April.

In addition to the police and parliamentary probes, Prime Minister David Cameron appointed Lord Justice Brian Leveson to conduct a judicial inquiry into phone hacking.

Serious Fraud Office

The U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office, which prosecutes white- collar crime and corruption, was asked by a lawmaker to probe allegations of phone hacking by journalists at News Corp.’s now- defunct tabloid News of the World.

A letter from Labour party lawmaker Tom Watson arrived today and was received by the SFO’s director, Richard Alderman, who plans to reply by the end of the week, spokesman David Jones said in an interview today. The SFO isn’t currently investigating, he said.

“The issues raised by Mr. Watson are very serious issues,” Jones said. “Not all the issues may be within our scope, it depends on the public interest.”

Police said in an e-mailed statement that the Brooks arrest was part of their probe into phone hacking and an investigation into whether officers were paid for information.

Brooks told lawmakers at a 2003 committee hearing that “we have paid the police for information in the past.” The committee wrote in its report that Hinton, then chairman of News International, later told them Brooks had since told him she had “not authorized payments to police.”

Bailed suspects are responsible for a massive crimewave, committing one offence every four minutes.


Last year a shocking 142,537 crimes were carried out by suspects already on bail for a separate offence, official figures reveal.

Despite the fact that the overall number of crimes has been falling over the past two years, the proportion committed by people already on bail has risen to almost 11 per cent, according to the Ministry of Justice figures.

This means that one in every nine crimes detected by police is committed by offenders who have already been caught and released for other crimes.

The types of crimes committed by these ‘bail bandits’ range from minor offences to the most serious – including rape and murder.

The Ministry of Justice admits the true level of bail crime may be even higher, because police forces are not consistent in the way they record the figures.

David Cameron cuts Africa trip short over phone-hacking crisis

David Cameron begins a two-day visit to Africa which has been curtailed to allow the prime minister to fly home early to finalise the terms and membership of Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry into the media.

In his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa as prime minister, Cameron will fly into South Africa with a message that an African free trade area could increase GDP across the continent by more than it currently receives in aid.

He will praise his generation for marching against African debt and for holding concerts to raise funds for aid to the continent.

But in article in the South African Business Day he will call for a change of approach. "They have never once had a march or a concert to call for what will in the long term save far more lives and do far more good – an African free trade area," he writes.

But Cameron's free trade message is likely to be overshadowed by events back home following the arrest of Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of News International, who entertained the prime minister at her Oxfordshire home over the Christmas period.

Downing Street aides, who had at one point considered cancelling the trip altogether at the height of the phone-hacking crisis last week, instead decided to cut it back from four days to two. Cameron will now just visit South Africa and Nigeriaon Tuesday. Plans to visit Rwanda and Sudan have been scrapped.

Time has been found in the diary to allow No 10 aides – and possibly the prime minister – to watch the appearance by Rupert and James Murdoch.

The prime minister will fly home late on Tuesday to allow him to finalise the arrangements for Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry in four areas

The first area will look at the terms of reference for the two elements of the inquiry – the first one focusing on media regulation and the second, presided over by Leveson, that will examine the alleged wrong doing and relations between the police and the media. The second part will not begin its work until after the criminal investigation.

The remaining three areas are the membership of the panel, which will examine media regulation over the next 12 months; the start date for Lord Leveson, and the size and location of the secretariat that will assist Leveson.

 

Sir Paul Stephenson's resignation points the finger

Sir Paul's long resignation statement protested his innocence in all respects. But one crucial passage effectively pointed the finger at Downing Street, drawing an comparison between Mr Cameron's hiring of Andy Coulson and his own recruitment of his deputy. The point was implicit, but widely understood: "I'll take responsibility: what about you?" And thus a crisis which, for a long time, was perceived as a relatively contained issue of journalistic ethics, started lapping at the door of the prime minister himself.

As Ed Miliband said yesterday, this saga is changing the very psyche of British politics. It was notable that the immediate reaction to the arrest of Rebekah Brooks at lunchtime was entirely sceptical. Was it a piece of chaff to distract attention from headlines about Sir Paul, or was it a conspiracy to give Ms Brooks an excuse for not giving evidence to MPs on the culture media and sport committee tomorrow? That detracts from the proceedings' significance, but not by much; the Murdoch dynasts, Rupert and James, will still be there. But the MPs should take care. They will have to work hard – and in a more disciplined way than last week – to prevent the hearing turning into a master class in media manipulation which allows the witnesses to avoid the real questions about which of them knew what, when. Those are the answers that must be ferreted out in order to expose the most important question: the real extent of complicity in criminal activities by News International's most senior figures. Those are the answers on which the Murdoch media empire hangs.

But the hearing down the corridor is in the domestic context almost as important. Sir Paul has much to tell the home affairs committee. He is certainly right to say that questions about the conduct of some very senior officers will hang damagingly over the Met for as long as the public inquiry takes.

Belatedly tackling the investigation with vigour, the Met has now made 10 arrests. The overwhelming majority are former NI people. These are threads in the web of influence that Rupert Murdoch has constructed. What it means is richly illustrated by Friday's publication of the prime minister's contacts with the media: in 15 months there have been 26 encounters with NI executives and editors, including at least four with Ms Brooks. It is just as richly illustrated by Neil Wallis. Ed Miliband was right to demand that media ownership be reconsidered. The dominance of News International is the gibbet on which hang the careers of two chief executives, two newspaper editors, some 200 journalists – and now the commissioner of the Metropolitan police.



Sunday, 17 July 2011

Metropolitan Police denied a journalist arrested over the hacking scandal had arranged a stay at a luxury health resort for Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson

News International has made a fresh apology in Sunday's national newspapers, placing adverts declaring there should be "no place to hide" from the police investigation into phone hacking.
It comes after The Metropolitan Police denied that a journalist arrested over the scandal had arranged a stay at a luxury health resort for its Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson.

And it follows comments from Foreign Secretary William Hague that he was not embarrassed "in any way" by the Government's relationship with News International executives.

The publisher's advert, which features in several newspapers, is headed: "Putting right what's gone wrong" and states that the company's "obligation" includes "Full co-operation with the Police" and "compensation for those affected". It says the organisation is "committed to change".

In relation to the police inquiry, it reads: "There are no excuses and should be no place to hide. We will not tolerate wrongdoing and will act on any evidence that comes to light."

The advert concludes: "Apologising for our mistakes and fixing them are only the first steps. It may take some time for us to rebuild trust and confidence, but we are determined to live up to the expectations of our readers, colleagues and partners. We will not stop until these matters are resolved."

Scotland Yard was dragged further into the furore on Saturday following reports that former News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis was a PR consultant for Champneys health spa at the time of Sir Paul's five-week stay earlier this year.

The force said the stay at the Hertfordshire health farm was not linked to Wallis, who is on bail on suspicion of intercepting mobile phones, and was arranged by its MD Stephen Purdew - a family friend of the Commissioner.

It said the stay allowed Sir Paul to recover from a fractured leg sustained in a cancer operation and meant he could return to his job six weeks early.

Meanwhile, Mr Hague defended David Cameron's decision to invite Andy Coulson to Chequers as a "normal, human thing" after his resignation as Downing Street director of communications. Mr Hague said he was not embarrassed "in any way" by the Government's relationship with News International executives and he defended the Prime Minister's decision to entertain Mr Coulson, the former News of the World editor, at his Buckinghamshire retreat in March.

 

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Art hoard found after police raid suspect who walked off with Picasso

former sommelier who was due last night be charged with stealing a Picasso drawing from a San Francisco art gallery 10 days ago now has an even wider canvas of legal problems after East Coast police raided his apartment in Hoboken, New Jersey, only to find 11 more allegedly stolen pieces.

Police on both sides of the country now believe that Mark Lugo, 30, who used to pour wine for patrons in posh Manhattan restaurants, was fresh from a weeks-long art-theft spree in New York before leaving for San Francisco at the start of the month to pursue his new-found criminal career.

Mr Lugo, who is said to be fighting mental problems, was arrested shortly after a man made off with a 1965 Picasso drawing called Tête de Femme from the Weinstein Gallery in San Francisco. He was spotted on a video surveillance camera with a painting under his arm. The 11 works found in Hoboken are described by police as having vanished in recent weeks from galleries and hotels in New York City.

Some of Mr Lugo's alleged haul were hanging on his walls, including another Picasso pinched in broad daylight from the William Bennett Gallery in SoHo, New York. Also in his home was a Fernand Léger piece that has been hanging in the Carlyle Hotel, in New York's Upper East Side.

"The Picasso was hanging on his wall," Det Sgt Edwin Pantoja explained. "The others were displayed all over his apartment. He had a nice little gallery going on."

 

Thursday, 14 July 2011

NYC Boy Possibly Tied Up Before Being Killed,

Investigators believe an 8-year-old Brooklyn boy who was abducted and dismembered may have been tied up and tried to fight off his alleged captor before he was killed, police officials said Thursday.

At a news conference, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the man charged in the killing, Levi Aron, had scratches on his arms and wrists — a sign "there was some kind of struggle." There also were marks on the victim's remains that could have been caused by restraints, the commissioner added.

A preliminary medical examination indicates Leiby Kletzky was "smothered or suffocated," Kelly said.





Kelly also confirmed reports that Aron had given a written confession in the gruesome slaying of Kletzky, which concluded with, "I'm sorry for the hurt that I caused."

Beyond that, "He hasn't expressed any remorse," Kelly said.

Kletzky vanished late Monday afternoon after getting lost during what was supposed to have been a seven-block walk from his day camp to a meeting spot with his mother.

Investigators later used a surveillance video to trace the missing boy to Aron, a hardware supply store clerk who the boy had apparently asked for directions.

Detectives found the boy's severed feet, wrapped in plastic, in the man's freezer, as well as a cutting board and three bloody carving knives. A plastic garbage bag with bloody towels was nearby.

Aron also told investigators that after taking Leiby off the street and brought the boy to a wedding in the suburb of Monsey and spent several hours there Monday evening, Kelly said. Other guests at the wedding confirmed Aron was there, but didn't see the boy, the commissioner added.

The suspect told police he killed the child Tuesday in a panic after learning that a massive search was under way.

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hays said he plans to charge Aron with felony murder, and was also investigating whether he might have had any improper contact with children in the past.

Aron's lawyer, Pierre Bazile, said he expected his client to be arraigned Thursday.

"From the Aron family, they'd like to extend their condolences to the family of the boy," he said, adding they would let the justice system work and would not make any further statements.


 

Neil Wallis, the former News of the World executive editor, has become the ninth person to be arrested over alleged phone hacking and payments to police officers by the paper.



Detectives from Operation Weeting, the Metropolitan police investigation into mobile interceptions by News International, are understood to have raided an address in west London on Thursday.

Wallis was taken for questioning at a local police station on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications, a Scotland Yard spokesman said.

He is the ninth arrest Scotland Yard has made since the fresh investigation into phone hacking was launched in January.

A Scotland Yard statement confirmed the arrest was carried out at 6.30am. "The man is currently in custody at a west London police station," the Met said. "It would be inappropriate to discuss any further details at this time."

Wallis joined the News of the World from the People in 2003 as deputy to then editor Andy Coulson. In mid-2007 he became executive editor and left the News International title in 2009. He is now a senior consultant at PR firm Outside Organisation.

Coulson and former NoW royal editor Clive Goodman, who was jailed in January 2007 for intercepting the voicemail messages of members of the royal household, were arrested and bailed on Friday as part of Operation Weeting and Operation Elveden, the separate Scotland Yard investigation into alleged illegal payments to police officers.

Coulson resigned as NoW editor in January 2007 after Goodman was jailed, saying he accepted responsibility. He has always maintained that he was unaware of phone hacking at the paper.

On the same day a 63-year-old man, who has not been named, was arrested and bailed as part of the phone hacking and police payments investigations.

The others arrested and bailed as part of Operation Weeting are Laura Elston, Press Association's royal correspondent, freelance journalist Terenia Taras, senior News of the World journalists James Weatherup and Neville Thurlbeck, and former NoW assistant editor (news) Ian Edmondson.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The broker, the bank and the £3m con

Broker who stole homeowners’ identities in an attempt to defraud banks out of £3 million has been jailed for five years.

Financial advisor Feruza Mettrick, 33, plead guilty to conspiracy to defraud lending institutions of more than £500,000 during a hearing at Leeds Crown Court.

Mettrick’s double con involved using fake documents and utility bills so that she could rent properties and apply for loans from financial institutions.

She used her extensive knowledge of mortgage applications in order to act as if she was the real owner of the properties she targeted.

Helped by two men, she attempted to convince banks and building societies to give her cash advances for mortgages and loans.

The court heard how Mettrick, who managed to defraud banks and building societies successfully of £515,900, attempted to steal up to a total of £3 million from financial institutions, reports the Yorkshire Post.

Via letting agents, Ms Mettrick reportedly targeted properties that had no outstanding loans or borrowing against them.

Judge James Spencer said of Merrick: “She is a conman. I don’t accept anything she says.”

Targeting homes in Leeds, Harrogate and Batley, Merrick made attempts to sell properties without the actual owners’ knowledge.

In one of her deceptions, 33-year old Mettrick even took on the identity of a 67-year-old woman who owned a large detached bungalow on Chelmsford Road, Harrogate in order to gain a £120,000 home improvement loan.

Mettrick was arrested at the Harrogate branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland in September last year, wearing a wig and glasses disguise.

Prosecutor Nick Worsley said: “This is sophisticated, repeated and professional offending by a defendant adept at using disguise and subterfuge.”

He revealed that her failed attempts to secure funds through mortgage loans exposed financial institutions to potential losses of £2,459,250.

After her initial arrest, Mettrick refused to co-operate with the police or comment on the charges she faced, but later pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud.

She now faces a proceeds of crime investigation.

 

Ex-EastEnders star Billy Murray will not face trial over assault allegations.



The 69-year-old actor was arrested in April, accused of beating his wife Elaine and daughter Lizzie "during a boozy late-night family row" at their Essex penthouse.

However, The Mirror reports that the Crown Prosecution Service has said that no further action will be taken.

A spokesman confirmed: "We can confirm that the case has been discontinued and no further action will be taken."

Murray, who also appears in advertisements for Injury Lawyers 4 U, had apparently put his career on hold following the arrest.

The London-born actor appeared as gangster Johnny Allen in EastEnders from January 2005 to October 2006. He had previously starred in axed ITV police drama The Bill as the corrupt DS Don Beech.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Iconic Mexican bar is oasis in crime central

Al Capone came across the border to Mexico during Prohibition for a tipple here as he stocked up on booze. Stars like Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and a young Ronald Reagan have also sat at the bar for a drink.
The Kentucky Club & Grill in Ciudad Juarez, a stone's throw from the Santa Fe bridge to the United States, remains an oasis of calm in a city considered the most dangerous on the planet outside established war zones.
The bar has survived the crossfire of unprecedented levels of violence involving Mexican drug cartels that killed 3,100 people in 2010 alone and created a warlike atmosphere in the city of 1.2 million people.
While some establishments have closed due to the drug war, the Kentucky -- which claims to be the birthplace of the margarita cocktail -- has so far held on.
It opened in 1920 on Avenida Juarez when the US introduced the prohibition of alcohol, an era that lasted until 1933 and prompted a surge of bootlegging and related violence.
"The bar highlights that the prohibition of any substance is a failure, and simply shifts the problem," said Rutilio Garcia, a researcher at the Autonomous University of Juarez and a local historian.
Those in search of a legal drink of tequila or whiskey had an easy time crossing the border from El Paso, Texas and traveling the 600 meters (yards) to the Kentucky.
This flow of people turned the border city into a glamorous Roaring 20s destination with casinos, nightclubs and led to a train line connecting Juarez with California.
The prohibition of alcohol in the United States led some distilleries to relocate in the Ciudad Juarez region, which at the time became the world's largest producer of bourbon, a whiskey made primarily from corn.
Local lore holds that Capone crossed the bridge from El Paso to negotiate deals for liquor, and before returning sat with his men for a drink at the Kentucky.
Garcia said this "is just a legend," and that the last person who could personally vouch for the visits, a retired bar waiter, died a decade ago.
Ronald Reagan visited in the 1960s when he was still a young actor, years before he switched to politics and became US president. Jim Morrison, the lead singer for The Doors, was also among the numerous celebrities who dropped in.
Now, the spacious wood-paneled bar is lucky to get any tourists let alone celebrities.
"The visitors don't come like they used to. People are afraid," said Luis Chavez, whose job is to protect cars for the bar customers.
The bar owners say they have avoided paying protection money to extortion gangs like Los Aztecas and others that keep the city gripped by fear.
Yet with much of Mexico reeling from the violence since the government declared war on the drug cartels in 2006, people still have a place to relax and can get the bartender to shake a margarita or pour a cold beer.
"Whiskey is best, beer only masks the thirst," said one customer while lifting his glass.

 

Wife and baby murderer Neil Entwistle appeals against his convictions in US court

BRITISH man serving life in the US for shooting dead his wife and baby daughter is seeking a retrial.

Neil Entwistle, 32, claims evidence taken from his home by police was seized illegally and the jury may have been biased due to intense media coverage.

He was jailed in 2008 for the murders of American Rachel, 27, and nine-month-old Lillian Rose in 2006 in Hopkinton, Massachusetts.


In his appeal at the state’s Supreme Judicial Court, his lawyer Stephen Maidman argued: “Two warrantless entries violated the federal and state constitutions.”

But prosecutors said police were justified in entering the home in response to the pleas of worried relatives. Officers found the bodies during their second search.

District attorney Gerry Leone said at the hearing it was “a fair and just trial”.

IT consultant Entwistle, from Worksop, Notts, fled to Britain after the murders.

 

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