U.S. judge weighing fight over Trump ex-adviser Flynn to respond on case

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. judge weighing whether to drop a criminal case against President Donald Trump’s former adviser Michael Flynn faces a Monday deadline to respond to the Justice Department’s bombshell request to drop a charge to which Flynn has pleaded guilty.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered Judge Emmet Sullivan to respond by June 1 after Flynn, who briefly served as Trump’s national security adviser, filed an emergency petition in line with the Justice Department’s request.

Sullivan has tapped attorney Beth Wilkinson, one of the former top prosecutors on the Oklahoma City bombing case, to represent him in the appellate court case.

Sullivan has not yet ruled on the May 7 request by Attorney General William Barr’s Justice Department to drop the false-statement charge against Flynn.

Critics have accused the Justice Department of acting to advance Trump’s personal interests, including by seeking a lighter sentence for Trump ally Roger Stone.

Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, pleaded guilty twice to lying to the FBI about his conversations with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Flynn initially agreed to cooperate, but he later changed legal tactics and pursued a scorched-earth approach that included accusing the FBI of a secret plot to entrap him.

Barr this year tapped Jeff Jensen, a federal prosecutor in St. Louis, to review the case. Jensen later urged Barr to drop it on the grounds the investigation lacked a proper legal basis.

That led the lead prosecutor on the Flynn case to withdraw.

Sullivan tapped retired judge John Gleeson to serve as a “friend of the court” and instructed him to present arguments against the department – including whether he should hold Flynn in contempt for perjury.

Gleeson’s legal brief is due June 10.

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Rwandan ex-politician handed life jail term for genocide role

KIGALI (Reuters) – A Rwandan court on Thursday handed a life sentence to a former politician found guilty of orchestrating the killing of tens of thousands of people during the 1994 genocide, a court spokesman said.

Ladislas Ntaganzwa, head of the commune of Nyakizu in southern Rwanda, was indicted in 1996 by the Arusha, Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on charges of direct and public incitement to commit genocide, murder and rape.

The tribunal closed five years ago and was replaced by a successor body, International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, with offices in Arusha and the Hague, Netherlands.

About 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutus were killed during the genocide.

The tribunal’s indictment accused Ntaganzwa of plotting to exterminate Rwanda’s Tutsi population and personally ordering the massacre of more than 200,000 Tutsi civilians in one parish in April 1994. It passed the case to a Rwandan government court.

“Ladislas Ntaganzwa was today sentenced to life imprisonment over genocide crimes committed during the genocide against Tutsi in 1994,” the court spokesman, Harrison Mutabazi, said.

Alexis Musonera, Ntaganzwa’s lawyer, said he planned to appeal the ruling.

“We plan to appeal because evidence in the hearing was based on witnesses’ testimony but that was not enough as some witnesses were contradicting themselves. We are not happy about this lengthy life jail term,” Musonera told Reuters.

The judgement was announced by video conference while Musonera used Skype to follow it with Ntaganzwa at Mpanga prison in the southern province.

Ntaganzwa was arrested in December 2015 in Democratic Republic of Congo. Rwanda took him into custody in March 2016.

The United States had offered up to $5 million for information leading to his arrest.

Félicien Kabuga, the top-most fugitive from the genocide, was arrested in France last week.

The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals said it concluded that former defence minister Augustin Bizimana, another key suspect, had died.

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Khashoggi family forgive killers, opening way to legal reprieve

RIYADH (Reuters) – The family of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi said on Friday they forgave his murderers, paving the way for a reprieve for five defendants sentenced to death for a crime that severely damaged the image of the kingdom’s de facto ruler.

“If a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah,” Khashoggi’s son Salah tweeted, citing a verse from the Koran on forgiveness. “Therefore, we the sons of the martyr Jamal Khashoggi announce that we pardon those who killed our father”.

In Saudi Arabia, which lacks a codified legal system and follows Islamic law, forgiveness from a victim’s family in such cases can allow for a formal pardon and a stay of execution.

The murder caused a global uproar and tarnished the image of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Some Western governments, as well as the CIA, said they believed he had ordered the killing.

Saudi officials denied he played a role, though in September 2019 the prince indicated some personal accountability, saying “it happened under my watch”.

The court which issued the five death sentences in December said the killing was not premeditated, a ruling which backed assertions by Saudi officials but which contradicted the findings of a U.N.-led inquiry into Khashoggi’s killing.

Khashoggi was last seen at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018, where he had gone to obtain documents for his impending wedding. His body was reportedly dismembered and removed from the building, and his remains have not been found.

Eleven suspects in all were put on trial in secretive proceedings in the capital Riyadh. In addition to the five sentenced to death, three were jailed and another three had the charges against them dismissed.

Khashoggi’s son Salah said last December that verdict had been “fair to us and that justice has been achieved.”

However, the trial was condemned by the United Nations and rights groups. Agnes Callamard, the U.N. special rapporteur for extrajudicial summary or arbitrary executions, accused Saudi Arabia of making a “mockery” of justice by allowing the masterminds of the 2018 killing to go free.

A Saudi prosecutor at the time said there was no evidence connecting one of those officials, Saud al-Qahtani, to the killing and dismissed charges against Ahmed al-Asiri, a former deputy intelligence chief.

The Saudi prosecutor had previously said that Qahtani, a former high-profile Saudi royal adviser, had discussed Khashoggi’s activities before he entered the Saudi consulate with the team which went on to hill him. The prosecutor said Qahtani had acted in coordination with Asiri.

On Friday, Callamard criticised the potential pardon.

“The Saudi authorities are playing out what they hope will be the final act in their well-rehearsed parody of justice in front of an international community far too ready to be deceived,” she posted on Facebook.

Khashoggi’s fiancee Hatice Cengiz also condemned the pardon, tweeting: “Nobody has the right to pardon the killers. We will not pardon the killers nor those who ordered the killing,” she said in a tweet.

Salah Khashoggi and his three siblings still live in Saudi Arabia. News reports have said the family received money and real estate from the Saudi ruling family as compensation for Khashoggi’s killing. The family has denied this claim.

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2 teens charged with 1st-degree murder in shooting death of Toronto tow truck driver

Toronto police say two boys, who are 15 and 17, have been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of a tow truck driver.

News of the charges came after emergency crews were called to an apartment building on Panorama Court, near Kipling Avenue and Finch Avenue West, on May 14 with reports of a shooting.

Police said 23-year-old Hashim Kinani was found in a tow truck with gunshot wounds and he died a short time later. Officers said a second man was shot and taken to hospital in life-threatening condition.

Homicide squad investigators said on Friday that it’s not believed Kinani’s death is connected to other shootings involving tow truck operators.

Officers said a 17-year-old boy was wanted for first-degree murder and attempted murder. He was temporarily identified under a special court order in accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act. A second unidentified male suspect was also wanted on the same charges.

In an update released Thursday evening, police said two suspects surrendered to police at 23 Division and charged. They are scheduled to appear in a Toronto court Friday morning.

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2 outstanding suspects arrested, charged following reported violent robbery in Kingston

Two people wanted in connection with a reported violent robbery that occurred over a week ago in Kingston, Ont., were arrested and charged earlier this week, according to police.

On May 10, a reported robbery took place on Division Street in which police allege a person was assaulted. A weapon was used in the incident, police say, and three people were reportedly involved.

Joshua Scott, 29, was arrested the day after the incident and charged with robbery, aggravated assault and possession of a weapon dangerous to the public.

Two other suspects were still at large as of last week.

However, on Monday, Kingston police arrested Robert Vanheddegem, 39, and Nina Kerr, 31.

Vanheddegem was charged with robbery, aggravated assault, possession of a weapon dangerous to the public and breaching probation.

Kerr was charged with robbery, aggravated assault and possession of a weapon dangerous to the public.

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Children of Rwandan genocide fugitive Kabuga led police to Paris-area hideout

PARIS (Reuters) – French intelligence agents spied on the children of Rwanda’s most-wanted genocide fugitive to track him down to an apartment in a Paris suburb and end a 26-year-long manhunt, the head of the police unit who arrested Felicien Kabuga said.

The inquiry gathered pace in March after an intelligence sharing meeting between investigators from France, Britain, and Belgium, home to some of Kabuga’s children, as well as Europe’s Europol law enforcement agency and a team from a U.N. tribunal.

The coronavirus lockdown paralysing most of Europe meant many investigations were put on hold, allowing a focus on Kabuga’s file, said Eric Emeraux, head of the Gendarmerie’s Central Office for Combating Crimes Against Humanity.

The dragnet subsequently closed in on one of the alleged chief financiers of the Rwandan genocide, suspected of bankrolling and arming the militias that slaughtered 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994.

“We realised … that trail from the children protecting their father converged on Asnieres-sur-Seine,” Emeraux told Reuters, referring to a Paris suburb. “We also discovered one of his children was renting an apartment there.”

Wiretaps were installed and the property placed under surveillance. Intelligence indicated there was good reason to believe that someone other than one of his offspring was residing in the apartment.

“We decided to open the door, without being entirely sure of who we would find inside,” Emeraux said. “I didn’t sleep the night before.”

The 84-year-old fugitive had been living in a third-floor flat on the Rue du Reverend Pere Christian Gilbert in Asnieres-sur-Seine, a well-off neighbourhood on the northern fringe of Paris.

Neighbours described a frail, elderly man who said little and before the lockdown would often stroll outside of his apartment. One resident in the same block said Kabuga might have lived there for four or five years.

GBAGBO’S LAWYER

Reuters has not been able to find any public comment made by Kabuga over the years about the charges. French lawyer Emmanuel Altit said he will be part of the defense team. He did not respond to a subsequent request seeking comment from Kabuga.

Altit was a senior lawyer on the team which successfully secured former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo’s acquittal on charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in January 2019.

On Saturday, a squad of 16 elite officers, dressed in black and dubbed ‘Ninjas’ by Emeraux, forced Kabuga’s front door at 6 a.m.

“Kabuga didn’t put up any resistance,” Emeraux said. He was formally identified in a DNA test, matching against a sample taken when he was hospitalised in Germany in 2007, Emeraux added.

Kabuga’s arrest marked the end of a more than two-decade-long hunt that spanned Africa and Europe. Kabuga had 28 known aliases and was using a passport from an African country, Emeraux said.

Altit said Kabuga would be arraigned before a Paris court on Tuesday.

The court will set out the legal process before passing the case to investigative judges within eight days. The judges will decide whether to hand Kabuga to the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals. If Kabuga appeals against their ruling, the matter will go France’s Court of Cassation, which hears whether rulings conform with the law.

Kabuga’s ability to hide to evade an international manhunt for more than 20 years has raised questions over whether he had accomplices outside of his family.

“It is difficult to imagine he could have escaped into French territory without the help of accomplices,” said Patrick Baudoin of the International Federation for Human Rights. The federation has supported survivors in the prosecution of other Rwandan genocide suspects living in France.

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U.S. says Cuba is not cooperating fully on counterterrorism

HAVANA/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration said on Wednesday it had put Cuba back on the list of countries that do not cooperate fully with its efforts to counter terrorism, in a further escalation of U.S. tensions with the Communist-run country.

The State Department justified the move by Cuba’s refusal of Colombia’s request to extradite leaders of the ELN rebel group after it claimed responsibility for an attack at a Bogota police academy in January 2019 that killed 22.

The leaders of the National Liberation Army (ELN), the largest active guerrilla group in Colombia, traveled to Havana as part of peace negotiations that collapsed last year after the car bomb attack.

Cuba has said it must respect the protocols of the talks it had been hosting, which provide guarantees for guerrilla leaders to return to mountainous or jungle areas of Colombia with security from military attack for an agreed period.

The country has received broad plaudits in the past for hosting the successful peace talks between the Colombian government and the former FARC rebel army.

But the State Department said in a statement that Cuba’s refusal of Colombia’s extradition request “demonstrates that it is not cooperating with U.S. work to support Colombia’s efforts to secure a just and lasting peace, security, and opportunity for its people”.

The department also said that “Cuba harbors several U.S. fugitives from justice wanted on charges of political violence, many of whom have resided in Cuba for decades.”

The State Department did not immediately respond to a Reuters query on whether its move was a preliminary step toward returning Cuba to the list of state sponsors of terrorism (SSOT), a designation that carries tougher penalties.

But there is a strong overlap between both lists, from which the administration of former President Barack Obama removed Cuba following a 2014 breakthrough between the two Cold War foes and ahead of the restoration of diplomatic relations.

Some analysts say President Donald Trump’s administration is slowly meting out tougher sanctions on Cuba and its leftist ally Venezuela in a bid to win over anti-socialist voters ahead of November’s U.S. presidential election.

“We always knew this administration planned to return #Cuba to the SSOT,” tweeted Ricardo Herrero, a director of the Cuba Study Group, a Miami exile organization that supports closer ties with Cuba. “Now starts the slow election-year rollout for maximum theatrical effect. Just for you, Miami.”

The Cuban Foreign Ministry’s general director for U.S. affairs, Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, said on Twitter that Cuba had long been a victim of “terrorist acts committed by the US government or with its complicity.”

Cuba has designated the gun attack on its embassy in Washington two weeks ago, in which no one was hurt, as a terrorist attack.

According to U.S. court documents, the gunman said he was taking medication for a mental disorder, heard voices and was convinced Cuban crime groups affiliated to the Cuban government were after him.

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Police investigating suspected arson in North Kentville, N.S.

Kings District RCMP said they’re investigating an arson that occurred on McKittrick Road in North Kentville, N.S.

Police said they and the Kentville Fire Department responded Tuesday at 9:45 p.m., to the scene of a house fire.

“Preliminary information received indicated that a man was inside and may have weapons. No one was located inside the home,” said the RCMP in a statement released on Wednesday.

The investigation determined the fire to be suspicious in nature.

According to RCMP, no one was injured as the result of the fire and the investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information on the arson is asked to contact Kings District RCMP at 902-679-5555 or Crime Stoppers.

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Video appears to show man throwing rock at Toronto police cruiser, shattering windows

A video posted online appears to show a man throwing a rock at a Toronto police cruiser and smashing several windows as an officer tries to arrest him.

Police said they were called to the area of Shuter and Seaton streets around 2 p.m. Monday for reports of a man assaulting another man and throwing rocks.

Investigators said the incident began when a suspect allegedly stole mail from a property.

“I was making lunch when I heard a guy shout that someone was stealing packages from doorsteps and throwing rocks,” the person who posted the video wrote.

The man is later tackled by an additional officer who arrives in a second cruiser.

Kola Alex Ogunkoya, 42, was arrested in connection with the incident and faces several charges including theft from mail, assault with a weapon, and assaulting a peace officer with a weapon.

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Lesotho parliament moves closer to forcing PM Thabane out of office

MASERU (Reuters) – Lesotho lawmakers and South African mediators said on Saturday that legislation awaiting assent from the king will see Prime Minister Thabane, suspected of killing his ex-wife, leave office soon, ending a crisis that has engulfed the mountain kingdom for months.

Thabane, 80, has been under pressure to resign over a murder case in which he and his current wife are suspected of assassinating his previous wife. The case has divided his party and triggered sporadic unrest. They both deny the charges.

“We are satisfied that when the king has assented to this bill, it will pave the way for the prime minister to indicate his intention to vacate the office,” South African envoy Jeff Radebe told journalists.

“As soon as His Majesty has assented to this bill … the prime minister will indicate his intention to leave the office,” he added, without saying whether or not he had agreed to do so.

Thabane’s spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Thabane was quoted in media last week as saying he will not be hurried out of office, despite pressure from within his own All Besotho Convention Party, its coalition partners, opposition and regionally powerful neighbour, South Africa.

Political instability frequently boils over in Lesotho, which has experienced several coups since gaining independence from Britain in 1966. Its conflicts often draw in South Africa, whose central mountains encircle it. Perched at high altitude, Lesotho supplies vital drinking water to its drier neighbour.

Thabane has previously said he will leave at the end of July, but his opponents say that is not soon enough.

On Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill that prevents Thabane from dissolving parliament and calling fresh elections in the event of a vote of no confidence against him, meaning that should such a vote pass he has no choice but to leave.

“Now that the … amendment has been passed, we are just waiting for it to be passed on to His Majesty for assent … and there will be preparations for the PM to leave … in a decent, dignified manner,” ABC Secretary Lebohang Hlaele told Reuters.

Deputy leader of the opposition Democratic Congress, Motlalentoa Letsosa, said he was preparing a vote of no confidence that could go to parliament as early as next week if the king signs off on the amendment.

Independent political analyst Lefu Thaela said Thabane would most likely lose the vote, and would have a choice between stepping down and “going the dictatorship route” of digging in and hoping the military supports him.

Gunmen shot and killed Thabane’s previous wife, Lipolelo, 58, on June 14, 2017, in a case that was never solved.

This year, police charged Thabane’s current wife, Maesaiah, with the murder, and also named Thabane himself – though he has yet to be formally charged in court.

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