Briton Sentenced To 15 Years In Iraq Antiquities Case

A court gavel



An Iraqi court on Monday sentenced a British retiree to 15 years in prison for trying to smuggle antiquities out of the country but acquitted his German co-accused.

The maximum penalty for the offence is death by hanging but the court decided on a lesser sentence for James Fitton, 66, “because of the advanced age of the accused,” the judge said.

The court found “insufficient evidence” to convict co-accused Volker Waldmann, 60, who was visiting Iraq with Fitton on an organised tour when they were arrested in March at Baghdad airport.

Fitton’s lawyer said that he would appeal.

When the judge asked the men, dressed in yellow prisoners’ clothing, whether they were guilty or not guilty “of trafficking antiquities,” each replied: “Not guilty.”

They were charged under a 2002 law against “intentionally taking or trying to take out of Iraq an antiquity”.

According to statements from customs officers and witnesses, Fitton’s baggage contained about a dozen stone fragments, pieces of pottery or ceramics.

Waldmann allegedly had two pieces, but at the trial’s opening on May 15 denied they were his.

When the judge asked Fitton why he tried to take the artefacts out of Iraq, he cited his “hobby” and said he did not mean to do anything illegal.

Their trial comes at a time the war-ravaged country, whose tourism infrastructure is almost non-existent, is timidly opening to visitors.

Iraq has also been trying to recover antiquities that were looted over a period of decades from the country whose civilisation dates back thousands of years.

Briton Jailed For Three Years For Setting Fire To 5G Mast

Man Bags 15 Years In Prison For N5.2m Fraud



A man was jailed for three years on Monday in northwest England for setting fire to a 5G mast following fears the technology was dangerous and spreading the coronavirus.

Michael Whitty, 47, carried out internet searches for theories linking 5G to the coronavirus before setting fire to the equipment box of a Vodafone mast in Kirkby, Merseyside.

The father-of-three pleaded guilty at Liverpool Crown Court to last month’s attack.

“In my view, there was here a high degree of planning and pre-meditation,” judge Thomas Teague told the court.

“There was use of firelighters and, in the sense that the aim was to put the mast out of action, there was intent to cause very serious damage to property.”

When police searched Whitty’s home firelighters were found and analysis of his phone showed he had carried out searches for 5G technology.

The phone also revealed videos of other phone masts in the Liverpool area.

A charity volunteer, Whitty had 29 previous convictions, including for assault and possession of a firearm, the court heard.

READ ALSO: Pandemic Drives Broadest Economic Collapse In 150 Years – World Bank

At the time, the attack was one of 13 carried out on phone masts on Merseyside.

Dozens of attacks also took place nationwide after a conspiracy theory took hold that 5G masts were somehow responsible for the transmission of the pandemic.

According to the theory, electromagnetic radiation causes the symptoms of COVID-19, not a virus — an idea debunked by scientists.


Briton Guilty Of False Rape Claim, Court Rules

Alleged Bribery: Witness Testifies As Rickey Tarfa’s Trial Continues
File photo


A court in Cyprus on Monday found a British woman guilty of falsely claiming she was gang-raped by a group of Israeli tourists in the resort of Ayia Napa.

Sentencing was adjourned until January 7.

The woman, who was 19 at the time of the incident in July, had pleaded not guilty to the charge of “public mischief”, which carries a sentence of up to one year in prison and a fine of around 1,700 euros.

“The statements you have given were false,” the judge told the defendant in remarks translated by the court interpreter.

She appeared frustrated by the delay to the sentencing, telling her lawyer: “He already made his decision! I thought we were asking for a fine.”

More than a dozen women from an association for the protection of women attended court wearing white scarves with an image of lips sewn shut printed on them.

The woman’s lawyers had claimed she was pressured into signing a statement written by a detective.

The judge said during the trial that police had acted properly at all times, with no pressure exerted to change the woman’s mind about her initial claim she was raped by 12 Israelis on July 17.

The Israelis, aged 15 to 18, were released without charge the same month after the woman was arrested on suspicion of making a false statement.

Rights groups argued the teenager has suffered humiliation and been mistreated by the police and media.

They have called for an investigation into police handling of the case and criticised the way rape cases and victims are treated in Cyprus.


Senators Condemn Killing Of Briton, Demand Inter-Agency Task Force To Tackle Banditry

Senators Condemn Killing Of Briton, Demand Inter-Agency Task Force To Tackle Banditry


The Senate has condemned the killing of a British national, Faye Mooney, by armed men in Kaduna State.

When the matter came up during Thursday’s plenary, members of the upper chamber of the National Assembly observed a minute’s silence in honour of Mooney and Mr Matthew Oguche who was also killed during the incident.

Some gunmen invaded the Kajuru Castle Resort in Kaduna on Friday last week, killed the two victims and kidnapped three other persons in the process.

Deliberating on the matter, the senators decried the rate of banditry and kidnappings in parts of the country.

READ ALSOFG Sends Security Operatives After Killers Of Nigerian, Briton

They, therefore, resolved to urge the security authorities to intensify the search for the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

The lawmakers urged the Federal Government to set up an inter-agency task force to tackle cases of banditry and kidnapping in Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and Niger States.

They asked the security agencies to give special security cover to foreign workers and tourists, as well as deploy the use of drones and interceptors in tracking kidnappers asking for ransom.

The senators also urged community leaders, traditional rulers, and all stakeholders to cooperate with security agencies, and urged telecommunications companies to provide them with information in areas where cases of kidnappings were reported.

They further resolved to send a delegation to the British Embassy and condole with the government over the loss.

The lawmakers, thereafter, invited the acting Inspector General of Police (IGP) to brief the Senate on the initiative put in place to curb the current security situation in the country.

They also asked the Senate Leader to ensure that the bills they passed on the Police Reform and Trust Fund be sent to their colleagues in the House of Representatives.

According to them, this is to can get concurrence and have the bills forwarded to the President for assent as quick as possible.

Earlier, Senator Shehu Sani raised a motion on the attack while the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, seconded it.

Senator Ekweremadu condoled with the families of the attack victims and called for “a national state of emergency” to enable the government put in place measures to end the security problems in the country.

On his part, Senator Joshua Lidani believes the challenges can only be tackled by “something unusual,” adding that it is already having an effect on investment and tourism.

“We need to mobilise the military to those areas, and we should not be shy of asking for help,” he said.

Senator Babba Kaita also said, “What have we done as Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria? We should marshal out a plan from the chambers of this Senate to secure this country.”

In his remarks, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, decried what he described as the “series of killings,” saying the lawmakers must begin to look at the solutions.

On the way forward, he said there was a need to be frontal on what has led the nation to its present state and take the challenge as one for all, irrespective of the political difference.

”Where there is a fault, we must be bold enough to say where the fault is and where there are sanctions that need to be taken, we must be bold as well to say so,” Senate Saraki said.

“I mean, you have all been in this chamber for one year; we could not even communicate, converse or engage with the Nigeria Police.”

He added, “You were all here when the Head of Police refused to even come before us.

“How can we work together to move things forward because, at the end of the day, we must begin to sit down with those in charge and discuss what we need to do, how do we help you?”

The Senate President, who thanked the senators for their contribution on the matter, noted that hard and difficult decisions must be taken and with a more structural approach to the issue of security.

Kajuru Attack: FG Sends Security Operatives After Killers Of Nigerian, Briton

Kajura Attack: FG Sends Security Operatives After Killers Of Nigerian, Briton
Mr Lai Mohammed addressing a press conference in Abuja in December 2018.


The Nigerian Government has vowed to ensure that the killers of a Nigerian and a British national during an attack in Kaduna State are brought to justice.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said this in a statement on Tuesday by his media adviser, Segun Adeyemi.

He gave assurance that the security agencies were doing everything possible to ensure that the three persons who were kidnapped in the attack were released unharmed.

READ ALSOBriton Among Tourists Killed At Kaduna Resort, Police Confirm

“We commiserate with the families and friends of Ms Faye Mooney and Mr Matthew Oguche, and wish to assure that the security agencies will leave no stone unturned in their efforts to apprehend the killers and bring them to justice,” the minister said.

Oguche and Mooney, an aid worker, were killed on Friday when some heavily armed men attacked the Kajuru Castle Resort, a popular resort in Kaduna State.

The assailants were said to have invaded the resort, shooting sporadically and kidnapped three other persons in the process.

Condemning the attack, Mr Mohammed described the dastardly act, which led to the death of the Nigerian and the Briton while visiting the popular resort, as a setback to efforts to promote tourism in the country.

He, however, noted that the Federal Government had recently stepped up efforts to stem the wave of violence and banditry in some parts of the country.

The minister revealed that one of the measures put in place was better intelligence gathering and increased collaboration by the security agencies.

He noted that the efforts have started paying off, as the level of violent attacks, banditry, and kidnappings, was being reduced nationwide.

”The government will not relent until all parts of the country are made safe for all, whether they are tourists, business people or ordinary Nigerians who just want to live their lives under an atmosphere of peace and security,” Mohammed said.

Earlier, a Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom, Harriett Baldwin, condoled with Mooney’s family in a tweet.

Baldwin, who is also the Minister of State at the Foreign Office and Department for International Development, said the UK government was working with the Nigerian authorities.

Read her tweet below:

Briton Among Tourists Killed At Kaduna Resort, Police Confirm

Briton Among Tourists Killed At Kaduna Resort, Police Confirm


One of the two tourists killed by gunmen in Kaduna State has been identified to be a British national.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr Yakubu Sabo, confirmed this to Channels Television on Sunday.

He, however, said efforts were ongoing to ensure those kidnapped during the attack regain their freedom.

READ ALSOGunmen Kill Two Tourists, Abduct Three Others In Kaduna

“Continued efforts are still on course to rescue the kidnapped victims and bring the perpetrators to book,” Sabo said.

He added, “The slain expatriate lady, Miss Faye Mooney, is identified to be a Briton. She was a staff of Mercy Corps Nigeria. Investigation into the incident is in progress.”

The British High Commission in Nigeria also confirmed the killing of the victim in a tweet on Sunday.

It, however, said her next-of-kin has been contacted and condoled with Mooney’s families and friends over the unfortunate incident.

Some heavily armed men suspected to be kidnappers had invaded the Kajuru Castle Resort, shooting sporadically.

The assailants killed the British national and one other person in the process after which they whisked three others away.

Before the incident, the victims and some others who came from Lagos on a tourism tour had organised a party at the Castle located at the Hill Top in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

Egypt ‘Pardons Briton’ Jailed For Smuggling Painkillers


A British woman convicted in Egypt of smuggling painkillers has been granted early release after spending more than a year in prison, an Egyptian security source said Monday.

Laura Plummer, 34, was arrested at Hurghada airport and sentenced in December 2017 to three years in prison after customs officers found almost 300 Tramadol pills in her luggage.

She was among a number of prisoners granted a presidential pardon after having served a third of her sentence, said the source at the Egyptian prison authority.

“Procedures for her release were completed yesterday (Sunday),” he added.

Tramadol, a strong painkiller used to treat moderate to severe pain, is tightly controlled in Egypt where it is often abused as a recreational drug.

The painkiller is dispensed on prescription in Britain.

Since her arrest, Plummer and her relatives maintained that she was unaware of Egypt’s restrictions on the drug and that she was bringing the painkillers for her Egyptian partner who suffered from back pain.

There was no immediate confirmation from Britain of Plummer’s pardon.

“Our staff continues to do all they can to support Laura and her family, and our embassy remains in regular contact with the Egyptian authorities,” a British Foreign Office spokeswoman said.


Briton Freed After Bangladesh Drops Charges Over Militant Attack

Bangladesh flag


A British man was freed from prison in Bangladesh on Thursday after his name was dropped from charges over a deadly 2016 attack by Islamist extremists on a Dhaka cafe popular with Westerners.

At least 22 people including 18 foreigners were killed when five militants with assault rifles and machetes stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery cafe in the capital’s well-heeled Gulshan neighbourhood.

The Islamic State group said it had carried out the brazen assault on July 1, 2016 — a claim rejected by Bangladesh.

Last month police pressed charges against eight homegrown extremists of local group Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). A court on Wednesday accepted the charges.

During the attack, military commandos stormed the cafe after a 10-hour standoff and freed more than two dozen hostages.

One of the freed hostages, Hasnat Karim — a 49-year-old British national of Bangladeshi origin — was later detained by police for more than two years over allegations he played a role in the attack.

“He has been freed from Kashimpur jail at around 4.30pm,” Karim’s wife Sharmin Parveen told AFP, referring to a high-security prison outside the capital.

She said Karim was on his way to his home in Dhaka.

Mohibul Islam Khan, counter-terrorism police deputy commissioner, last month said investigators found no evidence against Karim and his name had been left off the charge sheet.

Karim, his wife and their two children were celebrating the 13th birthday of their daughter in the cafe when the attack took place.

Karim was a lecturer at the North-South University in Dhaka, where two of the five attackers who were gunned down at the end of the siege had studied.

Nine Italians and seven Japanese were among the victims of the attack. Two policemen were also killed during the carnage.

The siege was by far the deadliest in a string of attacks claimed by Islamist groups which have blighted Bangladesh over the last five years.

Of the eight extremists charged, six have been arrested and two have absconded, police said. The eight face a maximum sentence of death by hanging under anti-terrorism laws.

All five militants were killed when police stormed the cafe. Eight others — including mastermind Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury, a Canadian of Bangladesh descent — were killed during raids in Dhaka and its suburbs months after the attack.

They included commanders of a new faction of the extremist group JMB.

The government has repeatedly denied that international jihadist networks have a presence in Bangladesh.

The IS-linked news agency Amaq however published extensive details of the attack, including photos from inside the cafe.

The hostage crisis marked an escalation from a spate of murders claimed by IS and Al Qaeda of rights activists, gay people, foreigners and religious minorities. It was seen as a major blow to the country’s image as a moderate Muslim nation.

Dozens of atheist writers, publishers, members of religious minorities, social activists and foreign aid workers have been murdered in Bangladesh since 2013.


UK Foreign Minister In Iran To Push For Briton’s Release

Britain's Johnson To Visit Iran, Seek Prisoner's Release
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson presents a speech on Islamist terrorism to an audience of academics, diplomats and members of the media at the Foreign Office in London on December 7, 2017.
Victoria Jones / POOL / AFP

Britain’s foreign minister arrived in Iran on Saturday to press for the release of British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe amid accusations at home that one of his gaffes has seriously harmed her case.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s visit was the first by a top British diplomat since 2015 and he was also due to discuss that year’s landmark nuclear accord between Iran and world powers, whose future has been thrown into doubt by US President Donald Trump.

“I will stress my grave concerns about our dual national consular cases and press for their release where there are humanitarian grounds to do so,” Johnson said ahead of the visit.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian citizen, was arrested at Tehran airport on April 3, 2016, after visiting relatives with her young daughter.

Iranian authorities accused her of links to mass protests in 2009, which she denies, and sentenced her to five years in jail for sedition. They do not recognise dual nationality.

Last month, they filed additional charges of “spreading propaganda” and will present her in court again on Sunday.

Her case has become highly politicised, especially after a “slip of the tongue” by Johnson last month when he stated that Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been training journalists in Iran, which has been used by the Iranian authorities to help justify the new charges.

Husband Richard Ratcliffe, who had lobbied to join Johnson on the visit, has raised concerns about his wife’s mental health, citing the mounting toll of her prolonged incarceration in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

Johnson is on a three-day trip to the region, stopping in Oman on Friday and moving on to the United Arab Emirates on Sunday.

It unfolds amid mass protests across the Muslim world over Trump’s decision to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

“Iran is a significant country in a strategically important, but volatile and unstable, region which matters to the UK’s security and prosperity,” Johnson said.

“While our relationship with Iran has improved significantly since 2011, it is not straightforward and on many issues we will not agree.”

Britain severed diplomatic relations in 2011 after protesters stormed its embassy in Tehran in response to sanctions over the nuclear dispute.

The embassy was reopened in 2015 and full relations restored last year.


Wimbledon 2016: Sam Querrey Beats Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic, WimbledonWorld number one, Novak Djokovic, has been dumped out of the 2016 Wimbledon championships by Sam Querrey.

The defending champion was beaten 7-6, 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 by his American opponent in their third round clash as his bid for a calendar grand slam ended on court one.

Querrey’s win ends Djokovic’s streak of 30 consecutive match wins at majors and the loss marks his earliest exit since the 2009 French Open.

The 28-year-old American said after the game, “It’s incredible, especially to do it here at Wimbledon.

“I’m so ecstatic, so happy. I played the break points well and every time he had a break point I was able to come up with a big serve.

“He came out and got the first four games, fortunately for me we had another rain delay and I got to regroup. I’m just taking it one round at a time, I’m not even sure who I’m playing next.”

Djokovic admitted that his opponent was “playing on a very high level and he deserved to win”, although he hinted at being not 100% fit.

Novak Djokovic Defeats Ward In Wimbledon Opener

Novak Djokovic, WimbledonWorld number one and defending champion, Novak Djokovic has eased past Briton, James Ward 6-love 7-6 6-4 in the first round of Wimbledon.

The 29-year-old, searching for his fourth title at Wimbledon, took the first nine games on his way to victory.

World number 177, Ward had recovered by taking the second set to a tie-break but Djokovic’s class shone through.

The Serb is looking to complete a calendar grand slam having already won the Australian and French Open in 2016.

Meanwhile, French Open champion Garbine Muguruza beat Camila Giorgi in her opening game of Wimbledon.

The Spaniard comfortably won the opening set against the Italian 6-2, before dropping the second set 7-5 after losing her serve in the final game.

But Muguruza rallied in the third set to win the match 6-2, 5-7, 6-4.

Former Wimbledon champion Venus Williams of the United States also enjoyed a successful start to her tournament, with a 7-6, 6-4 victory over Croatian teenager, Donna Vekic.

Serena Williams To Start 2016 Season At Hopman Cup

serenaWorld number 1, Serena Williams, will launch her 2016 season at the Hopman Cup in Australia.

Serena reached the final of the mixed team event in 2014 with American compatriot, John Isnerto, kicking off a superb season where she won the Australian, French Open and Wimbledon, to take her Grand Slam singles haul to 21.

Williams has not played since her shocking semifinal defeat to Italian Roberto Vinci at the US Open in September which ended her bid for a rare calendar Grand Slam.

She pulled out of two events in China earlier in October, as well as the WTA finals in Singapore, citing the need to rest after a year spent carrying injuries.

Williams will be joined in the January 3-9 Hopman Cup field by Briton, Andy Murray and controversial Australian, Nick Kyrgios.