Egypt Opens Jail After UN Report On Inmate Morsi’s Death

A picture taken during a guided tour organized by the Egypt’s State Information Service on November 11, 2019, shows an inmate working at a metalsmithing workshop in Tora prison in the Egyptian capital Cairo.
Mohamed el-Shahed / AFP


Egyptian authorities Monday opened up Tora prison in Cairo for a media tour, following a UN report on the “brutal” conditions in which jailed ex-president Mohamed Morsi was held before his death.

In a rare tour of the sprawling jail complex, journalists were shown an exhibition of furniture made by inmates, a farm with cows and ostriches, and a brief football match between prisoners.

The guided tour comes ahead of a mission to Geneva by Egyptian officials for a review on Wednesday before the United Nations Human Rights Council.

It was arranged in response to a stinging review last week by an independent panel of UN experts that blasted conditions in Tora.

The experts said the death of ousted Islamist president Morsi, who was held in Tora for five years, could amount to a “state-sanctioned arbitrary killing”.

The former president died in June after collapsing in a Cairo courtroom while on trial.

“Morsi was held in conditions that can only be described as brutal, particularly during his five-year detention in the Tora prison complex,” the experts said in a statement.

His death “after enduring those conditions could amount to a state-sanctioned arbitrary killing”, the experts added. They also warned that thousands are at risk of death in the same prison.

On the media tour, abuse charges in Tora were dismissed by politicians and personalities that included for example retired ex-national football goalkeeper turned television pundit Ahmed Shobeir.

“This prison is more of a seaside resort now compared to what it used to be,” Mostafa Bakry, a pro-Sisi parliamentarian, contended.

He told AFP that inmates were treated with dignity, pointing to a newly-mowed football pitch.

On documented allegations of abuse, Bakry said these were foreign-originated charges designed to sow chaos, echoing the common response of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The former head of the army turned president led the military’s ouster of Morsi in 2013.

“Inmates are not sitting in their cells. They can play soccer or exercise and there are a lot of activities for them,” said Alaa Abed, a former policeman and current head of parliament’s human rights committee.

Other senior officials declined to speak on the record during the tour, while AFP was prevented from talking directly with inmates.

The family of prominent human rights lawyer Mohamed el-Baqer, who was detained in September, said on social media they were prevented from seeing him Monday because of the media tour.

Rights groups have regularly accused Egyptian authorities of severe violations including torture, overcrowding and medical negligence in jails.

Some 4,000 people, including lawyers, activists, professors and journalists, were detained in a wave of arrests following rare anti-Sisi protests in September, according to local rights groups.

Tunisia Presidential Candidate To Stay In Jail

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A fresh appeal for the release of jailed media mogul Nabil Karoui who has a reached a runoff in Tunisia’s presidential polls was turned down on Wednesday, his lawyers said.

“The judge has refused to give a ruling, saying it was not in his jurisdiction,” lawyer Kamel Ben Messoud said, after requesting his release the previous day.

“We will appeal,” he told AFP.

The court did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation.

Karoui, a 56-year-old media magnate, is under investigation for alleged money laundering and has been in pretrial detention since August 23.

Lawyer Nazih Souii said it was the third time a judge had said the matter was beyond his jurisdiction.

The court of appeals refused to pass judgement on September 3, as did the court of cassation on September 13.

Tunisia’s electoral commission, ISIE, has confirmed Karoui made it to the presidential runoff along with law professor Kais Saied following Sunday’s first-round vote.

Karoui remains eligible to run despite his imprisonment, as long as any conviction does not also specifically deprive him of his civil rights, according to ISIE.

He campaigned through the Nessma television channel he founded. ISIE has said it is investigating alleged electoral violations, including by Nessma TV.

Depending on potential appeals, the second round could be staged on October 6, the same day as legislative elections, or on October 13, ISIE said.

Observers from the European Union said the first round has been “transparent”.

But it called for the candidates to have the “same opportunities” to campaign, in an apparent allusion to Karoui.

Russian Sentenced to Five-Year Jail Term For Spying

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


An Estonian court has sentenced a Russian national to five years in jail for spying, a court document shows, the latest in a string of espionage cases involving Russia in the Baltic states.

The man is identified only as A. A., a Russian with a secondary education, according to a court document made public on Wednesday.

He was detained in May 2019 and subsequently charged with espionage, the document said.

A Tallinn regional court found him guilty on August 29th, sentencing him to five years behind bars and a fine of 1,300 euros ($1,430), it said.

Estonia’s ISS counterintelligence service declined to comment on the case, saying it is still following up on related leads.

Estonia has nabbed at least 15 people recruited by Russia’s GRU intelligence service and its FSB security authority in recent years, the Baltic News Agency reported.

Tallinn and Moscow have also swapped several convicted spies in recent years.

Fellow Baltic state Lithuania announced late last year that it had broken up a local spy ring working for Russia and subsequently jailed several Lithuanians found guilty of spying for Moscow.

The outbreak of the Ukraine crisis in 2014 exacerbated tensions between the Baltic states and Russia dating back to Soviet times.

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania broke free from the crumbling Soviet Union in 1991 and joined the European Union and NATO in 2004, drawing sharp criticism from Moscow.

In 2014 Russia annexed Crimea and Kremlin-backed separatists launched a conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Mother Gets 20-Year Jail Term For Murdering Her Children

Alleged Bribery: Witness Testifies As Rickey Tarfa’s Trial Continues
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A French court on Thursday jailed for 20 years a woman who killed five of her children right after they were born, a crime that was only solved over a decade after the corpses were discovered.

The jury in Colmar in eastern France followed the recommendations of prosecutors in giving 55-year-old Sylvie Horning a 20-year prison term.

Horning was found guilty of murdering the five children between 1990 and 2005.

The mother of three adult children hid her pregnancies from her partner, giving birth in secret and then strangling the newborns at her house in the eastern town of Wittelsheim.

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Nothing untoward was suspected until the discovery in 2003 of the bodies of four babies in rubbish bags in the nearby Galfingue forest.

But the initial investigation was closed in 2009 after it failed to yield any clues over who was behind the infants’ deaths.

The probe was reopened in 2016 to take advantage of advances in DNA testing, and a year later investigators made a link between Horning and the babies, completely by chance, after her DNA was taken in a separate case following a fight with neighbours.

The samples revealed her to be the mother of the dead children.

Horning admitted to strangling five of her children after giving birth to them in secret in a bathroom.

The body of the fifth baby was found in a freezer at her home.

Her partner, who died in 2018, had said he was completely unaware of the events.

 ‘Considered as things’ 

The defence argued that Horning’s psychological state at the time of the killings should be taken into account in deciding her sentence.

As the verdict was read out she remained still but then began sobbing.

“She needs to appeal. Twenty years is excessive, it is nearly a record for France,” said her lawyer Roland Moeglen.

The state prosecutor Melody Barbuti told the court in Colmar that the trial has shown Horning “did not love these babies, she considered them as things”.

During the trial Horning had become emotional when relating the sexual abuse she suffered as a child at the hands of her stepfather.

She claimed that the children “were not babies for me but beings that my body and spirit did not accept.”

“I regret having done so much harm to these babies and my family,” she told the court, adding that she loved her three other children and would “accept all the sentences, even if it is 30 years in prison.”

“If I was told ‘you die tonight’, I would accept it immediately.”

In her testimony, Horning confirmed giving birth to the five children in her bathroom and concealing what was happening from her partner, with whom she spent 34 years.

She only told him she was pregnant with their first two children in the last weeks of her pregnancy and the youngest just hours before she was born.

Those children — a son and two daughters who have all renounced their mother — were present at her sentencing.

During the trial, her daughter, 29, told the court: “This is a woman but it is not a mother, she should never have had a child.”


Ex-Policeman Jailed For Murder In India

Indian flag


A former top Indian policeman who accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of complicity in deadly communal riots more than a decade ago was jailed for life on Thursday over the death of a man in custody in 1990.

In one of the ugliest episodes in independent India, nearly 1,000 people — the majority of them Muslims — were killed in the 2002 Gujarat riots when Modi was premier of the western state.

The trigger was a fire on a train which killed 59 Hindu activists returning from the holy city of Ayodhya to the state capital, Ahmedabad.

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Sanjiv Bhatt said in an affidavit to the Supreme Court in 2011 that he was present at a meeting when Modi ordered police to allow Hindus to “vent out their anger” after the train fire.

But Bhatt, the most prominent of several police officers to make similar claims, later failed to prove his presence at the meeting, with most of his witnesses turning hostile.

Modi was subject to US and British entry bans for years over the riots but has always denied the allegations. He was cleared by a Supreme Court-monitored investigative team.

Bhatt was sacked in 2015 over unauthorised absences from work and has been in prison since last year over another case, where he is accused of planting drugs on a lawyer and arresting him.

On Thursday, Jamnagar district Judge C.M. Vyas found Bhatt and another officer guilty of torturing and murdering a detainee when Bhatt was the police chief of the district in 1990.

Bhatt was sentenced to life in prison for murder and assault, public prosecutor Tushar Gokani told AFP.

Five other policemen were jailed for two years.

Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat for more than 12 years before he won a landslide national election to become the prime minister of India in 2014. He won a second term last month.


Court Jails Woman Who ‘Killed’ Brother For Stealing Meat

Court Jails Woman Who ‘Killed’ Brother For Stealing Meat


A Lagos High Court sitting in the Igbosere area has sentenced a cook, Janet James, to 14 years imprisonment.

Janet, 34, was sentenced for beating her eight-year-old brother, Saviour James, to death for stealing meat from a pot of soup on August 10, 2009.

Justice Adedayo Akintoye convicted her on Monday following her plea of guilty to an amended one-count of manslaughter.

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The judge said the 14-year imprisonment would take effect from August 21, 2009, when Janet was remanded by a magistrates’ court.

Justice Akintoye noted that the defendant entered a plea bargain agreement with the prosecution on Monday last week at the High Court.

The sentence and plea bargain agreement stated, “The defendant has shown remorse for the offence of manslaughter committed on the 10th day of August 2009 against the person of one Saviour Effiong.

“The defendant pleads guilty to the offence as charged. The defendant has agreed to serve 14 years jail term from the date of remand by this honourable court. The defendant gives an undertaking to be of good behaviour, upon the completion of the jail term.

“In view of this, therefore, the defendant, Janet James, is hereby found guilty of manslaughter contrary to Section 317 of the Criminal Code, Laws of Lagos State, 2003, and is accordingly convicted of same.

“I have taken into consideration that this is a 2013 case. I have also been guided by the plea and sentencing agreement entered into by the prosecution, the defendant Janet James and the defence counsel.

“I note also the fact that the defendant has been in remand custody for many years. As a result, therefore, the defendant Janet James is hereby sentenced to a term of 14 years. The term of imprisonment is to run from the date of remand, which is August 21st 2009. This is the judgment of the court.”

Janet was re-arraigned before the judge in 2013 on one charge of murder contrary to Section 317 of the Criminal Code, Laws of Lagos State, 2003.

She had pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The prosecution counsel, Mrs Abiola Gbadamosi, had told the court that the defendant committed the offence at about 8pm on August 10, 2009, in the Ilupeju area of Lagos State.

Gbadamosi said the convict killed Saviour James by beating him with a turning stick after accusing him of stealing meat from a pot of soup.

She then dumped his body on the premises of an insurance company in the area.

In her confessional statement to the police, Janet said, “I carried him (the deceased) on my back and walked a long distance before throwing him across the fence. I decided to dump him there because the offices had long been closed.

“He used to steal. I even warned him when I went to the village to pick him. I beat him on Monday night at about 8pm, after several warnings not to steal meat from the pot failed. I hit him with this little pestle but he did not die on the spot.”

She added, “At about 11pm, he woke up to urinate but when I woke up at about 2am, I discovered he was foaming in the mouth. I called him but there was no response. I tried opening his mouth and even hit him, yet there was no movement.

“Then I waited until about 5am before carrying him on my back and dumped him inside the premises of the insurance firm and returned home.”

Burundian Schoolgirls Jailed For Scratching President’s Photo

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Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza (2ndL) arrives in a car for celebrations marking the country’s 53rd Independence Anniversary at Prince Rwagasore Stadium in Bujumbura. Marco LONGARI / AFP


Three teenage schoolgirls in Burundi have been sent to prison to await trial for scribbling on a picture of President Pierre Nkurunziza in textbooks, activists said Thursday.

The girls, aged 15, 16 and 17, face up to five years in prison for insulting the head of state if found guilty.

Judges said the three girls should be “prosecuted for contempt of the head of state”, and ordered them to a juvenile section of a prison in the north of Burundi at Ngozi to await trial, said FENADEB, a civil society umbrella group of 48 organisations.

The trio has been in custody since March 12, when they were arrested with three other schoolgirls and a 13-year old boy. The boy was released immediately because he was below the age of criminal responsibility, while the three girls were released without charge.

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The girls are accused of defacing photographs of Nkurunziza in five textbooks belonging to their school, but teachers pointed out that the books are shared among all the pupils as there are not enough for everyone to have their own.

A judicial source, who called the case “very sensitive” and said it was overseen directly by the Attorney General, reported that the girls arrived at the prison on Wednesday afternoon.

It was not clear when they might face trial, but the father of one of the girls said they were already “too scared to eat”, according to Lewis Mudge, from Human Rights Watch (HRW).

In 2016, several schoolchildren were handed prison sentences for similar scribbles on the president’s face, and hundreds of pupils expelled, sparking an international outcry.

Burundi has been in turmoil since Nkurunziza in April 2015 sought a fiercely-contested third term in office.

The violence has claimed at least 1,200 lives and displaced more than 400,000 people between April 2015 and May 2017, according to estimates by the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has opened an investigation.

“With so many real crimes being committed in Burundi, it’s tragic that children are the ones being prosecuted for harmless scribbles,” HRW’s Mudge added.

“Authorities should focus on holding perpetrators of serious rights violations to account instead of jailing schoolchildren for doodles.”


Father Gets 16 Years For ‘Monstrous’ Acid Attack On Son

Vice Principal Gets Life Imprisonment For Raping 12-Year-Old In Ekiti
File Photo


A father was on Wednesday jailed for 16 years for planning a “monstrous” acid attack on his three-year-old son, which left the child “scarred for life”.

Five other men were also convicted over the attack which prosecutors say was an attempt by the father to show that his mother was unfit to take care of the little boy.

Passing sentence, Judge Robert Juckes said “even battle-hardened crown court judges were sickened when they heard the news that someone had attacked a three-year-old with sulphuric acid,” said Juckes, calling it a “monstrous breach of trust”.

The 40-year-old father, originally from Afghanistan, provided “obviously strong acid” and was the “the instigator and planner” of the attack, he said.

Prosecutors say the man, who has not been named to protect the identity of his son, was motivated by his wife walking out on him in 2016 and hired the other guilty men to attack the child at a shop in the city of Worcester in central England.

The attack happened in July 2018, when Adam Cech squirted acid at the boy, who was in a pushchair, from a small plastic bottle.

The victim’s mother said in a victim statement that “my son is OK, he’s a happy child, but he’s been scarred for life and will need continuous support”.

Jailed Brazil Ex-President Lula Released For Grandson’s Funeral

Brazilian former president (2003-2011) Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (C-waving) is escorted by security forces upon arrival at Jardim da Colina cemetery, in Sao Bernardo do Campo, Sao Paulo, Brazil.


Brazil’s jailed ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva arrived Saturday in Sao Paulo under police escort after receiving permission to attend the funeral of a grandson who died aged seven. 

Early in the day the popular longtime leader of Brazil’s stepped out of his cell in Curitiba — where he is serving two concurrent 12-year sentences for corruption — before flying in a small plane to Sao Paulo, some 250 miles (400 kilometers) to the northeast.

A federal court ruled late Friday that the 73-year-old Lula could be released for a few hours to travel to the funeral service of young Arthur Araujo Lula da Silva, who had meningitis.

The service was being held at the Sao Bernardo do Campo cemetery in a Sao Paulo suburb, starting at noon (1500 GMT). Arthur’s father Sandro is one of Lula’s five sons.

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Under tight security, the service was being attended by several friends and allies of the former president, including his successor Dilma Rousseff, along with many supporters wearing the red color of Lula’s Workers’ Party.

 ‘A high-profile thug’ 

Arthur, who had twice visited his grandfather in his cell in Curitiba, died Friday in a Sao Paulo hospital.

Gleisi Hoffmann, the leader of the Workers’ Party, visited Lula in prison after he learned of Arthur’s death and said the aging leftist was “downcast.”

“He cried several times and we tried to console him,” she said.

While news of Arthur’s death provoked sympathetic messages in social media — including from a former political foe of Lula’s, the head of the National Assembly Rodrigo Maia — a son of President Jair Bolsonaro sparked a new controversy by criticizing Lula’s release.

“Lula is a common-law prisoner,” Eduardo Bolsonaro, a deputy in his father’s Social Liberal Party, said on Twitter. “When a relative of another prisoner dies, is he escorted by the federal police to go to the services?”

He called the temporary release “absurd,” adding, “It only allows a high-profile thug to pass himself off as a victim.”

That remark prompted an angry social media backlash, which prompted a more conciliatory tweet from the younger Bolsonaro. Politics aside, he said, the death of a child is “dreadful.”

His father, the president, has made no comment on the matter. During his electoral campaign in 2018 he said he hoped Lula would “rot in prison.”

Lula has consistently denied the corruption charges for which he was jailed, saying he was the victim of political machinations.


Roma Fan Jailed For Attacking Liverpool Supporter

Roma fans support their team before the UEFA Europa League Round of 16-second leg match between AS Roma and Olympique Lyonnais at Stadio Olimpico on March 16, 2017, in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images )


An Italian football fan was jailed for three-and-a-half years on Thursday after admitting assaulting a Liverpool supporter before a Champions League game, leaving the victim with catastrophic head injuries.

Simone Mastrelli, 30, from Rome, pleaded guilty to unlawfully and maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm on Sean Cox outside Liverpool’s Anfield Stadium on April 24, before their match with Italian side Roma.

Irish national Cox suffered a severe, traumatic brain injury as a result of the attack and is still recovering after spending four-and-a-half weeks at a specialist neurological unit.

Mastrelli knocked Cox unconscious with a single heavy blow to the face, as he led a group of ‘ultras’, some of whom were carrying belts in their hands as weapons.

Cox’s daughter Shauna, 20, read out a statement as Mastrelli watched on at Preston Crown Court in northwest England.

“Before this brutal and vicious attack my dad was a fit and confident man, a man of integrity with a huge passion for life who represented everything which is good,” she said.

“This violent and unprovoked attacked left dad in a dire situation.

“His future is uncertain. We don’t know how he will progress and that really frightens us.”

Mastrelli was arrested in Italy last month on a European arrest warrant before being extradited to Britain.

Judge Mark Brown, told Mastrelli that “there is no doubt in my mind that you went to the stadium as a group to sort out the Liverpool supporters and in doing so you have destroyed the life of an innocent man and his family.

“This was, on any view, a dreadful offence. It has had a profound impact on Mr. Cox and his family.”

Another Roma fan, Filippo Lombardi, 21, was last year jailed for three years for violent disorder over the incident.

A third fan, Daniele Sciusco, 29, also admitted violent disorder and was jailed for two-and-a-half years.

Sporadic trouble broke out in Liverpool city center before the match as more than 50,000 fans made their way to Anfield, including around 5,000 Roma fans.


Students Jailed Over Protest In Myanmar

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Seven Myanmar students were sentenced to three months in jail with hard labour for burning portraits of officials in protest over campus safety, a student activist said Wednesday, the latest draconian response to rippling discontent with authorities. 

Those jailed were among dozens enacting a mock funeral on December 28 calling for more security at a Mandalay university in central Myanmar after a student’s murder near its campus.

They burned paper coffins and portraits of the city’s chief minister, Myanmar’s security and home affairs ministers, and the head of the university, calling for increased security around the students’ compound.

Three people were arrested during the protest and four others were detained a few days later when they rallied for their peers’ release.

The seven students were each sentenced to a total of three months in prison with hard labour for protesting without permission and arson, student leader Ei Mon Khin told AFP by phone from the court.

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“They will be taken to Obo prison in Mandalay later,” she said.

Time served will be deducted from their sentences, meaning they face a further one and a half months in jail.

This is one of several recent examples of a heavy-handed response to protests by authorities.

On Tuesday police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse a crowd of several thousand in eastern Kayah state, the latest in a string of rallies against a statue of Aung San, father of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

He is widely revered by the majority ethnic Bamar (Burmese) population as an independence hero but is viewed critically among many ethnic minority groups, who see him as a symbol of Bamar domination.

Police agreed Tuesday evening to release dozens of arrested protesters in return for a suspension of the rallies while talks take place, state-run Global New Light of Myanmar reported, a development welcomed by rights groups.

“The Myanmar authorities have a long history of using excessive and lethal force against peaceful protesters,” said Fortify Rights CEO Matthew Smith.

“The government needs to break the trend now.”


Lawmaker Sentenced To Seven Years In Prison For ‘Tricking’ Wife


A Kuwaiti court on Monday sentenced an opposition politician to seven years in jail for failing to tell his wife he divorced her and continuing to have sexual relations with her, her lawyer said.

Waleed al-Tabtabai, an Islamist who is currently outside Kuwait, already faces a 42-month jail term handed down in July in another case for storming parliament and assaulting police.

The appeals court on Monday upheld a 2018 verdict finding him guilty of adultery, said the lawyer, Naser al-Otaibi, adding the ruling was not political.

“My client received justice after she was taken advantage of and tricked into something that criminalises her under sharia (Islamic) law,” he told AFP.

The lawyer said his client had found out her husband divorced her in 2017 — a year later — after she sued him for failing to provide for her and their child.

“Evidence was brought forward that they continued a marital relationship during the time they were divorced, including an exchange of intimate pictures via WhatsApp,” he said.

Tabtabai is currently outside of Kuwait amid government discussions on whether or not to unseat him from parliament.