Iran Summons Envoy Over US ‘Warmongering’

 

 

Tehran summoned an official from the Swiss embassy, which represents US interests in Iran, to complain about American “warmongering” in neighbouring Iraq, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

“The Swiss charge d’affaires was summoned to the foreign ministry… over stances of American officials with regards to developments in Iraq,” a ministry statement said.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran conveyed its strong protest… over warmongering remarks made by American officials which are in violation of the United Nations Charter,” it added.

President Donald Trump and other US officials have blamed Iran for rocket fire that killed an American civilian contractor in northern Iraq on Friday.

They have also accused Iran of being behind the storming of the US embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday by protesters angry over retaliatory US airstrikes in western Iraq that killed 25 militants.

In its statement, the Iranian foreign ministry said it had asked the Swiss charge d’affaires to inform the United States that “Iraq is an independent country”.

“The American army has martyred at least 25 young Iraqis and has wounded countless more without presenting the slightest evidence of them being at fault,” it said.

“Naturally the people of Iraq react to the country that has occupied their country and kills their young people.”

Tehran and Washington have not had direct diplomatic relations since Iranian students stormed the US embassy in 1980 and held staff hostage for 444 days.

 

Former Ukraine MP Faces Money Laundering Charges

 

Bauchi Assembly Crisis: Court Orders Parties To Maintain Status Quo

Switzerland has charged two Ukrainians, including a former parliamentary deputy, for allegedly laundering around 2.8 million euros ($3.1 million) via Swiss bank accounts, the government said Friday.

“The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland has filed an indictment with the Federal Criminal Court against the Ukrainian national and long-standing member of the Ukrainian Parliament and a second Ukrainian national,” the Federal Council said in statement.

“They are accused as part of a criminal group of having laundered around 2.8 million euros through the Swiss financial system.”

The identity of the second Ukrainian national was not revealed.

The laundered money was “suspected to have originated from offences committed in Ukraine and the Czech Republic,” the statement said.

“These alleged offences are currently the subject of criminal investigations by the Ukrainian and Czech authorities.”

According to the prosecutors, Martynenko, using an offshore company he owned, arranged for bank accounts to be opened in Switzerland through which the money would be laundered.

A Czech supplier of components for nuclear power stations, Skoda JS, then made payments into the accounts in return for contracts to supply components to Naek Energoatom, the state operator of nuclear power stations in Ukraine, the prosecutors alleged.

AFP

Dozens Of Migrants Drown As Boat Sinks Off Mauritania

 

 

 

At least 58 migrants drowned as their boat sank near the Mauritanian coast after a week at sea, the International Organization for Migration said Thursday.

The UN agency said another 83 people swam to shore, while survivors said at least 150 people including women and children were aboard the vessel, which had set sail from The Gambia on November 27.

They said the boat was running low on fuel as it was nearing the coast of the northwestern African nation.

“The Mauritanian authorities are very efficiently coordinating the response with the agencies currently present in Nouadhibou,” said Laura Lungarotti, IOM’s chief of mission in Mauritania.

“Our common priority is to take care of all those who survived and bring them the support they need,” she added.

READ ALSO: Six Dead, Two Missing After Gas Explosion In Poland

The injured are being treated in hospital in Nouadhibou, Mauritania’s westernmost town on the Atlantic coast, the IOM statement said.

Mauritanian authorities are in contact with Gambian consular services “to ensure that the necessary support is provided to the migrants”, the statement said.

The Gambian Ambassador to Mauritania is headed to Nouadhibou, it added.

Ex-Brazilian Football Chief Teixeira Banned For Life

This file photo taken on August 16, 2016 shows former president of the CBF Ricardo Teixeira looking on at the burial of Joao Havelange, FIFA’s president between 1974 and 1998, at the cemetery of Sao Joao Batista in Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro.TASSO MARCELO / AFP

 

Ex-Brazilian football chief Ricardo Teixeira was banned for life from football on Friday for bribery, FIFA announced.

World football’s governing body said the Brazilian was banned and fined one million Swiss francs (907,000 Euro) for taking bribes for marketing and media rights for continental and Brazilian football competitions between 2006 and 2012.

Teixeira, the 72-year-old ex-son-in-law of the late former FIFA president Joao Havelange, is also a former FIFA executive committee and standing committee member.

FIFA said in a statement that its investigation into Teixeira focused on “bribery schemes” carried out between 2006 and 2012 “in relation to his role in awarding contracts to companies for the media and marketing rights” for competitions run by the federations (CBF) of Brazil, South America (CONMEBOL) and North and Central America (CONCACAF).

Teixeira is wanted by US authorities for his part in a major corruption scandal that erupted in 2015 implicating a string of top officials in world football.

His successor Jose Maria Marin was arrested in Zurich in 2015 ahead of a FIFA meeting, extradited to the United States and later sentenced to four years in prison by the American courts.

But Teixeira, and another former CBF chief Marco Polo Del Nero have remained in Brazil and escaped extradition.

Teixeira also dodged a Spanish attempt to bring him to justice for alleged involvement in the same case that saw ex-Barcelona boss Sandro Rosell jailed.

He has also been under investigation in Andorra and Switzerland.

“Is there a safer place than Brazil? Which? Why would I run if here I’m not accused of anything? Everything they accuse me of abroad is not a crime in Brazil. Not that I’m saying if I did it or not,” he told the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper in 2017.

Federer Wins Basel ATP Title For 10th Time

Swiss Roger Federer celebrates his victory during the final match at the Swiss Indoors tennis tournament in Basel on October 27, 2019. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

 

Roger Federer won in Basel for the 10th time in his career on Sunday, smothering young Australian Alex De Minaur 6-2, 6-2 to secure victory at his home-town tournament.

At 38, Federer won his 103rd trophy and his fourth of the season after Dubai, Miami and Halle.

He is now six short of the men’s title record held by American Jimmy Connors (109).

Euro Qualifiers: Denmark Edge Switzerland After Ireland Draw

Denmark’s Simon Kjaer celebrates with team mates after Yussuf Yurary Poulsen scored a goal during the UEFA Euro 2020 Group D qualifying round football match between Denmark and Switzerland on October 12, 2019 at the Telia Parken stadium in Copenhagen. Liselotte Sabroe / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP

 

Kasper Schmeichel produced a series of excellent saves as Denmark defeated Switzerland 1-0 in Euro 2020 qualifying Saturday to pull level with Republic of Ireland in Group D.

Leicester City goalkeeper Schmeichel pulled off superb stops to deny Granit Xhaka, Admir Mehmedi and Ricardo Rodriguez before Yussuf Poulsen grabbed an 84th-minute winner for Denmark in Copenhagen.

The Danes moved up to 12 points alongside group leaders Ireland, who drew 0-0 away to Georgia, while Switzerland are four points off the pace but with a game in hand.

Mick McCarthy’s Ireland couldn’t establish any momentum earlier in the day in Tbilisi and were left frustrated by wayward finishing from their few opportunities to break the deadlock.

Romania took over second place in Group F following a 3-0 win in the Faroe Islands secured by second-half goals from George Puscas, Ionut Mitrita and Claudiu Keseru.

Sweden could move back above Romania with victory in Malta later although defeat would open the door for three-time European champions Spain to secure qualification with a win away to Norway.

Italy, who have six wins from six in Group J, can clinch their place at the finals with victory over Greece in Rome.

Bosnia and Herzegovina reignited their qualification hopes with a 4-1 win over second-placed Finland.

A brace from Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic and goals from Izet Hajrovic and Armin Hodzic pushed Bosnia to within two points of Finland, who could be joined by Armenia if they beat Liechtenstein in Vaduz.

AFP

Swiss To Auction 25 Super Cars Seized From E. Guinea Leader’s Son

 

 

A collection of luxury cars seized from Equatorial Guinea’s vice president Teodorin Obiang Nguema will be auctioned off in Switzerland on Sunday and are estimated to bring in 18.5 million Swiss francs ($18.7 million).

“This is an exceptional sale,” Philip Kantor, of British auctioneers Bonhams, told AFP. “It’s a private collection of supercars, with very low mileage.

Among the cars, to go under the hammer at a Geneva golf club, are seven Ferraris, three Lamborghinis, five Bentleys, a Maserati and a McLaren.

The most expensive lots are a Lamborghini Veneno Roadster, valued at between 4.8 million and 5.7 million euros ($5.2-6.2 million) and yellow Ferrari hybrid at 2.4-2.6 million euros.

The cars were all confiscated by Swiss justice after the opening in 2016 of a financial wrongdoing case against Obiang, son and likely heir of Equatorial Guinea’s authoritarian President Teodoro Obiang Nguema who has ruled for 40 years.

All will be sold with no reserve price.

In February Swiss prosecutors said they were dropping charges of financial wrongdoing against Teodorin Obiang Nguema but were confiscating the luxury cars as part of the case.

Under the Swiss penal code, prosecutors can choose to drop charges in this category if defendants offer compensation “and restore a situation that is in conformity with the law.”

Playboy reputation

Equatorial Guinea has also agreed to give Geneva 1.3 million Swiss francs to cover the costs of the case.

Vice president with responsibility for defence and security, Teodorin Obiang has a reputation for a playboy lifestyle.

In October 2017, a Paris court handed him a three-year suspended jail term after convicting Obiang of siphoning off public money to buy assets in France.

He was accused of spending more than 1,000 times his official annual salary on a six-storey mansion in a posh part of the French capital, a fleet of fast cars and artworks, among other assets.

He was also given a suspended fine of 30 million euros.

In September, Brazilian media said that more than $16 million in cash and luxury watches were seized by Brazilian police and customs officers from luggage of a delegation accompanying Obiang on a private visit.

Brazilian daily O Estado de Sao Paulo quoted a diplomatic source from Equatorial Guinea as saying the money was to pay for medical treatment Obiang was to undergo in Sao Paulo.

The watches were for the “personal use” of the president’s son and were engraved with his initials, the report said.

Obiang is reputedly on a fast track to succeed his father.

Last October, he was promoted from colonel directly to division general, without passing through the normal intermediary rank of brigade general.

The following month, he presided over a cabinet meeting for the first time.

The tiny West African nation is one of the continent’s top petroleum producers and has a population of just 1.2 million.

The country is regularly cited by NGOs as one of the most corrupt in the world.

Federer Battles Past Isner To Save Europe In Laver Cup

Roger Federer

 

 

Roger Federer saved Europe from defeat in the Laver Cup after beating John Isner in a tight match 6-4, 7-6 (7/3) that takes the tournament down to the final singles match.

Federer had to win a tense tie-break over world number 20 Isner to take the three points, smashing an ace on the final point to raise the roof in Geneva after the American had somehow shot wide with the court at his mercy.

Team World lead 11-10 ahead of German Alexander Zverev’s clash Milos Raonic, a straight shootout for the tournament after Taylor Fritz had earlier put Team World to within one win of capturing their first Laver Cup with a 7-5, 6-7 (3/7), 10-5 win over Dominic Thiem.

“I’m thrilled that I was able to give something back to the team,” said Federer.

“Obviously to see Rafa on the sidelines after having to pull out with an injury, it’s great camaraderie I feel.”

Team World came into the day 7-5 down but were boosted by Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal with a hand injury.

Fritz, himself a replacement for injured Nick Kyrgios, followed up on Isner and Jack Sock’s 5-7, 6-4, 10-8 defeat of Federer and Stefanos Tsitsipas with a surprise tie-break triumph over world number five Thiem.

“That was such a big match for Team World to win, we really needed that,” said Fritz.

“This has to be one of the biggest wins of my career. It means so much more when you’re playing for other people as well.”

This year is the first time the tournament has been played since being added to the ATP Tour.

Europe won the 2018 edition 13-8 in Chicago.

Swiss Vote To Tighten Gun Laws, Safeguard EU Relations

 

The Swiss voted Sunday to toughen their gun laws and bring them in line with EU legislation, heeding warnings that rejecting the move could have threatened relations with the bloc, early results showed.

Exit polls and preliminary results released shortly after polls closed at noon (1000 GMT) indicated that voters overwhelmingly supported reforming Swiss gun laws.

According to projections by the gfs.bern polling institute, the reform received 66-per cent backing in Sunday’s referendum.

A demand from the neighbouring European Union that the Swiss toughen their gun laws has prompted a rare national debate over firearm ownership in the wealthy Alpine nation, which has a deeply-rooted gun culture.

READ ALSO: Huawei Will Not Bow To US Pressure – Founder

While the government has cautioned that the new legislation is crucial to the non-EU country maintaining its treaties with the bloc, the proposal sparked fierce pushback from the gun lobby and shooting enthusiasts, who gathered enough signatures to trigger a vote under Switzerland’s famous direct democratic system.

Brussels changed its own weapons laws two years ago following a wave of deadly terrorist attacks across Europe, slapping bans on certain types of semi-automatic firearms.

While not an EU member, Switzerland is bound to the bloc through an array of intricately connected bilateral agreements.

Bern had cautioned that a “No” vote would lead to Switzerland’s exclusion from the visa-free Schengen travel region and also the Dublin accords regulating Europe’s asylum-seeking process.

This would have far-reaching consequences for security, asylum and even tourism, and would cost the country “several billion Swiss francs each year,” it said.

The shooting enthusiasts behind Sunday’s referendum meanwhile claim the government warnings are “exaggerated”.

“It is a shame that the people fell for the scare-tactics over Schengen,” Olivia de Weck, a Swiss army captain and the vice president of the ProTell gun lobby, told the ATS news agency after the first projections landed.

 ‘Exceptional authorisation’ 

The strong gun culture in Switzerland is partially tied to its tradition of national defence service, as most Swiss men undergo obligatory military service between the ages of 18 and 30 and are allowed to keep their assigned weapon when they are done.

It is difficult to know exactly how many firearms are in circulation in Switzerland since guns are registered regionally and there is no national registry.

But according to a 2017 report by the Small Arms Survey, the country boasts the world’s 16th highest rate of gun ownership, with some 2.3 million firearms in civilian hands — nearly three for every 10 inhabitants.

Under the new gun law, which has already been approved by legislators, semi-automatic weapons with high-capacity magazines would be listed as “banned”.

Collectors and sports shooters could still purchase such weapons, but would need to jump through more hoops to obtain an “exceptional authorisation”.

Another issue put to a national referendum Sunday — a government proposal to overhaul the country’s corporate tax system and pump more cash into its pension system — also appeared to have garnered significant support.

Since most people in Switzerland vote in advance, the final results are usually tallied by mid-afternoon.

AFP

Algerian President Bouteflika Hospitalised In Switzerland

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.                                                 RYAD KRAMDI / AFP

 

Algeria’s ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika remains at a Swiss hospital as protests grow in his country against his bid for a fifth term, the Tribune de Geneve newspaper reported Wednesday.

Citing what it described as multiple and well-informed sources, the TdG reported that Bouteflika has been at the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG) since Sunday.

HUG is a public teaching hospital but has a private wing that could accommodate VIPs seeking privacy, according to the hospital’s website.

A HUG spokesman declined to comment on the report.

Bouteflika, who uses a wheelchair and has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013, announced on February 10 that he would seek re-election in the April 18 vote.

The 81-year-old has repeatedly received medical care in Switzerland since the 1980s.

His office had previously announced that the president was scheduled to travel to Switzerland for “routine medical checks” ahead of the election.

AFP

Police Officers Injured In Swiss Football Riot

 

Five police officers have been injured in Switzerland during a post-match riot involving supporters of rival football clubs that also caused “massive” property damage, police said Sunday.

The riot occurred late Saturday around the train station in the town of Thun in central Switzerland after a match that saw the local club beat GC Zurich 1-0, police in Bern canton said in a statement.

As officers were trying to separate fans to diffuse tensions, Zurich supporters began throwing stones and other objects, the statement further said.

READ ALSO: Six Dead In Switzerland Apartment Fire

In addition to the injured officers, another person had to be hospitalised following a fight at the station, police added.

The rioting caused damage to two public buses, the station and several surrounding buildings, with police estimating the cost at tens of thousands of Swiss francs (euros).

AFP

Six Dead In Switzerland Apartment Fire

Forensic police officers inspect a building were six people, including children, perished when a fire broke out in an apartment building in the northwestern Swiss town of Solothurn on early November 26, 2018.  Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

Six people, including children, died when a fire broke out overnight in an apartment building in the northwestern Swiss town of Solothurn, police said on Monday, with neighbors indicating the building housed asylum seekers.

“There were more than 20 people in the building. Most were evacuated by the fire brigade, but for six people, including children, the help came too late,” Solothurn police said in a statement.

“They died on the spot.”

A police spokeswoman told AFP that the fire in the building, in the center of town, had been extinguished and that a number of those evacuated remained in hospital.

She would not say how many children were among the dead or injured or provide more information about the identity of those affected.

But neighbors were quoted by several media outlets suggesting that asylum seekers were living in the building. A local cafe owner told AFP he believed they were mainly Eritreans.

An AFP photographer said the building was intact but from the outside, all of the apartments looked blackened by smoke and fire.

Police said it remained unclear what sparked the blaze.

“A resident noticed smoke at 2:10 am (0110 GMT) in the stairwell and sounded the alarm,” the police statement said, adding that dozens of firefighters, along with police, ambulances and other rescue services were immediately dispatched to the building.

‘Impossible to escape’ 

Solothurn city councilor Kurt Fluri told the 20Minutes online news site that he was deeply saddened by the tragedy.

He said the fire actually appeared to have been quite small.

“It was the smoke that was the problem. It was impossible to escape from it,” he said, adding that some people “appear to have jumped out of the window”.

Another witness, a man who had been evacuated from a neighboring building, also told 20Minutes he had heard that some people had jumped to escape the smoke and flames.

“They panicked,” he said.

Another neighbor, 62-year-old Franco Pedone, told the Blick newspaper’s online edition that he had been jolted awake.

“I suddenly heard women shouting in the night. They were screaming like crazy,” Pedone said.

And yet another neighbor told 20Minutes that he had heard screams of people stuck in the building and had seen a child being resuscitated by emergency workers.

“That was the worst,” he said.

According to the initial findings, the fire originated on one of the lower floors, allowing smoke to spread through the building.

The neighboring building was also evacuated “as a precaution”, police said, adding that those residents were able to return home before morning.

AFP