Sex Tape: Benzema Makes Final Plea To Have Valbuena Case Dismissed

Benzema Scores Twice To Give Madrid Win Over Eibar
Real Madrid’s French forward Karim Benzema reacts during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid CF and SD Eibar at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on April 6, 2019. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

Lawyers for Karim Benzema urged a top French appeals court on Monday to throw out a years-long case over an alleged attempt to blackmail Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape, which has kept the Real Madrid star from playing for France’s national side.

The French striker argues that a police officer used dishonest methods to draw him into the affair, which began in June 2015.

That was when Valbuena received a call from a blackmailer who threatened to release an intimate video and contacted the police.

Investigators later accused Benzema of acting as an intermediary between the presumed blackmailers and Valbuena, which Benzema has denied.

While resorting to some ruses can be common in police work, “the sin is in the zeal shown by this officer”, Benzema’s lawyer Fabrice Spinosi told the Court of Cassation in Paris.

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“He eventually took charge of the exchanges by regularly renewing his contacts” despite Benzema’s attempts to end their conversations, he said.

A previous appeal to a court in Versailles in December 2016 had failed, but the Court of Cassation later annulled that ruling and instructed the Paris Court of Appeal to hear the case again.

Benzema has been under formal investigation while fighting the charges and has not played for France since 2015.

The Cassation court said Monday that it would issue its decision on December 9.

If Benzema’s claim is rejected, the prospect of a trial will loom, whereas acceptance would likely result in the charges being dropped.

Alleged Port Harcourt ‘Serial Killer’ Changes Plea To Not Guilty

 

 

Suspected “serial killer”, Gracious David West, reversed his plea to not guilty in court Thursday after earlier confessing to strangling nine women in a string of ritual-style killings.

Mr. West, 26, was arrested in September on accusations he lured his victims to hotels in Port Harcourt before drugging and murdering them.

The killings sparked outrage and prompted women to take to the streets of the city, the heart of Rivers state, to demand better police protection.

READ ALSO: Police Nab Alleged Serial Killer In Rivers

Police released a video on Twitter after West was detained showing him admitting to the crimes.

But in court on Thursday he reversed the admission.

“The defendant had earlier pleaded guilty to the 9 count charge of murder but has decided to change his plea today,” prosecutor Chidi Ekeh said.

The suspect’s lawyer Vincent Chukwu dismissed the earlier guilty plea as having “no legal effect”.

“The basis of this matter is the evidence. Let them (the prosecution) put their evidence before the court”, he told AFP.

A second defendant, accused of involvement in the killings, Nimi Thankgod, also pleaded not guilty and was granted bail.

Police arrested the suspects after the bodies of nine victims were found across the city and described West as a “notorious serial killer” and cult member.

The authorities said the deceased were discovered with a white cloth wrapped around their necks and waist in a style that suggested ritual murders.

Port Harcourt and the surrounding region has one of the highest crime rates in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country.

It is rife with so-called cults, criminal gangs that emerged from university campuses to become organised crime groups and frequently engage in blood rituals and oaths.

Nigerian ‘Sex Slavery’ Ring Goes On Trial In France

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

 

 

Twenty-four suspected members of a sex trafficking ring accused of forcing Nigerian women into prostitution in France go on trial Wednesday, the latest case to highlight the growing use of Nigerian migrants as sex slaves in Europe.

Nigeria was the main country of origin of the migrants arriving across the Mediterranean to Italy in 2016 and 2017, though their numbers have since dropped.

Many of the arrivals were women and girls lured to Europe with false promises of jobs as hairdressers or seamstresses, only to find themselves selling sex on arrival to repay their debts.

Nigerians now outnumber Chinese or Eastern European sex workers on the streets of France and some other European countries.

Last year, 15 members of a Paris-based female-led pimping ring known as the “Authentic Sisters” were sentenced to up to 11 years in prison for forcing girls into sex slavery in France.

Many were themselves former trafficking victims-turned-perpetrators.

READ ALSO: Modern Slavery: Kaduna Govt Unites 140 Victims With Families

Similar gangs have also been dismantled in Italy and Britain.

The investigation in Lyon, where police estimate half the city’s sex workers are Nigerian, began after authorities received a tip about a Nigerian pastor accused of exploiting several sex workers who lived in apartments he owned.

The pastor, Stanley Omoregie, has denied the charges, which include aggravated pimping and slavery.

But in the transcript of a conversation submitted to the court, he is heard saying he wanted “those with beautiful bodies, who can be controlled, not those that cause problems.”

The prosecution has presented him as the kingpin of a family-based syndicate made up of 10 women and 14 men, including one of Europe’s most wanted women, Jessica Edosomwan, accused of recruiting destitute women in Nigeria for the sex trade in Lyon, Nimes and Montpellier.

Edosomwan, who is believed to be on the run in the Benelux countries, Italy or Germany, will be tried in absentia.

From prostitution to pimping

The UN has estimated that 80 percent of young Nigerian women arriving in Italy — their first port of call in Europe — are already in the clutches of prostitution networks, or quickly fall under their control.

The accused in Lyon cover the entire gamut of sex trafficking activities, from iron-fisted “madams” and violent pimps as well as drivers of the vans in which the women perform sexual acts, and those tasked with laundering the proceeds of the trafficking.

Prosecutors estimate that 17 alleged victims, aged 17 to 38, made up to 150,000 euros ($166,000) a month for the syndicate, selling sex for as little as 10 euros.

Most of the women come from Benin City, capital of Nigeria’s southern Edo State, a human trafficking hotbed with a long history of dispatching women and men to Europe to earn money to send back home.

Many told investigators they had taken part in “juju” or black magic rituals before leaving Nigeria, during which they promised to repay the money they owed for their passage to Europe.

Many of the woman took the perilous migrant trail across the Sahara Desert to Libya and then across the Mediterranean to Italy before winding up in Lyon.

Among the accused is a 28-year-old former prostitute who was herself released from sex slavery after paying off her debts and who in turn brought over another young woman from Nigeria.

Months of police wiretaps and surveillance led to the arrest of the suspects between September 2017 and January 2018.

They risk 10 years in jail if convicted.

Actress Loughlin Faces New Charge In College Bribery Scam

Actress Lori Loughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli exit the Boston Federal Court house after a pre-trial hearing with Magistrate Judge Kelley at the John Joseph Moakley US Courthouse in Boston.  Joseph Prezioso / AFP

 

Actress Lori Loughlin was slapped with an additional charge related to America’s wide-ranging college admissions scandal on Tuesday, increasing the likelihood that she could serve time in prison.

The star of 1980s-90s sitcom “Full House,” her husband and nine other parents now face the charge of conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery on top of previous charges, prosecutors said.

Loughlin and designer Mossimo Giannulli are accused of paying a $500,000 bribe so that their two daughters could gain entrance into a prestigious Californian university.

Prosecutors say they paid the money in 2016 and 2017 to that the girls could gain entrance to the University of Southern California (USC) by posing as members of the rowing team.

They have denied conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering, charges that can carry penalties of more than 20 years in prison.

If convicted, the extra charge leveled Tuesday could see the parents get a lengthier sentences. Prosecutors sometimes add extra charges to pressure defendants into changing their pleas.

US Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling said the new indictment would further prosecutors’ efforts to hold the defendants “fully accountable.”

The ringleader behind the college admissions scam, William “Rick” Singer, who authorities say was paid about $25 million to bribe coaches and university administrators, has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with authorities.

“Desperate Housewives” actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced in September to two weeks in jail after admitting paying $15,000 to boost her daughter’s SAT college entrance exam score.

Huffman was the first parent to be sentenced among 50 people indicted in the elaborate and scam to help children of the elite secure places in top US colleges.

Other universities targeted in the scam include Stanford, Yale, Georgetown and UCLA. None of the schools or the students have been charged in the case.

Sudan Rape Victims Insist Al-Bashir Must Face ICC Trial

Sudan's Ex-President, Omar al-Bashir
Sudan’s Ex-President, Omar al-Bashir

 

 

For Jamal Ibrahim, whose sisters were raped by militiamen in Darfur, only the handover of Sudan’s ousted dictator Omar al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court can bring peace to the restive Darfur region.

“Two of my sisters were raped in front of my eyes by militiamen who stormed through our village, setting our houses on fire,” Ibrahim, 34, told AFP at Camp Kalma, a sprawling facility where tens of thousands of people displaced by the conflict in Darfur have lived for years.

“Bashir and his aides who committed the crimes in Darfur must be handed over to the ICC if peace is to be established in the region.”

Ibrahim, who is from Mershing in the mountainous Jebel Marra area of Darfur, said his village was attacked by Arab militiamen in March 2003 soon after conflict erupted in the region.

The fighting broke out when ethnic African rebels took up arms against Khartoum’s then Arab-dominated government under Bashir, alleging racial discrimination, marginalisation and exclusion.

Khartoum responded by unleashing the Janjaweed, a group of mostly Arab raiding nomads that it recruited and armed to create a militia of gunmen who were often mounted on horses or camels.

They have been accused of applying a scorched earth policy against ethnic groups suspected of supporting the rebels — raping, killing, looting and burning villages.

The brutal campaign earned Bashir and others arrest warrants from The Hague-based ICC for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

About 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced in the conflict, the United Nations says.

 ‘Won’t accept any peace deal’ 

Bashir, who denies the ICC charges, was ousted by the army in April after months of nationwide protests against his ironfisted rule of three decades.

He is currently on trial in Khartoum on charges of corruption, but war victims like Ibrahim want the ex-leader to stand trial at the ICC, something the northeast African country’s new authorities have so far resisted.

Ibrahim said his father and his uncle were shot dead when militiamen, riding on camels, rampaged through their village.

“We fled from there… and came to this camp. Since then we have not returned to our village,” Ibrahim told an AFP correspondent who visited Camp Kalma last week.

Established near Niyala, the provincial capital of South Darfur state, Camp Kalma is one of the largest facilities hosting people displaced by the conflict.

It is a sprawling complex of dusty tracks lined with mud and brick structures, including a school, a medical centre and a thriving market, where everything from clothes to mobile phones are sold.

Hundreds of thousands of Darfur victims live in such camps, subsisting on aid provided by the UN and other international organisations.

In Camp Kalma, hundreds of women and children queue up daily to collect their monthly quota of food aid.

“Often the officials here tell us that we must return to our village, but we can’t because our lands are occupied by others,” said a visibly angry Amina Mohamed, referring to Arab pastoralists who now occupy large swathes of land that previously belonged to people from Darfur.

“We won’t accept any peace deal unless we get back our land. We will leave this camp only when those who committed the crimes are taken to the ICC.”

 Unconvinced victims 

Even as instances of violence in Darfur, a region the size of Spain, have fallen in recent years, there are still regular skirmishes between militiamen fighting for resources and livestock.

Sudan’s new transitional authorities have vowed to bring peace to Darfur and two other conflict zones of Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

A Sudanese delegation led by generals and government officials is currently holding peace talks in the South Sudan capital of Juba with two umbrella rebel groups that fought Bashir’s forces in these three regions.

On Wednesday, the chief of Sudan’s ruling sovereign council, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, announced a “permanent ceasefire” in the three regions to show that authorities are committed to establishing peace.

But residents of Camp Kalma are not convinced, with hundreds of them staging a protest against the talks in Juba.

Musa Adam, 59, who hails from the village of Dilej but has lived in Camp Kalma for years, is in no mood to forgive Bashir.

Seven members of his family were shot dead by militiamen when they raided his village in 2003, Adam said.

“I know those militia leaders… I am ready to testify at the ICC against them as a witness to their crimes,” he said.

“Until these criminals are taken to the ICC, we cannot have peace in Darfur.”

AFP

30 People Arrested During Catalan Protests

People wave Spanish flags and a giant banner reading “Today as yesterday, Catalans and Spaniards” during a demonstration for the unity of Spain marking the Spanish National Day in Barcelona on October 12, 2019. LLUIS GENE / AFP

 

Police in Spain said Wednesday they arrested 30 people overnight across Catalonia for their roles in clashes with police during protests over the jailing of nine separatist leader over a failed 2017 independence bid.

Pro-independence groups staged sit-ins outside Spanish government offices in a number of Catalan cities late Tuesday, with around 40,000 people taking part in Barcelona and 9,000 in the separatist stronghold of Girona, according to municipal and regional police.

The protests ended in clashes with police in many cities.

In Barcelona, police charged hundreds of masked demonstrators who threw projectiles at officers and set garbage containers and cardboard boxes on fire.

Catalonia’s regional police, the Mossos d’Esquadra, said 14 people were arrested in the port of Tarragona, six in Barcelona and ten others in other Catalan cities for disobeying authority and causing a disturbance.

Monday’s ruling unleashed a wave of protests, with Catalan separatists enraged by the Supreme Court’s decision to hand heavy prison sentences of between nine and 13 years to leaders convicted of sedition over the 2017 separatist push.

That culminated in a banned independence referendum and short-lived declaration of independence in October of the same year.

Cuba Gooding Jr Denies Groping Two Women

Oscar-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr. departs his court arraignment in New York on October 15, 2019, where new charges are to be unsealed on his sexual assault case. TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP

 

Actor Cuba Gooding Jr pleaded not guilty Tuesday to groping two women as prosecutors revealed that a dozen others had accused the Oscar winner of sexual misconduct.

The “Jerry Maguire” star was arraigned before a judge in New York to hear an indictment against him that added new forcible touching and sexual abuse charges to a previous allegation.

Gooding was due to go on trial last week over accusations he grabbed a woman’s breast without her consent in a Manhattan bar on a night out in June.

But it was postponed after prosecutors said they planned to file new charges.

That indictment was unsealed at a state criminal court on Tuesday, showing that Gooding is also accused of pinching a women’s buttocks in a New York nightclub in October 2018.

He has been charged with four counts related to the two allegations.

The indictment also detailed accusations by 12 other women.

Those incidents stretch from 2001 to 2018 and all include allegations that he touched the victims at restaurants, bars and hotels without their consent.

The alleged incidents took place in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York and Dallas.

None of the women has been identified. The judge will decide whether to allow them to testify at the trial.

Gooding was released without bail. No trial date has been set and the next hearing is on December 13.

Gooding won an Academy Award in 1997 for his performance as a football player in “Jerry Maguire.”

He recently played OJ Simpson in “The People vs OJ Simpson: American Crime Story.”

AFP

French Ex-President Sarkozy To Face Trial Over Corruption

France’s former President Nicolas Sarkozy waves as he leaves The Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris on September 30, 2019, following a luncheon after a church service for former French President Jacques Chirac. Bertrand GUAY / AFP

 

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy lost a final court appeal Tuesday against an order that he stand trial for illegal financing of his 2012 election campaign.

Sarkozy, who already faces a separate trial for corruption involving a judge, is accused of spending double the legal limit on his failed re-election bid.

Two Jailed For Over A Decade In German Campsite Child Abuse Case

Defendants Mario S (3rd L) and Andreas V (3rd R) stand next to their lawyers Juergen Bogner (2nd L) and Johannes Salmen (R) as they arrive for their trial at the district court in Detmold, northwestern Germany, on September 5, 2019.

 

A German court on Thursday sentenced two men to more than a decade each in jail after they pleaded guilty to sexually abusing dozens of children at a campsite over two decades.

The Detmold regional court jailed 56-year-old accused Andreas V. for 13 years, while 34-year-old Mario S. must serve 12 years.

After their sentences, both men will be held in preventive custody, a step reserved only for the most dangerous criminals.

The pair are believed to have been the main perpetrators in a series of abuse cases that went undiscovered for years at the campsite in Luegde, around 60 kilometres (40 miles) from Hanover in northern Germany.

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Along with a third suspect, Heiko V., they were accused of 450 instances of child sexual abuse.

Prosecutors said more than 40 children fell victim to the men at the “Eichwald” campsite between 1998 and 2018.

Most of the children were between three and 14 years old at the time.

Some 33 witnesses, including 16 victims and 12 relatives, testified before the court in the trial over the past ten weeks, many of them behind closed doors.

Outrage over the serial abuse, uncovered in late January, grew nationwide as details of failings by police and local authorities came to light.

Cuba Gooding Jr’s Groping Trial Delayed

Actor Cuba Gooding Jr., arrives for his trial on his sexual assault case, on September 3, 2019, in New York.  ANGELA WEISS / AFP

 

Oscar-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr’s trial over accusations he groped a woman in New York was adjourned Tuesday until next month after prosecutors asked for more time to prepare their case.

The trial of the “Jerry Maguire” star was scheduled to start on Tuesday but a state criminal court judge granted a prosecution request that it be delayed until October 10.

Gooding’s lawyer Mark Heller told reporters after the short hearing that he was extremely confident the case would be dismissed, describing the allegations as “totally unfounded.”

“We are confident this will become a hallmark case for the #NotMe movement,” he said, using a term he coined to refer to celebrities who are falsely accused of sexual offenses.

Gooding, 51, is accused of grabbing the woman’s breast without her consent in a Manhattan bar on a night out in June.

He is charged with forcible touching and could face up to a year in prison if convicted.

Gooding won an Academy Award in 1997 for his performance as a football player in “Jerry Maguire.”

He recently played OJ Simpson in “The People vs OJ Simpson: American Crime Story.”

AFP

Extra Judicial Killing: Court Adjourns Hearing On Trial Of Ex-Soldier

 

The Magistrate Court in Umuahia has adjourned the trial of a dismissed soldier, Lance Corporal Ajayi Johnson who allegedly killed a commercial rider, Chimaobi Nwaorgu.

In her ruling, the presiding judge, Linda Ugboaja, adjoined the matter till September 16 on the ground that it lacks the jurisdiction for murder case.

At the moment, the Nigeria Police says it is working assiduously to ensure that the case file gets to the Ministry of Justice and appropriate quarters for further action that would require that the case be transferred to the High Court for trial.

According to the spokesman for the Abia State Police Command, Geoffrey Ogbonna made this known to Channels Television on Wednesday.

“The case has been adjourned till September 16 to enable the police transfer the file to the appropriate quarters,” he said.

Meanwhile, the suspect has been remanded in prison custody in Afara area of the state.

Archbishop Stands By Disgraced Pell After Losing Sex-Case Appeal

Vatican finance chief Cardinal George Pell leaves after making an appearance in court in Melbourne on May 1, 2018. Pell pleaded not guilty on May 1 after being ordered to stand trial on multiple historical sexual offence charges in Australia. WILLIAM WEST / AFP

 

A senior Australian Archbishop said Thursday he still believed disgraced Cardinal George Pell was innocent despite a court rejecting his appeal against child sex abuse convictions.

Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli said while he accepted the testimony of the victim that convicted Pell, he believed his colleague was the victim of mistaken identity.

“I believe in what he said to me on many occasions — that he’s innocent,” Comensoli told 3AW radio, stressing that he accepted the witness was indeed abused but by someone else.

He did not offer any evidence to support the claim.

READ ALSO: One Dead, Several Injured In Paris Hospital Fire

Pell and his supporters look set to fight on after the former Vatican treasurer on Wednesday lost his appeal against five convictions for sexually assaulting two 13-year-old choirboys at a Melbourne cathedral in the 1990s.

University of Melbourne law professor Jeremy Gans said it was highly likely that Pell would now take his case to the country’s final court of appeal.

“He’s got absolutely nothing to lose, and his odds are long. But if he wins, it’s big for him, so why on earth wouldn’t he do it?” Gans told AFP.

Pell, 78, who once helped elect Popes, is serving a six-year sentence for the offences, which came to light after one of the victims went to police when the other died of a drug overdose in 2014.

Wednesday’s landmark decision at the Court of Appeal was a 2-1 verdict.

Two judges said they believed Pell’s surviving victim, while the dissenting judge said he found the victim’s account “contained discrepancies”.

Gans said the High Court would likely be more open to taking on the case because of the split decision, but it wasn’t guaranteed.

Stuart Webb, president of the Law Institute of Victoria, described the outcome of the appeal as “fascinating and unusual”, saying Pell’s lawyers would now be scrutinising the 300-page judgment to see whether they could take further legal steps.

Under the relevant legislation, the High Court can consider an appeal if it is of public importance, is required to resolve differences of opinion on the state of the law or is in the interests of the administration of justice.

“And that will be questionable in the circumstances because the High Court is unlikely to be willing to enter into a discussion about factual situations,” Webb said.

The Vatican has said it will not launch an investigation into its most senior convicted child molester until after the case is finalised, despite announcing a probe back in February.

“As in other cases, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is awaiting the outcome of the ongoing proceedings and the conclusion of the appellate process prior to taking up the case,” spokesman Matteo Bruni said.

During Pell’s trial under a court-ordered veil of secrecy, the Vatican gradually removed him from top Church bodies with little explanation.

Pell is also facing multiple civil compensation suits, including from the father of the deceased choirboy.

AFP