Hyderabad case: Police kill suspects in Indian vet’s rape and murder


People argue with police over a protest against the alleged rape and murder of a 27-year-old womanImage copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Thousands protested outside a police station in Hyderabad after the rape case

Indian police have shot dead four men suspected of raping and killing a young female vet in Hyderabad last week.

The men were in police detention and were taken back to the scene of the crime in the early hours of Friday.

The suspects were shot when they tried to steal the officers’ guns and escape, police told BBC Telugu.

The 27-year-old victim’s charred remains were discovered last Thursday – leading to outrage and protests over alleged police inaction.

After news of the killings broke, the victim’s mother told the BBC that “justice has been done”.

Meanwhile, neighbours celebrated with firecrackers, and thousands of people took to the streets to hail the police.

What happened on Friday?

Cyberabad police commissioner VC Sajjanar told BBC Telugu that police took the accused to the scene to reconstruct the crime.

Police shot the men when they tried to grab the officers’ guns and escape, he said.

Two police officers were also injured.

The police were heavily criticised after the rape and murder of the vet – particularly when the victim’s family accused them of inaction for two hours.

How have the victim’s family reacted?

BBC Telugu’s Deepthi Bathini visited the family in their home, where neighbours could be seen celebrating the news by bursting firecrackers and distributing sweets.

“I can’t put it into words. I felt happiness but also grief because my daughter will never come home,” the victim’s mother said.

“My daughter’s soul is at peace now. Justice has been done. I never thought we would get justice. No other girl should experience what my daughter did.”

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionThe victim’s sister – who cannot be identified for legal reasons – spoke out after her sibling’s death

The mother added that she wants the law on sexual assault and rape to be “stricter”.

“Men should be scared to even stare at women – because they will be punished.”

The victim’s sister said the police action was “very unexpected”.

“I was expecting court trials and the court to deliver justice. This will not bring my sister back, but it is a great relief. Because of the police action, people will think twice before they do something like this again,” she said.

What has the wider reaction been?

News of the police action has been widely celebrated on social media.

Many took to Twitter and Facebook to applaud the police, saying they “delivered justice”.

The mother of a student who died after being gang-raped on a bus in capital Delhi in 2012 has also hailed the killing.

“I am extremely happy with this punishment. Police have done a great job,” she told ANI news agency.

BBC Telugu reporter Satish Balla, reporting from the spot of the killings, said approximately 2,000 people have gathered, causing a huge traffic jam.

Vehicles have come to a standstill on the highway, where people are shouting “hail the police”.

At the scene of the encounter, people earlier showered the police with rose petals and distributed sweets, our reporter added.

But a few have also questioned the police’s version of events.

Image caption

Thousands of people gathered at the site of the encounter

Prakash Singh, a retired police officer and a key architect of police reforms, told the BBC that the killings were “entirely avoidable”.

“Abundant caution should be taken when people in custody are being taken to the court or the scene of the crime,” he said.

“They should be secured, handcuffed and properly searched before they are taken out. All kinds of things can happen if the police are not careful.”

But Mr Singh said it was too early to say if the incident was an extrajudicial killing – known popularly in India as an “encounter killing”.

In the days after the rape and murder, thousands of people protested at Hyderabad police station, insisting the killers face the death penalty.

Jaya Bachchan, a former Bollywood star who is now a MP in India’s upper house of parliament, said earlier this week that the accused men should be “lynched”.

“I know it sounds harsh, but these kind of people should be brought out in public and lynched,” she said during a parliamentary debate on the incident.

Several other MPs from across the political spectrum also condemned the brutal gang-rape and murder.

Elsewhere in the country, there were other protests and vigils for the victim, who cannot be named under Indian law.

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

People in Delhi held a vigil on Saturday

How did the vet’s murder unfold?

The victim left home on her motorbike at about 18:00 local time (12:30 GMT) ten days ago to go to a doctor’s appointment.

She called family later to say she had a flat tyre, and a lorry driver had offered to help. She said she was waiting near a toll plaza.

Efforts to contact her afterwards were unsuccessful, and her body was discovered under a flyover by a milkman on Thursday morning.

Last week, three police officers were suspended when the victim’s family accused them of not acting quickly enough when the woman was reported missing.

Officers had suggested she may have eloped, relatives told the National Commission for Women, a government body.

Are women any safer in India today?

Rape and sexual violence against women have been in focus in India since the December 2012 gang-rape and murder of a young woman on a bus in the capital, Delhi.

But there has been no sign that crimes against women are abating.

According to government figures, police registered 33,658 cases of rape in India in 2017, an average of 92 rapes every day.



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Bloody Sunday: 25 witnesses to be called in case of Soldier F | UK news


Twenty-five witnesses are to be called in the prosecution of a former serviceman accused of two murders on Bloody Sunday.

The case of Soldier F, who also faces five attempted murder charges in relation to the shootings in Derry on 30 January 1972, was heard before a district judge in Derry magistrates court.

The veteran was not present for the short hearing on Wednesday.

The ex-paratrooper’s barrister, Mark Mulholland QC, is to challenge any decision to send his client for trial.

He confirmed that 25 witnesses were being lined up as part of the prosecution but said some of those may not necessarily be called.

After the case Ciarán Shiels, solicitor for the McKinney family and four wounded victims, said: “We have indicated to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) that we intend to challenge the anonymity order that has been granted to the soldier.

“The position of the families is that there is a significant departure from the principles of open justice, that this defendant is being treated more favourably than other people charged with homicide and indeed murder.”

The case was adjourned until 17 January.



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Supreme Court Indicates Gun Case May Be Moot : NPR


A view of the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. Protections for 660,000 immigrants are on the line at the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
A view of the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. Protections for 660,000 immigrants are on the line at the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

For the first time in 10 years, the U.S. Supreme Court has heard a major gun-rights case. But the drum roll of anticipation seemed to fade, as the debate in the high court Monday focused almost exclusively on whether the case should be dismissed as moot.

At issue was a New York law that allowed New York City residents to have a permit for a gun at home, but barred them from transporting the gun elsewhere except to seven New York City shooting ranges. Three handgun owners who had such “premises licenses” challenged the law as a violation of their Second Amendment right to bear arms because they could not transport their guns to shooting ranges and competitions outside the city or to second homes.

“So what’s left of this case?”

The problem for those gun owners was that New York state and New York City abandoned the challenged law earlier this year after the Supreme Court said it would review it.

“New York City and New York state actually gave them everything that they had asked for before this argument,” said New York City corporation counsel James Johnson after the argument. “That was made very plain in this argument today.”

Indeed, it was, and the court’s liberals drove home the point.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pointedly asked: “So what’s left of this case?”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor piled on. You’re asking [the court] to decide a case “in which the other side has thrown in the towel and completely given you every single thing you demanded in your complaint.”

Can you transport a gun and stop for coffee?

But lawyer Paul Clement, representing the gun owners, fought back. He argued that the new regulations for New York City still only permit “continuous and uninterrupted” gun transport within the city. That, he suggested, might put in doubt a stop for coffee or a bathroom break.

Justice Stephen Breyer didn’t take that argument seriously, saying he doubted any police officer would arrest someone for stopping for coffee.

Representing the Trump Administration, Deputy Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall tried to argue that the case is still alive because the plaintiffs could be awarded damages.

Justice Ginsburg came to bat again, pointing out that the gun owners never asked for damages. Has “the Solicitor General ever asked this court to allow such a late interjection of a damages” claim in order to save a case from being thrown out as moot? she asked.

Wall conceded he knew of no such case.

That is the “democratic process”

Next up to the lectern was Richard Dearing, who serves as Deputy Counsel for the City of New York. He emphasized that this lawsuit challenged a premises license, not a carry license. A premises license, he noted, is granted for the home only, though it must allow certain limited transport of the licensed handgun.

Dearing said the plaintiffs asked only for specified additional transport of these guns, and the city in the end gave the handgun owners everything they had asked for.

That the city changed its laws, he suggested, “is a good thing, not a bad one. The government should respond to litigation, should assess its laws … when they are challenged.” That, he said, is the “democratic process.”

“So then why is this case moot?”

But suppose that, in addition to stopping for a cup of coffee, the gun owner stops to visit his mother for a couple of hours, posited Justice Samuel Alito. “Would there be any law that would violated?”

Dearing replied that those kinds of questions were never at issue when the old law was challenged.

“So then why is this case moot?” wondered Alito. “Because [the plaintiffs] didn’t get all that they wanted,” he insisted. “They wanted a declaration that the old law was unconstitutional, period.”

Dearing replied that the plaintiffs framed the case they brought; they asked for a court order that allowed them to transport handguns to shooting ranges outside the city and to homes outside the city. And they got what they asked for.

With Justices Alito and Neil Gorsuch overtly seeking to blunt the city’s mootness argument, at the end of the day the question was where the rest of the court stood.

Justice Clarence Thomas, a forceful advocate for gun rights, asked no questions, as usual.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh has a far more gun-friendly record than the justice he replaced last year, Justice Anthony Kennedy. But Kavanaugh too asked no questions.

New York City is committed to “closing the book” on its old law

Chief Justice John Roberts asked just a few questions, and only of the City of New York’s lawyer. He wanted to know if the city could deny a premises gun license to the plaintiffs in this case because they had admitted previously violating the law.

“Is the city committed to closing the book on that old rule,” asked Roberts?

Yes, replied lawyer Dearing, noting that the plaintiffs have already had their licenses renewed twice since challenging the old New York law.

Only once on Monday did any justice directly address the question posed by the original New York case: whether the city’s justification for its regulations were constitutional. “Are the people of New York City and state less safe now” under the new law than they were under the previous law that was challenged, asked Justice Alito?

“No, I don’t think so,” replied lawyer Dearing. “We made a judgment, expressed by our police commissioner, that it was consistent with public safety to repeal the prior rule.”

Alito pounced. “So you think the Second Amendment permits the imposition of a restriction that has no public safety benefit?

Dearing replied that the new regulations–allowing for more transport of premises licensed guns–will make enforcement more difficult. But he said it is still doable.

That hardly appeased Alito, but organizations advocating stricter guns laws were breathing easier. Their relief may be only temporary.

With Kavanaugh replacing the more moderate Kennedy, there now seems to be a conservative majority on the court, justices who will in future treat gun regulations with far more suspicion than in the past. And even if that day does not come this term, there are more test cases waiting in the wings.



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U.S. ‘Likely’ to Bring New Charges in Giuliani-Allies Case


(Bloomberg) — The U.S is “likely” to bring additional charges in a case against Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, associates of Rudy Giuliani who are accused of skirting campaign contribution limits as part of a plot to oust the American ambassador to Ukraine, a prosecutor said.

The comment was made Monday at an hour-long court hearing in Manhattan. Speaking in response to a question from U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken about whether the government planned to file additional charges, Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Zolkind said: “Certainly the investigation is ongoing. We think a superseding indictment is likely, but no decision has been made. It’s something we continue to evaluate.”

Parnas and Fruman were charged in October. According to prosecutors, they illegally funneled foreign money into U.S. political campaigns, including a $325,000 contribution to the pro-Trump America First political action committee. Both men have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Prosecutors have said repeatedly their investigation is continuing, and Bloomberg and other news organizations have reported that Giuliani is a subject of interest in the case. Zolkind’s comment came after Gerald Lefcourt, one of the defense lawyers, complained that the heavily redacted documents shared by the government in discovery had left them with little sense of the case. As an example, he held aloft a search warrant affidavit with the pages completely blacked out.

In response, Zolkind said the redacted pages did not relate to the charges that have been filed thus far — an indication that the investigation has spanned well beyond the charges against the two men. The prosecutor didn’t elaborate on what the new accusations would be or whether others would be charged, but he said later that at least one of the defendants, Parnas, is “under investigation for additional crimes.”

Zolkind also opposed a request by Parnas for more lenient home detention conditions, saying he presents a substantial flight risk based on his ties to Ukraine and a “billionaire oligarch in Vienna” currently fighting extradition to the U.S. The reference was likely to Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash, who lives in Austria and is facing prosecution for overseas bribery in Chicago. The legal team Firtash hired to defend him in that case included Parnas as a translator.

Parnas and Fruman worked with Giuliani on efforts to dig up political ammunition for Trump in Ukraine against Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. According to the indictment, their campaign donations played a role in the pressure campaign to remove U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. Trump recalled her from her post earlier this year.

Prosecutors have obtained thousands of files of phone, bank and Internet service provider records in response to subpoenas, and seized several cell phones, computers, thumb drives and digital tablets from the defendants and their homes after their arrest. The FBI is still trying to access those devices and evidence gleaned from them has not yet been produced. Zolkind said subpoenas are still being served.

Joseph Bondy, a lawyer for Parnas, said his client wants to cooperate with the Congressional investigation into the Ukraine matter but that prosecutors have seized records responsive to a Congressional subpoena.

(Adds background)

To contact the reporter on this story: Christian Berthelsen in New York at [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Glovin at [email protected], Anthony Lin

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



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Rep. Duncan Hunter to plead guilty in campaign finance violations case


The California Republican didn’t say definitively that he was resigning, but the former Marine officer did mention that “It’s been a privilege to serve in Congress. I think we’ve done a lot of great things for the nation.”

The Hunters have been a dynasty in southern California politics for decades. Hunter or his father, Duncan Hunter, Sr., have held that San Diego seat since 1980. The elder Hunter, a hardline military hawk, even ran briefly for president in 2008 before withdrawing.

When asked what would happen to his congressional seat, Hunter added: “I’m confident the transition will be a good one.”

Margaret Hunter, the congressman’s wife, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to misuse campaign funds back in June, a move that put enormous pressure on him to find a deal with federal prosecutors.

A source close to the case said Hunter’s plea agreement will be “virtually identical” to Margaret Hunter’s deal.

Recommended federal sentencing ranges for this felony charge range from 8 to 14 months, although Hunter’s lawyers will argue for a drastically lower term of incarceration, citing his military and public service records.

A hearing notice was posted Monday morning on the federal court docket in San Diego announcing Hunter’s change of plea. An attorney for the California Republican could not be immediately reached for comment. Justice Department officials declined to formally comment on Hunter’s interview.

Hunter’s trial was initially scheduled to take place this fall, but the proceedings had been pushed back until Jan. 22. Hunter had also filed a case in a federal appeals court seeking to dismiss the charges. Both these legal actions will end with the plea deal.

The House Ethics Committee, which has also announced that it intended to investigate Hunter, would drop its case against him as well.

Federal prosecutors described the Hunters as so mired in debt that they had less than $1,000 in their bank account from 2009 to 2017, and owed money to stores like Macy’s and Home Depot. The Hunters had begun falling behind on their children’s school tuition and missed numerous mortgage payments.

“It explains why he himself used campaign funds to buy everything from cigarettes to gadgets to groceries to getaways — things he wanted but could not afford to buy with his own money,” prosecutors alleged in one filing.

Hunter — who has developed a reputation on Capitol Hill for drinking heavily and carousing — was also accused of routinely using campaign cash to finance numerous extra-marital affairs.

In one episode in 2010, Hunter allegedly took a lobbyist on a “double date” road trip to Virginia Beach with a fellow congressman and then charged his campaign for the hotel room and bar tab.

In another 2015 incident, Hunter allegedly took a House leadership aide out for cocktails and then took an Uber back to his office after they spent the night together. Both expenses were charged to his campaign account, prosecutors say.

Hunter, who narrowly won reelection last fall despite his indictment, has long claimed that he was the subject of a political witch hunt. Hunter alleged that the prosecutors were biased against him because they supported former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and he was an early endorser of President Donald Trump.

Prosecutors accused Hunter of improperly using campaign funds to pursue numerous romantic affairs with congressional aides and lobbyists.

Prosecutors urged the judge in Hunter’s case to “admonish” the lawmaker to stop attacking them as politically biased. Hunter, they said, had attempted to connect his case to Trump’s claims of an FBI “witch hunt” against him.

After Hunter was indicted, GOP leaders stripped him of his committee assignments but stopped short of calling on him to resign.

Former Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), who was indicted on insider trading chargers last summer and also initially denied the charges, ended up pleading guilty this fall and resigned from Congress. But Collins and Hunter both won reelection despite their indictments, which marked the first time since the 1980s that multiple members facing prison time were able to convince voters to return them to office.



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Navy secretary strongly considering resigning over Trump’s meddling in SEAL case


WASHINGTON — Military leaders hoping to keep the Secretary of the Navy from quitting lobbied President Donald Trump aboard Air Force One to stop intervening in the case of a Navy SEAL accused of murder, say five current and one former military and defense officials.

On Thursday Trump waded once again into the case of Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL accused of murdering a wounded ISIS militant in Iraq in 2017. Gallagher was acquitted by a military court but found guilty of posing with the dead prisoner’s body.

Trump, who had previously restored Gallagher’s rank, denounced a new Navy administrative probe into whether Gallagher should remain in the elite SEAL corps. “The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin. This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!” the president tweeted.

The SEAL Trident pin or Special Warfare Insignia is a symbol of membership in the SEALs.

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer responded Thursday by telling the White House that a tweet is not an official order and if the president is ordering the Navy to end the Trident Review Board of Gallagher, he needs to do so in writing, according to five current and two former military officials.

The officials say he also explained to the White House that the Navy needs direction on whether the president also wants to suspend the review board for three other SEALS also scheduled to undergo the assessment.

Four officials familiar with Spencer’s thinking say he is strongly considering resigning and will do so if Trump signs a written order to end the Navy probe. He conveyed those feelings to Pentagon leaders on Thursday.

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“He is deeply, deeply upset by this and believes it undercuts his authority,” one former Navy official said, adding that it also undercuts Rear Adm. Collin Green, commander of the Navy’s Special Warfare Command, who ordered the review and is trying to maintain good order and discipline in the SEAL community.

Several of the president’s senior advisers and military leaders weighed in after Thursday’s tweet, explaining the consequences of ordering a halt to the review board, say officials.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley, Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist, Army Chief of Staff General McConville, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, and Sgt. Major of the Army Michael Grinston spoke with the president about the process on Air Force One Thursday night, according to three U.S. officials familiar with the conversation.

The military leaders were with the president en route to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware for the return of two U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan earlier this week.

They explained that the Trident Review Board is a peer review process and it’s best to let the process play out, the three officials said. The president did not know details of the process, the officials said, including how fellow sailors, usually Navy master chiefs, are the ones who make the recommendation.

The president also asked about the cases of former 1st Lt. Clint Lorance and Maj. Matthew Golsteyn. Earlier this month Trump dismissed murder charges against Golsteyn and pardoned Lorance, who was serving 19 years in federal prison for murder.

Trump inquired about restoring Golsteyn’s status as an Army Ranger and special forces soldier. The leaders explained how Trump wading in could impact morale among troops, said the three officials. They stressed that the conversation was not contentious. The military leaders explained the process to Trump, who listened and asked pointed questions, including asking flatly asking the group what he should do.

According to the officials, the leaders told him it was his decision as commander in chief, but they wanted him to understand the consequences.

At the White House Friday, other Trump administration officials echoed Gen. Milley’s advice about Gallagher’s review board, said officials. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper both explained that the president ordering a halt could have wider consequences.

Unless there is a written order, the Navy plans to move forward with the review process, the officials said. They do not expect Trump to issue that written order at this point, but concede he could change his mind.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A senior Defense Department official said the president is commander in chief and has the ultimate authority to make these decisions if he chooses.

On Friday, Spencer told reporters at a defense conference in Canada that he believes Gallagher’s review process should go forward. Cmdr. Sarah Higgins, Spencer’s spokesperson, said, “Secretary Spencer’s comments are in line with current White House guidance.”

A spokesperson for Gen. Milley declined to address specifics about conversations the chairman of the joint chiefs has had with the president or his fellow military leaders. “The chairman speaks to service secretaries and chiefs regularly about a myriad of topics,” said Col. DeDe Halfhill. “Those conversations are privileged and confidential.”





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