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Syria attacks: Autopsies ‘confirm chemical weapons used’ by Dictator Assard on his own people.Look into the child’s eyes you cowards.

assard-of-syria image www.crimefiles.netA Syrian doctor treats a child following Tuesday's chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria image www.crimefiles.net

The autopsies, conducted on three victims by Turkish doctors, provide the most concrete evidence to date for why more than 80 civilians – including about 30 children – were killed. The chemical used was most likely the deadly nerve agent sarin, the Turkish Health Ministry said.

“According to the preliminary results, the findings suggest that the patients were exposed to a chemical substance [Sarin],” the statement said.

Sarin is 20 times as deadly as cyanide. Within seconds of exposure noses run, tears form, mouths drool and vomit. If exposed to a high concentration, victim will convulse, become paralysed and die within 10 minutes.

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said that the World Health Organisation supervised the autopsies and that the results were sent to The Hague for further analysis.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem rejected the findings from Turkey, denying the government had used chemical weapons in the past and maintained that it never would.

At least 86 people were killed in the attack on the Syrian north-western town of Khan Sheikhoun, according to a tally from the health department in rebel-held Idlib Province, the New York Times reports. But the toll may not include victims evacuated to Turkey for treatment who have since died.

WHO experts took part in autopsies on victims of the chemical attack in a hospital in Adana, Turkey image www.crimefile.net

Meanwhile, demonstrations have erupted in London, New York, Los Angeles and parts of the United States against US President Donald Trump’s order to fire 59 missiles at a Syrian airbase early on Friday morning following the chemical attack.

The Syrian army claimed nine civilians, including four children, were killed in Friday’s aerial assault which, according to the Pentagon, were aimed at planes, depots and air-defence systems at the Shayrat Airfield.

Destroyed aircraft shelters on the south-east side of the Shayrat air base in Syria, following US strikes image www.crimefiles.net

The field, between Damascus and Homs, was hit with Tomahawk missiles fired from the USS Porter and USS Ross, two destroyers in the Mediterranean.

A statement from the Syrian army command described the attack as an act of “blatant aggression”, saying it had made the United States “a partner” of Islamic State, the ex-Nusra Front and other “terrorist organisations”.

The office of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, meanwhile, has called the US missile strike against the air base in central Homs “reckless” and “irresponsible”, Associated Press reported.

Only hours after the attack, two war planes took off from the central Syrian airbase and carried out bombing raids nearby, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, targeting territory controlled by IS.

A Syrian military source told Agence France-Presse that Syria’s armed forces were warned about possible US military action hours before the strike and a number of airplanes were moved to other areas. US officials said Russia’s military in Syria were informed beforehand in order to avoid casualties, AFP said.

This is the first time the US has directly targeted Assad’s forces. The Obama administration threatened to attack after previous chemical attacks, but did not.

Burnt and damaged hangars after they were attacked by US Tomahawk missiles image www.crimefiles.net

From his his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, Trump said his decision had been prompted in part by what he called failures by the world community to respond effectively to the Syrian civil war.

“Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behaviour have all failed, and failed very dramatically. As a result, the refugee crisis continues to deepen, and the region continues to destabilise, threatening the United States and its allies.”

A Syrian doctor treats a child following Tuesday's chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria image www.crimefiles.net

But United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed to parties involved in the Syrian conflict for calm to avoid adding to the suffering.

“Mindful of the risk of escalation, I appeal for restraint to avoid any acts that could deepen the suffering of the Syrian people,” he said.

President Donald Trump speaks at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach after the US fired a barrage of cruise missiles into Syria image www.crimefiles.net

The situation in Syria now “amounts to an international armed conflict” following the US missile strikes, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

“Any military operation by a state on the territory of another without the consent of the other amounts to an international armed conflict,” ICRC spokeswoman Iolanda Jaquemet said in Geneva.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Ross fires a Tomahawk land attack missile towards Syria image www.crimefiles.net

“So according to available information – the US attack on Syrian military infrastructure – the situation amounts to an international armed conflict.”

Russian President Vladi­mir Putin called for an immediate meeting of the UN Security Council and his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, called the US missile strikes “violations of the norms of international law, and under a far-fetched pretext”.

US allies around the world expressed support, if sometimes cautiously, of Washington’s strikes on Syria.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the strikes sent “a vitally important message” that the world would not tolerate the use of chemical weapons. “The retribution has been proportionate and it has been swift,” he said. “We support the United States in that swift action.”

Britain, France and Japan all expressed support.

“The UK government fully supports the US action, which we believe was an appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian regime and is intended to deter further attacks,” a British government spokesman said.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged an investigation into who was responsible for the chemical attacks before the US strike, according to Canada’s Globe and Mail.

“There are continuing questions…that’s why I’m impressing on the United Nations Security Council to pass a strong resolution that allows the international community to determine first of all who was responsible for these attacks and how we will move forward,” he said.

Washington Post, Reuters, AP, with Tammy Mills

China’s other big business: Harvesting organs from prisoners while they’re still alive

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It has long been claimed that China performs organ removal from executed prisoners for transplants AFP/Getty Images

WARNING: Disturbing content

It’s a story straight out of a horror movie, but it’s been common practice in China for more than a decade.

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State-run hospitals have secretly harvested body parts from tens of thousands of prisoners, removing their vital organs while they are still alive.

Filmmaker Leon Lee has been following the researchers trying to bring down this inhumane and illegal industry. He says what they found was a form of evil we have not yet seen on this planet.

The Chinese government continues to illegally harvest organs from millions of its innocent prisoners despite saying it had ended the practice two years ago, a decade-long study has alleged.

Experts estimate between 60,000 and 100,000 organs are transplanted annually, and the majority of the hearts, livers and other organs are obtained by executing prisoners of conscience.

In all, approximately 1.5 million transplants have taken place at 712 liver and kidney transplant centres across China since 2000, with over 300,000 of those taking place at unregulated centres.

The report also found many surgeons had simply “lost count” of the quantity of transplants they had been asked to perform on a daily basis, with some having undertaken as many as six liver removals in one day.

The findings were published in an update to the 2009 book ‘Bloody Harvest’ and the 2014 book ‘The Slaughter’.

Falun Gong is a unique form of meditative practice established in 1992 and the Chinese government has fought to eradicate it for decades.

It has long been believed Falun Gong practitioners are being executed ‘on demand’ by the Chinese government, to compensate for the country’s shortage of organ donors.

Falun-Gong- people-executed-for-their-organs image www.crimfiles.net

Most of the victims are thought to be members of the banned Falun Gong movement.

In 2006, reports emerged that the country’s leaders were executing members of the Falun Gong movement — a quasi-religious group with millions of followers, which is banned in China.

“The vast majority are Falun Gong practitioners,” said Lee. “There are also political dissidents and activists. They are taken without informing the family members.

“In a few cases, the family have accidentally got to see pictures of the body, and could see the surgery line. When they questioned the police, they said it had been suicide and they had done an autopsy.”

Matas and Kilgour, both Nobel Peace Prize nominees, have been speaking across the world about what’s happening, despite having had death threats. They want to see the names of those involved go on a list to face the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The report was researched and authored by former Canadian secretary of state David Kilgour, human rights lawyer David Matas and journalist Ethan Gutmann to expose widespread medical wrong-doing in the Asian country

China has denied the allegations, and even made a documentary of its own in retaliation to Lee’s Human Harvest. It claims all organ donors are volunteers, and that the practice will stop in August regardless. Not everyone is convinced.

China’s president, Xi Jinping, has been running an anti-corruption campaign, arresting those loyal to ex-leader Jiang Zemin, who were responsible for the persecution of Falun Gong.

Recent remarks from Xi’s top officials suggest the state is shifting its stance, pointing the finger at former security chief Zhou Yongkang for the organ harvesting.

It looks as though the billion-dollar industry is set to die, but it is far too late for the many victims of this abominable crime.

Find out more on the story and watch Leon Lee’s Human Harvest documentary on the SBS website.

China’s cultural revolution 50 years later

The Chinese Communist Party has engaged the state in the mass killings of innocents

The Chinese government officially state that 10,000 organ transplants take place in the country each year, but the trio believe this figure is far lower than the real quantity.

In a statement, Matas said: “We can easily surpass the official Chinese figure just by looking at the two or three biggest hospitals.

“That increased discrepancy leads us to conclude that there has been a far larger slaughter of practitioners of Falun Gong for their organs than we had originally estimated.

“The ultimate conclusion is that the Chinese Communist Party has engaged the state in the mass killings of innocents.”

Falun Gong practitioners were forced to undergo medical tests before their results were put on a database of living organ sources so quick organ matches could be made, the authors claim.

In response to the report, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a press conference: “I want to say that such stories about forced organ harvesting in China are imaginary and baseless — they don’t have any factual foundation.”

In 2014, China announced that it would end the harvesting of organs from executed prisoners and move to a voluntary donation-based system.

Last year Amnesty International confirmed China remains the world’s largest executioner of prisoners in the charity’s annual report.

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Moscow: Two men have appeared in court in Moscow charged with the murder of Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov, after another suspect blew himself up with a grenade as police surrounded him in Chechnya.

Zaur Dadayev and Anzor Gubashev, both from Russia’s troubled North Caucasus region, appeared at the Russian capital’s Basmanny Court, where the judge said Mr Dadayev had confessed to the crime under questioning

Zaur Dadayev, charged with the murder of Boris Nemtsov, inside a defendants' cage in Moscow.

Zaur Dadayev, charged with the murder of Boris Nemtsov, inside a defendants’ cage in Moscow. Photo: Reuters

Three other men, Shagid Gubashev, Tamerlan Eskerkhanov and Khamzat Bakhayev, were formally arrested as suspected accomplices. All five were remanded in custody.

The five men were frogmarched into Moscow’s Basmanny court on Sunday, forced by masked security officers gripping their bound arms to walk doubled over, a Reuters reporter at the court said. They stood in metal cages in the courtroom as television crews were ushered in to film them.

During the hearing, the latter three men tried to hide their faces with their jackets, while Mr Dadayev looked defiantly at the cameras. No motive for the killing was suggested.

Tamerlan Eskerkhanov was arrested as a suspected accomplice in the killing.

Tamerlan Eskerkhanov was arrested as a suspected accomplice in the killing. Photo: Reuters

A judge ruled that all five should be held in custody and said that one of them, Mr Dadayev, had admitted his involvement in the killing when questioned by investigators.

“Dadayev’s involvement in committing this crime is confirmed by, apart from his own confession, the totality of evidence gathered as part of this criminal case,” Judge Natalia Mushnikova told the court.

In Chechnya, a sixth suspect, Bislan Shavanov, blew himself up with a grenade as police tried to detain him, Russian media reported. Officers were said to have surrounded him at an apartment in Grozny on Saturday evening, when he was killed by a hand grenade that exploded as he tossed it towards them.

Shagid Gubashev and Ramzan Bakhayev hide their faces at court on Sunday.

Shagid Gubashev and Ramzan Bakhayev hide their faces at court on Sunday. Photo: Reuters

Mr Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister and outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was shot dead as he walked on a bridge near the Kremlin with his girlfriend on February 27.

The two accused men were reportedly detained in the republic of Ingushetia, which borders Chechnya. Officials suggested that they were suspected hit men and that the masterminds behind the murder were still at large.

The main question many Russians want answered is who ordered the brazen assassination of Mr Nemtsov, the first killing of a such an important political figure in many years. Given the fact that the shooting took place within sight of the Kremlin, among the most heavily guarded sites in Moscow, opposition figures have accused the government of complicity in the crime, which it has denied.

Mourners lay flowers and candles at the spot where Boris Nemtsov was gunned down.

Mourners lay flowers and candles at the spot where Boris Nemtsov was gunned down. Photo: AP

Mr Nemtsov was one of the government’s most persistent critics and was due to publish a report that he said would reveal the involvement of the Russian military in the war in Ukraine. The Kremlin has called Russians fighting in Ukraine “volunteers”.

The court hearings were given extensive coverage on state-controlled media, and presented as proof the authorities are conducting a thorough investigation. But associates of Mr Nemtsov say they will not be satisfied unless prosecutors track down whoever orchestrated the killing, rather than just the people who pulled the trigger.

There was no word from investigators on who the suspects were alleged to have been working for. The judge presiding over the hearings said investigators were still looking for others they believe were involved in the killing.

In the North Caucasus, the acting head of the Security Council in Ingushetia, Albert Barakhoev, said Mr Dadayev had worked as a law enforcement officer, serving as deputy commander of a battalion of Interior Ministry troops assigned to fight Islamist insurgents. It was unclear whether he was still with the unit.

The other main suspect, Mr Kubashev, had worked for a private security company in Moscow as a guard in a hypermarket, according to Mr Barakhoev. Both are between 30 and 35 years old, he said.

Ajmani Dadayev, the mother of Mr Dadayev, told state television that the Kubashev brothers were her nephews. The suspects had worked in Moscow for years without any problems, she said.

Chechnya, a mainly Muslim region, has seen violent separatist insurgencies over the past two decades. It is now firmly under the control of its leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, a former rebel who changed sides and pledges loyalty to Putin.

Telegraph, London, New York Times, Reuters

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Transsexual prostitutes works the streets in thailand image www.crimefiles.net

Transsexual prostitutes works the streets. Source: ThinkStock

THAILAND’S new ruling junta doesn’t like the way the country is portrayed in the movies as a haven for drugs, thugs, lawlessness and ladies of the night.

It’s not that the movies are entirely wrong. But the junta chief says Thailand should be ashamed of its image, and has embarked on a clean-up campaign.

Since staging a coup on May 22, the military has led a crackdown on crime as part of what army commander Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha describes as a morality cleansing. Before democracy can be restored, he says, corruption and lawlessness have to stop.

Prayuth has repeatedly talked about returning the Buddhist country to a place of moral standing where people respect the law — including the politicians, police and other authorities who readily take payments to ignore crime.

Kicking out corrupt politicians was part of Prayuth’s justification for overthrowing an elected government and suspending a range of democratic freedoms.

“Foreign tourists should not have a perception that they can come to Thailand to commit illegal activities as often portrayed in the movies,” he said in one of his weekly televised speeches. “I am ashamed. Do you not feel the same when this is portrayed in foreign films?”

“We have to change this perception.”

Whether or not the crackdown has lasting effects, it has shined a light on Thailand’s underworld and highlighted just how far-reaching lawlessness here really is.

Airport taxi mafia

The junta this week vowed to banish mafia-style gangs that control the taxis at Bangkok’s main international airport. In news to many travellers who had no clue about the racket, the junta announced that extortion gangs manage the taxi queues at Suvarnabhumi International Airport and screen passengers for drivers who prefer travelling longer distances. Maj. Gen. Nirandon Samutsakhon, who heads a new task force to eliminate the gangs, told the Bangkok Post that “men in uniform” were allegedly implicated.

He vowed results within a month, including a new computerised registration system that will require drivers to sign in and accept all passengers regardless of their destination. Nirandon said the overhaul was a priority because airport taxis are the “front door to the tourism industry” and the junta wants to end frequent problems of passengers being denied rides, overcharged or left stranded.

A similar crackdown is underway in the resort island of Phuket, where hundreds of people including drivers and senior local officials have been arrested.

Tourists walk to taxi counters at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok image www.crimefiles.net

 

Tourists walk to taxi counters at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok. Source: AP

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‘Ladyboy’ gangs

So far, there’s no sign of targeting straightforward prostitution and the many go-go bars that bring in heaps of cash for Thailand’s tourist towns. But, police working with the navy in the seaside town of Pattaya have turned to the longstanding problem of criminal ladyboys, as transvestites are known in Thailand.

On Thursday alone, police rounded up 50 ladyboys that offer sexual services to foreigners and then rob them, said Pattaya police Lt. Col. Phairot Petchploy. “They pretend to be embracing or touching the foreign tourists and then steal their phones or wallets,” he said. To address the problem, he said, police are sending plainclothes officers out cruising with tourists to bait and catch the criminals.

Weapons seizures

Since the coup, the army has publicised the discovery of arms caches to justify its intervention. Last week, the junta chief said soldiers had seized 88 war weapons, more than 1,200 illegal guns, more than 7,000 bullets and 300 grenades and explosives.

Not all were connected to politics. Prayuth said some of the weapons belonged to illegal businesses.

The army’s main reason for staging the coup was to restore order after seven months of protests that triggered sporadic violence that left at least 28 people dead. More than 800 people were wounded in grenade attacks, gunfights and drive-by shootings

Thai police officers examine war weapons they seized from a raid image www.crimefiles.net

Bad monks hotline

The National Office of Buddhism set up a 24-hour hotline Friday to accept complaints about misbehaving monks. The idea for the hotline emerged after Prayuth instructed the office to curb bad behaviour among monks and protect the image of Buddhism in the predominantly Buddhist country of 67 million people.

The move follows a number of high-profile scandals in recent years, including a case last month of five defrocked abbots charged with sexually abusing boys. Last year, a disgraced monk was fired after a video on YouTube went viral showing him in aviator sunglasses on a private jet ride with a Louis Vuitton carry-on.

An investigation found the monk, who fled the country and was never arrested, had amassed millions of dollars in assets by deceiving people into giving him donations. He was also accused of fathering a child by an underage girl a decade earlier. The National Office of Buddhism says it plans to propose legislation that would codify the punishments for wayward monks.

Drug-dealing inmates

The National Council for Peace and Order, as the junta refers to itself, is ordering prisons to get tough on drug dealers. The military has compiled a list of inmates suspected of peddling drugs via phone from inside prisons, assistant army chief Gen. Paibul Khumchaya told the Bangkok Post.

The army has given prisons a one-month deadline to stop traffickers from operating on the inside. It has also asked banks to monitor suspicious accounts held by inmates suspected of laundering money acquired from drugs and illegal gambling.

Originally published as Thailand’s underworld: Drugs, thugs and ladyboys

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THE SHAME OF HUMANITY THAT IS THE NORTH KOREAN LEADERSHIP

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KOREAN KILLER KIM SLAUGHTERS THE INNOCENTS WITH NO REMORSE

Eighty people have been executed by firing squad in North Korea for watching foreign films, according to a newspaper report.

South Korea’s JoongAng Ilbo newspaper reported that the co-ordinated public executions took place in seven separate cities earlier this month. In one case, the local authorities rounded up 10,000 people, including children, and forced them to watch, it reported.

Those put to death were found guilty by the state of minor misdemeanours, including watching videos of South Korean television programs or possessing a Bible.

Sources told the paper that witnesses saw eight people tied to stakes in the Shinpoong Stadium, in Kangwon Province, before having sacks placed over their heads and being executed by soldiers firing machine guns. ”I heard from the residents that they watched in terror as the corpses were so riddled by machine-gun fire that they were hard to identify afterwards,” a source said.

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Relatives and friends of the victims were reportedly sent to prison camps, a tactic that North Korea frequently uses to dissuade anyone from breaking the law.

”Reports on public executions across the country would be certain to have a chilling effect on the rest of the people,” Daniel Pinkston, a North Korea analyst with the International Crisis Group in Seoul, said.

”All these people want to do is to survive and for their families to survive. The incentives for not breaking the law are very clear now.”

The mass executions could signal a broader crackdown on any hints of discontent among the population – and even rival groups in Pyongyang – against the rule of Kim Jong-un, who came to power after the death of his father in December 2011.

In a new report, the Rand Corporation think-tank claims that Mr Kim survived an assassination attempt and that his personal security has since been stepped up dramatically. The report concurs with South Korean intelligence sources that stated in March that a faction within the North Korean army had been involved in an attempt on Mr Kim’s life in November last year.

Telegraph, London

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OBAMA ASSASINATION PLOT BY USA SOLDIER GROUP

A splinter group of American soldiers structured an anarchist militia and spent $US87,000 ($83,922) on weapons in an elaborate plot to overthrow the government and ultimately assassinate the president, a court heard.

The soldiers allegedly made themselves into a group called FEAR, standing for Forever Enduring Always Ready, and purchased property in Washington state from which to launch their attacks.
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The court had heard that they were to have planned to blow up a dam and poison apple crops in Washington state, bomb a park in Savannah, Georgia, attack vehicles belonging to Department of Homeland Security employees, and take over an ammunition control point at the sprawling Fort Stewart army base in the state of Georgia.

Prosecutors said its long-term goal was revolution; bringing down the US government and killing President Barack Obama. It is unclear as to what period of time this alleged plot would have taken place.

Details of the militia emerged during civilian court proceedings in Georgia in which three soldiers have been charged with murder.
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Pte Isaac Aguigui, who was identified as the founder and leader of FEAR, Sgt Anthony Peden, and Pte Christopher Salmon, are charged over the deaths of a former soldier, Michael Roark, 19, and his girlfriend Tiffany York, 17.

The victims were allegedly killed in woodland in Georgia last December, to keep the militia’s existence secret.

A fourth defendant in the case, Pte Michael Burnett, 26, admitted two counts of manslaughter on Monday. He is co-operating with prosecutors in a deal which will see him avoid a possible death sentence.

Burnett told the court Pte Aguigui introduced him to “the manuscript”, which was “a book about true patriots”, and that the militia aimed “to give the government back to the people”.

Prosecutors said militia members wore anarchist tattoos and it was unknown how many members there were. The court heard that Pte Aguigui funded the group using $US500,000 in insurance money and benefit payments he received after the death of his pregnant wife a year ago. He was said to have recruited members through the US army.

Prosecutor Isabel Pauley said the militia “possessed the knowledge, means and motive to carry out their plans”.
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CORRUPTION IS RIFE IN INDONESIAN POLITICAL SYSTEM

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The Indonesian government faces a new political crisis as the corruption trial of Muhammad Nazaruddin, the former treasurer of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democrat Party (PD), continues.

The anti-corruption court has heard evidence that senior party officials and the party as a whole are immersed in the endemic corruption of parliament and government that both Yudhoyono and the PD have built a reputation on fighting.

Nazaruddin first implicated senior PD officials after he fled the country last May while under investigation by Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) over construction contracts for the athletes’ village for the 2011 South East Asian Games. Nazaruddin was suspected of slicing $US3 million off the contracts, as well as receiving funds from other infrastructure projects and channelling some into party coffers.
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Before he was arrested in August in Colombia and returned to Indonesia, Nazaruddin implicated PD chairman Anas Urbaningrum and Youth and Sports Minister Andi Mallarangeng in bribe taking. During his trial last month, he also named PD parliamentarian and deputy secretary-general Angelina Sondakh.

All three are now under KPK investigation. On February 6, KPK chief Abraham Samad named Sondakh as an official suspect, making her the subject of a specific criminal investigation. It is only a matter of time before the list of official suspects grows.

The Nazaruddin trial has been so politically damaging that the PD advisory committee was forced to meet twice within one week late last month to find ways to halt the slide in the party’s reputation and political standing. All the country’s parties are now positioning themselves for presidential and parliamentary elections in 2014.

On January 25, matters only worsened for PD. Yulianis, a senior employee of Nazaruddin’s Permai Group, gave extensive evidence of bribes paid on Nazaruddin’s behalf to parliamentarians and PD leaders to ensure the company received government contracts. She detailed how some 30 billion rupiah and $US5 million in cash was shifted to fund the 2010 PD party congress. Among a long list of names, she directly implicated Sondakh.
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On February 5, President Yudhoyono gave a press conference in which he effectively disowned Sondakh but continued to defend party chairman Anas. Yudhoyono said Anas had not been named as a suspect by the KPK and that until the KPK declared otherwise he believed Anas’s denial of bribery charges.

Yudhoyono called on the KPK to quickly resolve the bribery charges “so the Democrat Party does not become a target of attacks like it has in the past eight months.” He added, somewhat pointedly, that he did not believe that the KPK was deliberately prolonging investigations to damage the party for the 2014 elections. Obviously, this was not a view held by some PD members.

Support for PD is slipping. On February 5 an Indonesia Survey Circle poll put the party in third place behind Golkar, the party of the former Suharto dictatorship, and the Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) of former President Megawati Sukarnoputri.
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Yudhoyono, a former Suharto-era general, won the 2004 and 2009 presidential elections by posturing as a fighter against corruption. PD became the largest party in the parliamentary lower house on the same basis—Yudhoyono appealed to the popular anger over the corruption of the Suharto years.

Prior to the dictatorship’s overthrow in 1998, the Suharto family looted an estimated $45 billion, while the majority of the population lived on less than $2 a day. Yudhoyono helped to establish the KPK, but public scepticism has only grown as its investigations have targeted only middle-level officials and businessmen.

The main purpose of Yudhoyono’s anti-corruption drive was to demonstrate to international investors that the government was putting an end to the cronyism of the Suharto era. Investment was needed to build the infrastructure to transform the country into a more efficient cheap labour platform.

The corruption scandals embroiling PD have had a major impact on the party’s prospects. Moreover, having served two terms, Yudhoyono is ineligible to stand for the presidency in 2014. Anas and Sports Minister Mallarangeng were both considered possible presidential candidates.

On February 8, a comment in the Jakarta Post lamented the fact that “those graft suspects represent young politicians in whom the people have placed their trust for a better Indonesia.” It went on to suggest that people would no longer see any difference between the parties and might switch their votes to the old established parties, including Golkar.
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The corruption allegations reflect sharp tensions within Indonesian ruling circles. While the economy grew by around 6 percent in 2011, the business elite is confronting great uncertainties produced by the euro zone crisis and US stagnation. Yudhoyono is seeking to boost foreign investment, including for infrastructure, but compared to Singapore and South Korea, the country remains less open to foreign investors. 

The prospect of an economic slowing is further complicated by Indonesia’s economic dependence on China. Two-way trade has grown, as has Chinese investment in infrastructure and industrial projects. At the same time, Yudhoyono has been under pressure from the Obama administration to line up militarily with the US as Washington presses Beijing diplomatically, economically and strategically throughout Asia.

The main political beneficiary of the corruption scandals involving PD appears to be Golkar, despite its history of corruption and police-state methods of rule. Golkar retains close links to the US, especially the American military, as a result of Washington’s support for the Suharto dictatorship for more than three decades.
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MUSLIM SCHOOL DIRECTOR CONVICTED OF FRAUD FOR SCAMMING GOVERNMENT

The former director of a Muslim school in Perth has been sentenced to at least two years and nine months in jail for fraudulently inflating student numbers to gain government funding.

Anwar Sayed was found guilty by a jury in October on two counts of fraud.

The 51-year-old falsified student numbers at the Muslim Ladies College of Australia in Kenwick to obtain a portion of government grants worth $1.125 million.

The school received about $164,000 from the state government and about $961,000 from the federal government in funding based on student numbers.

Sayed, from Canningvale, was the director of Muslim Link Australia, which ran the school.

The court was told he signed declarations in 2006-07 that more than 180 students were enrolled – 80-100 more than the actual number.

Sayed’s trial came to prominence earlier this year when one of the witnesses asked if she could keep her face covered by wearing a niqab, or full burqa, while giving evidence.

District Court judge Shauna Deane ruled the woman had to remove her niqab, but she ordered men to leave the court while the woman gave her evidence.

Judge Deane told the court today Sayed had ”signed off on applications knowing full well the student numbers were inflated”.

She accepted he did not do it for purely personal gain but because the school was struggling financially, and he wanted it to survive ”for the benefit of the Muslim community”.

She said the sentences had to act as a general deterrent for such crimes in which a significant amount of taxpayers’ money was fraudulently received.

Sayed had abused a position of trust with the state and federal governments in which he was relied upon to provide ”honest and reliable” information on student numbers, Judge Dean said.

She sentenced Sayed to three years’ jail on one count of gaining a benefit through fraud from the federal government.

After two years of that sentence, he will be eligible for a $5000 good behaviour bond.

But he must first serve at least nine months of an 18-month jail term imposed for a second count of defrauding the state government.

That means he will serve a minimum of two years and nine months in prison.

Outside court a brother of Sayed said his conviction and sentence would be appealed, alleging jury members had been interfered with.

AAP

POLICE FAILURE TO CHECK ON QLD HEALTH WORKER

As police prepare to charge the alleged Queensland Health fraudster, the state’s top cop has revealed officers failed to follow up a lead last year.

Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson said allegations made about then Queensland Health employee Hohepa Morehu-Barlow, also known as Joel Barlow, were last year sent to the Crime and Misconduct Commission, which referred them back to Queensland Health.

Mr Atkinson said police were aware of the allegations and could have made enquiries of New Zealand authorities, but did not.

Police outside Hohepa Morehu-Barlow's apartment building, at rear.
Police outside Hohepa Morehu-Barlow’s apartment building, at rear. Photo: Bridie Jabour

“What we’re doing now is trying to ascertain why those enquiries were not made,” he said.

Mr Barlow has been accused of embezzling $16 million from Queensland Health.

Mr Atkinson said his understanding was that last year’s complaint was made by someone outside of Queensland Health.

“The information related to the alleged background of Mr Barlow in New Zealand and the alleged activities of Mr Barlow in the health department,” he said.

“It would have been a fairly straightforward process for us to have checked his background in New Zealand.”

Mr Atkinson also confirmed today Mr Barlow was apprehended by a security guard at New Farm this morning before police were contacted, saying officers were patrolling the area but did not have it under constant surveillance.

“Initially he was found by a security guard,” he said.

“We had been doing patrols of the area.”

Mr Atkinson declined to say what Mr Barlow’s “medical issues” were but said he understood he was now conscious.

He said it was not yet clear where Mr Barlow had been staying in the last few days as he was being searched for.

“We don’t know for sure, we think … he was being looked after by friends and we think he was in Brisbane in that regard,” Mr Atkinson said.

Police were expected to charge Mr Barlow with fraud as early as this afternoon.

However, police said they were waiting for him to be released from the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, where he is under police guard, before charging him.

In a statement issued this evening, police said the man wanted for questioning would remain in police custody at the hospital overnight and no charges had been laid at this stage.

They did not provide any information about his condition.

The manager of the finance division at Queensland Health’s Community Services Branch allegedly siphoned the millions from Queensland Health into private accounts over the past three years.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh this morning welcomed news of the arrest, praising police for “getting their man”.

However, she said it was not the end of the matter and the government was working to close any loopholes that allowed $5 million to be taken from public purse over the past three years and $11 million in the past fortnight.

“This is just the beginning,” she said.

“It is unacceptable that this could happen and we are working to close any loopholes that exist.

Officers were yesterday investigating leads that members of the public had provided to Crime Stoppers.

Mr Barlow had just a small window of opportunity to give police the slip on Thursday afternoon, when the alleged theft first came to light.

Police raided his luxury $5.65 million riverside apartment in New Farm on Thursday evening, but there was no sign of the man who led a lavish lifestyle in Brisbane’s high-society and claimed to be a Tahitian prince.

It’s understood investigators may have missed the public servant by a matter of minutes.

Yesterday Ms Bligh said she was confident the state could recover the stolen money.

She confirmed $12 million of Mr Barlow’s assets had been seized by police and would be held during legal proceedings against him.

She admitted the checks and balances that should have prevented the alleged fraud had clearly failed, but she stopped short of saying whether heads would roll.

“I’m having all of that investigated by external forensic auditors and if there are people who have failed in their duty, then action will be taken against them,” she said.

Senior government and Queensland Health officers, including the auditor-general, met with the Crime and Misconduct Commission on Saturday.

They were trying to piece together how the alleged fraud occurred and what lessons could be learned to prevent it happening again.

Ms Bligh dismissed allegations that Queensland Health had ignored an auditor-general’s report earlier this year that found public sector agencies were failing to maintain basic financial controls.

Queensland Health had implemented every single recommendation made in the report, she said.

“There has been no specific recommendation or commentary in relation to the financial processes within this part of Queensland Health,” she said.

Ms Bligh also dismissed the suggestion that the alleged fraud highlighted problems within Queensland Health, which was still reeling from the payroll bungle of 18 months ago.

Meanwhile, Mr Barlow’s New Zealand family said it was not aware of the allegations but intended to stand by him.

“He’s a naughty boy if he’s done that, but he’s still my whanau [family],” Mr Barlow’s aunt Josie Boldy told New Zealand’s Sunday News.

Woman awarded $3.8m after

brother sold her home and fled


THE  government has been ordered to pay $3.8 million to a woman who was in cloisters in an Italian nunnery when her brother stole the title to her home and sold it from under her.

Teresa Nadia Pedulla lived with an order of nuns in Sicily and then Calabria for five years, before leaving to care for her dying father in June 2009.

While she was in Italy, her brother Fernando Rene Panetta used fraudulent means to obtain the certificate of title to her North Curl Curl home.

He took out several mortgages against the Soniver Road property, including one for $1.99 million, then sold it for $3.8 million in March this year.

Mr Panetta and his wife, Anna Lam, each received $684,890.92 from the sale and left Australia on separate flights on May 25. They have not been seen since.

The NSW Supreme Court ordered the NSW government to compensate Mrs Pedulla from the Torrens Assurance Fund.

Justice Michael Penbroke found Mrs Pedulla could claim under the Real Property Act in circumstances where the loss arises from ”having been deprived of the land, or of any estate or interest in the land, as a consequence of a fraudulent act.

The Registrar General was also ordered to pay Mrs Pedulla’s costs.

The court heard a solicitor, Lewis Fineman Yee, was ”central and causative” to the ”brazen and fraudulent conduct” of Mr Panetta.

In July and August 2006, Mr Yee obtained the certificate of title by falsely saying Mrs Pedulla was his client.

He swore a false statutory declaration, produced a forged power of attorney and witnessed Mr Panetta’s signature when the transfer of registration was lodged in March 2007 for only $1 consideration.

Mrs Pedulla didn’t discover she had lost her ownership of the house until April this year when her brother was in Italy after the death of their father.

Justice Penbroke said Mr Yee acted out of obligation to Ms Lam, with whom he had a long-term business, domestic and intimate relationship before she married Mr Panetta. However, he found Mr Yee was not an ”innocent dupe” but played a major key role in the fraud.


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