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Archive for the ‘INVESTIGATIONS’ Category

Indonesia has decided to investigate one of the darkest chapters of its own history. In 1965 at least 500,000 people died in organised killings of suspected communist sympathisers. But, as BBC Indonesian’s Rebecca Henschke reports, the new investigation into that bloody time is re-opening old wounds.

A mass grave in the middle of a forest

There is a spot in the middle of a teak forest, the ground covered with leaves, on the outskirts of Pati in Central Java. Radim, a thin farmer in his 70s, describes what happened here one night in 1965.

Local intelligence officials appeared as the BBC visited the site of an alleged mass grave image www.crimefiles.net Local intelligence officials were clearly nervous of media at the site of the purported mass grave image www.crimefiles.net

“They came on carts pulled by cows…their hands were tied together with rope. They were forced to kneel, then shot in the back by soldiers and kicked into mass graves.”

The violence was unleashed after communists were accused of killing six generals in an attempted coup. It was the peak of the Cold War and a power battle between communists, the military and Islamic groups was in full swing.

The army and local militia went on an anti-Communist rampage, killing, it is estimated, at least half-a-million and up to three million people within a year.

Radim says he was too frightened to speak out until now image crimefiles.net

For almost 50 years speaking about that time has been taboo and official history books gloss over the killings.

Where previous governments refused to apologise or even accept that it happened, President Joko Widodo’s investigation has seen senior ministers meet with survivors. There is even talk of digging up mass graves such as this.

“I am not afraid anymore, I am proud to tell you the truth. I never thought there would be a time like this. Before I only knew fear,” Radim says.

But this clearly doesn’t come without risks.

How the investigation makes many nervous

As Radim reveals the location of the grave, 15 men in plain clothes – local intelligence officials – surround us and the atmosphere is tense. The investigation has angered and unsettled many in the military elite and Muslim organisations accused of taking part in the killings.

Local intelligence officials appeared as the BBC visited the site of an alleged mass grave image www.crimefiles.net

In central Java where most of the killings took place anti-communist banners have been erected. Vigilante groups have shut down discussions about Marxism at universities. Soldiers even briefly detained some students for wearing red T-shirts with a picture of a hammer and sickle inside a coffee cup.

It’s also creating divisions in the government.

Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu has met with Islamic vigilante groups and resists these moves to dig up the past.

“I am responsible for security in this country. I need to make sure there are no more conflicts. …if we keep looking back we are not going to go forward,” he told the BBC.

He is worried that those responsible for the massacre could be indicted for crimes against humanity.

Those with a stake in keeping the status quo fear the consequences of reviving the divisions of that time. But even if it does re-open old divisions, many welcome the chance to embrace the truth.

Those happy to admit they killed

It is easy to find someone who will proudly tell you how many they killed in 1965 and how they did it.

Burhanaddin is among those who killed at the time indonesia image www.crimefiles.net

Burhanaddin ZR says he killed more people than he could count and shows no remorse.

“There is no need for reconciliation.”

“The only path is they need to let go of their angry feelings,” he says of those that lost relatives. “They just want revenge because their family members were victims in our raids.”

In the Oscar-nominated documentary The Act of Killing a group of men acted out the murders in horrific detail. In many areas killers live close to the families of the dead. Land and property that was illegally confiscated has never been returned.

Until recently they have always thought of themselves as heroes because they were supported by the government and mainstream media. Many of the executions were directly committed by the security forces. The largest Muslim organisations are also accused of taking part.

President Widodo’s move has made them all nervous.

The stigmatised still feel pain

Thousands were tortured and imprisoned for years without trial. When they were released their identity cards marked them as former political prisoners. It was not until 2004 that the label was officially removed from the ID’s.

For decades they and their families were banned from holding government jobs, entering the military or the police. Their children were stopped from going to school and university. Families were torn apart as children stayed away from their parents in an attempt to live without stigma.

Only in 2005 did this change.

The events of 1965 have remained taboo in Indonesia for almost 50 years image www.crimefiles.net

The survivors to afraid to speak out

In the 1960s the Indonesian Communist Party was the second largest in the world. Its members were mostly intellectuals, farmers, artists and social activists. To escape the purge some went into exile in the Netherlands and Russia.

For decades they weren’t allowed to come home, even to bury their loved ones. Even now when high-profile exiles return they are monitored by intelligence agents.

The youth who don’t know their own history

Under General Suharto, who effectively took power shortly after the attempted coup and remained until 1998, school children were forced to watch a graphically violent three-hour-long government film about the brutal alleged coup by the communists.

Accused of being communists or communist sympathisers, hundreds of thousands, possibly millions were murdered image www.crimefiles.net

Children were indoctrinated to believe that communists were evil. The favourite uncle of Eric Sasona, a film critic and political scientist, was one of the killers. He used to boast about murdering suspected communists with a hatchet. It wasn’t until recently that he heard a different story.

“When I watched the documentary The Act of Killing – where the killers performed what they did so proudly – I thought of my uncle. I felt sick in the stomach and I had to turn it off after a few minutes,” Mr Sasona said.

He believes his uncle was simply a product of the time, but he does think Indonesia needs to talk about what happened.

“We have to end the culture of impunity that still exists; we have to end this because people can get away with their crimes. Coming to terms with our past is the key to solving today’s problems like corruption.”

Given the deep divisions, hopes of justice or national reconciliation are slim. But the government has made the decision to open up a Pandora’s Box, something many thought would never happen in their lifetime. But where it will lead is not clear.

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ONE of Britain’s most prestigious companies and banking groups is in crisis after police raided the home of one of its former executives secretly filmed buying crystal meth, crack cocaine and hiring rent boys on company funds.

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Rev Flowers was allegedly caught on camera buying drugs

And the scandal now threatens to engulf the Labour Opposition with questions over how much the party knew about the man they appointed to their finance and industry board.

The Co-operative Group, founded in 1844, runs sprawling interests in the UK from supermarkets and pharmacies to funeral homes, car dealerships and financial services and has more than 100,000 employees.

But it’s the Co-op’s banking arm that has thrown its operations into crisis with accusations levelled at its former chairman Reverend Paul Flowers.

The Methodist Minister was secretly filmed allegedly buying crack cocaine, crystal meth and ketamine from a trafficker before texting “turning into a two-day, drug fueled gay orgy” and “have 2 bags of Charlie here and have ordered another 5….enough? Px.”

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The buying and texting was about the time the 63-year-old was giving evidence to Parliament’s Treasury Select Committee about the Co-op Bank’s finances after the Bank of England identified a AUD$2.6 billion black hole in its accounts.

The Bank – described as one of the most ethical in Britain – lost $1.2 billion in the first six months and Rev Flowers struggled to answer why.

Indeed he struggled to get much right before the committee and said he thought the bank’s assets totalled $4.8 billion when in fact they were closer to $76 billion.

On Wednesday, the home of Rev Flowers, who is believed to have left for Europe to avoid the controversy was being searched by police.

 

Rev Flowers' house has been raided by police

Rev Flowers’ house has been raided by police Source: No Source

A spokesman for the West Yorkshire Police confirmed the home was being searched following the drug buying revelations first made by a Sunday newspaper last weekend. At the time he was forced to quit the bank this week, Rev Flowers was on $230,000 a year salary.

Shortly after revelations of a police inquiry Prime Minister David Cameron said Treasurer George Osborne was in discussion with financial regulators as to the form of a formal inquiry into the scandal.

At Question Time in Parliament, Mr Cameron said there were clearly questions that needed to be asked.

BRITAIN-ECONOMY-BUSINESS-CONFERENCE-CBI

“Why was Rev Flowers judged suitable to be chairman of a bank, why weren’t alarm bells ringing earlier, particularly by those who knew him?” he said.

The news was also bad for Britain’s Labour Party with leader Ed Miliband facing growing questions to discuss the former bank boss’s links to the party.

Tory Chairman Grant Shapps has demanded to know if the Labour leader and Shadow Treasurer Ed Balls knew of past scandals involving the “Meth Minister”, explain why he employed him onto the party’s business advisory group and admit how many donations were made and private informal dinner parties the pair had.

“What we can now see is that this bank, driven into the wall by this chairman, has been giving soft loans to the Labour Party, facilities to the Labour Party, donations to the Labour Party, trooped in and out of Downing Street under Labour, still advising the leader of the Labour Party,” Mr Cameron told Parliament.

Branches Of Co-operative Bank To Be Cut By 15 Percent

“And yet, now we know, all along they knew about his past. Why did they do nothing to bring to the attention of the authorities this man who has broken a bank?”

The Co-operative Group chairman Len Wardle was yesterday forced to quit amid the deepening scandal, acknowledging that he led the board that appointed Rev Flowers three years ago.

It is known Mr Balls received a $75,000 donation from the Bank in 2011/12. It was also revealed on Wednesday that Rev Flowers was forced to resign as a town councillor two years ago after being caught using a work computer to watch gay porn. He also allegedly stayed in top hotels to have sex with rent boys, with one now 21-year-old male prostitute confirming he was paid more than $1000 a night for drug fuelled “debauchery”. At the time he resigned from the council, he cited workload at the Co-op Bank.

Rev Flowers was also convicted for gross indecency with a trucker in a public toilet in the 1980s. The church forgave him and he continued preaching.

The reverend has this week been suspended by his church.

The Co-op Bank markets itself as an ethical bank, avoiding investing in any company that has been shown to use sweat shops, fossil fuel extraction, genetic engineering and animal testing and its customers choose to become Co-op members thereby indirectly having some ownership of the bank and earning a dividend. It has 4.6 million customers.

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MAX Sica has been sentenced to life behind bars & a non-parole period of 35 years – the longest term ever ordered in Queensland – for the brutal murder of the Singh siblings in Brisbane.

Sica was today sentenced to the record term after he was earlier this week convicted of the horrific triple murders.

Justice Byrne ordered that Sica serve the extraordinary term after the defence counsel submitted a sentence of 20 to 30 years and the prosecution sought a 45-year non-parole period. That would have meant Sica would have been would have been 83 when eligible for parole.

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The Crown was using the sentence imposed on South Australian triple murderer Jason Downie as an example.Downie was given a non-parole period of 35 years, which would have been 42 years if he had not pleaded guilty.Downie was 18 when he killed 16-year-old Chantelle Rowe and her parents in a brutal knife attack after breaking into their home in the South Australian town of Kapunda in November 2010.Before he passed sentence today, Justice Byrne said he was being asked by the prosecution to hand down a sentence 50 per cent greater than the longest sentence ever given by a Queensland judge.Sica’s barrister Sam Di Carlo asked for a sentence between 20 and 30 years for his client.Di Carlo says the Singh murders were not in the “worst category” because both Kunal and Sidhi were killed in their beds while asleep and did not experience the horror of other notoriously brutal murders committed in Queensland

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“I still cook for them, change, wash and iron their clothes,” she wrote.

“I light a candle every night in the spa so they don’t have to sleep in the dark.

“I was forced to sit down and wait for my children to be cremated.

“People tried to comfort me but I pushed them all away.

“I didn’t even want anyone touching me.”

Outside court, Sica’s father Carlos said his son was innocent.

“If I believed that my son had been capable of that (triple murder), I would say to the judge, ‘give 100 years’,” he told reporters.


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But Justice Byrne interrupted, saying it was not known how much terror the children experienced.

“The lives of an 18-year-old and a 12-year-old meant nothing to him,” he said.

“Why is it not in the worst category?”

“It’s certainly a horrific murder,” Di Carlo conceded.

Heart-wrenching victim impact statements from three members of the Singh family were read out in court today.

Jurors have been reduced to tears as Shirley Singh’s statement was read aloud by a member of the prosecution team.

Mrs Singh has told how she tried to take her own life on several occasions and ended up searching cemeteries for their graves in the middle of the night, drunk and affected by Stilnox


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He then read from a prepared statement, saying an appeal would commence immediately.”I have spoken to Max, and while I’m stunned by the decision, we maintain he’s absolutely innocent,” he said.

“We will continue to defend those charges at appeal (and) we will also fight the remaining charge,” he added, referring to an unrelated charge of rape against Sica.

Mr Sica broke down as he continued to read from the statement, saying his son’s priority was to his family and in particular his mother.

It was the same statement released by Sica’s wife earlier that day.

Sica’s mother Anna, who erupted in an emotional outburst outside court after Tuesday’s verdict, remained in a cafe in the court complex.

Massimo “Max” Sica, 42, was found guilty on Tuesday of killing his former girlfriend Neelma Singh, 24, and her siblings Kunal,18, and Sidhi, 12, in April 2003.


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The trio were found dead in an overflowing hot spa at their parent’s Bridgeman Downs home in Brisbane’s northern suburbs.

After a 77-day criminal trial – the longest in Queensland legal history – a Supreme Court jury deliberated almost four days before finding the Crown’s strong circumstantial case was sufficient to find married father-of-two daughters had ended the three siblings’ lives.

Criminal lawyer Peter Saggers, shortly after the verdict, said his client, Sica, was “obviously disappointed” about the jury’s decision and would most likely appeal the verdicts.

“We’ve got a month (in which to lodge any) appeal,” he said.

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Under a Queensland law, a person convicted of multiple murders receives a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment and must serve a minimum of 20 years before being eligible for parole.

Sica went to the Singh family’s home late on the night of April 20, 2003, to talk with Neelma and possibly have a prayer meeting about his alleged brain tumour.

No calls were made or answered from the Singh house – mobile or landline – after 11.10pm on April 20 and each of the trio were dressed for bed which indicated they were killed before getting dressed on the Monday morning.

For some reason – perhaps out of jealously or rejection – in a rage Sica strangled Neelma, the Crown said.

It is believed Sica – fearing Kunal and Sidhi could identify him as Neelma’s killer – got a garden fork and attacked them.

Sidhi was beaten to death probably in her bed. Kunal was knocked unconscious, also probably in his bed.

The dead bodies of Neelma and Sidhi were dumped into a running spa and Kunal was also placed in the spa where he drowned.

Sica then used bleach and other materials to clean the murder scene and wash away DNA, but left his sock print in the freshly cleaned area.

Sica lied about being home on the night of the murders and also lied about the time he arrived at the Singh home when he discovered the bodies.

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No one else was expected at the Singh house that night and items missing from Singh house were of sentimental value about Neelma including a pendant Sica had given her.

When Sica had called police saying there were three bodies in the spa. First officers on the scene could see only two bodies.

The parents of the Singh siblings, Vijay and Shirley, are present in court for the hearing, so too are Sica’s mother and father, Anamaria and Carlo.

The hearing before Justice John Byrne continues.

After sentencing today, Sica will be transferred to the Brisbane Correctional Centre for another mental health assessment, as per Queensland Corrective Services procedure.

Previously he was on remand at Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre, but after sentencing, stricter conditions will apply such as fewer personal visits and phone calls.
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POLICE ARREST OVER 550 PERSONS IN CONNECTION WITH BIKIE CRIMES

In the words of a senior officer, the best weapon NSW police have in the fight against crime is “in-your-face policing”.

This, said south-west metropolitan region commander Frank Mennilli, led to almost 1000 charges being laid over the weekend as police state-wide went out to “crack down on crime”.

Under the guise of Operation Spartan, established in January following a spike in gun crime and increased gang-related activity, police hit the streets in big numbers – about 3000 officers from across the NSW Police Force tasked with flexing some law-enforcement muscle.

Crackdown ... a policeman guards two suspects.A policeman guards two suspects.

But the action, it seems, was primarily designed to round up those already known to be likely mischief-makers, targeting “people with outstanding arrest warrants” and carrying out “bail compliance checks”.

Mr Mennilli explained Operation Spartan officers carried out 1871 inspections of businesses such as clubs, hotels and tattoo parlours, as well as 993 visits to individuals with links to gangs.

“In addition, we conducted 1783 person searches and 419 vehicle searches … we seized 14 firearms, 17 knives, quantities of illegal and prescription drugs and recorded 1401 intelligence reports,” he said.

"In-your-face policing" ... Operation Spartan.“In-your-face policing” … Operation Spartan.

Mr Mennilli said the operation was a huge success, saying that it was not just about arrests but about intelligence gathering too.

“Every new piece of information we collect helps us to better understand these criminals, their gangs and their methodology, which is the key to dismantling and disrupting criminal activity,” he said.

“We will not rest until we have all illegal firearms and weapons off our streets and all the people involved in these crimes are found, locked up and put before a court.”

As a result, 555 offenders were arrested with 908 charges laid.

In addition, more than 23,000 random breath tests were conducted with 107 people charged with drink-driving.

NSW Police periodically conduct such blitzes, the latest coinciding with an increased focus on gun-related crime following months of tit-for-tat shootings.

Last week, raids on properties connected to known members of outlaw motorcycle gangs prompted claims of a PR exercise, which were rejected by Assistant Commissioner Mal Lanyon.

Police are increasingly focusing on corrupt business identities and public sector workers as they seek to turn up the pressure on organised crime networks.

The Serious Organised Crime Strategy 2011-2014, which is due to be publicly released soon, highlights identity theft, money laundering, technological crime, public sector corruption and weak legislation as the key facilitators of organised crime.

Assistant Commissioner Nick Anticich said police believed the weakest links in hardened organised crime circles were people who have legitimate jobs and businesses but were driven by greed to help criminals.

He said it was those people who police hoped to persuade to co-operate and collaborate in order to bring down organised crime operations in the state.

Police efforts will be helped by new co-operations between different police departments and outside agencies, which are outlined in the strategy.

Already a 12-month operation involving the Australian Taxation Office has targeted legitimate legal, financial and business professionals believed to be helping underworld figures launder money in WA.

The ongoing operation has identified up to $40 million in undeclared income, which police suspect is at the heart of mafia-style operations involving property deals, share trading and superannuation investments.

Aside from the ATO, WA police are now tapped into more national agencies’ networks than ever before, including that of the Australian Federal Police, Australian Securities and Investment Commission, AUSTRAC and eastern states police forces, Mr Anticich said.

He said the strategy was about getting specialists in each field to form “Strike Force” teams to target specific crimes.

This would see teams built to investigate crimes, compared to the previous approach when police would mostly operate on a lone basis and cases would be assigned to a single specialist squad.

Organised crime was considered responsible for the illicit drug trade, counterfeit goods, illegal firearms, extortion/kidnapping, child sex offences, sexual servitude and people trafficking, as well as insurance, welfare, investment and card fraud in WA.

“We want to cause people to think twice before engaging in that type of occupation,” Mr Anticich said.

He said in most cases legitimate operators displayed a “wilful blindness” or were simply driven by the desire for power in complying with such crimes.

However police would now utilise legislation and greater powers provided through the Corruption and Crime Commission to create a “hostile environment” for crime networks.

Already houses have been seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act after they were found to be used for manufacturing drugs, particularly growing cannabis.

Mr Anticich said police were planning to take the approach a step further and were currently working with state prosecutors on legislation surrounding the issue of unexplained wealth.

He said although the legislation had been sparingly used in the past, they were now trying to formulate ways to better utilise it in order to get more convictions.

“You may get rich quickly (through organised crime) but there’s a greater risk of getting locked-up and more chance of losing everything you have,” he said.

The strategy launch coincides with the release of the Australian Crime Commission’s Organised Crime in Australia report in Melbourne today.

“If the North Atrium of Federation Square were filled with $100 notes it would amount to $15 billion – that’s what Australians are losing to organised crime every year. It’s an enormous sum,” Justice Minister Brendan O’Connor said.

“We know that money is the lifeblood of organised crime and if we can stop the money flow we can stop organised criminals in their tracks.

“Organised Crime in Australia covers many different types of offences committed by organised crime but there’s one common factor – greed.

“Whether it’s amphetamine production, money laundering, online scams, corruption, fraud, identity crime or people smuggling – it’s all about the money for these criminal syndicates. If there is an opportunity to make money, organised criminals will try to exploit it.

Organised Crime in Australia provides government, industry and the public with the information they need to better understand and respond to the threat of organised crime – now and into the future.”

The unclassified report is drawn from information gathered from the Australian Crime Commission’s Commonwealth, state and territory partner agencies.

The ACC has produced two other similar reports since 2008, but this edition is the most comprehensive profile of organised crime in Australia to date. It includes the characteristics of those involved, what drives them and the activities they are involved in.

“Revealing these details for the first time is about being open with the Australian people and sharing what we’ve learned about organised crime operations in Australia,” Mr O’Connor said.

Australian Crime Commission CEO John Lawler said it was “essential reading for Australian businesses and communities”.

Major crime investigators have spoken to the former husband and boyfriend of a 46-year-old woman slain in her home along with her two young daughters.

Heather Glendinning had only recently moved back to the Dongara area, in the newly developed estate of Bluewater Gardens in Port Denison, having lived in Perth for years.

The girls’ father Harley Cuzens rushed to Port Denison from Broome to be with his eldest daughter Grace, 13, who was believed to be living with her grandparents in Perth.

The family was too distraught to speak to WAtoday.com.au yesterday after Ms Glendinning’s body and that of her daughters Jane and Jessica Cuzens, aged 12 and 10, were found by police on Monday night.

Police have described it as “one of the worst crime scenes that they have encountered” and officers have been offered counselling for any trauma they may suffer from such a “gruesome scene”.

The bodies of the young family are yet to be formally identified and it is expected that the investigation may take a few days, according to Inspector Bill Munnee.

The two men connected with Ms Glendinning are assisting police with their enquiries but police want any witnesses to contact Crime Stoppers to help them piece together what may have happened.

It is understood that a friend informed local police about their concerns for the family’s welfare after they had been unheard from on Monday.

An initial investigation of the Damia Circle home uncovered two of the bodies. The third was not discovered until local detectives arrived.

Both girls attended Dongara District High School, which caters for primary school-aged children, and some of their school friends were kept home after hearing news of the tragedy.

The school’s chaplain was also on hand to offer any counselling.

A woman whose youngest daughter used to attend dance classes and netball with the girls described them as “gorgeous”.

A neighbour described Ms Glendinning as a caring doting mother, who was bright and bubbly. Most residents described the deaths as a sick tragedy.

Shire of Irwin President Stuart Chandler said the impact would be “far reaching”.

Forensic officers have cordoned off the housing estate and a nearby playground but police would not elaborate on the link.

Investigators are expected to remain in the area for about a week and a pathologist was due to arrive late last night after experiencing delays at Perth Domestic Airport caused by an electrical thunderstorm.

“It’s going to be a long, laborious process for them to complete their investigation,” Inspector Munnee said.


SEVERAL SHOOTINGS IN SYDNEY AUSTRALIA CONCERNS POLICE

Five public shootings in as many days have prompted police across western Sydney to join forces in a bid to prevent an innocent bystander from being wounded or killed.

Five drive-by shootings have taken place in the Fairfield and Merrylands areas since Friday, leaving a number of homes and businesses riddled with bullets.

Detective Superintendent Peter Lennon, Fairfield Local Area Commander, said somebody’s child, mother, girlfriend or boyfriend would eventually fall victim to the violence.

“Very, very soon someone is going to be killed or seriously injured,” Detective Superintendent Lennon told reporters today.

Police from the two areas and detectives from State Crime Command established Strike Force Restore today to determine if any of the shootings were linked.

The most recent incident took place early today when the front of a pizza shop was shot up, just before a home in Lachlan Street, Bossley Park was sprayed with bullets.

No one was injured in either incident.

Police are also investigating a sixth shooting in Merrylands that was the result of a domestic argument between two men.

Officers called to Barcom Street by concerned residents about 10.30pm yesterday found a number of spent shell casings on the road.

At 10.35pm, two men in their early 20s arrived at Westmead Hospital with gunshot wounds. One had been shot in the face and shoulder, and the other had been shot in the back.

A 27-year-old Merrylands man is helping police with their inquiries.

Police are awaiting ballistic reports to determine if the same weapons were used in any of the drive-by shootings.

Detectives say they have a difficult task ahead of them because some members of the community are afraid of coming forward.

“The one issue that we do have as a police force is that there are victims, witnesses and members of the community who know what has taken place but will not come forward and assist the police,” Detective Superintendent Lennon said.

AAP


NO GO FOR PROSCECUTION OF FORMER IMF CHIEF ON RAPE CHARGES

New York prosecutors asked a judge to dismiss sexual assault charges against former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn on Monday, a stunning reversal that could revive the political future of a man many had seen as the next president of France.

Prosecutors gave up hope they could convict Strauss-Kahn after losing confidence in their star witness, Nafissatou Diallo, 32, a hotel maid from Guinea who alleged that Strauss-Kahn emerged naked from the bathroom of his luxury suite on May 14 and forced her to perform oral sex.

The motion to dismiss, filed after a brief meeting with the maid and her lawyer, showed prosecutors “no longer have confidence” that Strauss-Kahn is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt because the accuser’s story kept shifting.

It urged the judge to drop all charges. Strauss-Kahn will appear in court at 1.30am Wednesday Canberra time.

Only three months ago, Strauss-Kahn was the world’s leading financial diplomat, confidant of presidents rescuing debt-ridden nations. His downfall was shocking. Pulled from a first-class seat on an Air France by police, he was thrown into New York City’s gang-ridden Rikers jail on charges of attempted rape.

Prosecutors in May had said the maid’s complaint was “truthful” and “consistent.” But the case began to crumble when prosecutors found Diallo had lied on her immigration forms about a gang rape in Guinea, lied on her tax forms and gave three different versions of events surrounding the encounter in the Sofitel Hotel in Times Square.

“The nature and number of the complainant’s falsehoods leave us unable to credit her version of events beyond a reasonable doubt, whatever the truth may be about the encounter between the complainant and the defendant,” the court papers said.

“If we do not believe her beyond a reasonable doubt, we cannot ask a jury to do so.”

Diallo’s lawyer Kenneth Thompson told reporters after meeting with the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance that the state has denied the right of a woman to get justice in a rape case.

Ombudsman to probe billions

of dollars thrown at IT projects

David Rood

April 18, 2011

VICTORIA’S [Australia] chief corruption and integrity watchdogs have launched a joint investigation into a string of failed state information technology projects, including myki and the police crime database, currently costing taxpayers billions of dollars.

Ombudsman George Brouwer has used his powers to launch his own inquiry into the handling of the projects following serial cost blowouts and mismanagement of technology programs under the former Labor government.

The Age has learnt the investigation was triggered by the disappointment felt by both the Ombudsman and Auditor-General Des Pearson that major information technology projects continued to run over budget and have not delivered on their goals, although the two bodies have consistently warned about the problems. 

Insiders have told The Age that the Ombudsman and Auditor-General are also frustrated by a lack of accountability for project failures and cost over-runs.

There is also concern about the ability of the public service to manage multimillion-dollar projects and learn from their mistakes.

A Victorian Treasury report, released last week, listed myki, the HealthSmart hospital computer system and the new police crime database as key factors in a predicted $2 billion hit to the state budget.

With the government still to decide on the fate of the trouble-plagued myki ticket system, the cost of the project has already blown out by $350 million, with a current price tag of $1.35 billion to create and run the system. Some estimates put the final cost at $1.5 billion for myki. State Treasury has put the cost overrun of the new HealthSmart system at at least $80 million, which would bring the total project cost to approximately $430 million.

The original 2005 budget for the new LINK police database to log, track and analyse crime was $61 million. The project was due to be completed by 2010 but was suspended in March last year, with a reported new cost of approximately $85 million.

Last week, The Age revealed that the child protection information technology system was threatening the care of vulnerable children and putting case workers at risk.

Premier Ted Baillieu said the projects had been left in a shambles, with massive cost blowouts that had contributed to a $2 billion budget black hole.

“This will be an important investigation which will assist the government in identifying how these massive losses and mismanagement occurred, and how we can ensure they are not repeated,” he said.

Opposition spokesman for finance Tim Holding said Mr Baillieu had inherited a triple-A credit-rated budget and his government had invented so-called black holes in a dishonest attempt to justify slashing jobs and breaking promises.

”Last week’s discredited economic statement failed to contain any costings or almost 90 per cent of Treasurer Kim Wells’s so-called black holes,” Mr Holding said.

Since 2005, the Ombudsman and Auditor-General have investigated more than 10 IT systems or projects including the LEAP police data base, Victorian crime statistics, the child protection IT system, HealthSmart and myki.

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