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Death row inmate who has forgotten he killed a police officer shouldn’t be executed, say lawyers

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A man who killed a police officer by shooting him twice in the back of the head should not be executed because he can no longer remember committing the crime, his lawyers have said.

Vernon Madison has suffered several strokes in recent years, resulting in dementia which has wiped out his memory of the 1985 murder of Julius Schulte.

The 67-year-old prisoner has spent decades on death row, is registered blind, cannot walk on his own and speaks with a slur, according to court documents.

He was supposed to be executed last month, but the procedure was halted by the US Supreme Court after an appeal by his lawyers, who argued “his mind and body are failing”.

The court has now agreed to hear the case of the convicted killer from Alabama, whose lawyers say “killing a fragile man suffering from dementia is unnecessary and cruel”.

They also argue that a judge should not have sentenced Madison to death when jurors recommended life imprisonment.

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Madison’s execution has been halted twice in two years

The case has divided the opinion of judges over the years.

In 2016, a state court ruled he was competent.

However later the same year, seven hours before he was due to be put to death by a lethal injection, the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals halted the execution.

It ruled: “According to his perception of reality he never committed murder.”

Last November, Supreme Court justices overturned that decision, allowing the state of Alabama to set a new execution date.

The Supreme Court has said death row prisoners must have a “rational understanding” that they are about to be executed and why.

It has previously imposed some limits on capital punishment relating to people with intellectual disabilities and mental illnesses.

Mr Schulte, a police officer in Mobile, Alabama, was responding to a call about a missing child made by Madison’s then-girlfriend when he was killed.

He was sat in his patrol car when, according to prosecutors, Madison crept up and shot him.

Michael Schulte, the dead officer’s son, said last month the last-minute execution stays had been difficult for his family and meant “this tragedy isn’t finished”.

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COVID-19: Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and wife test positive for coronavirus | UK News

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Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and his wife have tested positive for COVID-19, his office has confirmed.

Officials said 55-year-old President Assad and his wife Asma are both in “good heath and in a stable condition”.

The pair will return to work after spending two to three weeks in isolation in their home.

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In a statement, Mr Assad’s office said the couple took PCR tests after they felt minor symptoms consistent with coronavirus.

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad stands next to his wife Asma, as he addresses injured soldiers and their mothers during a celebration marking Syrian Mother's Day in Damascus
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Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad stands next to his wife Asma, as he addresses injured soldiers and their mothers during a celebration marking Syrian Mother’s Day in Damascus

Syria, which marks 10 years of war next week, has recorded nearly 16,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 1,000 deaths from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The country began a vaccination campaign last week, but no details have been given about the process.

The health minister said the government procured the vaccines from a friendly country, which he declined to name.

It was not immediately clear if Mr Assad and his family members have been vaccinated.

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Olivier Dassault dies: Emmanuel Macron pays tribute to French billionaire politician killed in helicopter crash | World News

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Emmanuel Macron has paid tribute to a French billionaire and politician killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday evening.

Olivier Dassault, 69, was the eldest son of French billionaire industrialist Serge Dassault, whose group builds the Rafale war planes and owns Le Figaro newspaper.

The private helicopter he was travelling in crashed on Sunday afternoon in Normandy, where he has a holiday home, a police source told Reuters. The pilot was also killed.

Mr Macron wrote on Twitter: “Olivier Dassault loved France. Captain of industry, deputy, local elected official, reserve commander in the air force: during his life, he never ceased to serve our country, to value its assets.

“His sudden death is a great loss. Thoughts on his family and loved ones.”

A deputy in the French National Assembly who represented the conservative Les Republicains party since 2002, Mr Dassault was considered the 361st richest man in the world alongside his two brothers and sister.

He stepped down from his role on the board of Dassault due to his political role to avoid any conflict of interest.

He was once considered top choice to succeed Serge at the head of the family holding, but that role went to former Dassault Aviation chief executive Charles Edelstenne.



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Myanmar: Nun tries to protect protesters as at least two killed in city of Myitkyina | World News

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A nun in Myanmar told junta forces “you’ll have to come through me” – moments before they opened fire on protesters.

At least two people were confirmed dead in the city of Myitkyina on Monday following clashes with security forces.

Sister Ann Roza Nu Tawng previously said she was prepared to die to save others after being filmed kneeling in front of armed police in the capital city of Kachin state.

Some have called the scene, on 28 February, Myanmar‘s “Tiananmen moment”.

Dressed in white robes and a dark habit, the 45-year-old was again photographed near protest lines in the city on Monday morning.

Other images show her kneeling in front of police, this time near the Catholic cathedral, as a senior nun looks on.

Recounting the horrifying events of the morning, she told Sky News: “The first time I was pleading with the police not to beat, not to arrest, not to crack down on the protesters, because the protesters were not doing anything bad, they were just shouting slogans.

“And the police told me ‘we are from here, we have to do this. Please stay away from here’.

Pic: Myitkyina News Journal
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Sister Ann Roza said she hoped the police officers she spoke to weren’t those who opened fire. Pic: Myitkyina News Journal

“I replied, ‘no, if you want to do this you have to come through me!’

“Later the police said ‘we have to remove this barricade on the road’. They then removed the barricade and after a while the protesters returned.

“Then around 12 noon the security forces were about to crack down, so again I was begging with them, I was kneeling down in front of them and I was pleading not to shoot and not to arrest the people.

“The police were also kneeling and they told me they had to do it because this was to stop the protest.

“After that, tear gas was used and I was struggling to breathe and I was dizzy, and then I saw the man who had fallen down in the street and [he had been shot].”

The editor of Myitkyina News Journal told Sky News that, as of lunchtime, at least two people had been confirmed dead.

Distressing photos show Sister Ann Roza standing at the top of the street as protesters run towards the gravely injured person lying in the road.

Pic: Kachin Waves.
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One of the dead protesters lying in the road. Pic: Kachin Waves

In another graphic image, she is crying out as she leans towards the body of a man who has been shot in the head.

She said that due to the tear gas she did not see if it was police or military who fired on the protesters, but she hoped it wasn’t the officers she spoke to.

“I am very sad,” she said. “The police told me that they’re not going to crack down or shoot brutally, but finally they did.

“I saw another person who died on the spot and had serious injuries.

“The first person who was shot in the head could still breathe when he arrived at the clinic and the people tried to treat him, but finally he died.”

It is just over a week since Sister Ann Roza was first filmed kneeling in front of police lines in the city as she begged them to refrain from violence.

In an interview with Sky News on Friday, she explained she was willing to sacrifice her own life to protect protesters.

“Then they opened fire and started beating the protesters. I was shocked and I thought today is the day I will die,” she said.

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Moment nun stands up to Myanmar military

“I decided to die. I was asking and begging them not to do it and I told them the protesters didn’t commit any [crime],” she said, crying.

At least 56 people have been killed and 1,790 detained or arrested since the 1 February coup, according to figures compiled by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma) .

On Monday, numerous injuries were reported at locations across the country as the military tried to stop the ongoing protests.

At least one protestor in Pyapon, Ayeyarwaddy region, was also killed according to Khit Thit media agency.

Tear gas, stun grenades and live fire have all been used against unarmed civilians in the five weeks since the coup.

Over the weekend, residents in cities including Yangon also reported soldiers shooting tear gas and bullets after dark as terrified residents watched from their homes.

One video sent to Sky News appeared to show forces firing in the grounds around West Yangon Hospital on 7 March.

In another, soldiers are filmed in a residential street as bright flashes light up the sky.

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