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How missing Dubai princess practised her escape

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Footage of a missing Dubai princess scuba diving in her palace as she prepares to flee her family has been shared with Sky News, along with new pictures of the young woman.

Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is the daughter of Dubai’s ruler.

In March, Princess Latifa fled the UAE and a video was circulated online in which she made allegations of abuse at the hands of her father.

Latifa and Tiina on the day of the escape. Pic: Detained in Dubai
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Latifa and Tiina on the day of the escape. Pic: Detained in Dubai

Today, her 33rd birthday, marks almost exactly nine months since she was last seen.

Her case sounds stranger than fiction, but has been accepted by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, while the UN group on enforced disappearances heard evidence on her case earlier this year.

She attempted to escape with the help of French former spy Hervé Jaubert and long-time friend Tiina Jauhiainen.

Latifa (r) and Tiina feed lion cubs in the UAE. Pic: Tiina Jauhiainen
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In a previously unseen photo, Latifa (r) and Tiina feed lion cubs in the UAE. Pic: Tiina Jauhiainen

After fleeing through neighbouring Oman, she made it onboard Mr Jaubert’s boat, The Nostromo, and set sail for the Indian coast.

The yacht was intercepted and those on board say they were beaten by armed men who boarded the ship and then detained in the UAE.

Both Ms Jauhiainen and Mr Jaubert say Latifa shouted that she was seeking asylum in India but was taken onto a helicopter. It is the last time they ever saw her.

“Latifa was determined to leave Dubai… She said it was worth taking any kind of risk as she had literally had enough of her life in Dubai,” Ms Jauhiainen told Sky News.

“She was looking forward to the day impatiently and when with me it was the only topic we would talk about along all the things she wanted to do when she had what she had always wanted, her freedom,” she added.

Dubai Crown Court say Latifa is alive and safe in Dubai
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Dubai Crown Court say Latifa is alive and safe in Dubai. The princess is pictured here before her disappearance in a never before seen photo.
Latifa (c) has not been seen in nine months. Pic: Tiina Jauhiainen
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Latifa (c), seen here in a previously unreleased photo, has not been seen in nine months. Pic: Tiina Jauhiainen

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Jaubert said: “Maybe Latifa did not make it. I’m not sure she is alive.”

In a statement to Sky News, the Dubai Ruler’s Court said: “We are aware and deeply saddened by the continued media speculation regarding Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al Maktoum. This private family matter has caused significant upset and distress for all concerned, most of all Sheikha Latifa.”

They add: “Her Highness Sheikha Latifa is now safe in Dubai.

“She and her family are looking forward to celebrating her birthday today, in privacy and peace, and to building a happy and stable future for her.”

Mr Jaubert said: 'Maybe Latifa did not make it. I'm not sure she is alive'
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This new photo captures Latifa during happy times at her sky diving centre

Never before seen photos shared with Sky News show Latifa feeding lion cubs with Ms Jauhiainen, sky diving and spending time with friends.

As well as a video of Latifa laughing with Ms Jauhiainen, another friend and her child, a short clip shows the princess training for her future escape by scuba diving in her family pool.

The video was taken by Ms Jauhiainen on 12 February 2018 in the grounds of the princess’s mother’s grand home.

Ms Jauhiainen said she drove the scuba gear and underwater scooter to the building that housed the pool.

Sheikha Latifa's UAE ID has been published on escapefromdubai.org, a site publicising her case. Credit:escapefromdubai.org
Image:
Sheikha Latifa’s UAE ID has been published on escapefromdubai.org, a site publicising her case. Credit:escapefromdubai.org

“At this point the plan for Latifa’s escape was still for her to dive using a rebreather, diving gear, dive computer and an underwater scooter from UAE to Oman crossing the border…a distance of nearly 10 km underwater,” Ms Jauhiainen told Sky News.

“Training was a problem. One time we managed to go to her uncle’s beach house to practise but visibility was so bad that she couldn’t try out all the gear simultaneously.

“This time I was allowed to go inside her compound to ‘exercise’ but actually the plan was to test the gear.”

Latifa was 'determined to leave Dubai', her friend told Sky News
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Latifa was ‘determined to leave Dubai’, her friend told Sky News, sharing this new image

Ms Jauhiainen said they decided to abandon this escape plan after encountering too many problems.

Emails seen by Sky News show Latifa, who said she tried to flee the UAE aged 16, approached Mr Jaubert about a second escape attempt back in May 2012.

“My ultimate goal is to never return to this country again,” she writes in coded emails to Mr Jaubert, in which explains she hopes to gain refugee status in the UK or other Western countries.

A glimpse of Latifa’s nature can be seen in this email correspondence, where among worries for her own safety and those helping her, she speaks of trying to make sure her pet monkey is safely re-homed ahead of her running away.

In her emails, Latifa explores ways to bring her sister, Shamsa, with them on their escape attempt.

One of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's daughters has not been seen in public for nine months
Image:
One of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s daughters has not been seen in public for nine months

Cambridge police began an investigation into claims Shamsa was kidnapped off the streets of Cambridge in 2000.

More from United Arab Emirates

In the Dubai Ruler’s Court statement, they also said: “Sheikha Latifa and Sheikha Shamsa are adored and cherished by their family.

“Unfortunately, Sheikha Latifa was vulnerable to exploitation primarily by Mr Herve Jaubert, a man with a criminal record. He and his accomplices demanded payment of a ransom of USD $100 million, shortly after Her Highness disappeared from Dubai, for her return.”

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Chimps spotted cracking open tortoises’ shells and eating reptiles for first time | World News

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Chimpanzees have been spotted cracking tortoise shells against tree trucks and then eating the animals.

Scientists say this behaviour shows the apes’ impressive mental abilities.

It is thought to be the first time chimps have been seen preying on the reptiles in this way.

After smashing their shells, they scooped out the meat and shared it with other chimps.

The behaviour was spotted in the Rekambo chimpanzee community in Loango National Park in Gabon between July 2016 and May 2018.

One reason they do this could be that the region also has an abundance of hard-shelled fruit, like that from the strychnos tree, which also needs to be hit against trees to open.

This has led some enterprising chimpanzees to try the same on tortoises, said Tobias Deschner, one of the researchers.

“They see this is a hard-shelled object with some interesting thing inside and they need to crack it open,” said Mr Deschner, a primate researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

“If they can do that with the fruit and have the same problem with a hard-shelled animal with something inside that they want to get access to, then they can say ‘OK, why not do it in exactly the same way?'”

A “distinct smashing technique” was used, researchers from the University of Osnabruck and Max Planck Institute said.

They saw 10 animals, mainly male, hunting hinge-back tortoises on 38 occasions, 34 of which were successful.

They said: “Similar to nut cracking in chimpanzees – a percussive technology which is only mastered at the age of approximately nine to 10 years – the acquisition of a successful tortoise smashing technique may rely on a certain amount of strength.

“In addition, it may also involve a relatively long period of time to learn, practice and refine.”

It amounted to “further support for their exceptionally large and flexible cognitive tool kits”, the scientists said.

In two cases in which adolescent chimpanzees were trying to smash open a tortoise, the authors said they were unsuccessful.

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Healthy dog put down because owner wanted to be buried together | US News

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A healthy dog was put down because her owner requested she be buried with her in her will.

Emma, a Shih Tzu mix, was euthanized two weeks after arriving at a shelter in Chesterfield County, Virginia on 8 March.

Her owner had died and her will stipulated she be buried with her dog.

Staff at the shelter where Emma was staying were in contact with the executors of the will in the hope of convincing them to sign over the animal so they could have her adopted.

Carrie Jones, the manager of the animal services, said: “We did suggest they could sign the dog over on numerous occasions, because it’s a dog we could easily find a home for and re-home.”

According to WWBT in Richmond, Virginia, the dog was taken to a vet, euthanized and the ashes were placed in an urn and returned to the woman’s estate.

The process is legal in Virginia, by a law which came into force in 2014. But cemeteries have to allocate a separate part of the land for pets, and they can’t be in the same niche as humans.

Other states allow pets to be buried with owners.

The shelter offered to have the dog adopted
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The shelter offered to have the dog adopted

Speaking to AP, vet Dr Kenny Lucas said his clinic would not do it, but admitted it was an “emotional decision”.

Larry Spiaggi, president of the Virginia Funeral Directors Association, said it was abhorrent.

He told WWBT: “It’s not legal to put a dog’s cremated remains – or any animal – in a casket and bury them.”

The state is considering legislation to address the problem.

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UN tells Britain to end ‘colonial administration’ of Chagos Islands | World News

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Britain should end its “colonial administration” of the Chagos Islands and return them to Mauritius within six months, the UN has demanded.

The 193-member world body approved a resolution supporting a finding by the International Court of Justice that the Indian Ocean island chain be given back to Mauritius.

The General Assembly resolution, like the court’s ruling, is not legally binding but it does carry weight as it came from the UN’s highest court, and the vote – 116-6 with 56 abstentions – reflects world opinion.

The court said in its opinion Britain had unlawfully carved up Mauritius, which the Chagos Archipelago was a part of, in 1965 when Mauritius was a British colony.

It said: “The United Kingdom is under an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible.”

DATE IMPORTED:22 October, 2008A demonstrator demanding her return to the Chagos Islands in the Diego Garcia archipelago shouts during a protest outside the Houses of Parliament in London October 22, 2008. Britain's highest court ruled in favour of the British government on Wednesday, blocking the return of hundreds of Chagos Island people to their homes in the south Indian Ocean after nearly 40 years of exile. The decision by the House of Lords ends a years-long battle to secure the Chagos Islan
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Many Chagossians resettled in the UK and have fought in British courts to return to the islands

Britain evicted about 2,000 people from the Chagos Archipelago in the 1960s and 1970s so the US military could build its air base on Diego Garcia.

Many resettled in the UK and have fought in British courts to return to the islands.

Britain’s UN ambassador, Karen Pierce, told the assembly: “British Indian Ocean Territory has been under continuous British sovereignty since 1814. Mauritius has never held sovereignty over it and we do not recognise their claim.”

She added that the government stands by the 1965 agreement with the Mauritian Council of Ministers to detach the British Indian Ocean Territory in exchange for fishing rights and other benefits and a commitment “to cede the territory when it is no longer needed for defence purposes”.

Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth told the assembly his country “is extremely disappointed” in the position of the British government.

Mr Jugnauth said the 1965 agreement on the Chagos Archipelago “was carried out under duress” and labelled the forcible eviction of islanders as “a very dark episode of human history akin to a crime against humanity”.

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