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No need for international investigators into Khashoggi murder, says Saudi Arabia | World News

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Saudi Arabia has refused to allow any international investigators to look into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying those responsible are already facing justice.

Bandar bin Mohammed al Aiban, president of the Saudi Arabia’s human rights commission, described Mr Khashoggi’s killing as both an “unfortunate accident” and a “heinous crime”.

He said those on trial in connection have had three hearings with their lawyers present but he neglected to provide further information.

Mr Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkey said Saudi authorities should disclose the names of defendants and the charges they face if it wanted to avoid questions over the “sincerity of judicial proceedings in the kingdom”.

The journalist appeared relaxed when he walked into the consulate on 2 October
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Mr Khashoggi’s last moments alive were captured on CCTV

Mr al Aiban’s comments formed part of the Saudi response during the UN’s periodic review in Geneva, where countries offer recommendations to others to improve their human rights record.

Some 258 recommendations of areas to improve were made, with the Saudis accepting 182 of them and noting (essentially disagreeing with) 76.

Mr al Aiban rebuffed recommendations made by a number of UN countries for steps to, as the UK requested, “ensure [a] comprehensive and transparent investigation”, with, as Iceland suggested, “international experts” into the murder.

Mr al Aiban also said the case of the detained women’s rights activists was based in law and was not an attack on human rights. Saudi Arabia says the detainees are “traitors”.

Allegations of torture against the detainees was denied again by the Saudis, with Mr al Aiban saying “legislation in our country criminalised torture in all forms and aspects” and that if anyone was found to have been tortured then Saudi Arabia “provides them with all means of redress”.

He also denied the existence of secret detention centres in his country.

Three of the women among the detained, Nouf Abdulaziz, Loujain Al-Hathloul and Eman Al-Nafjan, have been awarded the PEN America/Barbey Freedom to Write Award, a prestigious accolade from the long-standing organisation dedicated to free speech through writing.

Loujain al-Hathloul. Pic: Family handout
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Loujain al-Hathloul has been detained for 10 months. Pic: Family handout

“These gutsy women have challenged one of the world’s most notoriously misogynist governments, inspiring the world with their demand to drive, to govern their own lives, and to liberate all Saudi women from a form of medieval bondage that has no place in the 21st century,” said Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America.

The human rights review coincided with reports from Yemeni military officials that the Saudi-led coalition launched airstrikes which mistakenly killed and wounded forces allied with the government, who the coalition support.

Eight border guards were killed and 33 others wounded when the coalition bombed an area along the Yemen-Saudi border on Thursday.

Saudi Arabia and Arab allies have been fighting in Yemen for more than four years against the Iran-backed Houthis, who drove a Saudi-backed government into exile in 2014.

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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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Warnings over Trump’s plans to pardon war crimes suspects | US News

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Donald Trump’s plans to pardon several US military members accused or convicted of war crimes have been met with disbelief and anger.

Earlier this week the US president asked for files to be prepared on pardoning the former troops, including one who faces charges of shooting unarmed civilians in Iraq.

The timing indicates he could be intending to pardon the men on Memorial Day in the US (27 May), two sources told the New York Times.

One of those officials said that processing a pardon usually takes months but the Justice Department had asked for these ones to be finished before the holiday weekend.

Among those who have criticised the move was Army General Martin Dempsey, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

He wrote on Twitter: “Absent evidence of innocence or injustice the wholesale pardon of US service members accused of war crimes signals our troops and allies that we don’t take the Law of Armed Conflict seriously.

“Bad message. Bad precedent. Abdication of moral responsibility. Risk to us.”

Retired General Charles Krulak, a former commandant of the Marine Corps, told the LA Times: “If President Trump issues indiscriminate pardons of individuals accused – or convicted by their fellow service members – of war crimes, he relinquishes the United States’ moral high ground and undermines the good order and discipline critical to winning on the battlefield.”

Ted Lieu, a Democratic congressman who served in the US Air Force’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps for four years, said: “No one ever said hey, I support war crimes like murdering an unarmed girl and murdering unarmed captives.

“Until Donald Trump came along. And military leaders are now rebelling at that insanity.”

One of the requests for pardon reportedly relates to Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher of the Navy SEALs, who is due to stand trial in the coming weeks.

Gallagher is accused of killing a wounded Islamic State prisoner under his care in Iraq in 2017 and shooting indiscriminately at civilians. He denies all charges.

US troops have been fighting in Afghanistan since 2001
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Reports say the pardons could be timed for Memorial Day, which is intended for the remembrance of those troops killed in war

Also believed to be included is Mathew Golsteyn, a former Army Green Beret (special forces) who faces a murder charge after being accused of killing an unarmed Afghan who he believed was a Taliban bomb-maker in Afghanistan in 2010.

He also denies doing anything wrong, saying he acted under the laws of armed conflict.

Eric Carpenter, a former Army prosecutor, told US military newspaper Stars and Stripes that pardoning the men would be a “terrible decision”.

He added: “He plays into our enemies’ narrative, which is that we don’t care about Muslim lives.”



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