Contains selective news articles I select

Posts tagged ‘Europe Section’

UN judges increase sentence for Bosnian ex-leader to life

March 20, 2019
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — United Nations appeals judges on Wednesday upheld the convictions of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and increased his sentence from 40 years to life imprisonment.
Karadzic showed almost no reaction as presiding judge Vagn Joensen of Denmark read out a damning judgment, which means the 73-year-old former Bosnian strongman will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars.
In increasing the sentence, Joensen said Karadzic’s original 40-year sentence “underestimates the extraordinary gravity of Karadzic’s responsibility and his integral participation in the most egregious of crimes.”
Defense lawyer Peter Robinson said Karadzic vowed to fight on to clear his name. “He says that politics triumphed over justice today,” Robinson said. “The appeals chamber whitewashed an unjust trial and an unfair verdict.”
Robinson said Karadzic felt “moral responsibility” for crimes in Bosnia, but did not believe he was criminally responsible. Karadzic had appealed his 2016 convictions for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, as well as his sentence for masterminding atrocities in his country’s devastating 1992-95 war — Europe’s bloodiest conflict since World War II.
The former leader is one of the most senior figures tried by the Hague war crimes court. His case is considered as key in delivering justice for the victims of the conflict, which left over 100,000 people dead and millions homeless.
Joensen said the trial chamber was wrong to impose just a 40-year sentence given what he called the “sheer scale and systematic cruelty” of Karadzic’s crimes. Applause broke out in the public gallery as Joensen passed the new sentence.
Families of victims who traveled to the Hague welcomed the verdict. Mothers of victims, some elderly and walking with canes, wept with apparent relief after watching the ruling read on a screen in Srebrenica.
Bosnian Serb wartime military commander Ratko Mladic was also awaiting an appeal judgment of his genocide and war crimes conviction, which earned him a life sentence. Both men were convicted of genocide for their roles in the slaughter by Serb forces of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the Bosnia’s eastern Srebrenica region in July 1995.
Last week, Bosnian war wounds were revived when it was revealed that the white supremacist suspected in the mosque shootings that left at least 50 people dead in New Zealand appeared to show admiration for Karadzic and his legacy. In a video, the self-proclaimed white supremacist is seen driving apparently on his way to the attack and listening to a wartime Bosnian Serb song praising Karadzic and his fight against Bosnia’s Muslims.
Prosecutors had appealed Karadzic’s acquittal on a second count of genocide, which saw Serb forces drive out Muslims and Croats from Serb-controlled villages in a 1992 campaign. Judges on Wednesday rejected that appeal.
At an appeals hearing last year, prosecution lawyer Katrina Gustafson told a five-judge panel that Karadzic “abused his immense power to spill the blood of countless victims. Justice requires that he receive the highest possible sentence — a life sentence.”
Karadzic has always argued that the Bosnian Serb campaigns during the war, which included the bloody siege of the capital, Sarajevo, were aimed at defending Serbs. After his indictment by the tribunal in The Hague, Karadzic remained at large for years before he was arrested in Serbia in 2008 disguised as a new-age therapist.
Advertisements

Europeans urge Russia to return to arms-control treaty

March 15, 2019

BERLIN (AP) — A group of European nations is urging Russia not to abandon a nuclear weapons treaty with the United States. Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands are also calling for new arms control agreements to address the rising power of China and other nations.

The U.S. gave notice of its intention to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty a month ago, citing Russian violations. The European countries opened an arms control conference in Berlin on Friday urging Moscow “to return to complete and verifiable compliance” to save the treaty.

But German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas says it’s also time for broader treaties, as nuclear weapons proliferate to countries such as China, North Korea, India and Pakistan. He says treaties also need to address new technologies, such as drones and cyberattacks.

Croatia’s top oyster farmers in alarm after norovirus found

March 11, 2019

MALI STON, Croatia (AP) — Oyster farming is the pride of this small town in the south of Croatia’s Adriatic Sea coast. But tasting the famed local delicacy may not be a good idea at the moment. Authorities have detected norovirus, which causes diarrhea and vomiting, in parts of the Mali Ston bay — triggering shock and alarm among the breeders.

The traditional oyster-tasting feast in March has been canceled and fears are mounting of huge financial losses to the local community that harvests about 3 million oysters each year. Experts are pointing their fingers at the outdated sewage system in the area that has seen a rise in the numbers of tourists flocking to Croatia’s stunning Adriatic coast.

“I am really sorry but people themselves are to blame that something like this happened,” explained Vlado Onofri from the Institute for Marine and Coastal Research in nearby Dubrovnik. “It’s something that has to be solved in the future.”

While some stomach bugs can be eliminated with cooking, norovirus survives at relatively high temperatures. “The problem with oysters is that they are eaten raw,” Onofri said. Stunned locals pointed out their oysters are famous for high quality — a 1936 award from a London international exhibition still hangs on the wall in Svetan Pejic’s La Koruna restaurant in Mali Ston.

“Our oyster here is really a special oyster … and this is the only place (in the world) where it can be found,” he insisted. “Everyone wants to take our oysters and try to breed them elsewhere.” Navigating the oyster fields in their small boats, the farmers proudly show visitors rows and rows of oyster-filled underwater farm beds spreading through the bay.

Top municipal official Vedran Antunica questioned the assumption that the local sewage system was to blame for the outbreak. “Viruses are everywhere, now as we speak, the air is full of viruses,” Antunica said. “We had the same sewage system in the past, so why wasn’t it (norovirus) recorded? What has changed?”

Malta armed forces seize tanker hijacked by rescued migrants

March 28, 2019

VALLETTA, Malta (AP) — A Maltese special operations team on Thursday boarded a tanker that had been hijacked by migrants it rescued at sea, and returned control to the captain, Malta’s armed forces said.

The tanker was being escorted to a Maltese port, where the migrants will be turned over to police for investigation, they said. Authorities in Italy and Malta on Wednesday said that the migrants had hijacked the Turkish oil tanker El Hiblu 1 after it rescued them in the Mediterranean Sea, and forced the crew to put the Libya-bound vessel on a course north toward Europe.

Italy’s interior minister, Matteo Salvini, said the ship had rescued about 120 people and described what happened as “the first act of piracy on the high seas with migrants” as the alleged hijackers. The ship had been heading toward Italy’s southernmost island of Lampedusa and the island of Malta when Maltese forces intercepted it.

Maltese armed forces established communications with the captain while the ship was still 30 nautical miles off shore. The captain told Maltese armed forces he was not in control of the vessel “and that he and his crew were being forced and threatened by a number of migrants to proceed to Malta.” A patrol vessel stopped the tanker from entering Maltese waters, they said.

The special team that restored control to the captain was backed by a patrol vessel, two fast interceptor craft and a helicopter. There was no immediate word on the condition of El Hiblu 1’s crew. Humanitarian organizations say that migrants are mistreated and even tortured in Libya, and have protested protocols to return migrants rescued offshore to the lawless northern African nation. Meanwhile, both Italy and Malta have refused to open their ports to humanitarian ships that rescue migrants at sea, which has created numerous standoffs as European governments haggle over which will take them in.

A private group that operates a rescue ship and monitors how governments treat migrants, Mediterranea, urged compassion for the group on the hijacked vessel and said it hoped European countries would act “in the name of fundamental rights, remembering that we are dealing with human beings fleeing hell.”

Mass migration to Europe has dropped sharply since 2015, when the continent received 1 million refugees and migrants from countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The surge created a humanitarian crisis in which desperate travelers frequently drowned and leading arrival spots such as Italy and Greece struggled to house large numbers of asylum-seekers.

Along with the dangerous sea journey itself, those who attempt to cross the Mediterranean risk being stopped by Libya’s coast guard and held in Libyan detention centers that human rights groups have described as bleak places where migrants allegedly suffer routine abuse.

EU members “alert the Libyan coast guard when refugees and migrants are spotted at sea so they can be taken back to Libya, despite knowing that people there are arbitrarily detained and exposed to widespread torture, rape, killings and exploitation,” said Matteo de Bellis, an international migration researcher for Amnesty International.

European Union member countries, responding to domestic opposition to welcoming immigrants, have decided to significantly downscale an EU operation in the Mediterranean, withdrawing their ships and continuing the mission with air surveillance only.

“This shameful decision has nothing to do with the needs of people who risk their lives at sea, but everything to do with the inability of European governments to agree on a way to share responsibility for them,” de Bellis said.

Barry reported from Milan. Vanessa Gera contributed from Rome.

Wild carnivores are making a comeback in Britain

by Brooks Hays

Washington (UPI)

Feb 26, 2019

Most of Britain’s native mammalian carnivores are rebounding, according to a new study.

Populations of badgers, foxes, otters, pine martens, polecats, stoats and weasels are all growing. Only wildcats continue to struggle.

Hunting, trapping, pollution and habitat destruction shrunk carnivore numbers across Britain during the 1900s and the first half of the 20th century. Most of the threats facing Britain’s carnivores have been stopped or reduced. As a result, the mammals have made a comeback.

“Unlike most carnivores across the world, which are declining rapidly, British carnivores declined to their low points decades ago and are now bouncing back,” Katie Sainsbury, an environmental scientist and postdoctoral researcher at the University of Exeter, said in a news release. “Carnivores have recovered in a way that would have seemed incredibly unlikely in the 1970s, when extinction of some species looked like a real possibility.”

Sainsbury and her research partners compiled the results of surveys documenting the health of local populations of badgers, foxes, otters, pine martens, polecats, stoats and weasels. The surveys revealed evidence of growing numbers and expanding ranges for badgers, foxes, otters, pine martens and polecats.

Though there is no evidence of decline among stoats and weasels, accurate population numbers are difficult to come by.

“These small and fast-moving predators are hard to see and to survey,” said Robbie McDonald, wildlife scientist and Exeter professor. “Ironically, the best means of monitoring them is from the records of gamekeepers who trap them. People are key to carnivore recovery.”

Only foxes have suffered a setback. Over the past decade, fox numbers are once again shrinking after several decades of recovery. Researchers estimate declining rabbit numbers are to blame.

Researchers shared the results of their research in the journal Mammal Review.

“Most of these animals declined in the 19th century, but they are coming back as a result of legal protection, conservation, removal of pollutants and restoration of habitats,” McDonald said. “The recovery of predatory mammals in Britain shows what happens when you reduce the threats that animals face. For the most part these species have recovered by themselves.”

As carnivore numbers increase, conservationists and wildlife officials will have to contend with how to manage their interactions with and effects on humans, especially gamekeepers, farmers and anglers.

Source: Terra Daily.

Link: http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Wild_carnivores_are_making_a_comeback_in_Britain_999.html.

Berlin’s polar bear cub growing fast, public debut soon

February 26, 2019

BERLIN (AP) — Berlin’s Tierpark zoo says its polar bear cub is almost ready to be introduced to visitors. The zoo on Tuesday released new photos of the as-yet-unnamed female cub and her mother, Tonja. The bear was born Dec. 1 and weighed 8.5 kilograms (18.7 pounds) by the time of her first medical checkup nearly two weeks ago.

Zoo director Andreas Knieriem says that keepers are very satisfied with the cub’s development and Tonja is a good mother. Mother and daughter will probably make their first appearance in the bears’ outside enclosure — and see visitors for the first time — in mid-March.

The Tierpark has the same management as Berlin’s other zoo, which was home a decade ago to celebrity polar bear Knut.

Animal saved from icy Estonian river turns out to be a wolf

February 24, 2019

HELSINKI (AP) — Estonian construction workers got the shock of their lives when they found out the animal they saved from an icy river was not a dog but a wolf. Rando Kartsepp, Robin Sillamae and Erki Vali told the Postimees newspaper they were working at the Sindi dam on the frozen Parnu River in southwestern Estonia when they saw an animal frantically swimming in a maze of ice.

They rescued the ice-coated animal and took it to a shelter. A hunter told them it was about a one-year old male wolf suffering from shock and hypothermia. The young wolf recovered after a day and was released back into the wild with a GPS collar.

Estonia has an estimated 200 wolves. The grey wolf was voted Estonia’s national animal by nature organizations in 2018.

Tag Cloud