News in brief

News in brief

A Malian court sentenced two men to death for their roles in two Islamist-inspired terror attack in 2015.

Fawaz Ould Ahmed and his co-conspirator Sadou Chaka were convicted of killing more than 40 people in attacks targeting foreigners in the country.

Ahmed, who co-founded the Al-Qaeda-linked terror group Al-Mourabitoune, confessed to attacking restaurant and nightclub popular with French ex-pats in the capital, Bamako, in March 2015.

The incident was in retaliation for the publication of cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad in French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

A French national died in the gun and grenade attack, along with three locals and a Belgian.

Ahmed also admitted to taking part in a hotel raid that killed 17 people in the town of Sevare in August 2015, as well as another terror attack at Bamako’s Radisson Blu hotel in November the same year that left 20 dead, including 14 foreigners.

Al-Mourabitoune, who was arrested by police in 2016 in Bamako while planning other attacks, told the judge that he had no remorse.

 

RWANDA

A businessman suspected of financing the 1994 Rwandan genocide was extradited from France last month to stand trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hauge.

Felicien Kabuga, who evaded arrest for over 22 years, is charged with helping to fund the bloody massacre which killed around a million people.

Once one of Rwanda's wealthiest men, Kabuga is accused of having helped set up the Hutu militia group, the Interahamwe.

He is also alleged to have founded the Libre des Mille Collines radio channel whose broadcasts incited people to murder, and to have distributed machetes to the gangs carrying out the genocide.

The charges against Kabuga include ‘genocide, complicity in genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, attempt to commit genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, and extermination and persecution as crimes against humanity.’

Kabuga was first indicted by the ICC in November 1997, but was only arrested in Paris in May this year.

His lawyers initially requested that he be put on trial in France, but France’s top court ruled that he should be sent to the UN tribunal in the Netherlands.

 

SUDAN

Sudan has officially recognised the state of Israel, following months of US mediation.

The North African nation, which until last year was ruled by the Islamist Omar al-Bashir and famously welcomed Osama Bin Laden to set up bases in the country, follows in the footsteps of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which normalised relations with the Jewish state in August.

The deal between Sudan and Israel was announced in October by the White House.

Sudan is just the fifth Arab nation to officially recognise Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who met his Sudanese counterpart General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan in Uganda earlier this year, described the US-backed peace agreement as a ‘tremendous turnaround’.

He said in a statement: ‘Today Khartoum says yes to peace with Israel, yes to the recognition of Israel and normalisation with Israel.’

 

ZIMBABWE

Police in Zimbabwe arrested at least six people said to be involved in a high-profile gold-smuggling ring last month.

The arrests followed the earlier detention of Henrietta Rushwaya, 53, the head of an artisanal miners' association.

She was arrested at Harare airport with six kilos of gold in her hand luggage while travelling to Dubai.

A spokesperson for the Zimbabwean force told reporters the latest arrests included members of the country’s famously corrupt police.

Two state security agents have also been detained, according to local media. It is alleged that they helped Ms Rushwaya through airport security checks.

The mining chief was arrested after airport scanners detected the gold.

She is accused of not having the necessary export permits.

Rushwaya, who is being held pending bail, denies the charges.

Zimbabwe is a major gold producer. However, much of its mineral wealth is extracted illegally and smuggled out of the country with the help of powerful politicians.

 

LIBERIA

President George Weah has asked the US to help investigate the deaths of several senior officials in finance-related posts within a week of each other.

The mysterious deaths had sparked rumours of an assassination campaign in the West African country.

Speaking to the state-linked Liberia News Agency (LINA), President Weah urged Liberians not to speculate, and to await the outcome of investigations.

The dead officials are said to include the head of the Internal Audit Agency, Emmanuel Nyeswua, whose body was found in his apartment in the capital, Monrovia last month.

Another official, said to work for the Liberia Revenue Authority, died in a car crash in Monrovia, while two officials from the tax-collection agency were found dead in a car in the city the next day.

 

EGYPT

A human rights’ group has lambasted Egyptian authorities for executing 49 prisoners in the space of 10 days last month.

The killings included political prisoners and at least two women.

‘Egypt’s mass executions of scores of people in a matter of days is outrageous,’ said Joe Stork, Deputy director, Middle East division at the Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The New York-based group has called on the North African state to immediately halt the death sentences, many of which happened without their relatives’ knowledge.

Stork said that the absence of fair trials in Egypt, especially in political cases, made the death sentence ‘a violation of the right to life’.

Of the 49 killed, 15 had been convicted of involvement in the political violence that followed the 2013 coup against President Mohamed Morsi, 10 had been convicted of carrying out the 2014 terror attacks by Ajnad Masrm (Soldiers of Egypt).

While three were executed over a 2013 attack on a police station in the Kerdassa suburb of Cairo.

Other prisoners put to death had been sentenced for crimes including rape and murder.

Many of the 49 executions took place in Cairo’s notorious supermax facility, known as Scorpion, which was the scene of a bloody riot and attempted prison escape in September.

Since President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was elected in 2014, Egypt has become one of the top 10 countries to enforce the death sentence, according to HRW.

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