British police on Wednesday said they had charged another man as part of their investigation into the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants found dead in the back of a truck near London in 2019 .
Alexandru-Ovidiu Hanga, 27, was charged with an immigration offence and was due to appear later at Basildon Magistrates’ Court, east of London.
Detectives also said they wanted to speak to any other Vietnamese nationals who had entered Britain illegally via a similar route through the port of Purfleet.
“We believe that a number of other people traveled into the UK in a similar way to the 39 deceased throughout the month of October and we hope that these people would be able to help us,’’ Essex Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Tim Smith said.
“We understand that they may be concerned about coming forward and sharing their experiences, but we can assure you that your information and details will be treated in confidence.’’
The victims, who included two 15-year-old boys, were discovered in October in the truck container on an industrial estate in Grays in Essex, about 20 miles (32 km) east of London.
Autopsies concluded that the provisional cause of death was a combination of hypoxia – oxygen deprivation and hyperthermia overheating in an enclosed space.
Maurice Robinson, the driver of the truck from Northern Ireland, admitted last November plotting to assist unlawful immigration and acquiring criminal property.
The detectives have also charged him and another man with manslaughter and human trafficking.
They are also seeking a number of other suspects.
Edited By: Halima Sheji/Maharazu Ahmed
Several hundred determined athletes defied a government-ordered ban on large public gatherings to run Paris’s half-marathon on Sunday.
The run was one of a series of events across France to be cancelled as the government attempts to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
One disappointed runner founded a Facebook group called “We’re running anyway”, though only a tiny fraction of the 44,000 people expected at the official event actually turned up.
“We have to stop this paranoia with what’s happening. We have to keep things in perspective,” a runner who gave her name only as Chloe told Reuters from the starting line.
French Health Minister Olivier Veran announced the ban on Saturday after a special cabinet meeting.
The meeting also outlawed any indoor events of more than 5,000 people and any gatherings at all in the most hard-hit areas.
France had 100 confirmed cases of coronavirus on Saturday evening.
Most of them were concentrated in a handful of towns and villages in the Oise region north of Paris and near Annecy in the Alps, and 86 people were in hospital.
There have been two deaths from the virus in France since the outbreak started.
Sports fixtures including the Italy-Ireland Six Nations rugby match and the Engadin ski marathon in Switzerland have also been postponed or cancelled due to the outbreak.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
The Foreign Ministers of 14 European Union countries on Wednesday called for a halt to fighting in Syria’s Idlib governorate in a joint contribution to German news portal t-online.
“We call on the Syrian regime and its backers to halt this offensive and once more to observe the ceasefire agreed in the autumn of 2018.
“We also call on them to end combat operations without delay and to comply with their obligations under humanitarian international law.
“This took in the protection of humanitarian aid workers and medical personnel, many of whom had lost their lives while working to assist the civilian population in Idlib.
“We also call on Russia to continue negotiations with Turkey to defuse the terrible situation in Idlib and to contribute to a peaceful solution,” the ministers said.
Russia should not block the UN Security Council over the months ahead from renewing the mechanism for the cross-border transport of urgently needed aid to North-Western Syria.
The text was signed by the foreign ministers of France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Estonia, Poland, Lithuania, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Ireland.
According to UN figures, following an escalation in fighting in the North-Western governorate, around 900,000 people have been displaced, with many heading North to the Turkish border.
Turkey, which has already taken in millions of Syrian refugees, has expressed concern.
Idlib is dominated by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, also known as al-Qaeda in Syria.
The Syria regime, backed by Russia, has argued that the Idlib offensive is part of the fight against terrorism.
Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Muhammad Suleiman Tola
British exports to the European Union (EU) could fall by as much as 14 per cent if the two sides are unable to strike a free trade deal, a UN study found.
According to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) study released on Tuesday, the fall also could be 9 per cent lower even if an agreement was reached,
The imposition of tariffs under a no-deal scenario would crimp trade, with the effect amplified by so-called non-tariff measures (NTMs) such as quotas, licensing and regulatory measures protecting health, safety and the environment.
NTMs would double the negative impact of tariffs and could lead to an overall 32 billion dollars hit to British exports, study said.
The agriculture, food and beverages, and wood and paper sectors seem particularly exposed, it found, with a weaker impact on electrical and machinery, metal products, chemicals, and textiles and apparel.
NTMs affect more than 80 per cent of trade in developed counties and more than 90 per cent in the EU, it noted.
Britain left the EU in January and aims to negotiate a deal on future relations by the end of this year, when the Brexit transition period expires.
Even if a “standard” free trade agreement emerged from the talks, British exports to the EU could still drop by 9 per cent, dealing a major economic blow as the single market absorbs 46 per cent of Britain’s sales abroad, it said.
“EU membership has its advantages to deal with non-tariff measures that even the most comprehensive agreement cannot replicate,” UNCTAD’s director of international trade, Pamela Coke-Hamilton, said in a statement.
In a no-deal scenario, Ireland’s exports to the United Kingdom are expected to drop 10 per cent as a result of non-tariff measures and tariffs, the study based on 25 years of data found.
On the other hand, exports from developing countries into Britain and to a smaller extent into the EU could increase if Britain does not increase tariffs for third countries, it added.
The study did not estimate the impact of a “soft” exit scenario that largely maintains the status quo, saying much depends on the details of the relationship that results.
Britain has said it wants a Canada-style trade deal with the EU, but the EU has said this would require Britain to accept a level playing field in areas from state aid to taxation.
Britain has said that it does not want regulatory alignment with the bloc and that this was not what the EU demanded of Canada for a free trade deal.
Edited By: Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim
The Scottish parliament is due on Tuesday to approve plans to make sanitary products freely available to all women, making it the first nation in the world to do so.
The legislation would make products such as tampons and sanitary pads free for all women in Scotland, available at designated public places such as community centres, youth clubs and pharmacies.
The plan is expected to pass its first vote in the devolved Scottish parliament on Tuesday.
The Period Products (Free Provision) Scotland Bill was proposed by Scottish lawmaker Monica Lennon, who first submitted a draft proposal in 2017.
The cost is expected to be around 24.1 million pounds ($31.24 million).
Lennon said “these are not luxury items. They are indeed essential and no one in Scotland should have to go without period products,’’ adding that the bill was about period dignity.
“We are changing the culture and it’s really exciting that other countries right around the world are watching very closely to see what we do.’’
A consultation document proposed modeling the scheme on the card-based system for free condoms, where users register for a free card or voucher to exchange for the products.
Aileen Campbell, Scotland’s communities secretary, said, “we will continue our world-leading action promoting wider period dignity through a certification scheme to encourage organisations to provide free products.’’
Scotland in 2018 was the first government in the world to provide free sanitary products in schools, colleges and universities.
Sanitary products in the United Kingdom are currently taxed at 5 per cent the so-called “tampon tax’’.
Former Prime Minister David Cameron’s government said it wanted to end the unpopular tax but that its hands were tied by European Union rules which set tax rates for certain products.
The government announced it would drop the tax in 2016, but this has not happened yet, the issue having been pushed to the sidelines during the Brexit process.
The Scottish government’s briefing on the bill said there is no tax on period products in Ireland, Canada, Australia, Kenya, India, Columbia, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Nigeria, Uganda, Lebanon and Trinidad and Tobago.
Lennon joined a rally gathered outside the Scottish parliament building in Edinburgh, and held a sign which said, “access to menstrual products is a right. Period.’’
The bill is due to be debated today.
Edited By: Hadiza Mohammed/Emmanuel Yashim
Britain’s biggest retailer Tesco (TSCO.L), on Tuesday completed its exit from China with the 275 million pound (or $357 million) sale of its joint venture stake to state-run partner China Resources Holdings (CRH).
Tesco, having struggled to crack the Chinese market, established the Gain Land venture with CRH in 2014, combining the British group’s 131 stores in China with its partner’s almost 3,000.
It said that the disposal of its 20 per cent stake allowed it to further simplify and focus the business on core operations, adding that the proceeds would be used for general corporate purposes.
The deal is scheduled to complete on Feb. 28.
However, shares in Tesco were up 0.7 per cent at 0816 GMT, extending its gains in 2019 to 12.4 per cent.
According to Bernstein analyst, Bruno Monteyne, this extra 275 million pounds of forgotten value should be accretive to most street valuations.
Tesco, after costly exits from Japan and the U.S. and the sale of its South Korean business, signalled in December a further retreat from its once lofty global ambitions by starting a review of its operations in Thailand/Malaysia.
However, a sale of its operations in Thailand and Malaysia would mean Tesco’s only remaining overseas operations, apart from Ireland, would be its central European division, comprising stores in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.
According to CEO Dave Lewis, the Asian exit could be one of the last acts of Tesco who will be succeeded by Ken Murphy in October.
Bernstein expects Tesco to start a one billion pound share buyback programme in its 2020-21 financial year.
Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Wale Ojetimi
Branco du Preez will play in his 74th HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournament, Cecil Afrika his 63rd and Werner Kok his 50th, so it is fair to say that the Blitzboks will rock up at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Los Angeles with some serious experience for the HSBC LA Sevens on Saturday and Sunday.
On the other end of the Springbok Sevens scale you will find the likes of Sako Makata (seven tournaments) and Mfundo Ndhlovu (four tournaments), but both return to the USA leg of the circuit clear on what they need to do to add value to the Blitzboks’ effort on the weekend.
Makata is back in the tournament squad for the first time since June last year and Ndhlovu, the official reserve, also last played in Paris in 2019.
Makata made his World Series debut in Las Vegas a year ago and his second visit to the USA brings calm and determination to comply with his role and responsibility in the squad.
According to the former Sterling High School winger, now playing as a prop in the sevens code, getting back into the match day squad is a relief as well as a blessing.
He missed the start of the season due to an ankle injury and only made his return to the World Series last month, when he travelled to New Zealand and Australia as the official reserve. Makata was called into the squad in Sydney when Impi Visser was ruled out and played in the final against Fiji, which South Africa lost 12-10.
“I am excited to be back and that comes from some hard work behind the scenes, doing rehab and getting back to match fitness. I am pretty keen to contribute on the field now and give it my best shot,” the 22-year-old confessed.
The time off the field – excluding when he did rehabilitation and conditioning – was also spent watching the team play and learning from that, although only mentally.
“I watched the guys in my position in particular and what they were doing and what I would have done if I was in that situation,” said Makata.
“I am learning all the time and that worked for me, trying to put myself in their boots. There is often a different perspective from the outside and being in that match situation yourself and combining the two makes you better, I believe.”
Makata has now played in 26 matches and he is patiently adding to that tally: “I would have loved to have played more, but we have a big squad with a lot of quality players and coupled with my injury, I missed out.
“The importance though is grabbing this opportunity and showing that I can contribute to the squad and the system this weekend,” he said, adding that he welcomes the competition in the squad, as it improves his development as a player.
“It brings the best out in everyone and I can learn from some very experienced guys in the squad as well. It certainly improved me as a player and now I have the opportunity to convert that in the tournament.”
Ndhlovu, named as 13th player for this trip after being in the starting team last year, is also on a comeback trail after being sidelined for two months due to a hamstring injury. The laid-back Standerton-born outside back said his return to the squad is food for the soul.
“I am a religious person and believe that God will determine my destiny,” said Ndhlovu.
“I had some setbacks along the line with injury, but that made me stronger and more determined. It is great being back and I am taking in all of the experience and expertise from the senior guys.”
Ndhlovu made his debut in Hong Kong in 2018 and again featured in Paris in the same season. Last year, he played in Las Vegas and Paris and hopes for a longer run this time around.
“I certainly missed out on valuable game time in the last two years, but that was God's plan for me, and I accept that. I am blessed to still be here and would like to make the most of the opportunities that will still come my way,” he said.
The Blitzboks are second seeds in the tournament and will play alongside Ireland, Canada and Kenya in Pool B.
Children of primary school age will no longer head the ball in football training, as part of new rules aimed at reducing the possibility of brain disease.
As part of the new guidelines, announced by the Football Associations of England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland on Monday, children under the age of 12 will no longer head the ball in training.
The Welsh Football Association said that its rules on heading were being reviewed and would be updated later this year.
The regulations on heading will be staggered between the ages of 12 and 16, though matches, where the FA says heading is relatively rare, will be exempt from the changes.
The new rules were introduced after a Glasgow University study, which showed that former footballers were three and a half times more likely to die from brain disease.
Announcing the changes, the FA said the new guidance will be introduced immediately.
“It will provide grassroots clubs, coaches and players with the recommended heading guidance for training sessions only.
“The guidance does not make any changes to the way matches are played,’’ the FA said in a statement.
The FA pointed out that there was no evidence in the study to suggest that heading the ball was the cause to the link with incidence of degenerative neurocognitive disease.
“But to mitigate against any potential risks, the updated heading guidance has been produced in parallel with UEFA’s medical committee, which is seeking to publish Europe-wide guidelines later this year.
In a statement, FA chief executive officer Mark Bullingham said, “This will help coaches and teachers to reduce and remove repetitive and unnecessary heading from youth football.”
Edited By: Halima Sheji/Emmanuel Yashim
Heading the ball in training sessions has been outlawed for primary school children under the age of 12 in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
This is part of the Football Association’s updated “heading guidance” for the game.
The English, Northern Irish and Scottish Football Associations said in a statement on Monday that they are also restricting the headers for 12 to 16-year-olds at grassroots level with immediate effect.
The heading guidelines follow last year’s publication of Football’s Influence on Lifelong Health and Dementia Risk (FIELD) study undertaken by Glasgow University, which found former professionals were at more risk of dementia.
The FA said the new guidelines will take effect immediately but it will not recommend an end to headers during youth matches.
“This updated heading guidance is an evolution of our current guidelines and will help coaches and teachers to reduce and remove repetitive and unnecessary heading from youth football,” FA chief executive officer Mark Bullingham said.
“Our research has shown that heading is rare in youth football matches. So, this guidance is a responsible development to our grassroots coaching without impacting the enjoyment that children of all ages take from playing the game.”
The FA confirmed the updated heading guidance has been produced in line with UEFA’s medical committee, which is seeking to publish Europe-wide guidelines later this year.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
A new route to the USA, a change in format and a new venue for the fifth tournament of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series mean an extra day of preparation for the Springbok Sevens team as they gear up for the HSBC LA Sevens at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Los Angeles.
The team travelled from Cape Town to Los Angeles via Newark, which eliminated 11 hours of their average travel time to the USA, while the venue of the first to two North American tournaments was moved from Nevada to the Californian coast.
Furthermore, the Las Vegas tournament was a three-day event, with Los Angeles being played on Saturday and Sunday.
This will help the Blitzboks in their final preparation this week, confirmed Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell.
"The flight already made a huge difference for us,” said Powell.
“It is the first time we flew directly to the USA, normally we went via London and had another transit before getting to Las Vegas, where the Friday start meant a three-day turnaround.
“This time out, we cut out travel time and an extra flight, so will have more than enough time to recover and prepare.”
Powell feels fairly settled with his squad and only made three changes to his squad from the last tournament in Sydney, something that will assist in continuing with the momentum gained in Australia.
"Yes, we did travel to Australasia with half a dozen changes from the Cape Town leg and that had a bigger impact than expected in our performances in Hamilton. The Sydney effort was much more to our standards and one we need to back up here in the USA,” said Powell.
Back in Stellenbosch, Powell had to adjust his plans for the North American trip and the fifth and sixth legs of the World Series after the news that the next two tournaments, Hong Kong and Singapore, were rescheduled for October.
"That had an impact on our planning and the way we wanted to manage some players and even management, said Powell.
“The end goal of the season remains the Olympic Games in Japan in July and how we arrive there best prepared, so we needed to change our plans when those two tournaments were moved to October.
“We are still trying to find ways to counter that 10-week period that will now be without matches and we are discussing various options.
”For the here and now, the extra day in Los Angeles will give us more time to recover and then prepare for what awaits us on Saturday.
“We have done some good work back home, but there is still work needed on defence and on attack, where we can be sharper. We are striving for a perfect performance, so will work hard this week,” added the Blitzbok coach.
The Blitzboks’ playing schedule (SA times) in Pool B:
Saturday 29 February
21h35 v Kenya
Sunday 1 March
00h53 v Canada
05h05 v Ireland