Law and justice

  • US threatens to veto UN resolution on wartime rapes

    The United States is threatening to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution on combatting rape as a weapon of war because it refers to reproductive and sexual health, senior UN officials and European diplomats say. Germany, which holds the presidency of the Security Council this month, hopes the resolution will be adopted at a special Security Council session on Tuesday. However, the US is threatening to veto the resolution because it makes reference to ... ► Read more

  • “My wife and my daughter were on the floor”: Australian man describes moment bomb detonated in Sri Lanka

    An Australian man whose wife and daughter were killed in the Sri Lankan terrorism attacks has described the moment a bomb went off during an Easter Sunday church service. At least 290 people were killed and 500 injured in a series of coordinated blasts in churches and hotels, in Sri Lanka’s deadliest violence since a devastating civil war ended in 2009. Australian woman Manik Suriaaratchi and her 10-year-old daughter Alexendria were killed in the attack ... ► Read more

  • Sri Lanka bombings: Government confirms knowledge of imminent attack

    The Sri Lankan Government has confirmed it had “prior information” of an imminent attack on churches up to 10 days before the Easter Sunday bombings. At the time of this report, 207 people have died and at least 450 others left injured following a series of explosions that tore through churches and luxury hotels in three Sri Lankan cities, including the capital Colombo. It is estimated that 30 foreigners are among those killed. The Department ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 14 April – 20 April 2019

    2019 election: Morrison and Shorten to debate on 29 April Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will go head-to-head in a debate set for 29 April. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Fire tears through Notre Dame Notre Dame’s spire has collapsed after a fire engulfed the iconic Parisian cathedral on Monday (local time). See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. North Korea tests new “tactical” weapon, says DPRK state media ... ► Read more

  • “I’m fucked”: Mueller report made public

    When then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions told United States President Donald Trump that a special counsel was being appointed to investigate potential links between his campaign and Russian meddling in the election, Mr Trump said: “This is the end of my Presidency”. The revelation is one of many after the long-awaited 448-page Mueller report was released with redactions. Key quotes from the Mueller report “When [former Attorney General Jeff] Sessions told the President that a Special ... ► Read more

  • Columbine High School in lockdown days before shooting’s 20th anniversary

    A manhunt is underway in Colorado for a young woman suspected of making threats against Columbine High School, just days before the 20th anniversary of the school’s infamous mass shooting. The undisclosed threats prompted Columbine High School and more than 20 nearby schools to go into lock down for three hours. The schools have confirmed all students are safe. The 18-year-old suspect, Sol Pais, travelled to Colorado on Monday night (local time) and attempted to ... ► Read more

  • Cancer cure con artist Belle Gibson ordered to court over unpaid $410K fine

    Cancer cure con artist Belle Gibson has been summoned by the Federal Court to explain why she hasn’t paid a $410,000 penalty for breaching consumer protection laws. Ms Gibson will appear in the Federal Court on 14 May for examination of her financial affairs, following her failure to comply with the order to pay the fine. She has previously been warned that she faces imprisonment if she fails to pay the penalty — which was ... ► Read more

  • Ecuador’s allegations “outrageous”, says Assange’s lawyer

    The lawyer representing Julian Assange has slammed Ecuador’s claims about the jailed Wikileaks founder’s behaviour inside its London embassy. Jennifer Robinson told Sky News on Sunday that Ecuador was making some “pretty outrageous allegations” to justify inviting British police into the embassy to arrest Mr Assange. Mr Assange sought asylum at the embassy in 2012, defying an order to surrender to court. He remained there until taken into custody by the Metropolitan Police last week. ... ► Read more

  • American man charged with Sydney murder to remain in custody

    An American man charged over a murder in western Sydney last year will remain in custody until his next court appearance in June. Alex Dion, 38, was extradited from California yesterday and faced Sydney Central Local Court this morning, where he did not apply for bail. Mr Dion, a former tiler, is accused of murdering 33-year-old Thai national Wachira “Mario” Phetmang and dumping his body on the side of Sydney’s Homebush Bay Drive. On 6 ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 7 April – 13 April 2019

    2019 election: Australians to vote on 18 May Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced 18 May as the date of the 2019 federal election, giving parties just over five weeks to sell their plans for the nation. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Construction of Adani mine receives final federal approval, despite allegations Minister was threatened Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price has given Adani the final federal approval needed to begin construction of its ... ► Read more

  • Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange arrested in London, faces US extradition request

    Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange was arrested in London yesterday after almost seven years of refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy. Mr Assange, an Australian citizen, took refuge in the embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning over sexual assault allegations that have since been dropped. He claimed that the extradition proceedings were a ploy to facilitate eventual extradition to the United States on espionage charges. In May 2012 the Supreme Court of the ... ► Read more

  • Christchurch terror suspect sent death threat two years before mosque attack

    A Melbourne man has revealed suspected Christchurch shooter Brenton Tarrant sent him a death threat after he criticised the far-right United Patriots Front (UPF) extremist group in 2016. Screenshots of a Facebook Messenger conversation between the man and Mr Tarrant show the alleged right-wing terrorist defended the anti-Islamic UPF as “the leading ethno-nationalist group within Australia.” “When you speak against the UPF you speak against my right to a home for my people and my ... ► Read more

  • Construction of Adani mine receives final federal approval, despite allegations Minister was threatened

    Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price has given Adani the final federal approval needed to begin construction of its proposed coal mine in central Queensland. The project now requires final approvals from the Queensland State Government before construction can commence. The proposed coal mine in central Queensland’s Galilee Basin has been controversial, with environmentalists clashing with MPs and Senators who want it approved to bring jobs to the area. The Environment Minister was under pressure from ... ► Read more

  • US labels Iranian Revolutionary Guard as terrorist organisation

    United States President Donald Trump has taken the controversial step of designating the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organisation. The IRGC was established after the 1979 revolution and, according to the Constitution of Iran, protects the country’s Islamic Republic. But Mr Trump has accused the IRGC as being the terrorist wing of the Iranian Government. “The IRGC is the Iranian Government’s primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign,” ... ► Read more

  • Double murderer who breached parole conditions taken into custody

    New South Wales Police have tracked down a convicted double murderer who removed his ankle monitor while on parole. On Sunday afternoon Damien Anthony Peters disappeared from the Prince of Wales Hospital in Randwick, and his tracking device was later located outside a monastery in Kensington. Mr Peters was living freely in the community while being tracked by the electronic device. Detective Superintendent Rohan Cramsie confirmed that “Mr Peters was free to come and go ... ► Read more

  • 38 arrested as animal rights protest causes chaos in Melbourne

    Police have arrested 38 people over an animal rights protest that blocked a major Melbourne intersection during the morning peak hour. The protesters blockaded the intersection of Flinders and Swanston streets on Monday morning, with more than 100 activists chanting “what do we want? Animal liberation — now!” and holding signs that read: “This is a peaceful protest” and “SOS animal emergency climate emergency.” Protesters also sat on the tram lines near the intersection, causing ... ► Read more

  • Australian residents interrogated by Chinese officials over ASIO investigation

    Two Australian residents have revealed they have been interrogated by Chinese officials about an investigation into China’s influence in Australia. Chinese intelligence agents interrogated Yang Hengjun and Feng Chongyi for information on John Garnaut, who led the top-secret investigation with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) in 2016. A joint investigation by the ABC’s Four Corners programme, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald revealed both men were detained and interrogated over the ASIO probe. Mr Yang, a former Chinese ... ► Read more

  • NSW Police search for convicted double murderer on parole

    New South Wales Police are searching for a convicted double murderer who removed his electronic ankle bracelet while on parole. Damien Anthony Peters was last seen at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Randwick at about 4:15 pm yesterday, and NSW Police said he would have needed “a great deal of effort” to remove the tracking device. The 50-year-old pleaded guilty to murdering and dismembering two ex-lovers in 2001, and received a 21-year sentence. He ... ► Read more

  • Assange set to be expelled from Ecuadorian embassy, says WikiLeaks

    WikiLeaks says high-level sources within Ecuador are signalling that Australian Julian Assange will be expelled from the country’s London embassy within “hours to days”. In a tweet, WikiLeaks said Ecuador already had an agreement with the United Kingdom for Mr Assange’s arrest. Another tweet, posted an hour later, confirmed it had received “secondary confirmation from another high-level source”. It has been reported that Ecuador’s President is trying to surrender the Australian in exchange for debt ... ► Read more

  • Backlash over laws targeting “abhorrent” social media content

    Lawyers, rights groups and the technology industry have criticised legislation passed by Parliament on Thursday that requires Internet companies to quickly remove “abhorrent” content or face criminal penalties. The Criminal Code Amendment (Sharing of Abhorrent Violent Material) Bill 2019 is aimed at preventing the “weaponising of social media platforms” and will become law once it receives Royal Assent. It is part of the Government’s response to the Christchurch terror attack that took place in New ... ► Read more

  • Brunei introduces stoning for gay sex and adultery

    The Sultan of Brunei has introduced new laws that make anal sex and adultery punishable by stoning to death. In a move towards stricter interpretation of Islamic law, the new measures came into force on Wednesday, and also include harsher punishments for other offences. The new measures will primarily apply to Muslims, which account for about two-thirds of the country’s population of 420,000. Brunei is an absolute monarchy in which Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah is both ... ► Read more

  • Macquarie Park scaffolding collapse kills apprentice

    One man has been killed and another critically injured after scaffolding at a Macquarie Park high-rise collapsed on Monday. The deceased, Christopher Cassaniti, was a formwork apprentice who only just turned 18 last week. Despite efforts to save him, he died at the scene. The second worker, 39, was freed from the rubble and taken to Royal North Shore Hospital under a police escort. Mr Cassaniti’s parents attended the scene shortly after the collapse. NSW ... ► Read more

  • Zuckerberg calls for governments to play a “more active role” in Internet regulation

    Facebook founder and chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg has called for governments to play a “more active role” in making rules to regulate the Internet. In an opinion piece for The Washington Post, Mr Zuckerberg wrote that a “standardised” approach for removing content would help keep Internet companies such as Facebook “accountable”. “By updating the rules for the Internet, we can preserve what’s best about it — the freedom for people to express themselves and for entrepreneurs ... ► Read more

  • Police offer $1m reward for fresh information about Janine Vaughan’s disappearance

    Police are offering $1 million for fresh information about the disappearance of Janine Vaughan 18 years ago. The 31-year-old woman was last seen entering a red car on Bathurst’s Keppel Street after leaving a nightclub in the early hours of 7 December 2001. In 2009, a NSW coroner concluded Ms Vaughan had been murdered, however the circumstances remained a mystery. Her family have pleaded Bathurst residents to share anything they know with investigators. “Janine was ... ► Read more

  • IS sympathiser Saeed Noori sentenced to life for 2017 Flinders St attack

    Islamic State sympathiser Saeed Noori was today sentenced to life imprisonment for the 2017 Flinders Street attack that killed an 83-year-old grandfather and injured 15 others. On 21 December 2017 Mr Noori, 37, drove his mother’s SUV into pedestrians outside Flinders Street station in Melbourne’s CBD. He was sentenced in the Supreme Court of Victoria to life imprisonment with a non-parole period of 30 years. Justice Elizabeth Hellingworth said it was “sheer good fortune” that ... ► Read more

  • Neo-Nazi pleads guilty to 2017 Charlottesville car attack

    The admitted neo-Nazi who deliberately drove into a group of protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 pleaded guilty to hate crimes in federal court on Wednesday (local time). As part of a plea deal, James Alex Fields Jr, 21, pleaded guilty to 29 of the 30 charges brought by prosecutors relating to the 2017 attack, which killed one woman and injured 35 others. In return, prosecutors agreed that they would not seek the death penalty. ... ► Read more

  • Iran, Arab world condemn US’ Golan Heights recognition

    United States President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights has united Washington’s Gulf Arab allies and regional foe Iran in condemnation. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait criticised Monday’s (local time) move to recognise Israel’s 1981 annexation and said the territory was occupied Arab land. Riyadh and Abu Dhabi said it was an impediment to peace. Iran echoed the comments, describing Mr Trump’s decision as unprecedented ... ► Read more

  • Stormy Daniels’ former lawyer charged with extortion, embezzlement, fraud

    Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who represented Stormy Daniels in her claims against United States President Donald Trump, has been charged with extortion, embezzlement and fraud, according to US federal prosecutors. The US attorney’s office in New York charged Mr Avenatti with trying to extort more than $20 million from Nike, following his arrest on Monday (local time). It is alleged that he and an unnamed co-conspirator told Nike’s lawyers on 19 March that they had ... ► Read more

  • Trump campaign did not collude with Russia, says Mueller report

    Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States presidential election found no evidence of criminal activity on the part of President Donald Trump’s campaign but stopped short of exonerating the President, according to a summary of Mr Mueller’s report released by US Attorney-General William Barr. After two years of investigating allegations that Russia interfered with the 2016 election to secure victory for Mr Trump, Mr Mueller provided his report to ... ► Read more

  • EU agrees Brexit delay plan

    All 27 European Union leaders have backed a Brexit delay plan that gives the United Kingdom two options — pass Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal next week for an extension until 22 May, or decide by 12 April whether it will participate in the upcoming European Parliament elections. If the UK opts not to participate in the elections and the deal has not passed the House of Commons, the EU would let Britain drop out ... ► Read more

  • Erdogan’s Christchurch comments “taken out of context”

    The senior spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the leader was “unfortunately taken out of context” in comments in which he appeared to threaten violence to Australians and New Zealanders after the Christchurch massacre. Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a white supremacist, was charged with murder after a lone gunman opened fire in attacks on the two mosques during Friday prayers, killing 50 people. In a campaign rally ahead of local elections on 31 ... ► Read more

  • Teen released without charge after egging Senator Fraser Anning

    The Melbourne teen who egged Senator Fraser Anning on Saturday has been interviewed and released by police without charge, pending further investigations. Will Connolly — dubbed “Egg Boy” — was hit in the face by Senator Anning after the teen slapped an egg on the Senator’s head. The 17-year-old’s action came after the Queensland Senator blamed Muslim immigration for the Christchurch Mosque attacks that killed 50 people on Friday. Mr Connolly’s lawyer Peter Gordon said ... ► Read more

  • “Very offended”: PM to summon Turkish ambassador over Erdogan’s ANZAC comments

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison will summon Turkey’s ambassador today after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan mocked the Gallipoli campaign and threatened Australian and New Zealand citizens. Mr Erdogan said the terror attacks in Christchurch last Friday were part of a wider attack on Turkey and indicative of global anti-Muslim sentiment. The Turkish President took aim at the Anzacs’ participation in the Gallipoli campaign, threatening that Australians and New Zealanders with anti-Islam sentiment who visit Turkey ... ► Read more

  • Dutch police arrest man for tram shooting

    Dutch police have arrested a Turkish man suspected of killing three people and wounding five on a tram in Utrecht on Monday. Gokmen Tanis, 37, was taken into custody after a manhunt lasting several hours, and was known to police. The city was put into lockdown after the shooting, and police warned the public not to approach Mr Tanis. Although authorities initially said it was an apparent terrorist attack, the motive remains unclear. A prosecutor ... ► Read more

  • The psychology of fear and hate, and what each of us can do to stop it

    As an immigrant to New Zealand, I am saddened and outraged by the events in Christchurch. The apparent innocence of New Zealand has been stripped away by acts of cowardice and evil. Police remain on high alert and authorities are still responding to events following the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch that took the lives of 50 people and seriously injured many more. Three people have been arrested, and one, an Australian living in ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 10 March – 16 March 2019

    49 killed in NZ mosque shootings Three suspects are in custody following deadly shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Major parties launch NSW election campaigns On Sunday the New South Wales branches of the Liberal and Labor parties officially launched their election campaigns, two weeks ahead of the 23 March polling date. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. George Pell ... ► Read more

  • US Senate overturns Trump’s border emergency declaration, setting up veto

    The United States Senate voted on Thursday (local time) to overturn President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the southwestern border. Twelve Republican Senators joined the Democrats and independents in voting down the measure 59–41, arguing that the President had exceeded his authority by trying to build a wall on the border with Mexico without congressional approval. “Never before has a President asked for funding, Congress has not provided it, and the President ... ► Read more

  • PM says Australian IS members will not return home

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reiterated that his government will not allow Australian Islamic State members to return to the country. In response to pleas for help from an Australian woman trapped with her two children in a refugee camp for IS families, Mr Morrison declared that he would not put Australians at risk by helping home-grown extremists to return from the Middle East. The woman is being held at a refugee camp in north-east ... ► Read more

  • George Pell sentenced to 6 years in gaol

    Cardinal George Pell has been sentenced to six years in prison for sexually abusing two choirboys during his tenure as Archbishop of Melbourne in the 1990s. Mr Pell, 77, will serve a minimum of three years and eight months before he is eligible for parole. County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd described the cardinal’s offences as “a brazen and forcible sexual attack on the victims”. “The acts were sexually graphic, both victims were visibly and ... ► Read more

  • Venezeula: Juan Guaido investigated for sabotage

    Venezuela’s Chief Prosecutor Tarek Saab says he has asked the Supreme Court to investigate opposition leader Juan Guaido for allegedly sabotaging the country’s electrical system. Much of Venezuela has been without power since Thursday (local time) afternoon. President Nicolás Maduro has said that “US technology” was used to sabotage the electricity grid and has pointed the finger at the opposition. Mr Guaido says it is down to government mismanagement. Mr Saab’s announcement came just hours ... ► Read more

  • House Democrats open corruption probe into Trump

    The United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary has opened an investigation into allegations of corruption against President Donald Trump and his administration. On Monday (local time) the Judiciary Committee demanded documents from the White House, and the President’s company, charity, transition team, and election campaign, as well as several of his associates and both adult sons. Committee chairman Jerry Nadler opened the probe with letters to 81 people and entities seeking documents ... ► Read more

  • Julian Burnside QC to run as Greens candidate against Josh Frydenberg

    Outspoken barrister and human rights advocate Julian Burnside QC will run as the Greens candidate for Kooyong against incumbent Liberal MP and Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. Mr Burnside said he is concerned that the political system is “broken” and that his wife had urged him to run for office. He decided to join the Greens after determining that their policies are “consistent” with his views. “The Greens used to be regarded just as a party ... ► Read more

  • PM pledges $328 million to fight domestic violence

    The Morrison Government has pledged an extra $328 million to combat domestic violence, with much of that funding going towards safe houses and frontline services. The three-year funding commitment represents the fourth and final stage of the National Action Plan that was developed, in consultation with the states, in 2010. Announcing the “record Commonwealth investment”, Prime Minister Scott Morrison will also unveil a new prevention strategy to target the negative attitudes that lead to violence. ... ► Read more

  • Prince Charles charity linked to Russian money laundering network

    Key points A Moscow-based investment bank called Troika Dialog managed a network of offshore companies which funnelled money across Europe and the US. Some of the offshore companies were involved in money laundering. Dirty money was mixed with legitimate money and distributed via screen companies, making it impossible to trace back to the source. End recipients most likely were not aware of any wrongdoing. A charity run by Prince Charles was one such recipient. It ... ► Read more

  • Venezuela: Guaido calls for mass protests on return

    Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido has called for mass protests across the country on Monday, following a week-long tour of South American allies. In January this year, the opposition-controlled National Assembly declared incumbent President Nicolas Maduro’s re-election fraudulent, and proclaimed Mr Guaido as interim President in accordance with the country’s constitution. Mr Guaido has been recognised by more than 50 countries as the interim President of Venezuela, and defied a travel ban imposed by President ... ► Read more

  • Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to be indicted on corruption charges

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, according to the country’s Attorney-General. Mr Netanyahu is alleged to have accepted gifts from wealthy businessmen and given favours to improve his press coverage. Among the allegations is that he accepted expensive gifts including cigars, champagne and jewellery from Israeli-born film producer Arnon Milchan in return for assistance with an American visa. The Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, says ... ► Read more

  • Australia drops out of top 10 countries in rule of law index

    Australia has dropped out of the top 10 in global rankings on adherence to the rule of law, with annual global results showing more countries declined than improved their performance. Australia now stands at 11th place out of 126 countries in the World Justice Project index. The score places Australia second out of 15 countries in the East Asia and Pacific region, and also 11th out of 38 high income countries. The country’s best result ... ► Read more

  • Cardinal George Pell may be stripped of titles and honours following conviction

    Cardinal George Pell may be stripped of his titles and honours, following his conviction for child sexual offences, with some institutions and organisations already moving to revoke his positions. In December Cardinal Pell was convicted of five counts of child sexual offences committed against two 13-year-old boys in late 1996, but this was subject to a suppression order that was lifted on Tuesday. Vatican spokesperson Alessandro Gisotti confirmed that Cardinal Pell is no longer the ... ► Read more

  • Institutional structures create monsters like Pell

    For those who haven’t heard, the verdict on Cardinal Pell has just come out. Shocker — he’s been found guilty. If you’ve been living under a rock, Cardinal George Pell — the highest ranking member of the Roman Catholic Church in Australia — was accused of sexually assaulting underage boys a while ago. Strangely enough, he denied this claim. Back in December he was found guilty, and now that verdict has been released to the public. It’s ... ► Read more

  • Cardinal George Pell convicted of sexually abusing two choir boys

    Cardinal George Pell, Australia’s most senior Catholic cleric, has been found guilty of sexually abusing two choir boys while he was Archbishop of Melbourne. Cardinal Pell was convicted on all charges, including one count of sexual penetration of a child under the age of 16 and four counts of committing an indecent act with, or in the presence of, a child. The abuse took place in 1996 at St Patrick’s Cathedral. Cardinal Pell pleaded not ... ► Read more

  • Lawsuit claims Trump kissed campaign worker without consent

    A woman who worked on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has sued the President, accusing him of kissing her without consent before a 2016 rally in Tampa, Florida. Alva Johnson said in the lawsuit that the alleged incident was “part of a pattern of predatory and harassing behavior towards women” by Mr Trump. “This accusation is absurd on its face,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement. “This never happened and is directly contradicted ... ► Read more

  • Brexit could be delayed until 2021, as PM postpones vote

    Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union could be delayed until 2021, according to senior EU officials. The United Kingdom is scheduled to leave the EU on 29 March 2019, but Prime Minister Theresa May has been unable to secure the support of the British Parliament for her Brexit deal. Extending the negotiating period by a further 21 months is the EU’s default position, but would mean that the UK remains within the EU while plans ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 17 February – 23 February 2019

    Liberals, Nationals, Labor targeted in “sophisticated” cyber attack, says PM The Liberal, National and Labor parties were all targeted in a recent cyber attack on Federal Parliament, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. ABF admits “human error” contributed to Hakeem al-Araibi’s detention Australian Border Force (ABF) officials have admitted “human error” in their agency’s handling of Melbourne refugee Hakeem al-Araibi’s case, saying processes that might have prevented ... ► Read more

  • Bourke St rampage killer sentenced to life imprisonment

    James Gargasoulas has been sentenced to life imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 46 years, for a 2017 attack that killed six pedestrians. On 20 January 2017 Mr Gargasoulas used a stolen car to mow down pedestrians in Melbourne’s busy Bourke Street mall. Among those dead were a three-month-old baby and a 10-year-old girl. In the Supreme Court of Victoria on Friday, Justice Mark Weinberg sentenced Mr Gargasoulas to life imprisonment for each of the ... ► Read more

  • Anita Cobby’s killer dies in prison aged 66

    A judge described Michael Murphy’s crimes as “horrifying” while the crown prosecutor called them “savage”. Now, the man who abducted, raped and killed Sydney nurse Anita Cobby in 1986 has died in jail, aged 66. Murphy was one of five men, including two of his brothers, given a life sentence over the infamous killing, which shocked Australia. The media dubbed the 45-day court proceedings as “the trial of the century”. At the sentencing, Justice Alan ... ► Read more

  • Personae non grata — how ISIS members are being stripped of their citizenship and potentially left stateless

    Neil Prakash, Shamima Begum and Hoda Muthana share a lot in common. All three were born in western countries. They all left their home countries to join Islamic State. And they have all now been stripped of their citizenships. Mr Prakash was born in Melbourne, Australia. He converted to Islam in 2012 and left for Syria in 2013. Ms Begum was born in the United Kingdom and flew to Syria with two friends in 2015, ... ► Read more

  • AG says new medical transfer law has loopholes, refuses to publish legal advice

    Attorney-General Christian Porter has claimed the new medical evacuation (medevac) law passed by both houses of Parliament last week could remove the Government’s ability to return an asylum seeker to offshore detention. Citing fresh legal advice, Mr Porter told the ABC that the law was not linked back to the relevant section of the Migration Act, which grants power to return asylum seekers once they’ve been treated. “It is a terrible law, but this legal ... ► Read more

  • UK strips ISIS teen of British citizenship

    The United Kingdom has cancelled the citizenship of a London teenager who left Britain to join Islamic State (IS), according to her family’s lawyer. Shamima Begum left Britain four years ago, when she was 15, to join the fundamentalist terrorist organisation. Ms Begum was found in a refugee camp in Syria by The Times newspaper this month. Now 19, Ms Begum recently gave birth to a baby boy, and wants to return to the UK. She says ... ► Read more

  • Accused Melbourne child abuser Malka Leifer refused bail by Israeli court

    The Jerusalem District Court in Israel has denied bail to former Melbourne school principal and accused child sexual abuser Malka Leifer, who is fighting against extradition to Australia. Ms Leifer has been charged with 74 counts of child sexual abuse relating to allegations that she abused female students at the Jewish orthodox Adass Israel school in Melbourne. Judge Ram Wingrad ruled that she should remain in custody, ahead of an extradition hearing scheduled for 6 ... ► Read more

  • ABF admits “human error” contributed to Hakeem al-Araibi’s detention

    Australian Border Force (ABF) officials have admitted “human error” in their agency’s handling of Melbourne refugee Hakeem al-Araibi’s case, saying processes that might have prevented him from being detained in Thailand “broke down”. Mr al-Araibi spent two months in a Bangkok prison after having an Interpol red notice issued against him, despite being recognised as a refugee. He was released last week after a decision by Thai officials not to pursue extradition proceedings. “Having reviewed ... ► Read more

  • Liberals, Nationals, Labor targeted in “sophisticated” cyber attack, says PM

    The Liberal, National and Labor parties were all targeted in a recent cyber attack on Federal Parliament, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday. While Mr Morrison said investigators were yet to find any evidence of electoral interference, he did confirm Australia’s cyber security agencies believe a foreign government is behind the attack. “Our cyber experts believe that a sophisticated state actor is responsible for this malicious activity,” Mr Morrison told Parliament. “Let me be ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 10 February – 16 February 2019

    Government loses vote on own legislation as refugee treatment bill jumps constitutional hurdle The Federal Government has lost a vote on its own legislation for the first time in 78 years. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Trump to declare national emergency to build border wall United States President Donald Trump will sign a border security bill to dodge another government shutdown and declare a national emergency to fund the construction of his wall ... ► Read more

  • Former ATO deputy found not guilty of misusing position

    Michael Cranston has been found not guilty of misusing his position as former Deputy Commissioner of the Australian Tax Office (ATO). Mr Cranston was alleged to have attempted to arrange a meeting between the ATO and payroll company Plutus, in which his son was involved, and whose accounts were frozen by the ATO due to unpaid taxes and charges approximating $40 million. The prosecution alleged that between April and May 2017, Mr Cranston told an ... ► Read more

  • PM announces reopening of Christmas Island detention facility

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison today announced that the Government will reopen the Christmas Island immigration detention facility, following the Government’s defeat on medical treatment for refugees yesterday. The Prime Minister said the facility will be reopened in anticipation of an influx of asylum seeker boats. “We have approved putting in place the reopening of the Christmas Island detention facilities, both to deal with the prospect of arrivals as well as dealing with the prospect of ... ► Read more

  • Russia plans temporary Internet cut-off in “sovereign Internet” test

    Russia is planning to temporarily disconnect from the global Internet as part of a test of its cyber-defences. The test is to determine whether Russia has the technical capability to maintain a “sovereign Internet”, with a draft law introduced to the Russian Parliament last year calling for a domestic network that is able to operate independently. During the test, data being transmitted between Russian devices will stay within the country rather than be routed internationally. ... ► Read more

  • Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman sentenced to life imprisonment

    Infamous Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has been sentenced to life in prison, after a US court found him guilty of drug trafficking. Jurors, whose identities are confidential, found Mr Guzman guilty on all 10 counts after deliberating for six days. Authorities have described the evidence, which dates back to the late 1980s, as an “avalanche”. Mr Guzman reportedly showed no emotion while the verdict was read. However, once the Jury left the ... ► Read more

  • Government loses vote on own legislation as refugee treatment bill jumps constitutional hurdle

    The Federal Government has lost a vote on its own legislation for the first time in 78 years. On Thursday afternoon the House of Representatives voted in favour of a contentious bill that will allow asylum seekers in detention centres to be transferred to Australia for medical treatment, with doctors having a greater say in the process. Although Labor indicated it was willing to compromise on amendments to the Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) ... ► Read more

  • Tony Mokbel in critical condition after prison attack

    Underworld figure Tony Mokbel is in a critical condition after he was attacked by two other inmates in Victoria’s Barwon Prison. The maximum-security prison remains in lockdown after the 53-year-old was attacked at around 4:00 pm on Monday. Mr Mokbel was knocked unconscious and stabbed in the chest, and has been flown to the Royal Melbourne Hospital with serious head injuries. Victorian Commissioner for Corrections Dr Emma Cassar said CCTV footage showed Mr Mokbel being ... ► Read more

  • Byron Bay Bluesfest director threatens to move festival interstate

    Peter Noble, the director of the iconic Byron Bay Bluesfest, has threatened to move the festival out of New South Wales, claiming new State Government guidelines are threatening the viability of the event. Mr Noble said strict licensing and safety guidelines could cost organisers hundreds of thousands of dollars. “We are the industry professionals, we are the people that are presenting events at the highest levels,” Mr Noble said. “Bluesfest has just been inducted into ... ► Read more

  • Corruption trial of former Malaysian PM postponed

    The corruption trial of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has been postponed, after his lawyers filed an application to delay the trial. Mr Najib has been charged over his alleged involvement in the 1MDB state development fund scandal, in which more than US $4.5 billion of public money was embezzled. He is accused of receiving almost a quarter of 1MDB’s funds into his personal bank accounts, and faces 42 charges of corruption, money laundering ... ► Read more

  • Hakeem al-Araibi on Melbourne-bound flight after extradition case dismissed

    Melbourne-based refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi is headed home after his extradition case — instigated by an Interpol Red Notice issued by his native Bahrain — was dismissed by the Thai Attorney-General. Mr al-Araibi boarded a Thai Airways flight a little after midnight (local time) and is expected to land in Melbourne at about 1:00pm, where a crowd of supporters, including the Pascoe Vale Football Club and former Socceroos captain Craig Foster, will be waiting to meet him. ... ► Read more

  • Universal sues Clive Palmer over use of Twisted Sister hit

    Universal Music is suing Clive Palmer for copyright infringement, after the businessman used a reworked version of Twisted Sister’s 1984 hit “We’re Not Gonna Take It” to promote the United Australia Party. Universal bought the publishing rights to the song from Twisted Sister’s frontman and songwriter Dee Snider in 2015, and filed the suit last week. The band has publicly denounced the cover, with band manager and guitarist John Finch saying that the band “have ... ► Read more

  • Call for “empathy for the elderly” as Aged Care Royal Commission hearings begin

    Hearings of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety began in Adelaide today, with victims’ families and seniors’ groups among those to give evidence. Peter Gray QC, senior counsel assisting the Royal Commission, opened by saying a “culture of appreciation and respect for older people is needed”. Mr Gray also told the Commission that changes made to the aged care sector over the past 30 years have created “unintentional complexities” and the multitude ... ► Read more

  • Australia rejects Thailand’s claim it issued Interpol Red Notice against refugee footballer

    The Australian Embassy in Thailand has rejected a claim by the Thai Government that Canberra issued an Interpol arrest warrant for Melbourne-based refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi. Mr al-Araibi, who is wanted in his native Bahrain, was arrested by Thai authorities in November 2018 while on his honeymoon. The Thai Government said Mr al-Araibi was arrested at the request of the Australian Government, claiming that Australia alerted Thai authorities to the footballer’s travel. The Australian Embassy ... ► Read more

  • Netherlands “confident” Russia will agree to MH17 talks

    The Dutch Government says it is “increasingly confident” that Russian officials will soon agree to meet for private talks about who is responsible for the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014. A Dutch-led international investigation has concluded that the airliner was shot down using a Soviet-made surface-to-air BUK missile system. However, Russia vehemently denies any involvement. “We are in contact with Russia over national accountability via diplomatic channels,” a Dutch Foreign Ministry spokeswoman ... ► Read more

  • Security agencies investigating cyber security breach at Federal Parliament

    Australian security and intelligence agencies are investigating a cyber security breach at Federal Parliament overnight. In a statement, Parliament’s presiding officers, Speaker Tony Smith and Senate President Scott Ryan, said it appears no data has been stolen and that computer passwords have been reset as a precaution. “We have no evidence that this is an attempt to influence the outcome of parliamentary processes or to disrupt or influence electoral or political processes,” the statement said. ... ► Read more

  • NAB CEO cancels long-service leave in wake of scathing Banking Royal Commission report

    Andrew Thorburn, CEO of the National Australia Bank (NAB), has cancelled his planned long-service leave to deal with fallout from the Banking Royal Commission, which directly criticised both him and NAB chairperson Dr Ken Henry. Although he initially defended the decision to take long-service leave, Mr Thorburn cancelled his planned break today. “I am committed, I am determined, I believe in what we’re doing,” he said. “I believe a leader should be resilient. I cancelled ... ► Read more

  • Frydenberg: Government will “take action” on all Banking Royal Commission recommendations

    The Federal Government will “take action” on all 76 recommendations of the Banking Royal Commission, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has announced. Commissioner Kenneth Hayne’s three-volume report on misconduct in the banking, superannuation and financial services industry was tabled in Parliament and publicly released on Monday, with the Government providing its response in the afternoon. “From today, the banking sector must change and change forever,” Mr Frydenberg told reporters. “My message to the financial sector today is ... ► Read more

  • Taxpayers may face future liabilities over Opal Tower

    Taxpayers may foot the bill for future liabilities flowing from the Opal Tower controversy, because a state government agency retained ownership of at least 43 units within the Sydney Olympic Park development. Cracks within the 34-storey apartment building appeared on Christmas Eve, resulting in dispute over responsibility between developer Ecove and building firm Icon Construction. However, NSW taxpayers may bear the costs of rectifying the building and compensating owners for losses because the Sydney Olympic ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 27 January – 2 February 2019

    Sydney light rail: NSW may pay over $600 million extra in dispute settlement with Acciona The New South Wales Government could pay Acciona — the Spanish company contracted to build Sydney’s $2 billion light rail — more than $600 million in a dispute settlement. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. 2019 election: Julia Banks to challenge Greg Hunt for Flinders Liberal MP-turned-independent Julia Banks will contest the seat of Flinders in the upcoming general ... ► Read more

  • Queensland LNP expels state MP Jason Costigan

    The Liberal National Party (LNP) has expelled north Queensland MP Jason Costigan less than 48 hours after he was suspended over a harassment complaint. Earlier this week the LNP revealed it had received a second complaint from the family of a woman in relation to Mr Costigan, having already suspended the Whitsunday MP on an unrelated harassment complaint. The Queensland branch of the Liberal Party made the unanimous decision during a state executive meeting at ... ► Read more

  • Federal and State Governments reject Murray-Darling Royal Commission recommendations

    The Federal, New South Wales and Victorian Governments remain firmly in support of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, despite a South Australian Royal Commission finding the plan is based on politics rather than science and recommending it be completely overhauled. Released yesterday, the report of the Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission found the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) had acted unlawfully and negligently, and committed maladministration in its approach to developing the plan to sustainably manage the river ... ► Read more

  • Royal Commission: Murray-Darling officials committed “gross maladministration” and acted unlawfully

    The Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission, set up by the Governor of South Australia, has found that Commonwealth officials committed gross maladministration, negligence and unlawful actions in preparing the Basin Plan to save the river system. Headed by Commissioner Bret Walker SC, the Royal Commission has recommended major reforms, including resetting water saving limits, repealing the outcome of the Northern Basin Review, and new measurements for water on floodplains. The Commission found that the Basin Plan ... ► Read more

  • Morrison: Australia is “pushing on every door” to get Hakeem al-Araibi released

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison told 2GB on Thursday that the Government is “pushing on every door” to secure the release of Melbourne-based refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi. The Prime Minister said he had not received a reply to his letter to Thai counterpart Prayuth Chan-ocha, in which he urged Bangkok to return Mr al-Araibi to Australia. In the letter Mr Morrison reportedly pointed out that Mr al-Araibi has a permanent protection visa, stressing the thorough process ... ► Read more

  • Trump ally Roger Stone pleads not guilty to Mueller probe charges

    Roger Stone, a former political adviser to United States President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign and longtime ally, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he attempted to obstruct a congressional investigation into allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Mr Stone was arrested in an early-morning raid on his home in Florida, and is the latest of Mr Trump’s close political allies to be charged as a consequence of Special Counsel Robert ... ► Read more

  • “Time is running out”: Hakeem al-Araibi’s wife sends pleas for help to Canada, New Zealand

    The wife of Australian refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi has written to the prime ministers of Canada and New Zealand in a desperate bid for help over her husband’s detention in Thailand. In letters reported by The Guardian, she urged the Canadian and New Zealand leaders to act, warning that a decision to return him to Bahrain could mean “possible death”. Mr al-Araibi’s wife, who did not want to be named, cited the recent case of ... ► Read more

  • US announces criminal charges against tech giant Huawei

    The United States officially announced on Monday (local time) that it has laid 13 criminal charges against China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, several of its subsidiaries, and its Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Meng Wanzhou. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has charged Huawei and Ms Meng with conspiring to violate US sanctions on Iran by using a subsidiary company to do business with Tehran. Ms Meng has denied allegations that she played a lead role ... ► Read more

  • US sanctions Venezuelan state-owned oil firm, urges military accept peaceful power transition

    The United States has imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) as tensions between Caracas and the West continue to worsen. During a joint White House press conference with Treasurer Steven Mnuchin, National Security Adviser John Bolton announced the sanctions on the oil firm, which exports 41% of its products to the US. “We have continued to expose the corruption of [Nicolas] Maduro and his cronies and today’s action ensures that ... ► Read more

  • Australian writer charged with espionage in China

    Prominent Australian-Chinese writer Yang Hengjun has been charged with espionage “endangering China’s national security” and engaging in “criminal activities”, China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying has said at a media briefing in Beijing. “According to our understanding, the Australian national Yang Hengjun was suspected of engaging in criminal activities endangering China’s national security,” Ms Hua said. “At present, the case is being handled according to law, and Yang Hengjun’s legitimate rights and interests have been ... ► Read more

  • Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen postpones testimony, citing threats from the President

    Michael Cohen, former lawyer to United States President Donald Trump, has postponed his testimony to Congress due to threats against his family from the President. Mr Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, said in a statement that Mr Cohen has decided to to postpone his scheduled 7 February appearance because of “ongoing threats against his family from Trump”. In an interview with Fox News this month, the President indicated he had damaging information relating to Mr Cohen’s ... ► Read more

  • Julian Assange launches legal action against US

    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has launched a legal challenge against the United States Government in a bid to reveal charges that are “secretly filed” against him. The Australian whistleblower has been living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London under political asylum since 2012. Mr Assange believes that if he were to step outside the embassy, he would be extradited to the US. In an attempt to ward off the possible extradition, Mr Assange’s lawyers have ... ► Read more

  • China confirms detention of Australian citizen

    China has confirmed to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) that it has detained prominent Chinese-Australian writer and blogger Yang Hengjun. Mr Yang had landed at Guangzhou airport after flying from New York last week when he disappeared. In a brief statement, DFAT said that on Wednesday “Chinese authorities informed the Australian Embassy in Beijing” of Mr Yang’s detention, and that the “Department is seeking to clarify the nature of this detention and ... ► Read more

  • US Supreme Court lifts injunctions on transgender military service ban

    On Tuesday, the Unites States’ highest court lifted two temporary injunctions that had prevented the Trump administration from enforcing its ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. By a 5–4 majority the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to overturn the injunctions, but declined to further intervene in the cases until after lower court appeals have been completed. The injunctions were issued in relation to President Donald Trump’s August 2017 Memorandum on Military ... ► Read more

  • Six people charged over alleged million dollar baby formula ring

    A “lucrative” organised crime ring that allegedly sold baby formula stolen from around Sydney on the black market overseas raked in $1 million in just 12 months, police say. Six people have been charged after police received information about coordinated thefts of formula and vitamins from major retailers last year. Detective Superintendent Daniel Doherty said the “unscrupulous activity” was fuelled by greed, and had been operating for years. “Police will continue to pursue these people ... ► Read more

  • Trump says proposed shutdown-breaking deal won’t give amnesty to “dreamers”

    United States President Donald Trump says his proposed deal to end the ongoing government shutdown would not lead to amnesty for “Dreamers” — undocumented youth migrants — but has indicated he could support an amnesty for illegal immigrants as part of a later compromise. Mr Trump said on Twitter that he would not seek the deportation of millions of illegal immigrants living in the US, and attacked Democrat leaders for refusing his offer. “Amnesty is ... ► Read more

  • Private trusts costing billions in tax revenue, claims report

    Private trusts are being used to avoid paying potentially billions in tax, according to a report by RMIT University that was commissioned by the Australian Tax Office (ATO). The report, titled “Current Issues with Trusts and the Tax System”, said that income from trusts was more than $340 billion in 2013–14, but the current method of monitoring and taxing trusts is out-of-date compared to other countries. “The largest part of the tax office’s information about trusts comes through voluntary lodgement of trust ... ► Read more

  • Nairobi terror attack death toll rises to 21

    The Kenyan Government has confirmed 21 people were killed in a terror attack at a luxurious hotel and business complex in Nairobi on Tuesday (local time). Eyewitnesses painted a chaotic scene, with hundreds of people fleeing the complex to escape the attackers. According to the BBC, 28 people have been admitted to hospital for treatement, while 19 remain missing. Al-Shabaab — the Somalia-based extremist group that carried out the 2013 Westgate Mall terror attack that ... ► Read more

  • Woman found dead in Melbourne reportedly Israeli student

    The woman found dead just metres from a Melbourne tram stop on Wednesday morning was reportedly an international student studying in Australia. Israeli media said the woman was aged in her 20s, and that the Israeli consulate in Australia was now arranging for the victim’s body to be returned to her family. Police are expected to further canvass nearby streets on Thursday in a bid to determine how she died, and what led to her ... ► Read more

  • Australian Government concerned by death sentence for Canadian man convicted in China

    The Australian Government has deep concerns over the death sentence given by a Chinese court to a Canadian man convicted of drug smuggling. Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was sentenced to death for attempting to smuggle a quarter of a tonne of methamphetamine from China to Australia in 2014. Mr Schellenberg was initially sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, but on appeal to the Dalian Intermediate People’s Court he was sentenced to death. “We are deeply concerned with ... ► Read more

  • Australian Government providing assistance to woman detained in Bangkok

    The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is providing consular assistance to an Australian woman who has been detained by Thai authorities in Bangkok for over a week, a department spokesperson has confirmed. Claire Johnson, 46, was expected to arrive in Sydney last week after travelling the world for a year, but was detained when trying to exit Thailand. In a series of Facebook messages Ms Johnson asked her friend Juliet Potter to contact ... ► Read more