Prince Andrew ‘bewildered’ after Maxwell arrest

Britain’s Prince Andrew leaves St. Mary the Virgin church in Hillington, near Sandringham Estate, in Norfolk, Britain, January 19, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 03 July 2020

Prince Andrew ‘bewildered’ after Maxwell arrest

  • The daughter of the late newspaper baron Robert Maxwell is believed to have introduced Andrew to Epstein
  • Maxwell was arrested and charged by US authorities on Thursday after spending months living in seclusion

LONDON: Prince Andrew is “bewildered” by claims he is stonewalling a US investigation into the alleged sex trafficking of minors by British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell and the late financier Jeffrey Epstein, his legal team said Friday.
The daughter of the late newspaper baron Robert Maxwell is believed to have introduced Andrew to Epstein — a convicted paedophile — and US authorities want to speak to the prince about their relationship.
Maxwell was arrested and charged by US authorities on Thursday after spending months living in seclusion. She faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted of all charges.
Epstein committed suicide in jail while awaiting trial last year and Queen Elizabeth II’s second son quit his royal duties after he defended his relationship with the late financier.
Andrew has since faced claims from US prosecutors that he is avoiding their requests for a face-to-face interview.
“The duke’s team remains bewildered given that we have twice communicated with the DOJ in the last month and to date we have had no response,” an unnamed source on his legal team was quoted as saying by the Press Association news agency.
Acting US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss told reporters on Thursday she would “welcome Prince Andrew coming in to talk with us.”
“We would like to have the benefit of his statement,” she added.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the British government had not been approached by US authorities with requests to either assist their investigation or to help arrange an interview with the prince.
“No such approach has been made. It’s a matter for the royal family,” he told LBC radio.
“Were it to be made... it would be a matter for the British government,” said Johnson. “Of course, the law must be carried out and the law must be observed.”
The 60-year-old Duke of York has strenuously denied claims he had sex with a 17-year-old girl procured by Epstein.
Pictures of him posing with his arm around the girl’s waist forced Andrew to give a disastrous TV interview to the BBC in November that was quickly followed by his standing down from all royal duties.
A lawyer who represents some of Epstein’s alleged victims told British television on Friday that the prince was “avoiding and evading” the US authorities.
“More excuses, more delays, it really is painful for many of the victims. It’s just not fair,” lawyer Gloria Allred told ITV.
Another lawyer representing the alleged victims said Andrew’s royal connections were helping him avoid facing justice.
“He has been hiding behind not only the royal family but his attorneys,” lawyer Spencer Coogan told BBC radio.
A US attorney for the Southern District of New York said last month that Andrew had “repeatedly declined our request to schedule” an interview.


Sri Lanka casts its vote under shadow of virus

Updated 06 August 2020

Sri Lanka casts its vote under shadow of virus

  • Security crackdown as more than 7,400 candidates contest twice-delayed election

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka went to the polls on Wednesday to elect 225 members to its 9th Parliament amid tight security and health precautions to limit the coronavirus pandemic.

The polls were twice-delayed after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa dissolved the assembly in March and postponed polls scheduled for April due to the outbreak, before finally deciding on Aug. 5 as the date for general elections.

Mahinda Deshapriya, chairman of the Sri Lanka Elections Commission (EC), said police had been given “shooting orders” in case of security breaches and strict health protocols had been introduced at polling booths.

Deshapriya said that all 12,985 polling booths had been sanitized as a preventive measure.

The elections were completed at an estimated cost of $48.6 million, up from the $37.8 million spent during last year’s presidential polls.

Speaking to Arab News on Wednesday, Samuel Ratnajeevan Hoole, an EC member, said that a 60 percent turnout by noon was a “good sign of voters’ response.”

“Our voters are matured and informed now, and they will choose whom they want irrespective of any racial or religious differences,” he said, adding that there were fewer poll-related complaints this year compared with previous elections.

There were 46 registered political parties and 313 independent groups vying for the 225-seat parliament, with a total of 7,452 candidates in the fray – 3,652 fielded by 46 parties and 3,800 representing 313 independent groups.

According to the EC, nearly 16,263,885 registered voters could make their choice at the elections.

At this election, 196 members are to be elected at the district level under the proportional representation system to the 225-member parliament, while 29 members will be chosen from the National List. Under the 1978 constitution, the members are elected to the 9th Parliament.

Dr. Ruwan Wijemuni, general director of health services in Colombo, credited the voters for “lending their cooperation in full to make it a grand success.” At the same time, police spokesman Jaliya Senaratne said there were no reports of violence from any part of the island.

“There were minor scuffles on the eve of the polls in some parts of the island which were settled then and there,” he added.

Ismathul Rahman, 57, from the coastal town of Negombo, told Arab News that this year people were “keen to elect the right people” for their respective electorate as it was “crucial for the country’s economy.”

“It was a peaceful poll without any remarkable incidents of violence. The EC has managed the show well,” said Khalid Farook, 70, former president of the All-Ceylon Young Men’s Muslim Association, Wednesday.