Germany cancels arrest warrant for Lebanon’s ex-central bank chief

German authorities have canceled their arrest warrant for Lebanon’s former central bank chief Riad Salameh for technical reasons. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 19 June 2024
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Germany cancels arrest warrant for Lebanon’s ex-central bank chief

  • The cancelation had come after an appeal from the defendant, and because he no longer held the position of central bank chief
  • The regional court of Munich had “confirmed the urgent suspicion with regard to the offenses charged against the defendant“

MUNICH/BEIRUT: German authorities have canceled their arrest warrant for Lebanon’s former central bank chief for technical reasons, but are continuing their probe and keeping his assets frozen, the Munich prosecutor’s office told Reuters on Wednesday.
Riad Salameh, 73, was Lebanon’s central bank governor for 30 years until July 2023. In his final months as governor, Germany issued an arrest warrant for him on corruption charges, two sources in Lebanon told Reuters.
Responding to questions from Reuters, a spokeswoman for the Munich prosecutor’s office confirmed on Wednesday that the arrest warrant was canceled on June 10.
The spokeswoman said the cancelation had come after an appeal from the defendant, and because he no longer held the position of central bank chief — meaning there was “no longer any risk that he will suppress evidence in this function.”
She said the regional court of Munich had “confirmed the urgent suspicion with regard to the offenses charged against the defendant” and that Germany’s “investigations are ongoing.”
Salameh declined a Reuters request for comment on the development.
Salameh and his brother Raja are being investigated in Lebanon and at least five European countries for allegedly taking hundreds of millions of dollars from Lebanon’s central bank and laundering the funds abroad. They deny the accusations.
Germany confirmed in February that it was conducting money laundering investigations into Salameh and his brother, and had issued an arrest warrant.
The Munich public prosecutor’s office said in February it had also seized three commercial properties in Munich and Hamburg with a total value of around 28 million euros, and shares worth around seven million euros in a Duesseldorf-based property company, as part of the case.
On Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the public prosecutor’s office said it had “dismissed as unfounded” an appeal against the seizure order, which it said dated back to Jan. 26, 2023.
Lebanese judge Helene Iskandar, who has charged Salameh in a separate case in Lebanon and has been following up on the foreign probes into him, confirmed on Wednesday that the warrant had been canceled but that Germany’s investigation into Salameh would remain open.
Salameh still faces an arrest warrant in France as part of its own investigation into whether he embezzled public funds, as well as a resultant Interpol red notice.


Iraq recovers remains of 139 likely Daesh victims from mass grave

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Iraq recovers remains of 139 likely Daesh victims from mass grave

MOSUL: Iraqi authorities have removed the remains of 139 people from a large pit believed to contain victims of Daesh, an official said on Sunday.
The Alo Antar hole — a natural desert feature turned into a mass grave by Daesh extremists — is located in Tal Afar, some 70 kilometers (40 miles) west of Mosul in northern Iraq.
It is not known how many bodies were dumped in the pit, but search efforts for other victims are ongoing.
“We have removed the remains of 139 persons and also human body parts,” said Dia Karim, director of the mass graves department at the Foundation of Martyrs — a government institution tasked with finding mass graves and identifying remains.
“They include women and men,” Karim said, adding that “according to testimonies, the victims date back to Daesh rule” or before when Al-Qaeda was present in the area.
Testimonies also suggest, according to Karim, that “the victims are Yazidis, Shiite Turkmen and security forces personnel from Mosul,” the de facto capital of Daesh’s self-declared “caliphate.”
At its peak, the group ruled over swathes of Syria and Iraq, while its fighters committed beheadings, torture and enslavement, turning life into a living hell and leaving behind many mass graves.
In northern Iraq, they committed some of their worst atrocities against the Yazidis — an ethnic and religious minority — including mass executions and sexual slavery.
Ahmed Assadi from the Foundation of Martyrs said the victims “were not buried but dumped in the hole,” whose full depth ranges between 42 and 12 meters.
“Some of the victims had been shot and others were found with their throats cut,” and several bodies were found in body bags.
Assadi added that some of the clothing found on them indicated that they might have been Yazidis or Turkmen, adding that other bodies were found in orange jumpsuits of the kind typically worn by Daesh hostages.
The bodies recovered from Alo Antar were taken to forensic departments to be identified using DNA testing.
The mass grave was discovered after Iraqi forces retook control of the area in 2017, but the work to recover the bodies only started in May of this year.
Iraqi authorities frequently announce the discovery of mass graves of Daesh victims, as well as those containing Daesh extremists themselves and others dating to the rule of dictator Saddam Hussein, but the identification process is slow, costly and complicated.
The United Nations estimates the extremists left behind more than 200 mass graves which might contain as many as 12,000 bodies.
A similar but much larger sinkhole known as Al-Khasfa in northern Iraq is also thought to contain the bodies of many Daesh victims.
In northern Syria, a 50-meter-deep gorge has been used as a dumping site for dead bodies during and after Daesh rule, according to a 2020 Human Rights Watch report.

UAE delivers medical aid to Gaza after Israeli attack on refugee camps

Updated 9 min 33 sec ago
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UAE delivers medical aid to Gaza after Israeli attack on refugee camps

  • The initiative follows Israel’s targeting of displaced Palestinians at camps in Khan Younis on Saturday

DUBAI: The UAE delivered three tonnes of medical supplies and a range of medicines to support the healthcare sector and hospitals still operating in the Gaza Strip, the UAE state news agency reported on Sunday.

The initiative follows Israel’s targeting of displaced Palestinians at camps in Khan Younis on Saturday.

The medical aid includes medical supplies for hospitals facing shortages, medicines for various injuries, insulin for diabetic patients, and other solutions to bolster the healthcare sector during the crisis.

The UAE on Sunday condemned Israel’s attack on refugee camps in Khan Younis, which claimed the lives of 100 people.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Saturday expressed its strongest condemnation and denunciation of what it termed “continued genocidal massacres against the Palestinian people at the hands of the Israeli war machine.”


US, UK strike Houthi targets in Yemen’s northern Hajjah

Updated 23 min 17 sec ago
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US, UK strike Houthi targets in Yemen’s northern Hajjah

  • Houthi-run Al-Masirah TV said on Sunday that the US and UK “aggression” struck Medi district in Hajjah province

AL-MUKALLA: US and UK forces on Sunday hit a Houthi target in an area of north Yemeni region, while an EU naval operation destroyed a Yemeni militia drone in the Gulf of Aden. 

Houthi-run Al-Masirah TV said on Sunday that the US and UK “aggression” struck Medi district in Hajjah province on Sunday, the latest round of strikes by the US and UK against the Houthis in retribution for the militia’s anti-ship operation.

The Houthi TV station did not provide details on the targeted area or any human or property damage.

This comes as the EU military operation in the Red Sea, known as Aspides, said on Sunday that its Greek warship Psara shot down a drone suspected to have been launched by the Houthis in the Gulf of Aden.

The warship was repelling a barrage of Houthi explosive-laden drones aimed at a commercial ship escorted by the EU mission. 

“This operation aims to protect the lives of seafarers, ensure global trade, protect global common goods, uphold freedom of navigation, and contribute to regional peace and security,” the EU naval mission said on X. 

In response to Houthi attacks on ships, which began in November, the US formed a coalition marine task force in the Red Sea, designated the Houthis as a terrorist organization, and launched strikes on Houthi military locations and mobile drone and missile launchers in Hodeidah, Sanaa and other areas of Yemen controlled by the Houthis.

The Houthis claim that their campaign against the ship is solely aimed at targeting Israel-bound ships and those linked to Israel to put pressure on Israel to halt its military operations in the Gaza Strip, as well as targeting US and UK ships after the two countries bombarded Yemeni territory under Houthi control.

Meanwhile, Yemen’s army said its soldiers in the southern city of Taiz repelled a Houthi attack on Saturday, killing and injuring six Houthis, according to SABA, the official news agency. 

In an attempt to take control of more areas in the besieged city of Taiz, the Houthis attacked the army’s mountainous sites in the city’s northeast on Saturday, resulting in fighting that killed two Houthis and injured four more.

The army said the Houthis were compelled to cease their attack and flee after failing to make any military advances. 

Despite a considerable decline in hostilities throughout Yemen since the UN-brokered ceasefire went into effect in April 2022, scores of government troops have been killed or injured in Houthi strikes on positions in Dhale, Taiz, Marib and other disputed districts.

Separately, one Yemeni soldier was killed and another was wounded on Saturday night while battling Al-Qaeda militants in a valley in the southern province of Abyan.

According to media channels funded by the Southern Transitional Council, Al-Qaeda assaulted the council’s soldiers in Abyan’s Omaran Valley with drones and heavy machine guns, killing one soldier and injuring another.

Since late 2022, more than 100 Yemeni soldiers have been killed in Al-Qaeda guerrilla raids as STC forces moved into the militia’s long-held hiding areas in rough and isolated valleys and mountains in Abyan and Shabwa. 


UK Foreign Secretary visits Israel and West Bank and calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza

Updated 14 July 2024
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UK Foreign Secretary visits Israel and West Bank and calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza

  • Lammy met Sunday in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and in the West Bank city of Ramallah with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

TEL AVIV: The new British foreign secretary called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza during a visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories on Sunday, his second international trip since Labour’s resounding victory in elections earlier this month.
David Lammy said the ongoing war in Gaza is “intolerable” and stressed in meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leadership that Britain wants to assist with diplomatic efforts “securing a ceasefire deal and creating the space for a credible and irreversible pathway toward a two-state solution.”
Lammy met Sunday in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and in the West Bank city of Ramallah with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He will meet with Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Monday. During his visit, Lammy will also meet with families of hostages currently being held in Gaza who have ties to the UK He called for the release of all hostages and a dramatic increase in the amount of humanitarian aid entering Gaza.
Lammy demanded Israel halt settlement expansion in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, and said that the Palestinian Authority needs to be “reformed and empowered.”
Both Lammy’s Labour Party and the previous Conservative government initially avoided calling for an immediate ceasefire in the war, using phrases like “humanitarian pause.” But the language has got stronger. Prime Minister Keir Starmer told Netanyahu last week there was a “clear and urgent need for a ceasefire.”
Labour’s stance on the Gaza war cost it votes in this month’s UK election. Although the party won in a landslide, pro-Palestinian independents defeated Labour candidates in several seats with large Muslim populations.
Lammy’s comments came the day after Israel said it had targeted Hamas’ shadowy military commander in a massive strike Saturday in the crowded southern Gaza Strip that killed at least 90 people, including children, according to local health officials.
Top Hamas officials said on Sunday that the negotiations for a possible ceasefire deal had not been halted because of the attack. Hamas also denied that Hamas military chief Mohammed Deif, the target of the strike, was killed and said Israel’s “false claims are merely a cover-up for the scale of the horrific massacre.”
Deif and Hamas’ top official in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, are believed by Israel to be the chief architects of the Oct. 7 attack that killed some 1,200 people in southern Israel and kidnapped 250, triggering the Israel-Hamas war.
Since then, Israeli ground offensives and bombardments have killed more than 38,400 people in Gaza and wounded more than 88,000, according to the territory’s Health Ministry. The ministry does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count.


Israeli police kill car-ramming suspect after pedestrians injured

Updated 14 July 2024
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Israeli police kill car-ramming suspect after pedestrians injured

  • Paramedics said two of the injured were in a serious condition

JERUSALEM: Israeli police shot dead a car driver supected of ramming into pedestrians waiting at a bus stop in a town on Sunday and injured four people, a spokesman said.
Police called it a “suspected terrorist attack” and said the driver had been “neutralized” during the incident at Nir Tzvi near the city of Lod, in central Israel.
Video footage widely shared on social media and broadcast on Israeli television showed a white car on the pavement next to a bus shelter and uniformed men firing at the car. Traffic is halted on the major highway.
The four wounded were taken to hospital. Paramedics said two of the injured were in a serious condition, with police saying one of the victims was in a “critical” state.
In a statement released by a first aid group, the paramedic Michelle Rashkovski said, “When we arrived at the scene, we saw a vehicle that had hit pedestrians stopped at a bus shelter. We immediately called additional forces to the scene.”