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Harvey Weinstein found guilty of rape in Los Angeles trial

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A Los Angeles jury on Monday found Harvey Weinstein guilty of rape, forced oral copulation and a third sexual misconduct charge after a weeks-long trial detailing harrowing allegations against him, according to the Associated Press. This was the former Hollywood producer’s second criminal trial; he is serving a 23-year sentence in New York state prison, though he was granted an appeal this year.

The convictions were related to one victim. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on three additional counts involving two other women, and Weinstein was acquitted of a sexual battery allegation made by another woman, the AP reported.

Weinstein faces a prison sentence of up to 24 years, according to the wire service.

While the sexual misconduct allegations against him prompted a surge in the #MeToo movement several years ago, Weinstein, 70, remains one of the few high-profile accused figures to face actual legal repercussions. The Los Angeles jury deliberated for 10 days, in multiple instances asking for certain testimony to be read back, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement to The Washington Post that he was “of course disappointed that the jury was split on some of the counts, but hope its partial verdicts bring at least some measure of justice to the victims.” He thanked “the survivors in this case, who exhibited extraordinary bravery in a case that put them in the national spotlight,” as well as the jurors for serving in such a “lengthy trial.”

“Our team will meet to determine whether or not we intend to retry the counts that were hung,” Gascón added.

Weinstein’s representative, Juda Engelmayer, said in a statement that “Harvey is obviously disappointed in the verdict.” He said the counts on which Weinstein was found guilty “have a strong likelihood of an appeal with positive results, as the logistics of the time and location of the alleged incident make no sense.”

Weinstein “is grateful for the jury’s work on the other counts and he’s determined to continue his legal challenges,” Engelmayer added.

Weinstein’s attorneys did not respond to a request for comment.

In October 2017, following explosive reports in the New York Times and New Yorker detailing decades of rape and sexual misconduct allegations against Weinstein, authorities in New York, London and Los Angeles launched investigations into the film executive’s alleged behavior. He was charged in New York in May 2018 on counts of rape and sexual abuse related to two separate accusers; just hours after that trial began in January 2020, he was charged in Los Angeles with the sexual assaults of two women in incidents said to have taken place in 2013.

In February 2020, the New York jury found that Weinstein had forced oral sex on a production assistant in 2006 and raped an aspiring actress in 2013, but it acquitted him of the most severe charges of predatory sexual assault. He received the 23-year state prison sentence the following month. In July 2021, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office indicted Weinstein on charges of sexually assaulting five women in incidents spanning a decade. He was extradited for the indictment from New York to Los Angeles, where he pleaded not guilty to every count.

The Los Angeles trial kicked off in October following a failed bid from Weinstein’s lawyers to push court proceedings in an attempt to avoid overlap with the “swirl of adverse publicity” his team said would accompany the November release of “She Said,” a feature-film rendering of the Times’s real-life investigation into Weinstein.

In opening statements, which began Oct. 24, prosecutors argued that there was a pattern to how Weinstein — who long had a reputation in the entertainment industry for aggressive behavior, especially as it related to awards season campaign tactics — allegedly targeted young women in Hollywood and threatened to harm their careers if they spoke up.

Multiple women who remained anonymous testified during the trial. The first, Jane Doe #1, said that she met Weinstein at a Los Angeles film festival in 2013 and that he showed up at her hotel room afterward, demanding he be let in, according to Deadline. She recalled “panicking with fear” as he allegedly forced her to perform oral sex on him and stated to the jury that she “wanted to die” as he assaulted her in the bathroom. She added, “I wish this never happened to me.”

All three of the convictions against Weinstein announced Monday involved allegations made by Jane Doe #1, the AP reported.

Jane Doe #2, an aspiring actress and playwright who previously testified in the New York trial as a supporting witness, also said Weinstein assaulted her in a hotel bathroom in 2013, according to Variety. Jane Doe #2 had shown up to the hotel expecting to pitch a script to Weinstein in the lobby, as was arranged by a relatively new friend of hers. Instead, the accuser said, the friend led her to Weinstein’s hotel suite and then left, shutting the door behind her.

The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the charge involving Jane Doe #2, identified by the AP as Lauren Young.

Variety reported that another accuser, a masseuse identified as Jane Doe #3, testified that Weinstein trapped her in a hotel bathroom, where he allegedly groped and yelled at her while masturbating. She said she agreed to see him again on the condition that he not make her uncomfortable again, but he repeated the behavior later on.

Jurors acquitted Weinstein of the felony sexual battery charge involving Jane Doe #3, according to Variety.

Among the most high-profile accusers to testify was Jennifer Siebel Newsom, 48, the documentary filmmaker and former actress married to California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). Siebel Newsom, whose attorney previously confirmed to The Post that Siebel Newsom was the accuser referred to in court filings as Jane Doe #4, accused Weinstein of raping her at a Beverly Hills hotel in 2005 when they met to discuss her career. She said that she hadn’t expected him to be alone when she arrived, according to the AP, and that he groped her while masturbating before he then raped her.

An emotional Siebel Newsom recalled feeling nervous after she was directed to Weinstein’s hotel suite, but said in court that she didn’t leave because “you don’t say no to Harvey Weinstein. He could make or ruin your career.”

The jury was hung on the charges involving Siebel Newsom, the AP reported Monday.

“Harvey Weinstein will never be able to rape another woman. He will spend the rest of his life behind bars where he belongs,” she said in a statement to the wire service after the verdict was announced. “Throughout the trial, Weinstein’s lawyers used sexism, misogyny, and bullying tactics to intimidate, demean, and ridicule us survivors. The trial was a stark reminder that we as a society have work to do.”

Prosecutors aimed to highlight a pattern in Weinstein’s alleged behavior by calling upon “prior bad acts” accusers. One of them, model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, in 2015 participated in a New York sting operation by recording audio of Weinstein in which he admits to groping her and says he is “used to” behaving that way, the New Yorker reported.

Weinstein did not testify in his own defense. His lawyers pointed to what they claimed were inconsistencies in some of the accusers’ testimonies, including specific details related to Jane Doe #1’s claim that Weinstein demanded she perform oral sex on him. Prosecutors established in opening statements that Weinstein has abnormal genitalia because of a 1999 surgery in which his testicles were removed from his scrotum and relocated to his inner thighs, Variety reported. Alan Jackson, an attorney representing Weinstein, claimed that Jane Doe #1’s story changed after hearing of Weinstein’s irregular genitalia, while she maintained that she had previously made note of it to police.

British prosecutors in June authorized charges against Weinstein, citing two counts of indecent assault against a woman in 1996. (He cannot be arrested and formally charged unless extradited to England or Wales.) In August, over two years after Weinstein’s New York conviction, the state’s highest court granted him an appeal.

SOURCE: The Washington Post

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AU official calls out Germany over leopard jibe that left some offended

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A Leopard 2 tank is pictured during a demonstration event held for the media by the German Bundeswehr in Munster near Hannover, Germany, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011. - Copyright © africanews Michael Sohn/AP2011

Germany apologized on Thursday (Jan. 26) for using a leopard emoji in a tweet refering to the Russian Foreign Minister’s visit to Africa. The post that was regarded as offensive by some users was called out by the spokeswoman for the African Union chairman Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat.

The German foreign ministry attempted to poke fun at Russia’s top diplomat during his tour of Africa when it tweeted that he wasn’t there looking for leopards, but using the trip to try and justify Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The tweet, and the leopard emoji the foreign ministry used on its official account, apparently sought to play off Germany’s decision to send some of its advanced Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine to back its military fight off Russian forces.

An African Union official questioned the use of emoji, pointing it could be interpreted as the continent being portrayed once again as only about wild animals.

Ebba Kalondo, the spokeswoman for AU Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat, tweeted back to the German government account questioning if Africa, its people and its wildlife was “just a joke to you?”

“Foreign policy is not a joke nor should it be used to score cheap geopolitical points by illustrating an entire Continent with colonial tropes,” Kalondo wrote in a follow-up tweet.

The German foreign ministry apologized and said that the tweet wasn’t meant to offend, but rather “to call out the lies that Russia uses to justify its imperialist war of aggression against Ukraine.”

Lavrov has visited South Africa, Eswatini, Angola and Eritrea this week, where he has repeated his claims that the United States and its Western allies are using Ukraine as a tool in a “hybrid war” against Russia.

Many African nations hold historical ties with Moscow. South Africa was one of several to abstain from a U.N. vote last year condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Eritrea voted against the resolution alongside Russia, Belarus, North Korea and Syria.

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Bomb injures at least a dozen people near a market in north-eastern DR Congo

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Congolese Defense Forces soldiers inspect the scene of an attack near the town of Oicha, 30 kms (20 miles) from Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo, Friday July 23, 2021.

A bomb exploded at a market in eastern Congo on Wednesday (Jan. 25), injuring at least a dozen people, authorities said.

An unknown person detonated a bomb inside a bag in North Kivu’s Beni town, said Tharcisse Katembo, a local official.

“Damage was documented (and) at least 12 people were injured. They were injured in the lower limbs, others in their upper limbs and others were hit in the head,” he told reporters in Beni.

The victims were taken to the hospital and an investigation was underway, Katembo said.

No one claimed responsibility for the bomb. However, attacks by the Allied Democratic Forces, which is believed to be linked with the Islamic State extremist movement, have been increasing in North Kivu, according to the United Nations.

Deadly violence

Earlier this month, at least 14 people were killed and dozens injured in an attack on a church in Kasindi town, which was claimed by Islamic State. It said in its Aamaq news outlet that it planted an explosive device inside the church and detonated it while people were praying.

Since April, attacks by the Allied Democratic Forces have killed at least 370 civilians, and the group has abducted several hundred more, including a significant number of children, the U.N. says.

The explosion Wednesday (Jan. 25) occurred in a local market next to a cassava mill, witnesses said.

Danny Syaghuswa, 16, said he was sitting on his motorcycle when a man in a striped shirt put a small bag behind a door, saying he would come back for it, according to an interview with local reporters heard by The Associated Press. “Less than five minutes after he left the bomb exploded,” Syaghuswa said.

Images of the attack circulating on chat groups show people lying on the floor. One woman in blood-stained clothes was carrying a small child.

Violence has wracked eastern Congo for decades as more than 120 armed groups and self-defense militias fight for land and power. Nearly 6 million people are internally displaced, and hundreds of thousands are facing extreme food insecurity, according to the United Nations.

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Somalia: Al-Shabaab terrorists storm mayor’s office, killing six

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Al-Shabaab terrorists set off a bomb and stormed a government building in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu.  The Al-Qaeda-backed terror group has stepped up bombings in the country.

At least six people were killed on Sunday in an attack by Al Shabaab militants at the mayor’s office in central Mogadishu, police said.

A suicide bomber set off a huge blast that tore through building near the office complex with gunfire erupting afterwards, Somali police spokesman Sadik Dudishe said at the end of the four-hour siege.

“All the six attackers died. Five of them during the fire exchange with the security forces and one of them detonated himself,” Dudishe told reporters.

“Six civilians also died during the attack and the situation is back to normal.” All the staffers at the mayor’s office were rescued, the police added.

Al 0Shabaab, a militant group allied with Al Qaeda claimed, responsibility for the attack via its communication channels, saying its fighters “made their way inside the targeted building after killing the security guards.” Witnesses said the initial explosion damaged nearby buildings and gunfire could be heard in the vicinity of the mayor’s office.

The area was quickly cordoned off by security officers, a witness who runs a business near the offices said.

Another witness, Omar Nur, said he was inside a nearby mall when the explosion went off and “was lucky to have escaped safely.” The Al Shabaab militants have been waging a bloody insurgency against the frail internationally backed central government for 15 years, carrying out attacks both in Somalia and neighbouring countries.

The latest attack comes days after seven soldiers were killed on Friday at a military camp in Galcad, a town in central Somalia about 375 kilometres north of the capital Mogadishu. The US military said the attack — in the Somali town retaken by the army this week — involved more than 100 Al Shabaab jihadists.

“The combined actions by partner forces on the ground and the collective self-defence strike is estimated to have resulted in three destroyed vehicles and approximately thirty Al Shabaab terrorists killed” the US military command for Africa (AFRICOM) said in a statement.

Source: Dawn

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