Uncle ‘kidnapped, raped niece before hiding her body in freezer,’ court hears

An “obsessed” man kidnapped, raped and slit his niece’s throat before hiding her body in a freezer, a court has heard. He allegedly decided if he couldn’t have her, “nobody else could.”

A second victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was also kidnapped but managed to survive.

Builder Mujahid Arshid, 33, is accused of taking the women to a £1.5 million (US$ 2 million) mansion he was working on in Kingston, Surrey, and raping them. He then allegedly slit their throats before dumping their bodies in a freezer, the Old Bailey heard.

Jurors were told that Arshid had become “sexually fixated” with the women, and had resolved to “have them” at all costs.

“Aware that they were having sex with their boyfriends, aware that they were beyond his clutches, he must have resolved that if he could not have them, no one else would,” prosecutor Crispin Aylett QC said as he opened the case, according to the Daily Mail.

It is understood the victim, Celine Dookhran, 20, had moved in with her uncle after falling out with her parents over her relationship with a Libyan Muslim. The woman was of the same religion but from India.

Aylett warned jurors: “The evidence that gives rise to those charges is, I am afraid, simply horrific. You will have to steel yourselves for what is to come.”

The prosecutor went on to describe Arshid’s intentions after abducting the pair.

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Celine Dookhran © Twitter

“Thereafter, and it is as bizarre as it is terrible, he intended to rape them before murdering them and disposing of their bodies.

“He considered either putting them in acid, in order that their bodies might dissolve, or else concealing them in a deep freezer,” Aylett said.

The second victim, 21, was kidnapped with Dookhran, and like her had been raped and had her throat cut. She managed to survive by making her attacker believe they could have a relationship. The victim then called her mother and police flew to the scene, finding the body of Dookhran in the freezer.

It was further alleged that Arshid had already sexually abused his niece as a child.

The court also heard that the defendant knew he could not overpower the two women alone, and therefore summoned his employee Vincent Tappu, 28, a building laborer, to help him carry out his meticulously planned murder plot on July 19.

Jurors were told Tappu played no further part other than helping in the abduction of the girls.

“The two women were taken from the house wrapped in dust sheets, and placed in the boot of the first defendant’s pickup truck,” Aylett said.

Arshid, of no fixed address, denies murder, attempted murder, two counts of kidnap, two counts of rape, two counts of conspiracy to falsely imprison another, and possessing a firearm – a Taser – with intent.

Tappu, from Acton in west London, denies two counts of kidnap, two counts of conspiracy to falsely imprison another, and one count of possessing a firearm with intent.

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Trump’s ‘fake news awards’ condemned by Republicans, fodder for comedians

President Donald Trump promised to hand out “fake news awards” for the “most corrupt and biased” media on Wednesday. The White House has been light on the details, but the event has drawn both criticism and ridicule.

“The Fake News Awards, those going to the most corrupt & biased of the Mainstream Media, will be presented to the losers on Wednesday, January 17th, rather than this coming Monday. The interest in, and importance of, these awards is far greater than anyone could have anticipated!” Trump tweeted on January 7.

The White House has yet to release details on who the nominees are, where the ceremony will happen or what kinds of awards will be handed out by the president.

The president’s support base shares his view that the media is waging a partisan battle against the administration, but the prospect of the awards has fueled criticism from Republicans like Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake over Trump’s adversarial treatment of the media.

Arizona Senator John McCain wrote a Washington Post op-ed, mentioning efforts against the White House press corp in the context of press-stifling efforts worldwide.

“Reporters around the world face intimidation, threats of violence, harassment, persecution and sometimes even death as governments resort to brutal censorship to silence the truth,” McCain (R-Ariz.) wrote in his op-ed, published Tuesday night.

Senator McCain cited statistics from the Committee to Protect Journalists that 262 reporters were jailed last year over their work, making 2017 one of the most dangerous years on records for journalists worldwide. McCain also noted that 21 reporters were imprisoned last year on charges of “fake news” – the phrase frequently used by Trump to dispute reporting critical of his administration.

On Sunday, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake discussed pre-released segments of a speech he is due to give on Wednesday in which he will criticize the Trump administration. In an interview on MSNBC, Flake said Trump’s hostility to the media as an “enemy of the people” was a phrase “infamously spoken by Joseph Stalin to describe his enemies.”

Flake said Trump’s attack on the news media damaged the country’s standing in the world and empowered dictators everywhere.

Speaking from the Senate floor on Wednesday, Flake said: “It beggars belief that an American president would engage in such a spectacle.”

On Tuesday night, US comedians used the prospect of the awards to ridicule the president.

On NBC, late-night host Jimmy Fallon staged a scene “live from the Trump Hotel” in the US capital for The Fake News Awards, hosted by Fallon dressed as the president.

Fallon’s Trump announced the recipient of his custom statuettes, which resembled an Oscar trophy with the president’s head

“Covered in real fake gold and made in ‘Gina’” the mock Trump announced while holding the award. “My first fakey is for the fakest news network.  And the nominee is CNN, and the winner is, who would have seen this coming…CNN.”

Over on CBS, Stephen Colbert decided he wanted to present “even fakier awards than President Trump has awarded himself.”

Honors included “the greatest jobs president that God ever created” and “the best thing that ever happened to the Secret Service.”

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Russia eyeing private military companies market with new legalization bid

Russian MPs are expected within weeks to submit a new draft law regulating private military companies. There is a global market for such services, and some argue Russia is missing out by keeping citizens in a legal minefield.

Private military companies (PMC) are the modern-day incarnation of the ages-old institution of mercenary companies – professional soldiers ready to prop up a regular fighting force for a few chests of gold. ‘Wild Geese’, as they’re known, saw a relative decline as national governments rose in power and pushed the private players on to the sidelines – both legally and geographically. The 20th-century common wisdom about waging wars was that it’s a job for nations, while adventurers were tolerated only in places like Sierra Leone or Libya.

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FILE PHOTO Members of the US private security company Blackwater © Patrick Baz

Then came the end of Cold War. The downsizing of the standing armies generated a large pool of people with fighting skills to recruit from while the absence of a bipolar world with its checks and balances opened a larger market for their services. And after 9/11 the situation changed for mercenaries even more dramatically. The US government was more than willing to relinquish an increasing number of duties previously reserved for the regular troops to civilian hirelings – who conveniently didn’t end up in casualty statistics of Washington’s wars.

Today, PMCs are paid for services ranging from guarding freighter ships from pirates and catching traffickers at borders to clearing minefield and training troops of more-or-less legitimate authorities with the deep pocket. And also likely fighting battles – just like the fabled companies of Swiss landsknechts did in the Renaissance – although that part of the gray area in which modern mercenaries operate is a bit too close to practices still condemned officially.

Russia is somewhat lagging in taking a prominent place in the PMC service market, even though the country generates its share of recruits. This may be due to Moscow’s general suspicion of how the world’s security architecture went after 1991 or the inherent ‘loose cannon’ aspect of private soldiers. Reflecting this suspicion is the fact that hiring and training mercenaries, as well as being one, is a criminal offence in Russia. Sure, getting sentenced for this crime is a real challenge – the first (and apparently only) case to end in a conviction happened in 2014. But there are many people saying Russia needs the legal basis for operating PMCs of its own, because there is no way it can wish them into non-existence.

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GK Sierra Security Contractors in Afghanistan © Wikipedia

“The situation in Syria demonstrated the need for private military companies, which are well-suited for such local conflicts,” told RT Mikhail Emelyanov, deputy chair of the parliamentary Committee for State Building and Legislation. He said a new draft law regulating PMCs may be submitted within a month.

“The law would allow hiring employees of PMCs to take part in counterterrorist operations in foreign nations, protect allied nations from foreign aggression. And also to guard infrastructure objects like oil and gas fields or railroads,” he said.

The draft law would be the third attempt to make PMCs legal in Russia. In fact, the first draft suggested in 2012 was publicly supported by then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. But no legislation has materialized since. Russian PMCs, which do exist, have to register in jurisdictions of other nations and their employees are always under the threat of prosecution in their home country. This understandably makes them reluctant to seek help from the Russian authorities when in trouble and arguably pushes the industry deeper towards the criminal fringe.

The only criminal case highlights the problem. The two convicts, Vadim Gusev and Evgeny Sidorov, were among the executives of a firm called Moran Security Group specializing in anti-piracy missions. Their trial was held behind closed doors, so there is little information about what they did. According to media reports, in 2013, Moran hired over 260 Russians to guard an “energy industry site” in Syria, but failed to pay them for the job, which proved far more dangerous than promised.

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© Mussa Qawasma

Some reports said the Russian mercenary company’s ultimate employer turned out to be a local warlord fighting against Damascus. Others said they worked for Syrian Oil Ministry or a shady Russian oil firm, which failed to inform them that it needed foot soldiers to capture an oilfield, not guards to protect it. Insider reports in the industry say the firm was actually set up by their competitors in the ship protection market. There is little transparency in the semi-illegal environment, in which such stories happen.

Whatever is true, a Russian court sentenced the two men to three years in prison each. None of the soldiers they hired was apparently charged in this case.

Proponents of legalizing PMCs say Russia’s reluctance to embrace the phenomenon simply puts Russian citizens at disadvantage.

“Those who want to work for PMCs need legal protection. It will ensure they are paid their due compensation, are covered by pension system and healthcare, that their families get aid if the man gets killed,” Anton Morozov, a member of the parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, told RT.

The same argument about Russian citizens not being given due legal protection was voiced on Monday by Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov.

PMCs operating legally in Russia’s jurisdiction will become much stronger competitors in the multibillion-dollar sector, said military journalist Aleksey Leonkov. “If we have PMCs of our own, there will be interest in their service in many countries. The skills and capabilities of our military specialists are valued in the entire world.”

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Lomachenko manager: ‘No truth’ in Pacquiao superfight rumors

Pound-for-pound boxing superstar Vasyl Lomachenko’s manager, Egis Klimas, has told RT Sport that there is no truth in the rumor his charge will fight Filipino five-weight champion Manny Pacquiao.

Rumors had circulated that ring legend Pacquiao was eyeing a showdown with current WBO super featherweight world champion Lomachenko, who is widely considered to be among the elite fighters in the world.

However, when asked by RT Sport if a fight between the two boxers was a realistic possibility, Lithuanian national Klimas replied via Whatsapp message: “No, it’s not truth.”

An amateur prodigy who lost just once in 397 bouts, Lomachenko has won 10 of his 11 fights since turning professional in 2013, winning world belts in two weight divisions. His last outing, a win over highly-regarded Guillermo Rigondeaux, was his fourth straight victory by retirement.

The Ukrainian quipped after the fight that his new nickname should be “No-mas-chenko”, a play on words of the Spanish phrase for “no more.”

Pacquiao lost his last fight in a shock decision to Australian Jeff Horn. The fighter has a record of 59 wins, seven losses and two draws in his legendary ring career. He also has interests in politics in his home country outside of boxing.

by Danny Armstrong for RT Sport

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Bitcoin crashes below $10,000, losing over half its value since last month’s record

The world’s most valuable cryptocurrency, bitcoin, has lost over half its value since it smashed the $ 20,000 barrier in mid-December. The price of the cryptocurrency dropped to $ 9,555 at 15:00 GMT on Wednesday.

“The cryptocurrency market is experiencing a serious attack from speculators,” Gleb Zadoya, head of analytics at Analitika Online said in email comments to RT.

“The reason for the sell-off are reports on the strengthening of regulation by the Chinese and South Korean authorities. After that, the exchange rate of many cryptocurrencies fell below important psychological levels.”

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© Edgar Su

On Tuesday, an official from the People’s Bank of China said the country’s centralized virtual currency trade needs to end, Reuters reported.

National and local authorities should ban venues that provide centralized trading of virtual currencies, including the largest one, bitcoin, PBOC Vice Governor Pan Gongsheng was quoted as saying.

“The financial work conference clearly called for limiting ‘innovations’ that deviate from the need of the real economy and escape regulation,” Pan said, according to a memo quoted by Reuters.

There have been reports that an increasing number of people were taking out mortgages to invest in bitcoin when it peaked at $ 20,000.

The collective market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies has dropped by more than $ 200 billion since Tuesday.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

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Yabloko founder Yavlinsky gathers enough signatures to face Putin in presidential race – activists

Activists from the opposition Yabloko party said they have gathered more than the required 100,000 signatures for veteran politician Grigory Yavlinsky to be registered as a candidate in the March 18 Russian presidential election.

The party has collected 105,000 signatures in support of Yavlinsky and isn’t planning to stop at that, Nikolay Rybakov, campaign head, told RBC. “Yabloko plans to gather 150,000 signatures and – after checking them through the Interior Ministry’s database – submit 105,000 sheets to the Central Election Commission,” he said.

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A campaign poster in support of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Novosibirsk.    © Alexandr Kryazhev

According to Russian law, candidates from non-parliamentary parties have to provide 100,000 signatures to be registered in the election. The presidential hopefuls have until January 31 to submit their papers to the Central Election Commission.

Yavlinsky, who founded Yabloko back in 1993, told RBC that he estimated his chances of being registered as candidate at “fifty-fifty.” The 65-year-old took part in two presidential elections, in 1996 and 2000, but was disqualified from the race in 2012 after providing defective signatures.

If the opposition veteran’s participation in the vote is approved, he will become the third registered candidate in the 2018 election after the Communist Party’s Pavel Grudinin and Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky. President Vladimir Putin, running for office as an independent, has already collected over 1 million signatures, although they are yet to be submitted.

Yavlinsky said that during his campaign he will “categorically deny” Putin’s policies, which “led to isolation, stagnation of the economy and growing poverty, [and] deprived the citizens of any kind of rights.”

READ MORE: Farm magnate Grudinin closes all foreign bank accounts ahead of Russia’s presidential election

According to the Yabloko founder, even if he isn’t allowed to participate in the election, he won’t support the calls for boycott of the March 18 vote, led by opposition activist Aleksey Navalny. The opposition figure was denied registration as candidate over an unserved suspended prison sentence. The move would be futile as there’s no minimum voter turnout threshold in the Russian presidential election, Yavlinsky explained.

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Black cab rapist’s victims launch crowdfunding campaign to keep him behind bars

Victims of prolific Black cab rapist John Worboys are petitioning to have him kept behind bars. They want to know why the parole board released him so they can challenge the decision.

Warboys – who is believed to have sexually assaulted over 100 women – was convicted of 19 offences in 2009. The 60-year-old was ordered to serve at least eight years in jail, and was given an indeterminate sentence for public protection (IPP), which meant that he could be kept in prison indefinitely so long as he was deemed to be a danger to the public.

In November, the Parole Board approved Worboys’ release in a secretive hearing that outlined “stringent” conditions such as having to report to probation staff every week. Worboys, who offered his victims champagne laced with drugs under the guise of a big casino/lottery win prior to assaulting them, is banned from contacting any of his past victims.

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© Stephen Lam

Now, one of Worboys’ earliest known victims and his 75th victim want answers. The Centre for Women’s Justice is fundraising to mount a legal challenge on behalf of the two women, known respectively as DSD and NBV for privacy reasons, to ensure Worboys remains behind bars.

To fight Worboys’ release, his victims need to find out why the serial rapist and former porn star was granted parole in the first place. With laws preventing disclosure, finding out the reasons behind the Parole Board’s decision will require a legal challenge of substantial cost.

The fundraising goal is currently set at £10,000 ($ 13,800) to cover legal fees and damages in case they lose the challenge.

According to the Centre for Women’s Justice, neither of the women was consulted during the parole process. Both victims found out about Worboys’ approved release through the media.

NBV said: “I can’t watch the news or read the papers.  My heart freezes when I hear his name.  

“Seeing his face makes me feel unwell.  He’s ruining my life all over again.”

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© Murray Sanders / Global Look Press

DSD said she has been in a state of “complete shock and panic” since hearing the news. “In 2003 when I reported to them I had been raped I was told, ‘a black cab driver just wouldn’t do it,’” she said.

“I said at the time if they didn’t find him he would do it again. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine we would go on to do it again another 100 times that we know of. Unfortunately, I do not share their confidence and I am convinced he will reoffend.

“How can a prolific sex offender be rehabilitated in a short space of time when he has never admitted to his guilt or shown any remorse,” DSD added.

Home Affairs Select Committee chairwoman Yvette Cooper has previously called for the Parole Board to publish its reasons for allowing Worboys’ release.

Cooper said Worboys’ crimes were “the most appalling and vile” and there were “serious questions” over the decision to release him. She also said she was “shocked” by the decision and called for scrutiny of the board’s decision before the violent and dangerous sex attacker is let out of prison.

Director of the Centre for Women’s Justice and solicitor Harriet Wistrich said: “This will be an unprecedented legal challenge. Where a decision appears to be so irrational, as it does in this case given all the known facts, there is an arguable basis to challenge the rules preventing publication of reasons.

“If we get access to the reasons then we can explore grounds for challenging a decision which is so insulting and horrific for all the victims concerned.”

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Meals on wheels: FedEx truck slams into hotel restaurant, injures 3 (PHOTOS)

Restaurant patrons got far more than they bargained for when a FedEx cargo truck came hurtling through the eatery’s window at dinner time Tuesday.

Diners at the Renaissance Los Angeles Airport Hotel at 9620 Airport Blvd. were enjoying some tasty cuisine when the crash happened. A total of three people, including the truck driver, his passenger and a third person, were injured in the crash.

No Parking

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The driver declined to be removed by ambulance but two others were taken to hospital for evaluation by the Los Angeles Fire Department.

READ MORE: Speeding car takes flight, plows into 2nd floor of office building (PHOTOS)

Los Angeles Police are investigating the incident.  

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Venomous spiders earmarked for ‘milking’ escape egg sack in spine-chilling video

Discovering a sac filled with hundreds of spiders typically elicits a fight or flight response from most sane people – but wildlife experts in Australia are asking the public to capture the critters so they can be milked.

One resident from Matcham on the New South Wales Central Coast fought all of his survival instincts and decided to take an egg sac of highly aggressive, highly venomous funnel web spiders to his local wildlife reserve, The Australian Reptile Park, which subsequently filmed the moment the cluster broke forth into the world. Arachnophobes look away now.

“We can only use the male Sydney funnel web’s venom to make the anti-venom,” Australian Reptile Park’s head of spiders, Kane Christensen, said as cited by ABC News. “It’s peak breeding season right now as males wander searching for females,” he said. The Australian Reptile Park is the only place in Australia that milks funnel webs for their venom, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

Funnel web spiders are found across Australia but there are regional variations, which include the severity of the bite. It can cause serious injury and even death if left untreated. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, symptoms include, but are not limited to: Hyper salivation, muscular spasms, difficulty breathing, numbness, disorientation and confusion leading to unconsciousness.

Young spiders captured and handed in to the park are grown until maturity and are then milked for their venom which is sent away and injected into rabbits. Once the rabbits develop an immunity, their plasma is harvested to create anti-venom for humans.

Funnel webs are known to hide in discreet places such as the inside of shoes, laundry baskets, pool skimmers etc. Their eggs are white sacs, roughly the size of a golf ball that typically contain about 100 infant spiders. If you come across one, be careful, the mother is likely to be very nearby.

“The mother will sit on the egg the whole time,” Christensen said. “Ring the local wildlife park and see if there is any research collection points,” he said.

The venom from a funnel web bite is potentially life threatening, so if you’re bitten, Christensen advises staying still and calm (easier said than done), applying pressure to the area and calling an ambulance for transport and treatment.

“Stay as still as possible. Any walking around or moving is further distributing that venom around your body,” Christensen said.

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Online gold coin sales soar 400% as cryptocurrencies plunge

Amidst a huge sell-off on the cryptocurrency market demand for gold coins is picking up. Sales jumped fivefold on Tuesday at one of Europe’s largest online dealers.

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© Global Look Press

According to CoinInvest Director Daniel Marburger, the company sold almost 30kg of gold, worth $ 1.2 million in the spot market.

It “was a hell of a crazy day,” Marburger told Bloomberg, adding that “emails and phones did not stand still with customers asking how they could turn their crypto into gold.”

He said that one bitcoin currently buys about eight one-ounce Britannia gold coins. Physical gold bullion holds attraction for bitcoin investors because the assets have much in common, explained Marburger.

“Both are limited in quantity, easy to trade and you can store them decentralized,” he said. “The advantage for gold – no passwords you can lose, the volatility is much lower, sustainable growth and in the end you can hold your investment in your hands.”

Bitcoin, the world’s major cryptocurrency, has lost more than half of its value in the last month, trading down more than 20 percent on Wednesday, at $ 9,724. Other top virtual currencies, including ripple, ethereum, and bitcoin cash also suffered significant losses. The cryptomarket freefall followed reports of tighter policy measures from regulators in China, Brazil, and India.

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