Interpol picks South Korean as president, Russia criticizes Western pressure

Interpol picks South Korean as president, Russia criticizes Western pressure

DUBAI (Reuters) – International police body Interpol elected Kim Jong-yang of South Korea as president on Wednesday, beating a Russian national whose candidacy had raised concerns in Europe and the United States about the risk of Kremlin interference.

FILE PHOTO – A man passes an Interpol logo in Singapore September 30, 2014. REUTERS/Edgar Su

Russia said clear outside pressure had been exerted on the vote but it did not dispute the voting process.

Interpol member states, meeting in Dubai for their annual congress, elected Kim to succeed China’s Meng Hongwei, who disappeared in September and later resigned after Chinese authorities said he was being investigated for suspected bribery.

Interpol, whose role is to facilitate cooperation between police forces around the world, said on Twitter that Kim, who had been serving as acting president, had been elected for a two-year term. The presidency, a largely ceremonial role, is typically held for four years.

Interpol later said Kim was completing the term of former president Meng, which was due to end in 2020.

Meng has not been seen since he disappeared during a trip to China from where he sent a letter to Interpol announcing his resignation. Days after his wife reported him missing, Chinese authorities said he was under investigation.

“Our world is now facing unprecedented changes which present huge challenges to public security and safety,” Kim said in a statement.

“To overcome them, we need a clear vision: we need to build a bridge to the future.”

Day-to-day work is handled by Secretary-General Jurgen Stock of Germany, but the presidency still commands influence.


The candidacy of Alexander Prokopchuk of Russia, a police major-general and one of Interpol’s four vice-presidents, led to concern in Europe and the United States about the possibility of Russia being able to exploit Interpol’s power.

Commenting on Wednesday’s election, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “We regret that it wasn’t our candidate, but nonetheless there are no grounds to disagree with the election result.”

Prokopchuk declined immediate comment.

Interpol’s charter forbids it from involving itself in disputes of a political, religious or racial nature. It is not a supranational police force and has no agents who are allowed to make arrests.

Kim, 57, worked in the South Korean police for more than 20 years before retiring in 2015.

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in congratulated Kim on becoming the first South Korean to head the organization.

“We’re very proud. I, together with our people, am sending congratulations,” Moon wrote on Twitter.

The United States said on Tuesday it supported Kim to lead the agency after a group of U.S. senators accused Russia of exploiting the global body to settle scores and harass dissidents.

The Kremlin said on Tuesday public opposition by a group of U.S. senators to the Russian candidate amounted to election meddling.

In Europe, Guy Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister and prominent member of the European Parliament, had said “democratic and free countries may need to develop a parallel organization” if Prokopchuk were elected.

“Russia has consistently misused Interpol to pursue its political opponents,” he wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

Pacific island nations Vanuatu and Kiribati were approved this week as new Interpol member countries, while Kosovo’s bid was denied, bringing the total number of member states to 194. A number of countries including Serbia do not recognize Kosovo’s independence from Belgrade, declared in 2008.

Reporting by Alexander Cornwell in DUBAI; additional reporting by Hyonhee Shin in SEOUL and Tom Balmforth in MOSCOW; Editing by Janet Lawrence and Gareth Jones

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In Pictures | Maruti Suzuki Ertiga gets all new interior and exterior design

In Pictures | Maruti Suzuki Ertiga gets all new interior and exterior design

Maruti Suzuki has priced the Ertiga MPV at a starting amount of Rs 7.44 lakh, ex-showroom. The petrol-automatic variant starts at Rs 9.18 lakh and the diesel variant starts at Rs 8.84 lakh, ex-showroom.

Maruti Suzuki has priced the Ertiga MPV at a starting amount of Rs 7.44 lakh, ex-showroom. The petrol-automatic variant starts at Rs 9.18 lakh and the diesel variant starts at Rs 8.84 lakh, ex-showroom.

Maruti Suzuki has launched the 2018 Ertiga in the Indian market. Maruti Suzuki has already started sending in new stocks of the Ertiga to MSI dealers. The Ertiga will be sold under Maruti Arena’s dealership and not under Nexa branding.

Maruti Suzuki has priced the Ertiga MPV at a starting amount of Rs 7.44 lakh, ex-showroom. The petrol-automatic variant starts at Rs 9.18 lakh and the diesel variant starts at Rs 8.84 lakh, ex-showroom.

Suzuki unveiled the facelifted Ertiga MUV first in Indonesia at the International Motor Show.

Maruti Suzuki has already started taking in official bookings for the MPV for a token amount of Rs Rs 11,000. Deliveries will be starting by the last week of November or the first week of December.

Here are some pictures of the new Maruti Suzuki Ertiga.

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Deutsche Bank had limited need to know details of Danske transactions, executive says

Deutsche Bank had limited need to know details of Danske transactions, executive says

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Deutsche Bank is seen in front of one of the bank’s office buildings in Frankfurt, Germany, October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Deutsche Bank played only a secondary role as a so-called correspondent bank to scandal-hit Danske Bank, limiting what it needed to know about the people behind the transactions, the German lender’s regulation chief said on Wednesday.

Danske, Denmark’s largest bank, is facing allegations of money laundering through its Estonia branch. Deutsche as a correspondent bank helped process up to $150 billion in suspicious payments, a source with direct knowledge of the case has said.

Deutsche Bank took action once it noticed suspicious transactions, its Chief Regulatory Officer Sylvie Matherat said at a conference when asked about the issue.

Matherat’s comments amount to an effort to distance Deutsche from the affair as Germany’s financial markets watchdog – BaFin – reviews whether to open a formal investigation into its role.

Matherat said that Deutsche’s relationship with Danske lasted eight years before Deutsche ended it. Matherat declined to comment on the volume of transactions Deutsche executed for Danske.

She said that Deutsche conducts about between $400 billion and $450 billion in transactions every day and monitors them closely.

Reporting by Andreas Framke; Writing by Tom Sims; Editing by Thomas Seythal/Keith Weir

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Delhi Groom Shot, Returns 3 Hours Later After Surgery To Get Married

The groom returned three hours later after a surgery and got married.

New Delhi: 

A groom shot by two gunmen as he rode a chariot to his wedding in New Delhi managed to return just hours later after surgery and take his vows, the police said Wednesday.

The unidentified attackers mingled with wedding guests dancing in an extravagant street procession as the 25-year-old groom made his way to the ceremony at Madangir area.

Police said the pair climbed onto the horse-drawn carriage and opened fire before fleeing amid the panic.

The groom was struck in the shoulder and rushed to hospital, where doctors stemmed the bleeding but could not remove the bullet easily without major surgery.

The groom, bandaged up, returned to his bride-to-be just three hours later and performed his wedding rituals.

“The bullet is stuck between the shoulder bones,” Vijay Kumar, a deputy commissioner of police in Delhi, told AFP.

Police are searching for the two suspects, who have not been found.

They have not established a motive for the brazen attack but said it did not appear to be a random act of violence.

Many cities are in grip of wedding fever with the traditional marriage season kicking off last week.

The shooting is not the first of its kind at a wedding in the county.

A groom was shot dead in northern Uttar Pradesh in April as during his wedding rituals.

The murder was captured on film, with the groom clutching his chest with both hands before slumping forward.   

In 2016, a groom was accidentally shot dead by a reveller as he rode a horse for his wedding ceremony in Uttar Pradesh.

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WhatsApp hires Abhijit Bose as India head, will be based in Gurugram to build its first out-of-America team

WhatsApp hires Abhijit Bose as India head, will be based in Gurugram to build its first out-of-America team

WhatsApp is hiring country head, and it has announced that soon there will be a dedicated team for the app’s operations in India. The company, which is owned by Facebook, has said that it is hiring Abhijit Bose as the head of WhatsApp India.

Bose joins WhatsApp from Ezetap “where he has served as co-founder and CEO”. WhatsApp has also said that Bose is a graduate of Harvard Business School and Cornell University.

The appointment of Bose comes months after WhatsApp found itself mired in controversies related to fake news and misinformation that often spreads through WhatsApp groups. In some cases, this misinformation has contributed directly or indirectly to incidents of lynching that have resulted in people losing their lives.

The issue has become so serious that Indian government not only held discussions with WhatsApp over it but also warned the app to get its act together and curb misinformation on its platform. It has been reported that the Indian government had also directed WhatsApp to setup a local team in India and not always run its operations from the main Facebook office in Silicon Valley.

WhatsApp on Tuesday said, “Bose will build WhatsApp’s first full country team outside of California and will be based in Gurgaon.”

However, the company hasn’t exactly talked about the India specific troubles it is having with the usage of its app. Instead, it says that Bose will help monetise WhatsApp use in India. It is worth noting that for WhatsApp India is its biggest market in terms of the number of users.

WhatsApp said that Bose and his team will focus on helping businesses, both large and small connect with their customers. WhatsApp had earlier released a specific variant of the app — WhatsApp Business — for people who want to use the app for their business. The company is also rolling out advertisements in the WhatsApp Status tab, something that is also likely to help Facebook earn money through millions of WhatsApp users in India.

“WhatsApp is deeply committed to India and we are excited to keep building products that help people connect and support India’s fast-growing digital economy. As a successful entrepreneur himself, Abhijit knows what it takes to build meaningful partnerships that can serve businesses across India,” said Matt Idema, Chief Operating Officer of WhatsApp.

ALSO READ: Facebook friendships are unreal, says a court ruling allowing judges to be FB friends with lawyers

“WhatsApp is special and can be a major partner for financial inclusion and economic growth in India. It’s not only how so many families stay in touch, but increasingly it’s how businesses are engaging with their customers. WhatsApp can positively impact the lives of hundreds of millions of Indians, allowing them to actively engage and benefit from the new digital economy,” said Bose.

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Rights groups: Activists held in Saudi Arabia tortured, Riyadh denies charge

Rights groups: Activists held in Saudi Arabia tortured, Riyadh denies charge

GENEVA (Reuters) – Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch accused Saudi Arabia on Tuesday of subjecting several activists including some female human rights defenders detained since May to torture and sexual harassment, allegations denied by a Saudi official.

People attend a symbolic funeral prayer for Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the courtyard of Fatih mosque in Istanbul, Turkey November 16, 2018. REUTERS/Huseyin Aldemir

Over a dozen women’s rights activists have been arrested since May, most of whom had campaigned for the right to drive and an end to the kingdom’s male guardianship system, though some have since been freed.

A group of U.N. experts last month called for the immediate release of six female human rights defenders it said were still being held incommunicado in the kingdom.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s judiciary system does not condone, promote or allow the use of torture,” a Saudi official told Reuters.

“Anyone, whether male or female, being investigated is going through the standard judiciary process led by the public prosecution while being held for questioning, which does not in any way rely on torture either physical, sexual or psychological.”

The May arrests followed an earlier crackdown on clerics, intellectuals, and activists in September 2017 in an apparent bid to silence potential opponents of Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The torture allegations come with Saudi Arabia facing an international outcry over the killing last month of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

In a statement, London-based Amnesty said that according to testimony from three individuals it had gathered, some of the detained activists “were repeatedly tortured by electrocution and flogging” that left some “unable to walk or stand properly”.

In a similar statement, Human Rights Watch quoted “informed sources” as saying Saudi interrogators tortured at least three female Saudi activists. Both Amnesty and Human Rights Watch said the detainees were subjected to sexual harassment.

“Only a few weeks after the ruthless killing of Jamal Khashoggi, these shocking reports of torture, sexual harassment and other forms of ill-treatment, if verified, expose further outrageous human rights violations by the Saudi authorities,” Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East research director, said in the statement.

Reuters could not verify the allegations and the rights groups did not clarify the identity of the individuals who provided testimony. Human Rights Watch said the sources were concerned that they and the activists would suffer reprisals if identified publicly.

A Saudi government communications office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Riyadh has in the past denied using torture and said that arrests were made on the basis of suspicious contacts with foreign entities and offering financial support to “enemies overseas”.

Last June the Saudi government ended a decades-old ban on women driving cars as part of a bid to diversify the economy away from oil and open up Saudis’ cloistered lifestyles.

But while many hailed the end of the ban on women driving as proof of a new progressive trend, it has been accompanied by a crackdown on dissent.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has said the killing of Khashoggi was ordered at the “highest levels” of the Saudi government but has not directly accused Prince Mohammed. Saudi Arabia has denied that the prince ordered Khashoggi’s killing.

Reporting by Stephanie Ulmer-Nebehay; Writing by Eric Knecht; Editing by Mark Heinrich, William Maclean

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BCCI CEO Rahul Johri Cleared In Sexual Harassment Case, Free To Resume Office

BCCI CEO Rahul Johri Cleared In Sexual Harassment Case, Free To Resume Office

BCCI CEO Rahul Johri was on Wednesday cleared of sexual harassment allegations by the Committee of Administrators’ (CoA) three-member probe panel, which dismissed the charges levelled by at least two women as “mischievous and fabricated”. Johri was on forced leave for the past three weeks but can now resume office even though one member of the probe committee recommended “gender sensitivity counselling” for him. The two-member CoA was divided on the issue. While chairman Vinod Rai approved of Johri joining back, Diana Edulji demanded his resignation on the basis of some recommendations, including counselling.

“The allegations of sexual harassment in the office or elsewhere are false, baseless and have been fabricated and manufactured with an ulterior motive to harm Mr. Rahul Johri…,” head of the probe committee Justice (Retd) Rakesh Sharma stated in his findings.

The three-member probe panel also comprised former Delhi Commission of Women chairperson Barkha Singh and lawyer-activist Veena Gowda.

Veena Gowda recommended counselling for Johri owing to his “inappropriate behaviour” with one of the complainants during the Champions Trophy in Birmingham.

She, however, maintained there was no case of sexual harassment against Johri.

The committee, which was formed on October 25, was given 15 days to complete the probe by the CoA. Its report would also be submitted to the Supreme Court. CoA member Diana Edulji didn’t want the report to be published on Wednesday and demanded that she be given at least a few days to study it.

However, CoA chief Vinod Rai opened the report in the presence of the panel members as well as BCCI’s legal team during the day.

Edulji was against the formation of the panel and wanted Johri to be sacked on the basis of the allegations while Vinod Rai felt that “principles of natural justice” demanded an investigation before any action.

The first allegations against Johri was an anonymous e-mail accusing him of sexual misconduct, shared by a Twitter handle, which was later deleted. The accuser claimed to be an ex-colleague of Rahul Johri at a previous job.

There were subsequently two more allegations, one from a Singapore-based media professional and another woman, who worked with Johri in one of his previous organisations.

Both women were deposed via Skype, along with BCCI’s former Anti-Corruption Unit chief Neeraj Kumar, BCCI treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry, IPL petitioner Aditya Verma, and former Mumbai captain Shishir Hattangadi.

There were also allegations against Johri about inappropriate behaviour with a female employee of the BCCI. However, the employee in question didn’t turn up for deposition as was widely speculated.

Johri was the last person to depose and it was spread over two days.

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Israeli minister urges Airbnb boycott, talks up rival service

Israeli minister urges Airbnb boycott, talks up rival service

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – An Israeli cabinet minister called on Wednesday for a boycott of Airbnb and promoted one of its rivals, escalating the government’s response to the home-rental company’s decision to delist Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank.

A woman talks on the phone at the Airbnb office headquarters in the SOMA district of San Francisco, California, U.S., August 2, 2016. REUTERS/Gabrielle Lurie

“I call today on all those who support Israel and oppose discriminatory boycotts: they should cease using Airbnb and turn to other services,” Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan told a diplomatic conference hosted by the Jerusalem Post newspaper.

“By the way, is a great service,” added Erdan, the point-man in Israeli government efforts to combat pro-Palestinian boycotts.

Airbnb said on Monday it would remove some 200 settlement listings after hearing criticism from people who “believe companies should not profit on lands where people have been displaced”.

Palestinians who want to establish an independent state taking in the West Bank have welcomed the San Francisco-based firm’s move. It does not apply to East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights, other territories Israel captured in a 1967 war but which Israel has annexed, unlike the West Bank.

“Airbnb took a decision in the right direction to stop dealings with Israeli settlements, consistent with international legitimacy,” Wasel Abu Youssef, a senior official with the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organisation, told Reuters.

“Erdan’s incitement comes in the course of continued attempts by the Israeli extremist government to intimidate companies, parties and individuals who try to try to take good decisions that agree with international resolutions.”

    Human Rights Watch hailed Airbnb’s decision and, in a report on Tuesday, called on to follow suit. and Airbnb did not immediately respond to Reuters emails seeking fresh comment.

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, addressing Wednesday’s conference separately, backed Erdan’s call to boycott Airbnb and suggested Israel also deploy its own anti-discrimination laws.

Israel has said it would turn to the Trump administration and could back lawsuits against Airbnb within U.S. states that have legislated against anti-Israel boycotts.

In Israel, one 2017 law empowers courts to award cash compensation to claimants who prove they have been denied goods or services because of where they live.

“I checked yesterday with my office, with the attorney-general, whether we can operate this law, and the answer is positive,” Shaked said. “We need to do anything we can in order to fight them back in order that they will change their decision.”

Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Peter Graff

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EU’s Juncker cancels Spain trip to focus on Brexit summit

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker canceled a trip to Spain this Thursday and Friday, a spokesman said.

Juncker will instead stay in Brussels in the days leading up to an EU leaders’ summit scheduled for Sunday to rubber-stamp a Brexit deal with Britain.

Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; editing by John Stonestreet

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More than 80,000 Yemeni children may have died from hunger: humanitarian body

More than 80,000 Yemeni children may have died from hunger: humanitarian body

A malnourished boy lies on a weighing scale at the malnutrition ward of al-Sabeen hospital in Sanaa, Yemen September 11, 2018. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

DUBAI (Reuters) – An estimated 85,000 children under five may have died from extreme hunger in Yemen since a Saudi-led coalition intervened in the civil war in 2015, Save the Children said on Wednesday.

    It said that according to a conservative estimate based on U.N. data, approximately 84,700 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition may have died between April 2015 and October 2018 in the impoverished country, where a Western-backed Arab alliance is battling the Houthi movement that holds the capital.

    “We are horrified that some 85,000 children in Yemen may have died because of the consequences of extreme hunger since the war began. For every child killed by bombs and bullets, dozens are dying from hunger and disease and it’s entirely preventable,” it said in a statement.

    The last available figure from the United Nations for the death toll from the war was in 2016 and stood at more than 10,000.

Writing By Ghaida Ghantous

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