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Crime & Litigation



Suspected Islamic radical arrested in Jewish museum shooting

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Written by Pauline TALAGRAND, Andrea BAMBINO   
Monday, 02 June 2014 10:26
2009 photo of the Jewish Museum of Belgium, in Brussels. Credit: Michael Wal, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and1.0 Generic license. PARIS (AFP) - A Frenchman with suspected ties to Islamic radicals in Syria has been arrested over last week's fatal shooting at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, investigation sources told AFP on Sunday.

The suspected gunman, 29-year-old Mehdi Nemmouche, was arrested Friday in the southern French city of Marseille in possession of a Kalashnikov rifle and a handgun similar to the ones used in the attack on May 24, the sources said.

Nemmouche has been detained on suspicion of murder and attempted murder in connection with a terrorist enterprise, a judicial source said.

The office of the Belgian federal prosecutor confirmed a suspect was being held.

"I can confirm the arrest of the suspect," a spokeswoman told AFP.

The shooting by a lone gunman killed three people outright -- an Israeli couple and a Frenchwoman, while the fourth victim, a 24-year-old Belgian man, was left clinically dead.

Authorities had released chilling security camera footage of the gunman, wearing a cap and sunglasses, walking into the museum, removing an automatic rifle from a bag and shooting through a door before making an exit.

Belgian media reported that the assailant used a camera to film his attack in the same way as Mohammed Merah, the Frenchman who shot dead several Jews in Toulouse two years ago.

Customs officials detained Nemmouche at Marseille's coach station on board a bus arriving from Amsterdam via Brussels.

According to sources close to the investigation, he was carrying a Kalashnikov automatic rifle and a gun with ammunition in his luggage, as well as a miniature video camera.

"These weapons were of the type used in Brussels," said one source. Another source close to the investigation said that "many elements are consistent with the shooting in Brussels."

The European Jewish Congress immediately drew a parallel between the events in Brussels and the shootings by Merah and called for greater security at Jewish institutions and tougher legislation for dealing with anti-Semitic crime.

Originally from Roubaix in northern France, Nemmouche is believed to have traveled to join Islamist fighters in Syria in 2013, and was known to the French domestic intelligence agency DGSI, the source said.

He is being questioned by the DGSI who can hold him for up to 96 hours, until Tuesday, or 144 hours, to Thursday, if investigators invoke an imminent terrorist threat.

Sources close to the investigation told AFP that during the first 24 hours of interrogation, Nemmouche remained silent.

Nemmouche was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison for a robbery in a small supermarket in the northern town of Tourcoing in August 2006, his lawyer Soulifa Badaoui said.

She said he had at the time denied any involvement and added that a subsequent raid in his house yielded no incriminating evidence.

The attack was the first such incident in more than 30 years in Belgium and has revived fears of a return of violent anti-Semitism to Europe.

Some 40,000 Jews live in Belgium, roughly half in Brussels and the remainder in the port city of Antwerp.

The profile of Nemmouche also stands to revive a row in France over the monitoring of those who leave to country to fight in Syria.

France unveiled plans in April to try to stop the increasing numbers of young French Muslims heading to fight in Syria's civil war and becoming radicalised before returning home.

President Francois Hollande said Sunday that the suspect was "arrested as soon as he set foot in France".

"The government is mobilised to track down jihadists and prevent them from causing more harm," he said, adding that the action plan to fight them will "be strengthened in the coming months."

According to the latest figures, some 780 people have left France to fight with jihadists in Syria.

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ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE
2009 photo of the Jewish Museum of Belgium, in Brussels. Credit: Michael Wal, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and1.0 Generic license.
Last Updated on Monday, 02 June 2014 11:02
 

Military medals stolen from home of WWII veteran

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Written by Associated Press   
Thursday, 29 May 2014 09:29

The Bronze Star Medal is the fourth-highest United States Armed Forces' individual military award. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – Albuquerque police are asking the public to keep an eye out for military medals stolen from an 89-year-old World War II veteran.

The framed service medals were among items taken from Roy Hopper's home during a break-in last month. At the time, Hopper was in the hospital after falling and breaking his hip.

Hopper's name is inscribed on the back of the medals. Police say they could turn up on Craigslist or at pawn shops.

“He is totally devastated. His morale is very low,” said Lewis Wasson, one of Hopper's friends.

Hopper has been honored by former first lady Laura Bush and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. But his friends say his most treasured honor came in 1991 when he was awarded the Bronze Star for his heroic efforts during World War II.

Hopper participated in the Normandy Invasion before being captured by the Germans. He spent nine months in a camp for prisoners of war.

Investigators searched Hopper's home for evidence but didn't find any fingerprints, police officer Simon Drobik said. Investigators believe the suspect was wearing gloves.

Guns and cash were also missing from Hopper's home.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-05-27-14 1940GMT



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE

The Bronze Star Medal is the fourth-highest United States Armed Forces' individual military award. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. 

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 May 2014 09:34
 

Chinese antiques dealer sentenced for smuggling rhino horns

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Written by SAMANTHA HENRY, Associated Press   
Thursday, 29 May 2014 09:10

Black rhinos in Tanzania. Image by Brocken Inaglory. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) – An antiques dealer from China has been sentenced to nearly six years in U.S. federal prison after admitting he was the mastermind of an international smuggling ring that specialized in rhinoceros horns and elephant ivory.

Speaking through an interpreter, Zhifei Li expressed remorse for his actions and asked to be reunited with his sick 4-year-old daughter in China before his sentencing Tuesday in U.S. District court in Newark.

The 30-year-old pleaded guilty in December to 11 counts, including conspiracy, smuggling, illegal wildlife trafficking and making fake documents.

The U.S. attorney's office says Li, operating through his business Overseas Treasure Finding, paid three antiques dealers in the United States to help him smuggle the items to China. Prosecutors say the 30 smuggled rhino horns plus other objects made from the horns and from elephant ivory were worth about $4.5 million.

The horns were allegedly shipped to Hong Kong and then mainland China wrapped in duct tape and hidden in porcelain vases. All species of the rhinoceros are protected under U.S. and international law, and international trade in rhino horns and elephant ivory has been regulated since the mid-1970s.

U.S. Magistrate Esther Salas ordered Li to serve his sentence of five years and 10 months in the U.S. before he faces deportation to his native Shandong Province. He was also ordered to forfeit $3.5 million in proceeds from his admitted criminal activity.

Paul Fishman, the U.S. attorney for the district of New Jersey, praised what he said was one of the longest sentences ever imposed in the U.S. for a wildlife smuggling offense.

“The multibillion-dollar illegal wildlife market is supplied by animal poaching of unthinkable brutality and fed by those willing to profit from such cruelty,” Fishman said in a statement.

Salas said she hoped the sentencing would send a strong message to would-be poachers and smugglers in order to “prevent the innocent slaughter of these magnificent creatures.”

Li was arrested as part of “Operation Crash,” a nationwide effort led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Justice Department to prosecute those involved in the black market trade of rhinoceros horns and other protected species.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-05-27-14 2247GMT



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE

Black rhinos in Tanzania. Image by Brocken Inaglory. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license. 

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 May 2014 09:29
 

FBI: Confirmed sightings of missing art from Gardner heist

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Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 23 May 2014 10:11
Edouard Manet's 'Chez Tortoni,' one of the paintings stolen in 1990 from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. BOSTON (AP) - The FBI agent in charge of the investigation into the theft of $500 million worth of masterpieces from a Boston museum nearly a quarter century ago says the bureau has confirmed sightings of the missing artwork from credible sources.

The art, including works by Rembrandt, Vermeer and Manet, was stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990 by two men disguised as city police officers.

FBI Special Agent Geoff Kelly, the lead investigator, tells WFXT-TV the trail for the missing artwork has not grown cold.

He identified three persons of interest in the Gardner case, all with ties to organized crime: Carmello Merlino, Robert Guarente, and Robert Gentile. Merlino and Guarente have died. Gentile has denied any knowledge of the missing work.

A $5 million reward has been offered.

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Information from: WFXT-TV, http://www.myfoxboston.com

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Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE
Edouard Manet's 'Chez Tortoni,' one of the paintings stolen in 1990 from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Last Updated on Friday, 23 May 2014 10:22
 

Two arrested in theft of antique cars believed sold for scrap

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Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 23 May 2014 09:12
Suspects Douglas Gabel (left) and John Kasper (right). Photo courtesy of Saline County Sheriff's Office

SALINA, Kans. (AP) — Saline County Sheriff Glen Kochanowski says two men are in custody in connection with the theft and destruction of five antique cars.

Kochanowski says Gary Hansen discovered in early April that five of the antique cars he kept in a rural area of the county were missing.

KAKE TV reports that a 53-year-old Herington man, Douglas Gabel; and a 47-year-old man from Hope, John Kasper; were arrested in the case Wednesday and are being held in the Saline County Jail. Gabel faces 10 charges of felony theft and criminal damage to property. Kasper is charged with three counts of theft and three counts of criminal damage to property. Sheriff Kochanowski says more arrests are possible.

Kochanowski says it’s likely the cars were sold for scrap. The missing cars include a 1939 Plymouth, a 1949 Studebaker two-door coupe and a 1950 Studebaker four-door.

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Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Auction Central News and KAKE TV (www.kake.com) contributed to this report.



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE
Suspects Douglas Gabel (left) and John Kasper (right). Photo courtesy of Saline County Sheriff's Office
Last Updated on Friday, 23 May 2014 09:26
 
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