Connect with us

Culture

Prosecution rests case in Ghislaine Maxwell sexual abuse trial

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Prosecutors in Ghislaine Maxwell’s sexual abuse trial rested their case on Friday after a fourth woman testified that the British socialite set her up for a sexual encounter with the late financier Jeffrey Epstein when she was a teenager.

She will now have an opportunity to mount a defence in the trial, which is moving faster than initially expected.

Maxwell (59), the daughter of late British media baron Robert Maxwell, has pleaded not guilty to eight counts of sex trafficking and other charges. Her lawyers have argued that she is being scapegoated for Epstein’s alleged crimes.

The investor killed himself in a Manhattan jail cell at the age of 66 in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex crimes charges.

Undated photo of Ghislaine Maxwell with Jeffrey Epstein. Photograph: US Department of Justice/PA Wire
Undated photo of Ghislaine Maxwell with Jeffrey Epstein. Photograph: US Department of Justice/PA Wire

On Friday, a woman named Annie Farmer testified that Ms Maxwell touched her breasts while giving her a massage during a visit to Epstein’s New Mexico ranch in 1996, when Ms Farmer was 16. She said Epstein crawled into bed and pressed his body against hers during the trip.

Ms Farmer, now 42, said she felt uncomfortable going to Epstein’s ranch because he had held her hand and caressed her in a movie theatre during an earlier meeting in New York. But she testified that she did not believe Epstein would touch her at the ranch with Ms Maxwell present.

She believed Epstein would help pay for her college education, Ms Farmer said.

While at the ranch, Ms Farmer agreed to receive a massage from Ms Maxwell, who touched her breasts during the massage, Farmer said.

The door was open, and while she did not see Epstein during the encounter, she said she thought he was nearby.

“I just had this sense that he could see me,” Ms Farmer said. “I just wanted so badly to get off the table and have this massage be done.”

Under cross-examination by Ms Maxwell’s attorney Laura Menninger, Ms Farmer confirmed several times that Ms Maxwell had not been present during the teenager’s initial meeting with Epstein in New York.

Ms Menninger also asked Ms Farmer if her account of the New Mexico trip was a “reconstructed memory”. Ms Farmer acknowledged that she had conducted internet searches and spoken with friends about other events that happened around the time of her trip to refresh her memory on exactly when the trip took place.

Ms Maxwell’s attorneys have argued that the accusers’ memories have been corrupted in the decades since the alleged abuse occurs. They have also said the women have an incentive to co-operate with the US government and implicate Ms Maxwell because they received money from a compensation fund for Epstein’s victims.

Ms Farmer received $1.5 million from the fund, she said under questioning from prosecutors.

Before Ms Farmer’s testimony, jurors had heard from three women who said they were teenagers when Ms Maxwell set them up for sexual abuse by Epstein. Those witnesses said Maxwell encouraged them to give Epstein massages that would escalate into sexual encounters.

Ms Farmer, the only one of the four to testify under her full name, said she had no further contact with Epstein or Ms Maxwell after the New Mexico trip.

US district judge Alison Nathan instructed jurors that any physical contact Ms Farmer had with Epstein was not “illegal sexual activity” under New Mexico’s laws. Judge Nathan had given a similar instruction before the testimony of one of the other alleged victims, Kate.

She gave no such instruction before the testimonies of the two other women, Jane and Carolyn, who said they were 14 when Epstein began abusing them in Florida. – Reuters

Source link

Culture

Dog-owners bite back at beach rules

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Following a series of reports that An Taisce is leading the battle to ban dogs from the State’s 83 blue-flag beaches, the organisation’s Ian Diamond is feeling misunderstood.

“I don’t hate dogs”, Mr Diamond says, pointing out that Blue Flag International – the global body which governs the coveted awards – warned last year that some qualifying beaches were not honouring long-standing rules.

Under what’s known as Criterion 23, the rules declare that beach access “by dogs and other domestic animals must be strictly controlled” and that they be allowed only in “the parking areas, walkways and promenades in the inland beach areas”.

Faced with the reminder, Mr Diamond said he requested last year that local authorities get more time, as it was “not something that can be introduced immediately in the middle of a pandemic when people are under other restrictions.

“You can’t exactly introduce these things overnight, so we were flagging that,” he said, adding that Blue Flag told them to speak to people seeking blue flag status and “come back with proposals” that comply with the rule.

The issue came to national attention following a meeting of Kerry County Council this week, though it was understood then that the rule was an An Taisce demand, rather than being a Blue Flag International obligation.

Dogs and horses

Consequently, Kerry County Council now propose that dogs or horses will not be allowed on blue-flag beaches from 11am-7pm between June 1st and September 15th, or otherwise the county could lose its 14 blue flags.

However, the restrictions are unpopular with some dog-owners: “There’s a lot more important things to be worrying about than dogs on a beach,” said David Walsh, as he walked his pet, Oreo, on Salthill beach.

Dog-owners in Salthill are already not allowed to bring their dogs onto the beach between 9am and 8pm between May 1st and September 30th each year, in line with Blue Flag International’s rules, though penalties are rare.

Mr Diamond says a national application of the rules at blue-flag beaches would not “strictly prohibit dogs being on the beach” during bathing season, outside of peak hours.

Bathing season

“The blue-flag criteria would apply from June 1st to September 15th, within peak usage hours, so bathing hours – that would be mid-morning to early evening,” said the An Taisce officer.

“What it requires is that there would be rules in place in relation to dogs that say [they] should not be in the blue-flag area within those hours and within the bathing season,” Mr Diamond said.

The restriction is based on public health grounds and dates back to 2003: “Dog faeces actually contain a lot of the micro-organisms that cause illness in the same way that human waste would,” he said.

“There’s no zero-tolerance approach to this. If rules are going to be brought in, then people will be consulted as well, you know, brought in unilaterally, and it’s down to the councils responsible for the beaches to bring those in.”

Not everyone disagrees with An Taisce, or Blue Flag: “I don’t think dogs should be on the beach, because of the kids and all that. And a lot of people don’t pick up their poo afterwards,” said a man on Salthill beach.

Source link

Continue Reading

Culture

Jail for banned motorist from Limerick caught driving on Christmas shopping trip to Belfast

Voice Of EU

Published

on

A banned motorist from Limerick caught driving on a Christmas shopping trip to Belfast has been jailed for seven months.

Police also discovered three of Leeanne McCarthy’s children not wearing seat belts when her car was stopped on the Westlink dual carriageway.

The 41-year-old mother-of-eight initially gave officers a false identity, prosecutors said.

Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard a PSNI patrol car stopped the Ford Focus on November 26th last year.

McCarthy, with an address at Clonlough in Limerick, provided a different name and claimed she did not have her licence with her.

However, checks revealed that a month earlier she had been banned from driving for five years.

A Crown lawyer said: “Three young children were in the rear of the vehicle, none of them wearing seat belts.”

McCarthy initially claimed they only removed the safety restraints when the car came to a halt, the court heard.

Police were told that she took over driving duties from another daughter who had been tired and nearly crashed the vehicle.

McCarthy was convicted of driving while disqualified, having no insurance, obstructing police and three counts of carrying a child in the rear of a vehicle without a seat belt.

Her barrister, Turlough Madden, said she had travelled to Belfast for Christmas shopping.

Counsel told the court McCarthy spent the festive period in custody, missing out on sharing it with her eight children and four grandchildren.

“That’s been a wake-up call and significant punishment for her,” Mr Madden submitted.

“She is a mother who simply wants to go back to Limerick and not return to Northern Ireland.”

Sentencing McCarthy to five months imprisonment for the new offences, District Judge George Conner imposed a further two months by activating a previous suspended term.

Mr Conner also affirmed the five-year disqualification period and fined her £300 (€350) for the seat belt charges.

Source link

Continue Reading

Culture

Suspects in UK citing ‘inhuman’ Irish jails to try halt extradition

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Criminal suspects abroad who are wanted by the Irish authorities are attempting to prevent their extradition on grounds of “inhuman” prison conditions here.

A number of legal challenges have been taken in the UK on such grounds since the extradition system was overhauled last year as a result of Brexit.

Most of the challenges are based on reports of overcrowding and “slopping out” – the manual emptying of containers used as toilets in cells overnight – in the Irish prison system.

Although none have been successful to date, in at least one case the Irish authorities have been required to offer assurances that a prisoner would not be forced to “slop out” in order to secure their extradition.

The case, which was finalised in the Scottish High Court last week, concerned a man wanted in Ireland for several domestic abuse-type offences. The man objected to his extradition on the basis that he may be forced to “slop out” or have to use the toilet in open view in front of cell mates in an Irish prison.

He cited a 2020 Council of Europe report which found the “degrading” practice of “slopping out” was still present in some prisons despite efforts by the authorities to abolish it.

Toilet dignity

The report also found almost half of the prison population still have to use the toilet in the presence of other prisoners.

A Scottish judge said such a system would carry “at least a strong presumption” of a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

However, after receiving a letter from a senior official in the Irish Director of Public Prosecutions’ (DPP) office that the suspect would not have to slop out during any prison sentence, the extradition was approved.

“The Irish Prison Service has confirmed that [the suspect] will not be placed in conditions where he is required to ‘slop out’ – either on remand or in the event that he is committed to a term of imprisonment,” the DPP official wrote.

The issue of prison conditions is one of a number of obstacles faced by the State in extraditing suspects to and from Ireland post-Brexit.

After the final withdrawal of the UK from the EU in January 2021, the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) system, which allowed for the rapid and simplified extraditions of prisoners to and from the UK, was replaced by a new system laid out in the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) struck between the EU and UK.

Post-Brexit uncertainty

In recent times, there were about 90 outgoing extradition warrants issued by Ireland per year, with about 70 per cent of those going to the UK. In 2021, that figure dropped by about half amid legal uncertainties surrounding the new system.

Officials in the DPP’s office had anticipated such issues may arise under the new system and sought to fast track as many extraditions as possible before its implementation. In 2020, it applied for about 180 extradition warrants, double the usual figure, ahead of the final withdrawal of the UK from the EU.

The new TCA system has also been subject to objections by suspects in Ireland wanted by the UK authorities. Last year, the Supreme Court referred two cases to the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) where the applicants claimed they could not be handed over the UK under the new system.

In November, the CJEU ruled the TCA system allows the men to be extradited. The ruling was a source of considerable relief to officials in the offices of the Attorney-General and the Chief State Solicitor as it was seen as a vindication of the new system.


Source link

Continue Reading

Trending

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates 
directly on your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!