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Emmanuel Macron assassination plot foiled by French police

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A man has been charged with plotting to assassinate French President Emmanuel Macron on Bastille Day during US President Donald Trump’s visit to France, a spokeswoman for the Paris Prosecutor’s office said Monday.

Spokeswoman Agnès Thibault-Lecuivre told CNN a 23-year-old suspect had been arrested.

Investigators said the man planned to attack Macron on July 14, during an parade on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, where President Trump is set to be a guest of honor, according to public service radio broadcaster, France Info.

The suspect was arrested on Wednesday in the north-west Paris suburb of Argenteuil by anti-terror services, and was charged with “individual terrorist activity” on Saturday.

A self described far right nationalist, the man told police he wanted to make a political statement by killing Macron, CNN affiliate BFMTV reported.
He also said he wanted to attack, “blacks, Arabs, Jews and homosexuals,” according to police documents seen by BFMTV.

Security forces were alerted by users of a video game site, after the suspect posted about allegedly wanting to buy a Kalashnikov-type weapon to commit an attack, BFMTV said.

Police said it is too early in the investigation to say if the suspect is linked to a wider network, but he was convicted of terror related activity in 2016, according to France Info.

Last year, 86 people were killed in a truck attack during Bastille Day festivities in Nice, France.

On Monday, Macron said he would lift the state of emergency imposed upon the country since November 2015 later this year.

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How did Slobodan Praljak obtain ‘poison’?

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Two investigations will seek to uncover how a Bosnian Croat war criminal managed to commit suicide during a hearing at a UN court by drinking a deadly substance.

Security measures at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia where Slobodan Praljak took his life on Wednesday are tight. But there are ways to evade the scanners and prying eyes.

Dutch lawyer Goran Sluiter, a professor of international law at the University of Amsterdam, explains how, saying it was more than likely Praljak had an accomplice.

How did he get the liquid?

“There are three scenarios. He got hold of the liquid in the detention centre, while being transported from the prison to the courtroom, or inside the courtroom itself. But I would be very surprised if he got it during the transport, as it’s a very short lapse of time.”
It is possible that “the liquid he drank was a medicine that he had received in the centre for treatment, but which he then stashed away.

“If he got hold of the bottle inside the courtroom then that reduces the circle of people who could have helped him. So you are thinking about the lawyers.

“Whatever happened, there are very strong chances that he had help.”

What security measures are in place?

“When they arrive at the court, the detainees pass through security controls. Then — before the hearing and afterwards, before returning to the detention centre — the accused are kept in holding cells.

“At the detention centre, we lawyers must pass through two security controls. One at the entrance to the Scheveningen detention centre which comes under the authority of the Dutch, and then again when entering the part of the jail reserved for ICTY suspects which is under the authority of UN guards. We are scanned like at an airport. The UN controls are much stricter than those done by the Dutch.

“At the court, the suspects have to pass through security controls which detect metal and drugs. But it is not always possible to stop drugs. Medicines, for example, can be mixed with water, and passed off as a bottle of water.”

Are there pat-downs?

“This is not a terrorist unit, so the pat-downs are less strict. My bottles of water have never been controlled, for example. Clothing is felt to see if it contains a weapon. Praljak could have quite easily hidden this small bottle in one of his bodily cavities.

“When someone really wants to end their life, they will always find a way to do it.”

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Ratko Mladic sentenced to life in prison for genocide in Bosnia

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Former Bosnian Serbian commander Ratko Mladic has been sentenced to life in prison for genocide and war crimes during the Balkans conflicts more than two decades ago.

The presiding judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on Wednesday found that the 74-year-old general “significantly contributed” to genocide committed at Srebrenica. Previous judgments of the tribunal in the Netherlands already ruled that the massacre of about 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica was genocide.Judge Alphons Orie ruled that the perpetrators of the crimes committed in Srebrenica intended to destroy the Muslims living there.

‘Heinous crimes’

The judge also ruled that Mladic carried out and personally oversaw a deadly campaign of sniping and shelling in Sarajevo.”The crimes committed rank among the most heinous known to humankind,” he said.

The former general initially appeared relaxed as he listened intently to the verdict but was later removed from the courtroom after he shouted at the judges when he was refused an adjournment. His lawyer said Mladic needed a break for treatment of high blood pressure but the continued reading the verdict after Mladic removal from court.

Wednesday’s verdict was long awaited by tens of thousands of victims across former Yugoslavia, and dozens gathered early outside the courtroom, many clutching photos of loved ones who died or are among the 7,000 still missing. The court said, however, it was “not convinced” of genocidal intent in six other municipalities, in line with previous judgments.

“We’re sad and disappointed because Mladic wasn’t declared responsible for the genocide in Prijedor and in the other five municipalities that were listed,” Sejida Karabasic, from Prijedor, said. “3,176 people [killed] in Prijedor isn’t enough in order to prove that there was a mass killing. So, more than 10,000 of us should have been killed in order to prove that genocide happened there,” Karabasic said.

“There were mass rapes, killings, concentration camps. They found the largest mass graves in the Prijedor region, none of that was enough for the verdict to include genocide,” she added. Munir Habibovic, a Srebrenica resident, said he was satisfied with the punishment. We weren’t expecting anything less,” he said, while agreeing that Mladic should have been found guilty of genocide in the six additional municipalities.

Speaking on behalf of the association for Parents of Children Killed in Besieged Sarajevo, Fikret Grabovica told Al Jazeera, that “no such punishment exists for Mladic to get what he deserves”.
“But we can be a partly satisfied with this verdict. It’s very important that he received a life sentence… what I’m particularly glad about is that the indictment confirmed the terrorising and sniping of the civil population of Sarajevo, in which 1,600 children were killed,” Grabovica said.

The former general, dubbed the “Butcher of Bosnia”, was accused of 11 counts – including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by his forces during the war in Bosnia from 1992 and 1995.

Many Bosnian Serbs, however, view Mladic as a national hero who helped Serbia through the war that broke up former Yugoslavia. Serbian daily newspapers on Wednesday featured photos of Mladic on the front page with captions reading “I’m innocent; they can’t take my soul” and “I’m not guilty.”

Al Jazeera’s Marko Subotic, reporting from Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, said support for Mladic there is still widespread.

“The media in Serbia never reported on what the Serbian army, under the command of Mladic, committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Because of this, researchers say residents are confused because they don’t know why Mladic is standing trial at the tribunal in the Netherlands,” Subotic said. “A study in 2012 concluded that 42 percent of residents in Serbia don’t know why Mladic is being tried at all. They know more about what went on while he was in hiding; they know that he was looking for strawberries when he was arrested in Serbia in 2011.”

Mladic’s trial was the last before the tribunal and came as the court in The Hague prepared to close its doors next month.

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UK loses seat on International Court of Justice for first time since 1946

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The UK has lost its seat on the International Court of Justice for the first time since its creation in 1946.

Christopher Greenwood, the current British judge, was running for re-election to serve a second nine-year term – but withdrew from the race after facing a run-off vote against India’s Dalveer Bhandari.

Although Mr Greenwood had a majority among the UN Security Council, Mr Bhandari won the most backing in the General Assembly – with the Indian judge’s popularity seen to be increasing as support for the Briton diminished.

Based at The Hague, the UN court has 15 members and its job is to settle disputes between countries.

The UK’s permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, said: “The UK has concluded that it is wrong to take up the valuable time of the Security Council and the UN General Assembly with further rounds of elections.

“The UK congratulates the successful candidates, including Judge Bhandari of India.

“We are naturally disappointed, but it was a competitive field with six strong candidates.

“If the UK could not win in this run-off, then we are pleased that it is a close friend like India that has done so instead.

The setback is being regarded by some diplomats as the result of waning international influence following the vote to leave the European Union.

Five judges are elected to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) every three years.

Ronny Abraham of France, Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf of Somalia, Antonio Augusto Cancado Trindade of Brazil and Nawaf Salam of Lebanon have been elected to the bench along with Judge Bhandari.

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