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Pedestrians injured in car collision near London museum

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LONDON — British emergency services raced to London’s Natural History Museum after a car struck pedestrians Saturday outside the building. Police said a number of people were injured and one person was detained at the scene.

The crash happened at 2:20 p.m. on a day when the central London museum is usually teeming with pedestrians, including international tourists.

Photographs showed a dented silver car and a man being pinned to the ground outside the museum. It was not immediately clear if he was pinned down by police or others at the scene.

The London Ambulance Service was tending to the injured. There was no immediate statement on the number or severity of the injuries.

Shopkeepers in the immediate area were told to evacuate and police established a large security cordon around the area minutes after the incident.

Police said they are working to establish the circumstances of the crash and more details would be released later.
The Natural History Museum tweeted that there had been a “serious incident” outside the museum, which is located near the world famous Victoria and Albert Museum and other attractions.

Downing Street said British Prime Minister Theresa May was being briefed on the incident.

London’s official terrorist threat level has been set at “severe,” indicating an attack is highly likely.

There have been a series of terror attacks on London and Manchester this year, including vehicle attacks on pedestrians at Westminster Bridge and London Bridge.

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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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Germany Chancellor Merkel wins fourth term

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Chancellor Angela Merkel clinched a fourth term in Germany’s election Sunday, but her victory was clouded by the entry into parliament of the hard-right AfD in the best showing for a nationalist force since World War II.

Merkel, who after 12 years in power held a double-digit lead for most of the campaign, scored around 33 per cent of the vote with her conservative Christian Union (CDU/CSU) bloc, according to preliminary results. It was their worst score since 1949.

Its nearest rivals, the Social Democrats and their candidate Martin Schulz, came in a distant second, with a post-war record low of 21 per cent.

BOMBSHELL

But in a bombshell for the German establishment, the anti-Islam, anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) captured around 13 percent, catapulting it to become the country’s third biggest political force.

Commentators called the AfD’s strong performance a “watershed moment” in the history of the German republic. The top-selling Bild daily spoke of a “political earthquake”.

AfD supporters gathered at a Berlin club, cheering as public television reported the outcome, many joining in a chorus of the German national anthem.

Hundreds of protesters rallied outside, shouting “Nazis out!” while smaller AfD demonstrations were held in other cities across the country.

The four-year-old nationalist party with links to the far-right French National Front and Britain’s UKIP has been shunned by Germany’s mainstream but was able to build on particularly strong support in ex-communist eastern Germany.

BUNDESTAG

It is now headed for the opposition benches of the Bundestag lower house, dramatically boosting its visibility and state financing.

Alarmed by the prospect of what Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel branded “real Nazis” entering parliament, the candidates had used their final days of campaigning to implore voters to reject the populists.

Turnout was markedly higher than four years ago, up to around 76 per cent from 71.5 per cent.

French President Emmanuel Macron was among the first to congratulate Merkel, promising that the two key European partners would keep up their “essential cooperation”.

Merkel admitted that she had fallen far short of the 40-per cent goal her party set.

“There’s a big new challenge for us, and that is the entry of the AfD in the Bundestag,” said Merkel, adding: “We want to win back AfD voters.”

RULING MAJORITY

Germans elected a splintered parliament, reflecting a nation torn between a relatively high degree of satisfaction with Merkel and a desire for change after more than a decade of her leadership.

Another three parties cleared the five-percent hurdle to be represented in parliament: the liberal Free Democrats at around 10 per cent and the anti-capitalist Left and ecologist Greens, both at about nine per cent.

As Merkel failed to secure a ruling majority on her own and with the dejected SPD ruling out another right-left “grand coalition” with her, the process of forming a viable government was shaping up to be a thorny, months-long process.

Merkel, 63, often called the most powerful woman on the global stage, ran on her record as a steady pair of hands in a turbulent world, warning voters not to indulge in “experiments”.

MIGRANTS

Pundits said Merkel’s reassuring message of stability and prosperity resonated in greying Germany, where more than half of the 61 million voters are aged 52 or older.

Her popularity had largely recovered from the influx since 2015 of more than one million mostly Muslim migrants and refugees, half of them from war-torn Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

But the AfD was able to capitalise on anger over the asylum issue during what was criticised as a largely lacklustre campaign bereft of real clashes among the main contenders.

The party has made breaking taboos its trademark.

Top AfD candidate Alexander Gauland has called for Germans to shed their guilt over two world wars and the Holocaust and to take pride in their veterans.

He has also suggested that Germany’s integration commissioner Aydan Ozoguz, who has Turkish roots, should be “disposed of in Anatolia”.

DEMOCRACY

The SPD said its catastrophic result would lead it to seek a stint in opposition to rekindle its fighting spirit.

“This is a difficult and bitter day for German social democracy,” a grim-faced Schulz, a former European Parliament chief, told reporters, adding that he hoped to remain party leader.

This would leave Merkel in need of new coalition partners.

If the SPD sticks to its refusal to play ball, mathematically the most likely scenario would be a link-up with the pro-business Free Democrats, who staged a comeback after crashing out of parliament four years ago, and the left-leaning Greens.

EMPLOYMENT

That so-called “Jamaica” coalition, based on the party colours and the Caribbean nation’s flag, would be a risky proposition, given the differences between the parties on issues ranging from climate policy to migration issues.

Schulz, 61, struggled to gain traction with his calls for a more socially just Germany at a time when the economy is humming and employment is at a record low.

Meanwhile Merkel faced accusations from within her conservative camp that she had left its “right flank exposed” to the AfD’s challenge with her centrist stance on issues such as border policy.

“This is competition for the Union and the conservative spectrum in general,” said political scientist Lothar Probst of the University of Bremen of the AfD.

“A very difficult period is beginning for the chancellor.”

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