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Greece: Police officer appears in court over teen shooting

Greece: Police officer appears in court over teen shooting

THESSALONIKI, Greece — Clashes broke out Tuesday at a police station outside Greece’s second-largest city of Thessaloniki as residents of a nearby Roma settlement protested the police shooting of a teenage driver during a chase over an unpaid gas station bill.Protesters smashed a riot police bus and set fire to tires and an excavator vehicle on a nearby road, while riot police responded with volleys of tear gas. Shots could be heard, and police asked journalists in the area to move farther, saying protesters were firing from shotguns.The clashes came after a 34-year-old police officer appeared in court over the shooting early Monday of a 16-year-old Roma youth who allegedly drove off from a gas station without paying the bill. The teen, whose identity has not been officially released but was identified by relatives as a member of the Roma community, was hit in the head and hospitalized in critical condition in Thessaloniki. Before the incident, demonstrations already were planned Tuesday to mark the anniversary of the 2008 fatal police shooting of a teenager in Athens that sparked Greece’s worst riots in decades. These annual commemorations often turn violent.About 6,000 people marched Tuesday night in Thessaloniki to remember the 2008 shooting, and after the protest was over some set fire to trash cans and threw Molotov cocktails at police — who responded with a water cannon and tear gas. No injuries or major damage to property were reported. Police said 16 suspected rioters were detained. Similar rioting occurred in Athens after the end of the anniversary march in which an estimated 5,000 people took part. Police detained 19 people.The police officer who appeared in court Tuesday on a felony charge of attempted manslaughter with possible intent and a misdemeanor count of illegally firing his weapon has been suspended. He said he opened fire because the pickup truck the teenager was driving tried to ram one of the pursuing police motorcycles. The police officer told the prosecutor he had fired “because the lives of my colleagues were in danger.”He was given until Friday to prepare his defense before appearing before an investigating magistrate. During the preliminary hearing, scuffles broke out outside the courthouse between police and protesters who held up a banner reading: “It wasn’t the gas, it wasn’t the money, the cops shot because he was Roma.” Protesters threw rocks and other objects at police, who responded with tear gas. Some protesters set dumpsters on fire, while others attempted to put out the smoldering trash with water bottles.Elsewhere in Greece, groups of Roma briefly blocking off major highways at two points in the country’s south. State ERT TV said in one case, protesters threw stones at passing motorists and lit fires, forcing police to temporarily stop traffic.The 16-year-old’s shooting occurred outside Thessaloniki at around 1 a.m. Monday. Officers from a motorcycle patrol chased the teenager’s pickup truck after a gas station employee reported an allegedly unpaid bill of 20 euros ($21).In a statement Monday, police said the driver ignored orders to stop and repeatedly ran red lights. The police statement said the driver attempted to ram one of the police motorcycles, “placing the lives of the police officers in immediate danger.” It said two shots were fired in an attempt to stop the vehicle. Panagiotis Ramos, who was protesting outside the courthouse and identified himself as a family friend of the wounded teenager, dismissed the police version.“It was a racist shot. It wasn’t one, but two,” Ramos said. “The shot was straight. He was trying to finish him off.” On Monday night, about 1,500 people took part in a protest march organized by left-wing and anarchist groups in central Thessaloniki. Some smashed shops and threw Molotov cocktails at police, who detained six people.Several hundred people also took part in a mostly peaceful demonstration Monday in central Athens over the teen’s shooting as well as a past incident in which a Roma man also was shot during a police chase.Members of the Roma community in Greece and human rights activists frequently accuse Greek authorities of discriminating against Roma. Several Roma men have been fatally shot or injured in recent years during confrontations with police while allegedly seeking to evade arrest for breaches of the law.————Vassilis Kommatas in Thessaloniki contributed to this report.

Poland reverses course, accepts German air defense system

Poland reverses course, accepts German air defense system

WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s defense minister said Tuesday that his country will accept a Patriot missile defense system which Germany offered to deploy to Poland last month.The German offer was made after an errant missile fell in Poland near the border with Ukraine, killing two Polish men. Poland and NATO have said they believe it was a Ukrainian missile that misfired as the country was protecting itself from a missile barrage on Nov. 15.Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak had initially said that he accepted the offer with “satisfaction.” But the leader of Poland’s powerful ruling party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, said he thought the Patriot system should be placed in Ukraine, and Blaszczak and other Polish leaders followed his line.What appeared to be Poland cold-shouldering Germany’s offer threatened to create new strains in the relationship between the two neighboring countries, which have a difficult history but today are important trade partners and allies in NATO.Blaszczak said Tuesday on Twitter he was sorry Germany did not want to place the Patriot system in Ukraine.“I was disappointed to accept the decision to reject the support of Ukraine,” he wrote. “Placing the Patriots in western Ukraine would increase the security of Poles and Ukrainians.”Nonetheless, he said the German and Polish defense ministries were proceeding “with arrangements regarding the placement of the launchers in Poland and connecting them to our command system.”Germany has said the Patriot system offered to Poland was part of NATO’s integrated air defense and only to be deployed on NATO territory.Poland’s ruling party faced significant criticism from politicians and commentators when it said it wanted the system to go to Ukraine, suggesting Poland didn’t want it. Critics accused the party of risking the nation’s security at a time of war in neighboring Ukraine by seeking to stir up anti-German sentiment.An opinion poll published this week showed significant support by regular Poles for having the German rocket launcher located in Poland, where it will beef up defenses already enhanced by Poland and the United States since Russia’s full invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.Pawel Kowal, an opposition lawmaker, said the government’s back and forth didn’t look serious.“How is Poland to be taken seriously with such a government? We take Patriots — we don’t take — we take …” he wrote on Twitter after Blaszczak’s announcement. “But pressure makes sense. So do the polls on German patriots. Poland will be safer with them.”As Poland prepares for a national election next year, Law and Justice party leader Kaczynski has railed against Germany during his encounters with voters. Last weekend, Kaczynski accused Berlin of seeking to use peaceful means to achieve aims that “it once wanted to implement using military methods.” ———Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Jesuit artist has ministry cut; Vatican doesn’t prosecute

Jesuit artist has ministry cut; Vatican doesn’t prosecute

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican came under pressure Tuesday to explain why it didn’t prosecute a famous Jesuit artist and merely let his order restrict the priest’s ministry following allegations that he abused his authority over adult women.The Jesuits, the same order to which Pope Francis belongs, announced in a statement made public this week that the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith had determined the statute of limitations had expired and closed the case against the Rev. Marko Ivan Rupnik. Mosaics by Rupnik, a native of Slovenia who is as close as it gets to an official Vatican artist, decorate the Lourdes basilica, a chapel in the Apostolic Palace and churches around the globe. In specifying that Rupnik was not accused of sexually abusing minors, the Jesuits indicated that he was accused of sexual-related crimes with adults involving the confessional, since those are the other types of canonical crimes that normally fall under the Dicastery’s purview. The Jesuits didn’t specify the nature of the allegations against him, only to say they involved the way he exercised his ministry.The vast majority of such cases handled by the Dicastery often fall beyond the 20-year statute of limitations in church law. But for over a decade, the Dicastery has regularly waived the time limit, precisely because of the time needed for victims to come to terms with their abuse and report it.The Holy See’s own church norms, updated last year, explicitly state the statute of limitations can be waived for the gravest of church crimes, though observers have noted that such waivers are occurring less and less frequently.Rupnik’s mosaic work can be found on the facade of the basilica at Lourdes, the Marian pilgrimage site in southern France, the Vatican’s Redemtoris Mater chapel in the Apostolic Palace and the John Paul II Institute in Washington. He did an extensive televised interview with Vatican News in July 2021 to explain the inspiration behind the logo that he designed for the Vatican’s World Meeting of Families.The Jesuit statement said the Vatican received a complaint against Rupnik in 2021, and that the Jesuits appointed an outside investigator who reported back to the Dicastery, which then closed the case in October 2022 because the statute of limitations had expired.The Italian-language blog Silere Non Possum noted that Pope Francis received Rupnik in audience on Jan. 3 of this year, so while he was under investigation. The blog also reported comments from an an unnamed woman from the priest’s community who said she first reported alleged psychological, physical and spiritual abuse by Rupnik in 1995, but that nothing happened.Kurt Martens, a canon lawyer at the Catholic University of America in Washington, said it was “strange” that the Vatican didn’t waive the statute of limitations and conduct a proper investigation. Martens said such a waiver would clarify beyond any doubt that a renowned Jesuit did not receive preferential treatment from a Vatican with a Jesuit pope, a Jesuit prefect of the Dicastery and a Jesuit prosecutor.“Why do you not prosecute that?” he asked, stressing that he didn’t know the particulars of the case. “Why do you not bring this to a conclusion? It is better in a case like this if you can bring it to a trial.”Asked Tuesday about the case, the Vatican spokesman referred questions to the Jesuits. In the statement, the Jesuits said that even though Rupnik’s case was closed in October, the precautionary measures that his superior imposed on his ministry during the investigation remained in place. Under those measures, Rupnik can no longer hear confession, offer spiritual guidance or lead spiritual exercises, and must receive explicit permission for public engagements.

Legislator hospitalized after brawl in Turkey’s parliament

Legislator hospitalized after brawl in Turkey’s parliament

Zafer Isik, a lawmaker from president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party, rear center, punches Huseyin Ors, a lawmaker from the opposition Good Party, third left, in the face at the parliament, in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022. Ors was hospitalized on Tuesday following a brawl that broke out in Turkey’s parliament during a tense debate over next year’s budget. (AP Photo)

Argentina awaits VP Cristina Fernández corruption verdict

Argentina awaits VP Cristina Fernández corruption verdict

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — All eyes in Argentina were on federal court, where three judges prepared Tuesday to announce their verdict in the corruption trial of Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. She’s accused of running a criminal organization that defrauded the state of $1 billion during her presidency through public works contracts granted to a construction magnate closely tied to her family.The prosecution asked for 12 years in prison and a lifetime ban from public office if at least two judges vote to convict on both charges. But an appeal is certain no matter the verdict, and meanwhile she’ll remain immune from arrest if she wins election to another federal office. What’s also certain: The verdict will further divide the South American nation, where politics can be a blood sport and the 69-year-old populist leader is either loved or hated. Her followers, including some of Argentina’s leading trade unions, vowed to paralyze the country if she’s found guilty.Crowds blocked streets in the center of Buenos Aires ahead of Tuesday afternoon’s verdict in the trial, which began in 2019. Lines of police prepared to reinforce tall metal barriers outside the court. Fernández, who has roundly denied all the accusations, planned to observe the verdict from her office in Congress. Prosecutors said Fernández fraudulently directed 51 public works projects to Lázaro Báez, a construction magnate and early ally of her and her husband Nestor Kirchner, who served as president from 2003-2007 and died suddenly in 2010. Báez and members of her 2007-2015 presidential administration are among a dozen others accused of joining Fernández in the conspiracy. Prosecutors Diego Luciani and Sergio Mola said the Báez company was created to embezzle revenues through improperly bid projects that suffered from cost overruns and in many cases were never completed. The company disappeared after the Kirchners’ 12 years in power, they said. In Argentina, judges in such cases customarily pronounce verdicts and sentences first and explain how they reached their decision later, but given the public pressure in this case, they could offer some details before the panel’s full decision is read out loud in February. After that, the verdict can be appealed up to the Supreme Court, a process that could take years.Pollster Roberto Bacman, who directs Argentina’s Center for Public Opinion Studies and supported the campaign of current President Alberto Fernández, said the opposition parties are hoping to campaign calling her a convict, as well as a thief and a whore. And Cristina Fernández, who last month compared her judges to a “firing squad,” is ready to play the victim, characterizing the judiciary as a pawn of right-wing forces including opposition media and Mauricio Macri, who succeeded her as president, Bacman said.“So we already know how she’ll be attacked and also how Kirchnerism will defend her, which is to consider her a victim of “lawfare,” just like Lula (President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva) faced in Brazil or what the former president of Ecuador (Rafael Correa) currently faces,” Bacman said.Either way, Bacman expects the verdict to only deepen the fissures in Argentine society, where even as vice president, she remains the singular leader of the leftist faction of the Peronist movement. Bacman said his surveys show 62% want her removed and 38% support her, no matter what. Meanwhile, other cases remain pending against her, including a charge of money-laundering that also involves her son and daughter.

Turkey again threatens Greece for arming Aegean islands

Turkey again threatens Greece for arming Aegean islands

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s foreign minister on Tuesday renewed threats to “take action” against Greece if it continued to arm its Aegean islands which Ankara says should remain demilitarized in line with international treaties.Mevlut Cavusoglu’s comments follow reports of military exercises by Greece on the Aegean islands of Rhodes and Lesbos. Turkish officials insist the deployment of soldiers or weapons on some islands close to its coast are in violation of their nonmilitary status according to international law.Athens says it needs to defend the islands against a potential attack from Turkey. It notes that Turkey has a sizeable military force on the western Turkish coast just across form the islands.Speaking during a joint news conference with his Romanian counterpart, Cavusoglu said continued violation of the treaties would open their sovereignty up to debate and force Turkey to defends its rights.“We cannot remain silent,” Cavusoglu said. “Greece needs to renounce its violation. Either it steps back on the issue and abides by the agreement or we’ll do whatever is necessary.”“We will continue to take the necessary steps both legally – within international organization, especially the U.N. and on the field,” the minister said.Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis accused the government in Ankara later Tuesday of repeatedly engaging in “provocative and historically ignorant statements,” and denied harboring “aggressive intentions” toward Turkey.“We are determined to defend our territorial integrity in every possible way,” he added.NATO members Turkey and Greece have decades-old disputes over an array of issues, including territorial claims in the Aegean Sea and disputes over the airspace there. The disputes have brought them to the brink of war three times in the last half-century.Tensions over exploratory drilling rights in areas of the Mediterranean Sea where Greece and Cyprus claim exclusive economic zones culminated in a naval standoff two years ago.Cavusoglu said: “Greece should not forget this. Those who sow the wind reap the storm. If you do not want peace, we will do what is necessary.”

SHUT THEM DOWN: More Chinese secret police stations reportedly found, prompting call for consulate closures

SHUT THEM DOWN: More Chinese secret police stations reportedly found, prompting call for consulate closures

Countries should shut down Chinese consulates until the communist regime closes its network of illegal policing operations, a former deputy national security adviser said after nearly 50 additional stations were reportedly found.”China’s overseas police stations are one of several ways Beijing is eroding our national sovereignty and depriving ethnic Chinese, in particular, of their rights as citizens of democracies,” China program chair at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Matt Pottinger, told Fox News. “Democracies should shutter China’s consulates until Beijing withdraws its illegal and extraterritorial law enforcers in our borders.”Safeguard Defenders, a pan-Asian human rights organization, published an investigation Monday, called “Patrol and Persuade,” reporting that another 48 Chinese police service stations were operating abroad in addition to the 54 the group had identified in September. The reported locations span 53 countries, including four U.S.-based stations: two in New York City, one in Los Angeles and one set up by the Nantong Public Security Bureau in an undisclosed location.  WATCH: CHINESE SECRET POLICE HAVE REPORTEDLY INVADED U.S. SHORESWATCH MORE FOX NEWS DIGITAL ORIGINALS HERE”We know the Communist Party of China (CCP) has been ramping up its transnational repression efforts around the world over the past years,” Safeguard Defenders’ campaign manager, Laura Harth, told Fox News. “And that the United Front Work networks linked to these stations have long been engaged in influence and interference operations abroad.” “The stations appear as just the latest iteration of such growing practices,” she said. These overseas police stations allow Chinese authorities to “carry out policing operations on foreign soil” and have aided a CCP campaign to combat citizens living abroad who have allegedly committed “fraud and telecom fraud,” Harth said. Since the campaign’s launch in April 2021, 230,000 Chinese nationals have been “persuaded to return” home to face prosecution for alleged crimes, according to the Ministry of Public Security in China. Safeguard Defenders also linked the reported overseas policing network to activities of China’s United Front Work Department, a Communist Party organization charged with spreading its influence and propaganda overseas.”The best testament to the scale of clandestine policing operations run by the [People’s Republic of China] authorities come from their own official statements and work reports,” Harth said. Beijing has touted the success of Operation Fox Hunt, a campaign that has returned over 11,000 high-value fugitives to China since 2014, according to Harth. REPUBLICANS DEMAND ANSWERS FROM BIDEN OFFICIALS ON REPORT CHINA OPENED POLICE ARM IN NYC
Through its “110 Overseas” campaign, the Chinese Foreign Ministry of Security has persuaded over 230,000 overseas Chinese suspects to return to the mainland and face criminal charges.
((Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images))”The numbers and scale speak for themselves,” she said. “Especially in combination with the framework of illegal methods used … which include threats, harassment, detention of family members back home; the deployment of covert agents, embassy personnel, individuals tied to the overseas stations or hired agents to /persuade’ the target abroad directly on foreign soil; and even kidnappings.”China’s Foreign Ministry has denied that it’s running undeclared police forces and said the locations provide services to its citizens living abroad, like renewing IDs and driver’s licenses.However, the newly reported stations were set up as early as 2016, according to Safeguard Defenders’ investigation, disputing China’s statements that the operations were started in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.WHITE HOUSE SAYS US, CHINA DIPLOMATIC CHANNELS MAY ‘EXPAND’ FOLLOWING BIDEN, XI MEETINGEven more concerning than China’s expanding operations, Harth said, is that “the vast majority of targeted countries appeared completely unaware” of the CCP’s police networks operating on their spoil, “highlighting an urgent need for a coordinated response across the democratic alliance.”At least 13 countries, including Canada, Germany and the Netherlands, have begun investigations into these police stations following the initial reporting of their existence, according to Safeguard Defenders. The U.S. was also included on the list, but it’s not clear what steps the government is taking to look into the issue. 
Suspects in telecoms scams are brought back to China from Cambodia as the CCP cracks down on fraud committed by its citizens overseas.
(Xinhua News Agency / Contributor)CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPFBI Director Christopher Wray said at a U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing in November that he was aware of the stations’ existence and found the issue deeply concerning but declined to detail the bureau’s investigative work on the matter. “But to me, it is outrageous to think that the Chinese police would attempt to set up shop, you know, in New York, let’s say, without proper coordination,” Wray said. “It violates sovereignty and circumvents standard judicial and law enforcement cooperation processes.”Harth said it has been “extremely encouraging to see the response of some governments” but recommended that all countries hosting one of these stations “take action to counter this common domestic threat and attack on fundamental freedoms and territorial sovereignty.”

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