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August 25, 2015

UK judge witholds report from Thai death penalty defendents

UK judge witholds report from Thai death penalty defendents

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

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In a judgement released today Mr Justice Green, sitting in the High Court in London, spoke of his “very considerable unease” as he rejected an application by two defendants in a Thai death penalty case. The pair sought a Metropolitan Police report they hoped could assist their defence.

The murders occurred on the picturesque resort island of Koh Tao, pictured here from file.
Image: Wikivoyage.

The court has expedited the case. Burmese nationals Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo, both 22, are currently on trial accused of murdering David Miller, 24, from Jersey, and Hannah Witheridge, 23, from England. With the defence case due to begin shortly and continue until mid- or late September the court has issued its judgement today following a hearing on Friday.

The case dates to September last year when the victims were found murdered on a Koh Tao beach. Witheridge had been raped. The case attracted worldwide attention with Lin and Phyo confessing, before re-enacting the killing in front of the press.

The accused claim the confessions were tortured out of them and the ongoing trial is unfair. UK Prime Minister David Cameron intervened, speaking to Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. Cameron and Chan-o-cha arranged for an observer team from the Metropolitan Police to conduct an inspection of the Thai probe, based on powers in the Police Act 1996.

A team was duly dispatched and prepared a report with the intent to use it for assisting the victims’ families. UK police were expressly forbidden, at a ministerial level, to provide any assistance to Thai authorities as the case involves the death penalty. Due to established UK policy on foreign death penalty cases, the report was also not shared with Thailand. It is this report that Lin and Phyo were seeking.

The Royal Courts of Justice complex in London, where the case was heard.
Image: sjiong via Flickr.

Using the Data Protection Act 1998 the defendants asked police for this report to assist their defence, and were denied. That decision was the one challenged unsuccessfully in the High Court. The case pits the two accused trying to defend a death penalty case against the possibility of jeopardising international relations; Thai police co-operated, but only in light of an agreement the report would be confidential.

Legal charity Reprieve, who assisted the two men, said in a statement “Concerns about the conduct of the Thai investigation and the safety of any convictions resulting have been raised from the very beginning[…] only the defence lawyers in Thailand are in a position to judge whether the information could be of assistance.” Mr Justice Green’s judgement acknowledges he did not know “how the accused might structure their defences” or details about what evidence had been or would be involved.

Thai Prime Minister Chan-o-cha, pictured here in December, was directly involved in negotiations that led to the report being produced.
Image: D. Myles Cullen/U.S. Military.

Both men say they were starved, suffocated, stripped naked, exposed to cold temperatures, beaten, threatened, and denied legal representation. The Royal Thai Police deny any misconduct. Mr Justice Green read the report himself and decided not to release it as it was of no assistance to the pair.

The report is known to contain some material disputed by Lin and Phyo. It says they repeated their confessions at various times, including in court with legal representation, before retracting them. It also says they have not backed up their torture claims with evidence, medical or otherwise.

Cquote1.svg This is not a Report which contains, for instance, state secrets Cquote2.svg

—Mr Justice Green

Mr Justice Green said the report described “in many respects […] no more than the routine conduct of a serious crime investigation. This is not a Report which contains, for instance, state secrets.” He also spoke of his distance from the ongoing trial, prompting him to remark of his “very considerable unease” and having to do “the best I could” — not “a comfortable process”.

Noting “the issues of both law and fact are complex, novel and difficult” Mr Justice Green’s judgement notes that, before even hearing the case he promised permission to appeal would be granted, if requested, whatever the outcome. He also promised a swift Court of Appeal hearing to comply with Thai trial time constraints. “The stakes are very high for both sides”, he added.

“In my judgment the common law,” the judgement reads, “and in particular the principles of natural justice and fairness, would in a case such as this which involves the right to life, and the right to a fair trial, as well as powerful countervailing issues of public interest, compel the court to apply the most intense level of anxious scrutiny to the facts to ensure that the accused were not prejudiced.”

Mr Justice Green also ruled the pair, in principal, “have a perfectly proper right to seek access to the personal data for the purpose of using it subsequently in their defence in criminal proceedings”, calling the case one about “fundamental rights”.

Rosa Curling, who represented both men in the London court, has said they would not appeal. She said Lin and Phyo are “disappointed” but “are reassured that at least a British judge has now looked at the information held by the Metropolitan Police, applying anxious scrutiny, and determined that it would not assist them in their ongoing proceedings in Thailand.”

Wikinews has contacted the Metropolitan Police, usually responsible for policing London, for a statement and is awaiting a response.



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July 4, 2012

Jersey gasometer fire causes evacuation

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Jersey is near France.

The gas holder in May 2012.

Jersey Police evacuated homes, schools, and businesses in a built-up area of St Helier, Jersey, after a fire started at a gas holder on Tunnel Street.

No fatalities have been reported, however a Jersey Gas fitter suffered minor facial burns, and another employee was treated for shock. The injured employee was treated and later released from hospital according to a Jersey Gas spokesman.

The fire broke out on Wednesday at around 12:30 pm BST, and was brought under control by the Jersey Fire and Rescue Service, but a risk of explosion remained while the fire service allowed the fire to burn under their control. A 400-metre cordon was put in place, and seven schools were evacuated as a precaution.

Hundreds of residents who live in parts of the cordoned area were not be permitted to spend the night in their own homes. Some of the displaced sought assistance, and food, at the Parish Hall of St Helier, and the police urged them to seek accommodation in hotels, or with friends.

The fire was fully extinguished at around 5 a.m. on Thursday, according to the fire service, and affected schools remained closed for the day.

Jersey Gas has said that the gas holder is unlikely to be used again.



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August 14, 2011

Jersey knife attack kills six

Jersey knife attack kills six – Wikinews, the free news source

Jersey knife attack kills six

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Crime and law
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Six people have died as the result of a knife-related attack in Jersey, located within the Channel Islands. Among those killed are three children, two women and one man. The victims have remained unidentified but were all Jersey residents.

In the aftermath of a multiple-stabbing scenario at Upper Midvale Road, police were informed of events at approximately 1500 BST (1400 UTC) today. At Jersey General Hospital, a man has been detained under police custody and will remain in the hospital until he recovers from surgery. A murder investigation has now been commenced. As it stands, police are not looking for any other individual in relation to the events.

Speaking of behalf of States of Jersey Police, Detective Superintendent Stewart Gull explained, “This complex investigation is in its very early stages as we try to establish exactly what happened,” and that the police force is aware “of the impact of any such serious and tragic incident on the local community, and we have police officers in the area to support the investigation and local people.” Gull additionally said that “[d]ealing with multiple deaths of men, women and particularly young children” unsettled members of the emergency services, but they nevertheless remained “tremendously professional”. Gull described Jersey as an “incredibly safe island, probably one of the safest places in the Western world,” where events such as these are “extremely rare”.

Numerous witnesses have contacted the police in relation to the incident and are now being interviewed. Police, who are attempting to identify the dead, are currently at the scene alongside forensic investigators and detectives.



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February 26, 2008

Jersey child abuse case \’was not covered up\’

Jersey child abuse case ‘was not covered up’

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Channel Islands including Jersey

Frank Walker, the chief minister of Jersey, a United Kingdom Crown dependency off the coast of Normandy, France, denies that there was a cover up after a child’s remains were found.

The allegations of a cover-up stem from statements by Stuart Syvret. Syvret, the former Minister for Health and Social Services for Jersey, said that “It’s a continuum that we see. It’s a culture of cover-up and concealment and tragically the recent evidence is just the latest manifestation of that.”

It has come to light that Edward Paisnel, a notorious pedophile, used to visit the Haut de la Garenne children’s home dressed as Father Christmas. Paisnel in 1971, was given a sentence of 30 years for 13 counts of assault, rape and sodomy.

Syvret says he was dismissed from his ministerial position after highlighting the “torture” of 11 to 16-year-olds in the island’s care homes. He claimed he was “sacked for whistleblowing”.

Police are currently investigating twenty-seven cases of child abuse on the island and recently discovered the body of one child at a care home Haut de la Garenne in St. Martin, and with a potential six sites in the area where more bodies may be located. The home was closed in 1986 and since 2003 it has served as a youth hostel.

Jersey’s deputy police chief, Lenny Harper said “Part of the inquiry will be the fact that a lot of the victims tried to report their assaults but for some reason or another they were not dealt with as they should be.”

Harper added that “no evidence of a cover-up of any Jersey government” has been found. “We are looking at allegations that a number of agencies didn’t deal with things as perhaps they should.”

Syvret has encouraged the government of the United Kingdom to assign independent judges to oversee any cases that result from the investigations.

Builders originally uncovered a body at the care home in 2003 but it was only since an operation investigate child abuse started in 2006 that progress has been made. An ex-minister of the States of Jersey, the parliament of the island, has criticised the handling of the case, stating that abuse cases were mishandled.

Walker told senators that all necessary resources would be use to find the abusers. “None of us imagined that children in Jersey could be abused and mistreated in the way that is being suggested,” the BBC have quoted him as saying. “I express my shock and horror that these things have apparently happened within our island.”

Specialist police from the United Kingdom have been investigating after an enquiry turned up 140 sources verifying the claims of abuse.



Related news

  • “Remains of a child discovered in Jersey care home” — Wikinews, February 25, 2008

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February 25, 2008

Remains of a child discovered in Jersey care home

Remains of a child discovered in Jersey care home

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Monday, February 25, 2008

The Channel Islands including Jersey

Parts of a body belonging to a child have been discovered at the Haut de la Garenne in Saint Martin, Jersey, a United Kingdom Crown dependency off the coast of Normandy, France.

The Victorian building, which was originally built as a children’s care home and is now a youth hostel, has been under investigation recently as part of an inquiry into child abuse which occurred during the 1960s. The investigation has now been refocused with the aim to excavate further the grounds of the building, under the command of a specialist team from the UK who will use ground scanners and sniffer dogs to detect any other possible remains.

Location of Saint Martin on Jersey

The body is believed to date from the early 1980s though further information about the identity of the child has not yet been released. The remains were found buried underneath a concrete floor inside the building. Today, the Guardian newspaper revealed that there are fears of a possible six further bodies buried on the site.

“There could be six, but it could be higher than that,” according to lead investigator Lenny Harper, who further said, “Allegations range from physical assaults right through to rape. It is difficult to envisage more horrific crimes than some of those that are alleged to have been carried out here.”

A helpline set up to find more information about alleged child abuse at the Haut de la Garenne and Jersey Sea Scouts has garnered a total of 140 contacts, made up of those claiming to be witnesses or victims to the crimes. The information gathered from the telephone inquiry triggered the search of the grounds.



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April 26, 2007

Pilots spot \’UFOs\’ near the Channel Islands

Pilots spot ‘UFOs’ near the Channel Islands

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

UFO
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A map showing the location of Alderney

A map showing the location of Alderney

To write, edit, start or view other articles on UFOs, see the UFO Portal
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UFO

Two airline pilots said they witnessed UFOs off the coast of Alderney on Monday.

Ray Bowyer, 50, a captain with Aurigny Air Services, said that during his flight from Southampton, England, at 3 p.m., he saw a bright-yellow light 10 miles west of Alderney in England. His craft at the time was 30 miles away from the island and had an elevation of 4,000ft.

Cquote1.svg It was a very sharp, thin yellow object with a green area. It was 2,000ft up and stationary, I thought it was about 10 miles away, although I later realised it was approximately 40 miles from us. At first, I thought it was the size of a 737. But it must have been much bigger because of how far away it was. It could have been as much as a mile wide. Cquote2.svg

As Bowyer approached Alderney, he noticed another object identical to the first one.

Cquote1.svg It was exactly the same but looked smaller because it was further away. It was closer to Guernsey. I can’t explain it. At first, I thought it might have been a reflection from a vinery in Guernsey, but that would have disappeared quickly. This was clearly visual for about nine minutes. As I got closer to it, it became clear to me that it was tangible. I was in two minds about going towards it to have a closer look but decided against it because of the size of it. I had to think of the safety of the passengers first. I’m certainly not saying that it was something of another world. All I’m saying is that I have never seen anything like it before in all my years of flying. Cquote2.svg

Bowyer, who has been flying commercial aircrafts for about 20 years, said that he did file a report on the incident and did contact air traffic controllers during the incident.

Aerial shot of Alderney (centre) and Burhou (upper right)
Image: Smb1001.

Paul Kelly, 31, who was the Jersey Airport air traffic controller on duty during the incident, said that the airport received simultaneous reports from the Aurigny and Blue Island pilot and that the Blue Island pilot had reported a UFO approximately 1,500ft underneath his plane. Kelly noted that the airport was unable to detect the object on their radar.

Cquote1.svg The pilot from Blue Islands was en route to Jersey at the same time and as he went past Sark he described an object behind him to his left. The description was very similar to Captain Bowyer’s and they described it as being in exactly the same place. But they were looking at it from opposite sides. The Blue Islands plane was at 3,500ft at the time so, again, both pilots placed it at the same altitude. If the object was stationary, our equipment would not have picked it up because the radar would have screened it out. Cquote2.svg

John Spencer, deputy chairman of the British UFO Research Association, said: “These types of sightings have been reported by pilots – generally accepted to be reliable and sensible observers – since the 1940s and they have excited attention to this day. Such light effects are often popularly thought to represent alien visitors but many UFO researchers believe they more likely represent natural atmospheric phenomena not yet fully understood by science. However, a similar encounter in 1978 over the Bass Straits in Australia, where the pilot was in radio contact with the ground throughout, resulted in the pilot never being heard from again, so these phenomena are important to study.”

Nick Pope, who previously worked for the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence, said: “While no witnesses are infallible, pilots are trained observers and less likely than most people to misidentify something mundane. The MoD’s UFO case files contain several reports from civil and military pilots, some of which were correlated by radar. This is the sort of sighting that is taken seriously and should be investigated thoroughly. While most UFOs can be explained as misidentifications of aircraft, weather balloons, satellites and suchlike, a small percentage are more difficult to explain. This is one of the most intriguing sightings I’ve heard about in recent years.”

The current spokesperson for the UK Ministry of Defence said that they would not be investigating this incident.

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