The Guardian 2024-02-16 12:01:14


Russian activist and Putin critic dies in prison

Russian activist and Putin critic Alexei Navalny dies in prison

Opposition leader, 47, was being held in jail about 40 miles north of Arctic Circle

Live: world reacts to news of Alexei Navalny’s death

The Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has died in jail, the country’s prison service has said, in what is likely to be seen as a political assassination attributable to Vladimir Putin.

Navalny, 47, one of Putin’s most visible and persistent critics, was being held in a jail about 40 miles north of the Arctic Circle where he had been sentenced to 19 years under a “special regime”. In a video from the prison in January, he had appeared gaunt with his head shaved.

The Kremlin said it had no information on the cause of death.

In early December he had disappeared from a prison in the Vladimir region, where he was serving a 30-year sentence on extremism and fraud charges that he had called political retribution for leading the anti-Kremlin opposition of the 2010s. He did not expect to be released during Putin’s lifetime.

A former nationalist politician, Navalny helped foment the 2011-12 protests in Russia by campaigning against election fraud and government corruption, investigating Putin’s inner circle and sharing the findings in slick videos that garnered hundreds of millions of views.

The high-water mark in his political career came in 2013, when he won 27% of the vote in a Moscow mayoral contest that few believed was free or fair. He remained a thorn in the side of the Kremlin for years, identifying a palace built on the Black Sea for Putin’s personal use, mansions and yachts used by the ex-president Dmitry Medvedev, and a sex worker who linked a top foreign policy official with a well-known oligarch.

In 2020, Navalny fell into a coma after a suspected poisoning using novichok by Russia’s FSB security service and was evacuated to Germany for treatment. He recovered and returned to Russia in January 2021, where he was arrested on a parole violation charge and sentenced to his first of several jail terms that would total more than 30 years behind bars.

Putin has recently launched a presidential campaign for his fifth term in office. He is already the longest-serving Russian leader since Joseph Stalin and could surpass him if he runs again for office in 2030, a possibility since he had the constitutional rules on term limits rewritten in 2020.

More details soon …

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LiveAlexei Navalny dies in prison after morning walk, says Russian prison service

Russia’s Federal Prison Service said in a statement that Alexei Navalny felt unwell after a walk this morning and lost consciousness.

An ambulance arrived to try to rehabilitate him, but he died.

There was no immediate confirmation of Navalny’s death from his team, AFP reports.

More than 20 people arrive by boat in remote part of Western Australia

More than 20 people arrive by boat in remote part of Western Australia

Australian Border Force confirms operation as Peter Dutton claims Labor has ‘lost control of our borders’

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More than 20 people are reported to have arrived by boat in a remote part of Western Australia, with the Australian Border Force warning unauthorised arrivals will not be allowed to settle permanently in the country.

The ABF said on Friday that it was “undertaking an operation in the north-west of Western Australia” but would not provide any more information while the operation was continuing.

The reports prompted the opposition leader, Peter Dutton, to claim that “this government has lost control of our borders”, but the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, said Australia’s tough policies had not changed.

The ABC reported that more than 20 men, believed to have been from Pakistan and Bangladesh, were in the main street of Beagle Bay, 100km north of Broome.

The report said the men were found on the beach on Friday morning and appeared to be in good health.

The government has yet to confirm the report, but the ABF said Australia remained “committed to protecting its borders, stamping out people-smuggling and preventing vulnerable people from risking their lives on futile journeys”.

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“Australia’s tough border protection policies means no one who travels unauthorised by boat will ever be allowed to settle permanently in Australia,” the ABF statement said.

“The only way to travel to Australia is legally, with an Australian visa.​”

Patrick Gorman, the assistant minister to the prime minister, said governments of both political persuasions had not commented on operational matters involving Operation Sovereign Borders over the past decade.

He told ABC TV that Australians deserved better than “thuggish politicisation” of the issue by Dutton.

Dutton called on the home affairs minister, Clare O’Neil, to stand up to provide an explanation. Comment was sought from O’Neil.

Despite the Albanese government continuing the Coalition’s harsh Operation Sovereign Borders policies, including boat turnbacks and takebacks, the opposition has accused it of failing to prevent “unauthorised maritime arrivals” of boats carrying people seeking asylum.

In October Guardian Australia revealed a group of 11 asylum seekers had been sent to Nauru after reaching Australia, just months after the last people were removed from immigration detention on the Pacific nation.

It was the first transfer to Nauru in nine years. Eight of those 11 people, including a woman and child, have returned to their country of origin.

In November a group of 12 people who arrived on the Western Australian coast were taken into ABF custody.

Guardian Australia understands the people found in Beagle Bay are also likely to be taken to Nauru.

On Monday officials from the Department of Home Affairs said that as of 4 January there were 15 people under regional processing arrangements on Nauru.

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Taylor Swift Melbourne concert live updates: pop star thrills record crowd with Eras tour hits

The final era of the night is saved for the album, Midnights, which could’ve been the entire tour if it weren’t for the pandemic (I mean I am really glad we just got 3.5 hours instead).

Midnights is Swift’s tenth and latest studio album (aside from her re-records) and the era she is living in today.

It’s sleepless nights, lavender haze, smeared lipstick, splashed wine, and of course, friendship bracelets.

For the closing chapter of the concert, Swift opens with Lavender Haze, then the lead single Anti-Hero, followed by Midnight Rain, Vigilante Shit, Bejeweled, Mastermind and Karma.

Let’s go!

‘I can’t believe it’Diehard Taylor Swift fan gifted Eras ticket at pub trivia night in Victoria

‘I can’t believe it’: diehard Taylor Swift fan gifted Eras ticket at pub trivia night in Victoria

Quiz organisers were taken by 15-year-old Emily’s enthusiasm and when she didn’t win they decided to reward her anyway

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Andrew Caldwell was the same age as his daughter is now when he saw his favourite band. He was 15, it was 1989, and Metallica was touring Australia for the first time.

His daughter Emily’s tastes are a bit different. She’s a diehard Swiftie and Caldwell spent countless hours trying to secure a ticket to Taylor Swift’s Eras tour for Emily so she could have the same formative experience seeing her favourite band at 15.

They’d had no luck landing a ticket amid unprecedented demand but that changed on Thursday night at a pub in Echuca in regional Victoria.

About 100 local Swifties had gathered for a Taylor Swift trivia night and to find out who would win a sought-after prize – a ticket the Echuca hotel had been gifted by a corporate connection to an Eras tour show in Sydney. Almost 800 people had entered the competition.

Emily had come to the pub with her family and her wrists covered in friendship bracelets to hand out. She danced the hardest and sang the loudest to Taylor Swift covers played during the night by a local act.

Emily didn’t win but Molly Davis – who organised the event and was taken by Emily’s enthusiasm for Swift – had a few other ideas to get her to the concert on Sunday 25 February.

“I was sitting with my friends and we’re all big Swifties and we kept saying to each other that if we won it we would give it to [Emily] because she was such a dedicated fan and we all really wanted to see her go,” Davis said. Sadly, none of them won either.

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But Davis had a final card to play. A friend had a spare ticket – a restricted view that went on sale on Tuesday to a show in Sydney – that wasn’t needed so they decided to offer it to Emily.

“As soon as I told her she was going, she burst into tears. Her mum was crying, her dad was crying … her sister was like, ‘thank you so much for making my sister’s day’,” Davis recalled on Friday.

“Me and my friends are all 2006 Swifties, we’re all going. It’s so nice to see another generation getting so much joy from her and to be able to share that.”

Caldwell said he could not contain his emotions when he realised Emily would get the chance to see Swift.

“It took me straight back to my first concert and how special it was. The memories from it, it’s something you never forget. But the way she got the ticket – it will just be a lifetime memory for her.”

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SydneyTaylor Swift concerts to go ahead despite asbestos testing at Olympic Park precinct

Taylor Swift concerts to go ahead in Sydney despite asbestos testing at Olympic Park precinct

Environment minister says authorities are testing mulch in the area but any issues would be resolved before pop star’s sold-out shows at Accor Stadium

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The New South Wales environment minister has sought to assure Taylor Swift fans that the pop star’s Sydney concerts will go ahead next weekend, amid an asbestos scare at the precinct where she is due to perform.

On Friday, the day after a special taskforce was launched to aid investigations into sites where mulch containing asbestos may be present, authorities have conducted testing at a location at Sydney Olympic Park, where Swift is set to perform to about 300,000 fans over four days of concerts as part of her Australian tour.

Testing occurred on mulch on a median strip on a divided road on Friday, in a spot understood to be away from where the public would be expected to walk on the way to Accor Stadium, the 80,000-capacity venue where Swift will perform.

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No traces of asbestos were found on Friday and a backup test is being conducted as a precaution, the minister, Penny Sharpe, said on Friday afternoon.

If the follow-up test finds traces of asbestos, the mulch will be removed in time for Swift’s concerts, Sharpe said.

“This will not stop Taylor Swift performing in Sydney,” Sharpe said. “Sydney Olympic Park Authority is inspecting mulch that came from the supply chain under investigation, that has been used on a median strip on a divided road.

“We are testing samples but, regardless, we can remove the mulch and remediate before Taylor Swift takes to the stage in the Harbour City.”

The NSW Environment Protection Authority, which has declared it is conducting the largest investigation of its existence, also said the asbestos scare would not affect the Blink-182 concerts set to take place at Qudos Bank Arena, also at Sydney Olympic Park, next weekend.

“At this stage, there is no sign of any asbestos in the mulch around the park,” an EPA spokesperson said.

“We will advise once those results are finalised. Nothing will disrupt the Taylor Swift or Blink-182 concerts.”

The testing at Olympic Park comes after the state’s asbestos controversy reached new heights, with numerous parks closed off due to mulch fears. Concerns for mulch at Victoria Park forced organisers to cancel the Mardi Gras fair day.

On Thursday, the premier, Chris Minns, said hundreds of sites across Sydney could be contaminated with asbestos, including parks, schools, train stations and suburban back yards.

A surge workforce of public servants and firefighters will assist the EPA as it expands its criminal investigation into mulch found to contain asbestos across Sydney and regional NSW.

The state’s asbestos crisis erupted in early January after the hazardous material was first discovered in mulch at the newly opened Rozelle parklands.

Additional reporting by Tamsin Rose and Catie McLeod

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MelbourneAirport faces busiest day since pre-pandemic ahead of Taylor Swift concerts

Melbourne airport faces busiest day since pre-pandemic ahead of Taylor Swift concerts

Surging prices reached $1,630 for a one-way Qantas business ticket from Sydney after airline added 64 extra flights to cope with increase in traffic for Eras tour

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Melbourne airport is facing its busiest day since before the pandemic and one-way domestic prices are surging in excess of $1,500 as Swiftie mania descends on the capital city.

The pop superstar Taylor Swift has already touched down for the Australian leg of the sold-out Eras Tour, but the journey is just beginning for thousands of interstate fans making the trek to Melbourne ahead of her Friday night concert.

A spokesperson for Melbourne airport said 117,000 passengers were expected to move through terminals on Friday – a post-Covid record. There were 775 take-offs and landings scheduled, also a record number.

“Airlines such as Qantas and Virgin Australia have added extra flights from key domestic destinations, and there are also extra flights operating from New Zealand to allow people to get to the concerts this weekend,” the spokesperson said.

“February is typically the quietest month for travel, so to be breaking records today is extraordinary.”

Social media users have reported an “electric” atmosphere on domestic flights to Melbourne, with a video of flight attendants dancing to Shake it Off going viral and an entire flight from Perth bursting in to an impromptu rendition of Cruel Summer.

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Qantas added 60 additional flights in June last year to gear up for concert demand, including 24 additional flights between Sydney and Melbourne.

In early February, a further four return flights were added between Melbourne and Auckland, Brisbane and Perth.

The airline carrier is gearing up to carry 35% more passengers into Melbourne from its domestic and trans-Tasman network over the concert period compared with the same time last year.

It came amid a 350% surge in bookings between New Zealand and Melbourne at the time of presale compared to the same time last year.

For Swifties lucky enough to secure a last-minute ticket to Friday’s concert, the next battle will be facing last-minute one-way flight costs – in excess of $1,000 – to make it to Melbourne in time.

There were just a handful of options left from Sydney to Melbourne on Jetstar’s website as of Friday morning, with prices ranging from $317 to $1,048 one way.

Virgin was similarly pinched, with just half a dozen flights available that would get superfans to the MCG from Sydney by 6.30pm – costing from $551 to $859 economy one way.

Qantas had half hourly flights available for the popular route from midday and flights every 10 to 15 minutes through from five to 7pm – but it would cost you. The cheapest option was $648 for economy, surging up to $1,630 for a business seat one way.

The Melbourne airport spokesperson said due to the surging number of arriving passengers, staff had been working with ground transport operators to keep up with demand.

Skybus had put on an extra six buses on Friday to assist with transfers to the city, while additional customer service staff were stationed around terminals to help arriving passengers.

It comes amid controversy over Swift’s heavy emitter status due to her penchant for private jet travel.

More than 6,000 enthusiastic fans watched flight VJT993 carry Swift from Honolulu to Melbourne on Thursday evening – becoming the globe’s most tracked aeroplane.

Swift claims to have bought double the amount of carbon credits required to offset her travel for the Eras Tour.

But according to Carbon Market Watch, she comes first in the list of celebrities with the highest Co2 emissions from flying, with her private jet usage amounting to an estimated 8,300 tonnes of carbon emissions in 2022. The figure is 1,800 times the average person’s annual emissions.

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ABC warns staff of agenda-driven criticism after News Corp pounces on Aboriginal land comment

ABC warns staff of agenda-driven criticism after News Corp pounces on Aboriginal land comment

Amanda Meade

Newsroom director decries The Australian’s ‘constant’ swipes at individual ABC employees. Plus: a mushroom misstep

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When the ABC Indigenous affairs editor, Bridget Brennan, said “always was, always will be Aboriginal land” in a live cross on News Breakfast on Australia Day, the Murdoch media pounced, labelling the comment controversial, divisive and partisan.

The Dja Dja Wurrung and Yorta Yorta woman was reporting from an Indigenous ceremony and trying to explain what the day meant for First Nations people.

Inevitably, the ABC managing director, David Anderson, was asked about the statement this week at Senate estimates, giving The Australian a follow-up story: ABC probes ‘always was, always will be’ broadcast.

Brennan’s boss, ABC news director Justin Stevens, fired off a note to staff, saying the corporation’s journalists were working in an environment that is “increasingly agenda-driven and sometimes clearly hostile”.

He said the attacks were often targeted at women, culturally diverse and First Nations staff. (Just ask RN Breakfast and Q+A host Patricia Karvelas, who is subjected to repeated criticism by sections of the media.)

“The volume and nature of the Australian’s constant criticism of individual ABC employees is disproportionate and unfair, and looks to be agenda-driven,” Stevens said in a note seen by Weekly Beast. “Criticism of anything we publish can be directed at me and the ABC News leadership rather than targeting individual journalists in this way.”

The Australian’s editor-in-chief, Michelle Gunn, defended the paper’s reporting.

“The Australian’s coverage of the ABC is not agenda driven,” Gunn told Weekly Beast. “The report in question is a straightforward and accurate news report of a Senate estimates hearing.”

‘Editorially justified’

The Australian may be disappointed to learn the public broadcaster’s ombudsman, Fiona Cameron, has investigated the Brennan comment – after receiving 25 complaints – and found the ABC did not breach its standards for due impartiality and diversity of perspectives.

In a report published on Friday, Cameron said Brennan’s statement could have been “more explicitly referenced as the widespread and deeply felt perspective of her community, to avoid any suggestion that it was a statement of her personal opinion”.

“On balance, and in the context of live television, we accept the ABC submission that this was not a statement of Ms Brennan’s personal opinion but rather the view of the community [of] which she is a part and that the comments were editorially justified in the circumstances outlined,” she said.

Question time

All credit to Nine’s Luke McIlveen for the self-deprecating comment he made at a town hall meeting with journalists after he was appointed executive editor of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age.

The former Murdoch and Daily Mail editor said words to the effect of: ask me questions. I hope I do a better job than the last 10 questions – and drew a laugh from the tough crowd.

He was referring to the historical article “Ten Questions with Luke McIlveen” which had been making the rounds of the newsrooms, with journos aghast at the editor’s mocking of the former SMH writer David Marr and praising of radio shock jock Ray Hadley.

Jury duty

Sky News Australia’s headline new show for 2024 is The Jury, described as an attempt to “combat political correctness” and give “the average Australian a voice”.

Hosted by Danica De Giorgio, the show will have its third outing in front of a studio audience – and a jury of 12 – on Sunday.

Previous shows have debated “NDIS cost-effectiveness” and “should Australia reduce its immigration rate?”.

Weekly Beast understands the topic for this Sunday night – “Does Australia need the ABC/public broadcaster?” – was a bit tricky to pull off as it’s not easy to get an ABC supporter on Sky News.

The network’s after-dark lineup is not a big fan of the ABC.

“Wondered if you would be keen to represent the ‘yes’ case! Chris Kenny representing no!”, one pitch from a producer asked an ABC fan. “We’d need you to be in Sydney for the shoot. Would only take an hour.”

The pitch reminded us of the last time Kenny, an associate editor at the Australian and avowed ABC critic, pleaded for someone to appear on his Sky News “documentary” about the ABC to mark its 90th birthday. Kenny said at the time it was easy to get critics of the ABC on Sky but he couldn’t find any supporters of Aunty prepared to talk to him. It was former ABC broadcaster Quentin Dempster who fronted up last time, but we haven’t heard back from Sky about who will plead the case on Sunday.

Perpetual error

Channel Nine has distanced itself from a potential misstep by producers of an upcoming documentary about the mushroom lunch that left three people dead and a fourth fighting for his life.

Erin Patterson has been charged with murdering three people at the lunch in her home in the rural Australian town of Leongatha on 29 July and the proceedings are ongoing. She has consistently denied the charges and maintains her innocence.

The production company Perpetual Entertainment published a blurb on its website complete with a title that experts say had the potential to run foul of Australian contempt laws, material which we have decided not to repeat.

The University of Sydney’s Prof David Rolph, an expert in media law, told us: “Where a matter is before the courts, the principle of sub judice contempt apply. It is risky to publish material about a criminal case which will be tried by a jury. Even if the material talks in terms of allegation, there is still a risk that a fair trial may be prejudiced.”

When we contacted Pepetual Entertainment, they said the website blurb was a mistake and it was immediately taken down.

“We are in production of a documentary called The Deadly Mushroom Mystery that details the events surrounding that fatal lunch,” they said.

“Obviously it cannot be broadcast in Australia at the moment whilst the trial is pending.

“I am having that error corrected now.”

Nine sources said the broadcaster had no hand in producing or naming the program and it would not be broadcast in Australia before a criminal trial was over.

A spokesperson for Nine said questions about the content or title should be directed to the production company.

Hairy moment

We’ve seen plenty of videos of TV reporters being harassed by passers-by as they do stand-ups to camera but this wholesome interaction between Channel 9’s Darwin reporter Georgie Dickerson and a woman devoted to fixing her hair was charming.

Climate coverage win

The Walkley Foundation says it has “listened to the many journalists” and decided to add a new award category for coverage of science and the environment to the mid-year Walkleys.

When the Walkleys categories were reviewed last year, recommendations for a separate science and environment were rejected, sparking dismay among climate and environment reporters.

Now journalists covering medical and advanced science, innovation, climate change, environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, deforestation and air, earth and water pollution, across all forms of media, will be able to enter.

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ABC warns staff of agenda-driven criticism after News Corp pounces on Aboriginal land comment

ABC warns staff of agenda-driven criticism after News Corp pounces on Aboriginal land comment

Amanda Meade

Newsroom director decries The Australian’s ‘constant’ swipes at individual ABC employees. Plus: a mushroom misstep

  • Follow our Australia news live blog for latest updates
  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

When the ABC Indigenous affairs editor, Bridget Brennan, said “always was, always will be Aboriginal land” in a live cross on News Breakfast on Australia Day, the Murdoch media pounced, labelling the comment controversial, divisive and partisan.

The Dja Dja Wurrung and Yorta Yorta woman was reporting from an Indigenous ceremony and trying to explain what the day meant for First Nations people.

Inevitably, the ABC managing director, David Anderson, was asked about the statement this week at Senate estimates, giving The Australian a follow-up story: ABC probes ‘always was, always will be’ broadcast.

Brennan’s boss, ABC news director Justin Stevens, fired off a note to staff, saying the corporation’s journalists were working in an environment that is “increasingly agenda-driven and sometimes clearly hostile”.

He said the attacks were often targeted at women, culturally diverse and First Nations staff. (Just ask RN Breakfast and Q+A host Patricia Karvelas, who is subjected to repeated criticism by sections of the media.)

“The volume and nature of the Australian’s constant criticism of individual ABC employees is disproportionate and unfair, and looks to be agenda-driven,” Stevens said in a note seen by Weekly Beast. “Criticism of anything we publish can be directed at me and the ABC News leadership rather than targeting individual journalists in this way.”

The Australian’s editor-in-chief, Michelle Gunn, defended the paper’s reporting.

“The Australian’s coverage of the ABC is not agenda driven,” Gunn told Weekly Beast. “The report in question is a straightforward and accurate news report of a Senate estimates hearing.”

‘Editorially justified’

The Australian may be disappointed to learn the public broadcaster’s ombudsman, Fiona Cameron, has investigated the Brennan comment – after receiving 25 complaints – and found the ABC did not breach its standards for due impartiality and diversity of perspectives.

In a report published on Friday, Cameron said Brennan’s statement could have been “more explicitly referenced as the widespread and deeply felt perspective of her community, to avoid any suggestion that it was a statement of her personal opinion”.

“On balance, and in the context of live television, we accept the ABC submission that this was not a statement of Ms Brennan’s personal opinion but rather the view of the community [of] which she is a part and that the comments were editorially justified in the circumstances outlined,” she said.

Question time

All credit to Nine’s Luke McIlveen for the self-deprecating comment he made at a town hall meeting with journalists after he was appointed executive editor of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age.

The former Murdoch and Daily Mail editor said words to the effect of: ask me questions. I hope I do a better job than the last 10 questions – and drew a laugh from the tough crowd.

He was referring to the historical article “Ten Questions with Luke McIlveen” which had been making the rounds of the newsrooms, with journos aghast at the editor’s mocking of the former SMH writer David Marr and praising of radio shock jock Ray Hadley.

Jury duty

Sky News Australia’s headline new show for 2024 is The Jury, described as an attempt to “combat political correctness” and give “the average Australian a voice”.

Hosted by Danica De Giorgio, the show will have its third outing in front of a studio audience – and a jury of 12 – on Sunday.

Previous shows have debated “NDIS cost-effectiveness” and “should Australia reduce its immigration rate?”.

Weekly Beast understands the topic for this Sunday night – “Does Australia need the ABC/public broadcaster?” – was a bit tricky to pull off as it’s not easy to get an ABC supporter on Sky News.

The network’s after-dark lineup is not a big fan of the ABC.

“Wondered if you would be keen to represent the ‘yes’ case! Chris Kenny representing no!”, one pitch from a producer asked an ABC fan. “We’d need you to be in Sydney for the shoot. Would only take an hour.”

The pitch reminded us of the last time Kenny, an associate editor at the Australian and avowed ABC critic, pleaded for someone to appear on his Sky News “documentary” about the ABC to mark its 90th birthday. Kenny said at the time it was easy to get critics of the ABC on Sky but he couldn’t find any supporters of Aunty prepared to talk to him. It was former ABC broadcaster Quentin Dempster who fronted up last time, but we haven’t heard back from Sky about who will plead the case on Sunday.

Perpetual error

Channel Nine has distanced itself from a potential misstep by producers of an upcoming documentary about the mushroom lunch that left three people dead and a fourth fighting for his life.

Erin Patterson has been charged with murdering three people at the lunch in her home in the rural Australian town of Leongatha on 29 July and the proceedings are ongoing. She has consistently denied the charges and maintains her innocence.

The production company Perpetual Entertainment published a blurb on its website complete with a title that experts say had the potential to run foul of Australian contempt laws, material which we have decided not to repeat.

The University of Sydney’s Prof David Rolph, an expert in media law, told us: “Where a matter is before the courts, the principle of sub judice contempt apply. It is risky to publish material about a criminal case which will be tried by a jury. Even if the material talks in terms of allegation, there is still a risk that a fair trial may be prejudiced.”

When we contacted Pepetual Entertainment, they said the website blurb was a mistake and it was immediately taken down.

“We are in production of a documentary called The Deadly Mushroom Mystery that details the events surrounding that fatal lunch,” they said.

“Obviously it cannot be broadcast in Australia at the moment whilst the trial is pending.

“I am having that error corrected now.”

Nine sources said the broadcaster had no hand in producing or naming the program and it would not be broadcast in Australia before a criminal trial was over.

A spokesperson for Nine said questions about the content or title should be directed to the production company.

Hairy moment

We’ve seen plenty of videos of TV reporters being harassed by passers-by as they do stand-ups to camera but this wholesome interaction between Channel 9’s Darwin reporter Georgie Dickerson and a woman devoted to fixing her hair was charming.

Climate coverage win

The Walkley Foundation says it has “listened to the many journalists” and decided to add a new award category for coverage of science and the environment to the mid-year Walkleys.

When the Walkleys categories were reviewed last year, recommendations for a separate science and environment were rejected, sparking dismay among climate and environment reporters.

Now journalists covering medical and advanced science, innovation, climate change, environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, deforestation and air, earth and water pollution, across all forms of media, will be able to enter.

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War crimes reports rife with ‘speculation’, lawyer tells court

War crimes reports rife with ‘speculation’, Ben Roberts-Smith’s lawyer tells court

Judges have retired to consider ex-SAS soldier’s appeal in defamation case against the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age and the Canberra Times

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Three judges have retired to consider a comprehensive attack by Ben Roberts-Smith on a devastating court ruling that news reports he committed war crimes were substantially true.

The Victoria Cross recipient has challenged a June judgment dismissing his defamation case against the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age and the Canberra Times over reports he was involved in the unlawful killing of four unarmed prisoners in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2012.

Roberts-Smith denies any wrongdoing and has not been criminally charged.

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On Friday his barrister, Bret Walker SC, criticised the use of a complaints letter written by a soldier known as Person Six and signed by another known as Person Seven in 2013.

The letter responded to a commendation for distinguished service offered to Roberts-Smith for his actions in Afghanistan during 2012.

Walker described the letter as a “demolition job”.

He told the full bench of the federal court the three newspapers had used the document as part of their defence to the defamation proceedings, extracting phrases from the letter and using them in “sour, bitter or savage commentary” against his client.

The ex-SAS corporal filed defamation proceedings against Nine-owned Sydney Morning Herald and the Age as well as the Canberra Times over their 2018 reports that alleged he engaged in or was complicit in war crimes.

While the letter made numerous complaints about Roberts-Smith, it did not refer to a war crime he allegedly committed, the kicking of a handcuffed prisoner off a cliff in the village of Darwan in September 2012.

The 45-year-old allegedly ordered the execution of that prisoner, who was dragged across a creek bed and shot in a cornfield.

The barrister also reinforced submissions made during the appeal, attacking the plausibility of other details alleged by the publications to back up their claims of war crimes.

Walker said the newspapers had engaged in “speculation” to support their claims, including saying that a patrol debrief after a 2009 raid on a compound known as Whiskey 108 had been concocted.

While Roberts-Smith is alleged to have been involved in the killing of two unarmed prisoners during the raid, the patrol debrief did not refer to any prisoners being taken under the control of Australian troops, the court heard.

There was a difficulty in “sheeting home” the responsibility for any claimed false information in the report to Roberts-Smith alone given the collaboration that had to occur to create the document, Walker said.

Roberts-Smith allegedly ordered the execution of an elderly prisoner to “blood the rookie” during the Whiskey 108 raid.

He is also said to have dragged a man with a prosthetic leg outside the compound, throwing him to the ground before machine-gunning him.

In October 2012, the ex-SAS corporal allegedly also ordered another prisoner be shot and killed after a weapons cache was discovered in the village of Chinartu.

However, there was no documentary evidence of the discovered cache or the weapons within, Walker said.

“There is simply nothing other than speculation,” he told the court.

In general, the court was told the judgment dismissing the ex-soldier’s case failed to examine the evidence as carefully as was required given the seriousness of the allegations brought against Roberts-Smith.

These kinds of findings should not be made by reference to “inexact proofs, indefinite testimony or indirect inferences”, Walker said.

“There is a distinction … between a civil case in which there is such a serious allegation and a civil case in which there is not,” he argued.

The appeal court’s judgment will be delivered at a later date.

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Retired teacher slams decades-old ATO robotax debt demand

‘I was distressed’: retired teacher slams decades-old ATO robotax debt demand

The 78-year-old says the demand for $307 came out of the blue and caused ‘sleepless nights’

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A 78-year-old retired teacher is one of a growing number of Australians who felt pressured into paying a recently resurrected tax debt that was decades-old after what he described as weeks of “misinformation, obfuscation and sleepless nights”.

The retiree, who provided full documentation to Guardian Australia but asked for his name not to be published, said he felt compelled to pay after becoming distressed by correspondence warning him he had an outstanding $307 debt from 2004.

“It is a fact that I was and am distressed,” he said.

“After weeks of misinformation, obfuscation and sleepless nights I’ve given in and paid. Whether or not it was a genuine debt, the brutal way in which it was recovered is still robotax.”

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A campaign by the Australian Taxation Office to pursue old debts has drawn parallels with the flawed robodebt compliance program, which used automated processes to assert that welfare recipients owed money.

Over the past several months, Guardian Australia has documented numerous cases of people being abruptly advised they have old debts that will be extracted from future tax refunds and credits.

Those affected include retirees, executors of deceased estates and tens of thousands of other taxpayers who have received the debt notices despite filing years of returns, and receiving rebates, long after the debts were apparently accrued.

“As a taxpayer I have submitted returns every year and dutifully kept copies of my paperwork for the minimum five years required by the ATO,” the retired teacher said.

“I do not have any paperwork from 19 years ago nor do I remember specifics about my tax affairs from 2004.”

The tax campaign was triggered by a change in policy at the ATO after it received advice from the Australian government solicitor in 2022 that it could no longer ignore old debts that had been invisible to taxpayers for years.

“The ATO has no discretion under the law to write these amounts off even though some of them might be quite aged and must offset any future refund against these amounts no matter how small, except in limited circumstances,” an ATO spokesperson said in response to questions.

“A client can request these amounts be taken off hold so they can pay them.”

The federal government has distanced itself from the tax initiative, arguing that decisions related to the debts were a matter for the ATO.

The debts are often linked to old business activity statements, GST payments and PAYG instalments, and there is a cohort who were surprised to learn they accrued large tax debts and fines while living overseas.

Issues around historical PAYG instalments – payments that are typically made in the lead up to tax time for an anticipated debt – are complicated by ATO procedures that gave people credit even when they missed, or were unaware, an instalment was due.

While the missed instalment would appear as a credit on their tax statement, it triggered the creation of a separate debt that many taxpayers say they didn’t know about.

The old debts are considered to be on-hold, which means they are not immediately due and are usually scraped from future refunds.

Australia’s tax ombudsman has warned that a legislative fix might be required, given people relying on a refund to pay rent or other necessities could be pushed further into hardship.

While the on-hold designation means that older Australians who no longer lodge tax returns might never need to pay, several retirees told Guardian Australian they were uncomfortable having the debt hang over their heads, especially as it could be demanded at a later date.

Some debts were inadvertently taken off hold after people called the ATO to discuss the matter after being perplexed by communication the tax office has conceded caused “unnecessary distress”.

When a debt is taken off hold, the ATO sends a demand notice accompanied by a warning that “each day your debt isn’t paid it may increase”, according to letters viewed by Guardian Australia, referring to interest charges.

“After the ATO has hidden a claimed debt from me for 19 years it gave me two weeks to pay an amount I am unable to verify or disprove,” the retired teacher said.

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Forces give up some positions in Avdiivka as Russian assault continues

Ukrainian forces give up some positions in Avdiivka as Russian assault continues

Russian takeover would give it full control of the area surrounding Donetsk, the city it annexed in 2014

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Ukrainian forces have withdrawn from some positions in Avdiivka, as a grinding Russian assault on the city continues amid fears it is a matter of time before the invaders take over.

“New positions have been prepared and powerful fortifications continue to be prepared, taking into account all possible scenarios,” said Oleksandr Tarnavskiy, the Ukrainian commander responsible for forces in the south-east of the country, in a statement on social media on Friday. “Our troops are using all available forces and means to restrain the enemy,” he added.

As the two-year mark of Russia’s full-scale invasion approaches, Ukrainian troops are under pressure along the frontline, with depleted and exhausted ranks and a shortage of artillery shells that has been exacerbated by the stalling of a large US funding package. Avdiivka has been pounded by the Russians for months, but it is only in recent weeks that they have been able to make significant breakthroughs, with small groups of advance troops making it into the city itself.

Ukraine’s recently appointed army chief, Oleksandr Syrskyi, has sent in reinforcements to aid the defence of Avdiivka, but the new announcements suggest Kyiv may be preparing for a retreat from the city, which is surrounded on three sides by Russian forces.

“We value every piece of Ukrainian land, but the highest value and priority for us is the preservation of the life of a Ukrainian soldier,” said Tarnavskiy.

Taking over the remains of Avdiivka, much of which has been decimated by fighting, would give Russia full control of the area surrounding Donetsk, a large Ukrainian city that was seized by Russian proxy forces in 2014. It would also be a symbolic gain for Vladimir Putin as he prepares to stand in a rubber-stamp election next month that will grant him another six years in office.

An industrial city once known for its sprawling coke plant, Avdiivka became a Ukrainian military stronghold after the loss of Donetsk in 2014, but has been decimated by the recent fighting. Vitaliy Barabash, Avdiivka’s mayor, told the Guardian that 923 civilians remained in the city, down from a prewar population of about 32,000. Most of them are elderly people who have refused to leave their homes, even as fighting has intensified in recent months, and there is no possibility to evacuate them.

Fierce battles have been going on around Avdiivka since October. Ukraine’s Third Assault Brigade, which has been deployed around Avdiivka to reinforce Kyiv’s troops, said in a statement on Thursday that the situation in the city was “hell”, describing it as “threatening and unstable”.

John Kirby, the White House national security spokesperson, said in a briefing on Thursday that Avdiivka was at risk of falling under Russian control. “In very large part, this is happening because the Ukrainian forces on the ground are running out of artillery ammunition,” he said.

At a forest base near a section of the frontline in Donetsk region, west of Avdiivka, soldiers from a self-propelled artillery unit that forms part of Ukraine’s First Tank Brigade said during a visit on Thursday that their ability to strike the Russians has been cut dramatically since November.

“Back then, we could fire every half hour, to stop them from relaxing and disrupt their movements, now we have to be very selective, and only fire for defence,” said their commander, who gave his call-sign, Titushko, in accordance with Ukrainian army regulations.

“We cannot target only one vehicle, we only aim when we see a concentration of hardware,” he added.

With the frontlines largely static in recent months, the capture of Avdiivka would mark Russia’s first major gain since taking Bakhmut last May.

“Avdiivka is important for them to control the space around Donetsk, you have control of dominant heights there, and they can build logistics corridors to supply a large area of the front,” said Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in an interview in Kyiv earlier this month, explaining the importance of holding on to Avdiivka. “This is not about symbolism, this is about the operative importance of a particular territory,” he added.

Some in Ukraine have suggested that the situation in Avdiivka resembles the fierce fighting during last year’s defence of Bakhmu, during which Ukrainian forces suffered heavy losses during an ultimately unsuccessful defence of the city.

“I don’t think Avdiivka is like Bakhmut, but I worry that Ukraine’s leadership will choose to freight it with political significance, which it need not have, as part of an observed tendency to not cede ground anywhere no matter the cost or military reality,” said Michael Kofman, senior fellow at Carnegie Endowment.

Zelenskyi fired his top army commander, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, last week, and replaced him with Syrskyi, the former commander of the land forces, citing a need for a new approach.

Some Ukrainian soldiers blame Syrskyi for the losses at Bakhmut and expressed concern that more lives may be lost in Avdiivka before the Russian takeover that most believe is inevitable.

“Most likely we will lose it and the only other option is we spend tens of thousands of Ukrainian lives to hold it a bit longer, and then who will replace those people,” said one Ukrainian army officer, who asked not to be identified.

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Forces give up some positions in Avdiivka as Russian assault continues

Ukrainian forces give up some positions in Avdiivka as Russian assault continues

Russian takeover would give it full control of the area surrounding Donetsk, the city it annexed in 2014

  • Russia-Ukraine war – latest news updates

Ukrainian forces have withdrawn from some positions in Avdiivka, as a grinding Russian assault on the city continues amid fears it is a matter of time before the invaders take over.

“New positions have been prepared and powerful fortifications continue to be prepared, taking into account all possible scenarios,” said Oleksandr Tarnavskiy, the Ukrainian commander responsible for forces in the south-east of the country, in a statement on social media on Friday. “Our troops are using all available forces and means to restrain the enemy,” he added.

As the two-year mark of Russia’s full-scale invasion approaches, Ukrainian troops are under pressure along the frontline, with depleted and exhausted ranks and a shortage of artillery shells that has been exacerbated by the stalling of a large US funding package. Avdiivka has been pounded by the Russians for months, but it is only in recent weeks that they have been able to make significant breakthroughs, with small groups of advance troops making it into the city itself.

Ukraine’s recently appointed army chief, Oleksandr Syrskyi, has sent in reinforcements to aid the defence of Avdiivka, but the new announcements suggest Kyiv may be preparing for a retreat from the city, which is surrounded on three sides by Russian forces.

“We value every piece of Ukrainian land, but the highest value and priority for us is the preservation of the life of a Ukrainian soldier,” said Tarnavskiy.

Taking over the remains of Avdiivka, much of which has been decimated by fighting, would give Russia full control of the area surrounding Donetsk, a large Ukrainian city that was seized by Russian proxy forces in 2014. It would also be a symbolic gain for Vladimir Putin as he prepares to stand in a rubber-stamp election next month that will grant him another six years in office.

An industrial city once known for its sprawling coke plant, Avdiivka became a Ukrainian military stronghold after the loss of Donetsk in 2014, but has been decimated by the recent fighting. Vitaliy Barabash, Avdiivka’s mayor, told the Guardian that 923 civilians remained in the city, down from a prewar population of about 32,000. Most of them are elderly people who have refused to leave their homes, even as fighting has intensified in recent months, and there is no possibility to evacuate them.

Fierce battles have been going on around Avdiivka since October. Ukraine’s Third Assault Brigade, which has been deployed around Avdiivka to reinforce Kyiv’s troops, said in a statement on Thursday that the situation in the city was “hell”, describing it as “threatening and unstable”.

John Kirby, the White House national security spokesperson, said in a briefing on Thursday that Avdiivka was at risk of falling under Russian control. “In very large part, this is happening because the Ukrainian forces on the ground are running out of artillery ammunition,” he said.

At a forest base near a section of the frontline in Donetsk region, west of Avdiivka, soldiers from a self-propelled artillery unit that forms part of Ukraine’s First Tank Brigade said during a visit on Thursday that their ability to strike the Russians has been cut dramatically since November.

“Back then, we could fire every half hour, to stop them from relaxing and disrupt their movements, now we have to be very selective, and only fire for defence,” said their commander, who gave his call-sign, Titushko, in accordance with Ukrainian army regulations.

“We cannot target only one vehicle, we only aim when we see a concentration of hardware,” he added.

With the frontlines largely static in recent months, the capture of Avdiivka would mark Russia’s first major gain since taking Bakhmut last May.

“Avdiivka is important for them to control the space around Donetsk, you have control of dominant heights there, and they can build logistics corridors to supply a large area of the front,” said Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in an interview in Kyiv earlier this month, explaining the importance of holding on to Avdiivka. “This is not about symbolism, this is about the operative importance of a particular territory,” he added.

Some in Ukraine have suggested that the situation in Avdiivka resembles the fierce fighting during last year’s defence of Bakhmu, during which Ukrainian forces suffered heavy losses during an ultimately unsuccessful defence of the city.

“I don’t think Avdiivka is like Bakhmut, but I worry that Ukraine’s leadership will choose to freight it with political significance, which it need not have, as part of an observed tendency to not cede ground anywhere no matter the cost or military reality,” said Michael Kofman, senior fellow at Carnegie Endowment.

Zelenskyi fired his top army commander, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, last week, and replaced him with Syrskyi, the former commander of the land forces, citing a need for a new approach.

Some Ukrainian soldiers blame Syrskyi for the losses at Bakhmut and expressed concern that more lives may be lost in Avdiivka before the Russian takeover that most believe is inevitable.

“Most likely we will lose it and the only other option is we spend tens of thousands of Ukrainian lives to hold it a bit longer, and then who will replace those people,” said one Ukrainian army officer, who asked not to be identified.

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Journalist told Ten boss she worried about losing Sydney home if network didn’t cover her legal fees

Lisa Wilkinson told Ten boss she worried about losing Sydney home if network didn’t cover her legal fees

Court documents reveal details of emotional call with Beverley McGarvey in which Wilkinson blamed network for failing to stop bad press

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Lisa Wilkinson told her boss at Ten she was afraid she would have to sell her Sydney harbourside property if the network did not pay her legal fees, according to documents filed in the federal court.

The Network Ten chief executive, Beverley McGarvey, said that in a highly emotional call last year Wilkinson blamed the network for failing to stop the bad press that she believed had destroyed her reputation.

“She was almost immediately upset and started talking about her legal fees and how she would have to sell her house,” McGarvey wrote in a note to colleagues in June 2023.

“… She is being paid by us on full salary and lives in a lavish multimillion-dollar home with a pool and a tennis court and harbour views, so I hope this is not a real risk.”

McGarvey said Wilkinson was irrational and hysterical and could hardly talk for the sobbing.

“She made irrational claims about our choice of lawyers, because they work for News Corp.”

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Hundreds of pages of confidential correspondence between Ten and its high-profile presenter detail an unravelling of the relationship over several months, resulting in a court battle that Wilkinson ultimately won this week.

Last year the former Project presenter filed a cross-claim against Ten over a dispute about payment of more than $700,000 in legal costs in the Bruce Lehrmann defamation case.

Wilkinson hired her own lawyers after believing Ten did not have her best interests at heart.

Wilkinson and her agent, Nick Fordham, repeatedly asked Ten’s crisis communications and legal team to correct stories in the press that were critical of her Logies speech.

Wilkinson was heavily criticised in the media for an acceptance speech she gave at the Logies in 2022 for a TV report about the alleged rape of Brittany Higgins in Parliament House.

The ACT chief justice, Lucy McCallum, vacated the trial and set a new date due to the comments by Wilkinson and broadcasters Amanda Keller and Brendan Jones.

Ten told Wilkinson and Fordham that nothing could be done until after the criminal trial of Lehrmann because they had promised the prosecutor they would not comment.

The court heard that McGarvey removed Wilkinson from The Project and promised her an interview series, which never eventuated.

Fordham wrote to McGarvey to say Wilkinson expected the calibre of interviewees to be like “Michelle Obama, world leaders and A+ list celebrities”.

“Lisa’s contract is for work on The Project, and to soften the very real blow this change will have on Lisa’s standing and reputation in the industry, we insist that Lisa’s future celebrity interviews, stories and coverage of international events appear on The Project.

“We would also require Lisa to be guaranteed major world-event postings for The Project covering things as next year’s coronation of King Charles. As you have mentioned, Lisa shines on the road.”

Justice Michael Lee said the judgment in the Lehrmann defamation trial was nearing completion and would be delivered in March or April.

Lehrmann is suing Ten and Wilkinson for defamation over the interview.

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Deckhands allegedly ‘dived into shark and crocodile infested waters’ to avoid boss accused of slavery

Deckhands allegedly dived into shark-infested waters off Queensland to avoid boss accused of slavery

Fisherman, 47, facing dozens of charges, including assault and torture of young male and female deckhands offshore

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A fisherman has been charged with nearly two dozen further offences, including slavery and torture against deckhands on his boats.

The 47-year-old had already been charged with 46 offences in January after police launched a year-long investigation in far north Queensland’s Gulf of Carpentaria.

The man is accused of threatening and assaulting “numerous” young deckhands, including men and women, aboard his fishing vessels.

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He is also alleged to have withheld food and water from crew members.

Det Acting Insp Jason Chetham in January said some of those deckhands had wages withheld and were forced to sleep on the open deck.

Some were so scared they dived into shark- and crocodile-inhabited waters to seek safety, Chetham also said.

The Karumba man has now been charged with 23 more offences, including common assault, assault occasioning bodily harm, torture and slavery.

The total of 69 charges relate to offences between 2020 and 2023.

He was remanded in custody to face Cairns magistrates court on 5 April.

Police said they were continuing to appeal for “witnesses and victims” to come forward.

“Cairns detectives have commended the bravery of those who have already spoken up and reported to police,” the police said in a statement.

The investigation continues.

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Suspect on trial in Germany on unrelated rape charges

Madeleine McCann suspect on trial in Germany on unrelated rape charges

Christian Brückner is charged with three counts of rape and two counts of sexual abuse of children

The prime suspect in the disappearance of the British toddler Madeleine McCann has gone on trial over several unrelated sexual offences he is alleged to have committed in Portugal between 2000 and 2017.

Christian Brückner, 47, appeared in the Braunschweig state court in northern Germany on Friday to face three counts of rape and two of sexual abuse of children. The start of the trial was delayed because of long queues to get into the courthouse, the German news agency dpa reported.

Brückner has not been charged in the McCann case, in which he is under investigation on suspicion of murder. He spent many years in Portugal, including in the resort of Praia da Luz around the time of Madeleine’s disappearance there in 2007. He has denied any involvement in her disappearance.

He is serving a seven-year prison sentence in Germany for a rape he committed in Portugal in 2005.

Prosecutors filed charges in Friday’s case in October 2022. The defence lawyer Friedrich Fülscher has said the defence will seek the suspect’s acquittal on all counts, dpa reported.

The trial was suspended for a week within moments of opening after the defence cited social media posts indicating a lay judge might be biased.

The court postponed the trial in order to rule on whether the lay judge should be removed over tweets in which she allegedly called for the killing of the former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro and an animal torturer.

Fülscher said outside the court: “Such a lay judge has no business participating in a fair criminal trial.”

Prosecutors have said that at an unspecified time between 2000 and 2006, Brückner allegedly tied up and raped an elderly woman in her holiday apartment in Portugal.

During the same time period, he is alleged to have tied a German-speaking girl aged at least 14 to a wooden post in the living room of his residence in Praia da Luz, allegedly forcing her to perform oral sex.

In June 2004, he allegedly gained access at night to the apartment of an Irish woman then aged 20 in Praia da Rocha before raping her.

In all three rape cases, Brückner is accused of whipping the victim and filming the assaults.

In separate cases in 2007 and 2017, he is accused of exposing himself to girls aged 10 and 11.

The case is being heard in Braunschweig after a higher court ruled that judges in the city had jurisdiction, overturning an earlier decision that they did not. That decision centred on questions over where the suspect’s last residence was in Germany before he went abroad and then to prison.

The court has set 29 trial sessions through to late June.

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Storm forms off Australia’s north, while Queensland woman dies in flood waters

Tropical Cyclone Lincoln forms off Australia’s north, while Queensland woman dies in flood waters

Body of 28-year-old recovered from state’s north-west, with more heavy rain forecast for Brisbane

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A woman has died after her car became submerged in floodwaters as rain-lashed northern Australia braces for its third cyclone in as many months.

The weather bureau issued a warning on Friday afternoon for Tropical Cyclone Lincoln which has formed over the south-west of the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Lincoln was expected to cross the southern gulf coast on Friday afternoon with potential 110km/h gale-force winds and heavy rainfall.

The storm is expected to weaken as it moves inland, before heading west across the central Northern Territory over the weekend and then over northern Western Australia bringing with it heavy rainfall.

On Thursday, a 28-year-old woman was found dead inside a car spotted in the flooded Malbon River at Duchess, just south of Mt Isa in Queensland’s northwest.

The region is still reeling from flooding caused by the remnants of ex-Tropical Cyclone Kirrily in January.

In the NT people have been relocated from the Beswick community south of Katherine while more than 60 residents have been evacuated from Burketown.

Communities across Borroloola, Groote Eylandt and Mornington Island in the NT are set to be affected.

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Burketown has already recorded 135mm of rain in the last 24 hours but the bureau said totals of up to 250mm are possible.

“Many of these areas have had major flooding in the past couple of weeks associated with ex-tropical cyclone Kirrily,” meteorologist Angus Hines said of the cyclone warning region.

“In a number of these spots particularly in north Queensland the floodwaters are still easing from the last round of flooding.

“Of particular concern are the Doomadgee and Burketown regions where many roads are closed and communities are still isolated – further flooding is a possibility in those hard-hit regions.”

Flood watches are current for Queensland’s northwest and for the NT’s Daly and Katherine Rivers.

It will be the third cyclone to hit northern Australia in recent months, following Kirrily and Tropical Cyclone Jasper in mid-December.

Queensland’s southeast has also been lashed with heavy rain on Friday, bringing flash flooding in Brisbane.

There were widespread falls in excess of 100mm overnight, with the suburb of Rosalie recording 197mm in the last 24 hours, including 151mm in six hours.

Brisbane and Bowen Hills have recorded 135mm in the same period, and 148mm inundating Mount Cootha.

The SES has received about 60 calls for help across the state from midnight on Friday, with almost 50 of those in the southeast region.

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