INDEPENDENT 2024-07-03 21:08:19


Landowner arrested after worker bled to death in Italy

The case of a farm worker who bled to death in Italy has sparked outrage across the country.

Even President Sergio Mattarella has weighed in on the case, referring to what he said was the “cruel” exploitation of workers and “inhuman” conditions in which seasonal farmhands often work in Italy.

Italian police arrested a farm owner on Tuesday on suspicion of homicide after one of his workers, an undocumented laborer from India, bled to death when his arm was cut off by a piece of farm equipment.

The landowner abandoned the bleeding worker and failed to call an ambulance, prosecutors said.

The death of Satnam Singh has shocked Italians and sparked protests by unions and farm workers demanding better working conditions. They have called for an end to the exploitive “caporalato” system of using underpaid migrant labor to work in Italy‘s agriculture industry.

Carabinieri police in Latina, a largely agricultural province south of Rome, arrested farm owner Antonello Lovato after prosecutors bumped up the original suspected crime of manslaughter to homicide with “malice afterthought,” a statement from Latina prosecutors said.

They did so after forensics determined that Singh died from “copious blood loss.” The forensic report found he “most likely” would have survived if he had received prompt medical care, the prosecutors’ statement said.

But an ambulance apparently wasn’t called right away after Singh’s arm was wrenched off when it got stuck in a nylon-wrapping machine.

Italian daily Corriere della Sera quoted the arrest warrant signed by Judge Giuseppe Molfese as saying Lovato was driving the tractor that was pulling the nylon-wrapping machine, and then abandoned the bleeding Singh, leaving him outside his home.

Italian news reports have quoted witnesses as saying Lovato refused entreaties by Singh’s wife, who also worked at the farm, to call an ambulance, claiming he was already dead.

RAI state television interviewed a neighbor who finally called an ambulance. Singh was brought to the San Camillo hospital in Rome where he was pronounced dead some two days later.

In the statement, Latina prosecutors said Singh’s condition after the injury was so serious that it was obvious he needed prompt medical attention.

“At the present time, therefore, it must be held that the decision to omit the necessary care constituted acceptance of the risk of the lethal event and united the cause that directly resulted in death,” the statement said.

There was no immediate reply to an email seeking comment from the law offices of Stefano Perotti and Valerio Righi, identified by RAI as Lovato’s lawyers.

RAI has quoted Lovato’s father, Renzo, as saying Singh had been warned not to get so close to the equipment. He said Singh took the warning “too lightly,” and that his attitude “will cost everyone dearly.”

Taiwan calls for release of fishing boat crew seized by China

Taiwan has called for the release of a fishing boat and its crew allegedly seized by Chinese officials from near an island primarily patrolled by Taiwanese coast guard.

According to Taiwanese maritime officials, the Chinese coast guard boarded the boat, Dajinman 88, near the Kinmen archipelago and steered it towards a port in mainland China late on 2 July.

“The coast guard calls on the mainland to refrain from engaging in political manipulation and harming cross-strait relations and to release the Dajinman ship and crew as soon as possible,” Taiwan’s maritime authorities said.

Kinmen, an island with a significant Taiwanese military presence and a frontline just 3km away from Chinese shores, has a history of frequent skirmishes and is primarily patrolled by Taiwan’s coast guard in its surrounding waters.

The boat had six crew members including the captain and five migrant workers, the Taiwanese Central News Agency reported.

According to the Associated Press, Taiwan said Chinese coast guard officials ordered their Taiwanese counterparts to stay away from interfering in the detention of the fishing boat.

Hsieh Ching-chin, a spokesperson for Taiwan’s coast guard, said the boat was not in China’s waters when it was boarded by Chinese agents and steered to a port in Fujian province.

Two Taiwanese vessels were dispatched to rescue Dajinman 88 after two Chinese vessels intercepted the fishing boat. However, a statement from the maritime authorities said that the pursuit was called off to avoid any escalation.

China considers Taiwan a part of its territory and president Xi Jinping has threatened to “reunite” the island with the mainland by force if necessary, while the democratically-elected government of Taiwan says only the island’s people can choose their future.

Beijing’s claim to be the only legitimate Chinese government is known as the One China Principle, and this has been accepted or acknowledged by all but a handful of nations who would otherwise risk being cut off from trading with the mainland. The US formally acknowledges the One China Principle but maintains close informal relations with Taiwan, and does not accept Beijing’s claim to sovereignty over the island.

Earlier, Taiwan’s defence ministry announced that it was not increasing its military presence on the islands near China, including the Matsu archipelago north of Kinmen.

In February this year, six Chinese coast guard officers boarded a Taiwanese tourist boat with 23 passengers and 11 crew members in Kinmen islands. They stayed on the sight-seeing ferry King Xia for half an hour, checking route plans, certificates and crew licences before leaving, Taiwan‘s coast guard said.

Additional reporting with agencies.

Jin of BTS to carry torch for South Korea at Paris Olympics

Jin, a member of the South Korean band BTS, will be a torchbearer at the 2024 Paris Olympics, his agency Big Hit Music said on Wednesday.

He will travel to France “in the near future” to participate in the Olympic torch relay to spread a “message of harmony and peace”, the agency said.

Jin, whose real name is Kim Seokjin, is the oldest BTS member. He returned from his mandatory military service earlier in June. The band’s other members – RM, Suga, j-hope, Jimin, V and Jung Kook – are still serving.

BTS are expected to reunite as a full group in 2026.

After his return, Jin held a fan meeting in Seoul to celebrate the 11th anniversary of the band’s debut, an annual event. He hugged 1,000 fans who won a raffle and performed some of his solo music, including an extended version of his song “Super Tuna”.

Jin, 31, has announced plans to release more solo music and is scheduled to appear on a variety show later this year.

“I’m working on recording music and filming variety shows. I’m trying to focus on my main job while showing my face as much as possible,” he wrote on online fan platform Weverse.

“The results will be out in a few months, so please wait a little longer.”

Fans excited to see him act, however, had their expectations dashed.

“I don’t have any plans to act. Sorry about that,” Jin said.

The summer Olympics are scheduled to take place from 26 July till 11 August.

The ceremonial torch relay is held before each set of games.

The Olympic flame was lit in Greece on 16 April and passed through several countries before reaching France on 7 May.

Torchbearers will continue to carry the flame through France and its overseas colonies until the games start, before coming back for a four-day stint ahead of the Paralympic opening ceremony on 25 August.

US deports 116 Chinese migrants in first ‘large’ flight in 5 years

The US has deported 116 Chinese migrants back home in the first “large charter flight” in five years, the Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday.

The flight, which happened over the weekend, comes as Chinese immigration has become the subject of intense political debate in the upcoming US presidential election.

“We will continue to enforce our immigration laws and remove individuals without a legal basis to remain in the United States,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.

The department said it was working with China to “reduce and deter irregular migration and to disrupt illicit human smuggling through expanded law enforcement efforts.”

It did not respond to questions about how long the migrants had been in the US.

In recent years, the United States has had a difficult time returning Chinese nationals who do not have the right to stay in America because China has resisted taking them back. Last year, the United States saw a drastic surge in the number of Chinese immigrants entering the country illegally from Mexico.

US border officials arrested more than 37,000 Chinese nationals on the southern border in 2023, 10 times the number during the previous year.

Chinese migration has increasingly become a rallying cry for Republicans and former President Donald Trump who have raised suspicions about why Chinese migrants are coming to the US.

Asian advocacy organizations are concerned that the rhetoric could encourage harassment of Asians, while migrants themselves have said they’re coming to escape poverty and repression.

Earlier this year, the US and China resumed cooperation on migration issues.

The Chinese government has said it is firmly opposed to “all forms of illegal immigration.” In a statement in May, China’s Embassy in the US said the country’s law enforcement was cracking down “hard on crimes that harm the tranquillity of national border, and maintained a high pressure against all kinds of smuggling organizations and offenders.”

Homeland Security said they are working with China on more removal flights in the future but did not give a timeline for when the next one would happen.

Earlier this year, a charter flight carried a small but unknown number of deportees to the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang, according to Thomas Cartwright of Witness at the Border, an advocacy group that tracks deportation flights.

Homeland Security officials did not say how many people were on that 30 March flight, but the Gulfstream V aircraft typically has a seating capacity of 14. It also made a stop in South Korea before heading back to the US, Mr Cartwright said.

The announcement of the large charter flight comes after Ecuador cut off a key route used by Chinese migrants to get to the Western Hemisphere.

Ecuador was one of only two mainland countries in the Americas to offer visa-free entry to Chinese nationals and had become a popular starting point for Chinese migrants to then trek north to the US.

As of 1 July, Ecuador has effectively reinstated visas for Chinese nationals after the South American country said it had seen a worrying increase in irregular migration.

Afghan women cricketers seek ICC help to form refugee team

Afghan women cricketers have asked the International Cricket Council to help them form a refugee team after the country’s men’s team was commended for its performance in the recently concluded T20 World Cup.

A letter written by 17 Afghan women cricketers to the governing body noted that the Taliban government has banned women from education, work and sports.

“A profound sadness remains that we, as women, can’t represent our country like the male cricketers,” the cricketers said in the letter seeking financial and leadership support from the ICC.

“We aim to represent all Afghan women who dream of playing cricket but are unable to in Afghanistan,” they said and asked the council to “assist us in setting up a refugee team in Australia”.

The council’s support for the proposed team, they said, “would give Afghan refugees a chance to play, coach and administer” the team without borders.

“The creation of this team will allow all Afghan women who want to represent their country to come together under one banner,” the letter said.

Noting the impressive performance of the men’s team in the world cup, the women said they likewise aimed to “compete at the highest levels”.

“We want to recruit and train girls and women who love cricket to show the world the talent of Afghan women and to demonstrate the great victories they can achieve if given a chance through the leadership and financial support of the ICC,” the letter said.

After returning to power in 2021, the Taliban left the two dozen women playing under the Afghanistan Cricket Board without national support. The women took refuge in Australia.

Many of them have continued playing in Australia’s domestic competitions but haven’t had access to international cricket, despite the governing body’s regulations requiring all test playing members to support both men’s and women’s national teams.

Australia has declined three invitations to play against Afghanistan’s men’s team because of the Taliban’s restrictions on women and, earlier this year, withdrew from a series that was due to be played in the UAE in August.

India’s opposition leader sparks protests with remarks attacking BJP in parliament

Rahul Gandhi’s maiden speech as the leader of opposition in parliament sparked protests after he tore into Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), accusing it of perpetuating violence and hate in India.

His effigies were burnt in the prime minister’s constituency of Varanasi and neighbouring city of Prayagraj, as protesters chanted slogans demanding “Rahul Gandhi [to] come to sense”, reported the Times of India.

Mr Gandhi, who attended parliament armed with a copy of India’s constitution and a picture of Hindu deity Lord Shiva, launched a scathing attack on the BJP and its ideological mentor, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), on Monday, accusing them of systematically deflecting attention from issues of inflation, job crisis, and income inequality.

“Those who call themselves Hindus… are engaged in violence and hate,” Mr Gandhi said, in a now partially expunged speech, sparking a sharp intervention from Mr Modi as dramatic scenes unfolded in Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament.

Besides the prime minister, several ministers from Mr Modi’s cabinet, including federal home minister Amit Shah, interrupted Mr Gandhi’s speech and demanded an apology from him. “There are so many people who call themselves Hindu with pride, and those who had imposed emergency and led the anti-Sikh riots in 1984 have no right to blame others for spreading an environment of fear,” he said.

The parliamentarians from the BJP hooted Mr Gandhi with chants of “Jai Shri Ram” (Hail Lord Ram) and “Bharat Mata ki Jai” (glory to mother India).

However, the leader of opposition received support from parliamentarians of opposition INDIA alliance led by the Congress, who chanted “Jai Samvidhan”, hailing the Indian constitution.

Mr Gandhi went on to defend his remarks saying he was talking specifically about BJP and the ruling party was not the sole representative of Hinduism. He accused the party of not following the essential tenets of the religion, reported the Indian Express. In his nearly 100-minute-long speech, he also accused the right-wing party of spreading hate and violence against minorities, creating an atmosphere of fear, curbing dissent, and targetting politicians from opposition.

Holding up pictures of Lord Shiva, Guru Nanak, and Jesus Christ, Mr Gandhi referred to Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Christianity, Buddhism and Jainism to underline the importance of fearlessness rooted in different religions, while taking a dig at the Hindu-right wing ecosystem.

Invoking virtues of the widely revered Hindu deity, Mr Gandhi said: “Lord Shiva says do not be fearful…he buries the trident in the ground and those who call themselves Hindus, they chant violence, hatred, untruth…You are not a Hindu.”

His comments have drawn sharp criticism outside parliament.

“It is unfortunate that people holding important positions in parliament are associating Hindutva with violence,” said senior RSS functionary, Sunil Ambedkar. “Whether Vivekananda or Gandhi… Hindutva is a symbol of harmony and brotherhood.”

“First day, worst show!” said BJP National president Jagat Prakash Nadda. “Lies + Hatred= Rahul Gandhi in parliament,” he wrote on X. Referring to him as a “third time failed leader of opposition” – for the Congress’s three successive losses against BJP in general election – he said Mr Gandhi “has a knack for agitated, flawed logic”.

“His speech…has shown that neither has he understood the mandate of 2024, nor does he have any humility.”

Amid protests and backlash, Mr Gandhi stood by his statement, which for large parts have been expunged from parliament’s record. “In Modi ji’s world, truth can be expunged. But in reality, the truth can’t be expunged. I said what I had to say, that is the truth. They can expunge as much as they want. Truth is truth.”

He has also written to house speaker Om Birla, raising concerns about the “manner in which a considerable portion of my speech has been simply taken off from the proceedings under the garb of expunction”.

“What I sought to convey in the House is ground reality, the factual position. Every member of the House who personifies the collective voice of people whom he or she represents has the freedom of speech” as enshrined under the Constitution of India, he said.

“Taking off from records my considered remarks goes against the very tenets of parliamentary democracy.”

Pakistan court grants bail to Imran Khan’s wife in graft case

A special court in Pakistan granted interim bail to the wife of former prime minister Imran Khan in a £190m graft case on Tuesday, local media outlets reported.

This comes months after an Islamabad high court bench approved the bail of Mr Khan in the same case, reported Geo TV.

The couple were accused in the case of receiving of financial help from a land developer in the setting up of the Al Qadir University.

The National Accountability Bureau, Pakistan’s anti-corruption agency, alleged that Mr Khan’s government had struck a deal with property tycoon Malik Riaz that caused more than £190m in losses to the national exchequer.

In December 2019, during an investigation by Britain’s National Crime Agency, Mr Riaz admitted handing over the assets.

Both have denied any wrongdoing, with Mr Khan at the time saying the land was donated for charitable purposes.

Bibi will remain in prison as she is also serving a sentence in a case involving her marriage with Mr Khan.

Meanwhile, a United Nations human rights panel on Monday called for the immediate release of Mr Khan, saying he had been detained “arbitrarily in violation of international laws”.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention made this demand after examining Mr Khan‘s case in which he was sentenced last year on charges of corruption.

Mr Khan has been slapped with multiple criminal cases since when he was ousted through a vote of no confidence in the parliament in 2022.

There was no immediate comment from the government of Shehbaz Sharif, who replaced Mr Khan after his ousting.

Mr Khan has been held in prison since August 2023 when he was sentenced to three years in prison for allegedly hiding assets after selling state gifts. It led to a ban on Mr Khan from seeking political office and contesting the 8 February election, which his party says were rigged.

The Election Commission of Pakistan has denied the allegation.

Additional reporting by agencies

Indian Air Force rescues 13 fishermen as floods kill 16 people

The Indian Air Force on Tuesday rescued 13 stranded fishermen from a riverine island as floods and landslides triggered by heavy rains continued to batter India’s northeast.

At least 16 people have been killed over two weeks and more than 300,000 have been displaced from their submerged homes due to the torrential rains in the two northeastern states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

A military helicopter brought the fishermen to safety four days after being stranded on a small island on the flooded Brahmaputra – one of Asia’s largest rivers.

“A Mi-17 IV helicopter from AFS Mohanbari flew in challenging weather conditions and undertook rescue ops from a marshy piece of land,” the Indian Air Force said on X.

The fishermen were rescued from a sandbar area in the Dibrugarh district, the Assam state disaster management authority said.

The Brahmaputra River, which flows 1,280km across Assam state before running through Bangladesh, was among the 13 major rivers flowing above the danger level.

This year the incessant rainfall has made the river Brahmaputra, already known for its powerful, unpredictable flow, even more dangerous to live near or on one of the more than 2,000 island villages in the middle of it.

On Sunday, the air force rescued eight state disaster response force personnel and a revenue official after they got stuck during a relief operation.

The flood situation in Assam worsened over the weekend, affecting more than 1.1 million people across 21 districts. The state is bracing for a deterioration in the situation as the Indian Meteorological Department forecasts moderate to heavy rain over the next four days.

At least 8,142 people have been moved to 72 relief shelters across the state, the state authorities said.

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said: “The next 3-4 days will be very critical for the state.” The national disaster response force (NDRF) and the army will be on standby to deal with any emergency, he said on Monday.

The animals at the famed Kaziranga National Park, home to some 2,500 one-horned rhinos, were moving to higher ground to escape the floods. Park rangers are monitoring their movements to ensure their safety, Mr Biswa Sarma added.

In neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh which borders China, landslides have wiped out several roads. Army troopers there rescued 70 students and teachers from a flooded school in Changlang district, police said.

Schools have been shut in the Itanagar district till 6 July, authorities said. The Assam Rifles were pressed into action to rescue around 500 stranded people from the flooded villages.

Similarly, heavy flooding in the states of Sikkim, Manipur and Meghalaya swept away roads and collapsed bridges.

So far, more than 80 people across six northeastern states have died since the end of May due to floods and mudslides brought on by the rains, according to official figures.

Disasters caused by landslides and floods are common in the country’s northeast region during the June-September monsoon season.

India, and Assam state in particular, is seen as one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to climate change because of more intense rain and floods, according to a 2021 report by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, a New Delhi-based climate think tank.

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