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German Gunmaker Fined Over Illegal Arms Trade With Mexico

A German court has handed suspended jail terms to two ex-employees of gun maker Heckler & Koch and fined the firm €3.7m (£3.2m) for illegal arms deliveries to Mexico.

G36The Stuttgart court acquitted three other H&K ex-employees.

H&K was found to have breached German arms export rules by shipping nearly 5,000 G36 assault rifles and smaller firearms to strife-torn regions. Mexico is plagued by warfare involving drug gangs and paramilitaries.

Germany’s arms export restrictions include Mexican states such as Chiapas, Chihuahua and Guerrero, which are blighted by murders and kidnappings.

The H&K deliveries took place in 2006-2009. One ex-employee was given a suspended sentence of one year and 10 months, plus a fine of €80,000. The other received one year and five months and was ordered to do 250 hours of social work.

H&K guns, made in the south-western town of Oberndorf, are used in conflicts worldwide. Besides Mexico, they have gone to troops and militias in Pakistan, Myanmar (Burma), Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey.

The firm’s annual turnover is about €200m.

Former MI5 Double Agent Dies From Alcohol Intoxication

A former MI5 double agent died from alcohol intoxication, 25 years after he was jailed for trying to pass secrets to Russia, a coroner’s court heard.

MI5 AgentMichael Bettaney, 68, was found dead at his home in Ware, Hertfordshire, by his partner on 16 August 2018. He was convicted of 10 crimes under the Official Secrets Act at the Old Bailey in 1984 for photographing secret documents for the KGB.

Senior coroner Geoffrey Sullivan said Bettaney had battled alcoholism.

The former spy had been drinking rum in the sitting room when his partner last saw him on the morning of his death, the court heard. He was found slumped next to a chair at 18:45 GMT that day. A Hertfordshire Constabulary investigation took place but found there were no suspicious circumstances.

In 1982, Bettaney was said to have copied classified information which he intended to pass to the KGB. He was arrested the day before he planned to hand over the information in Vienna. Bettaney was caught after a British agent in Moscow informed MI5 it had a traitor in its midst. He was jailed for 23 years in 1984 and released on parole in 1998.

Militants Preventing 200 Families From Leaving IS Territory

The UN has expressed concern about the fate of some 200 families reportedly trapped in the last tiny area of Syria still held by the Islamic State group.

 Is Last Territory Syria Human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said the many women and children in Baghuz were apparently being actively prevented from leaving by IS militants. They also continued to be subjected to intense bombardment by US-led coalition forces and allied Syrian fighters.

Ms Bachelet demanded that safe passage be provided to those wanting to flee.

“Those wish to remain must also be protected as much as possible,” she added. “They should not be sacrificed to ideology on the one hand, or military expediency on the other. “If protecting civilian lives means taking a few more days to capture the last fraction of land controlled by [IS], then so be it.”

Five years ago, IS controlled 88,000 sq km (34,000 sq miles) of territory stretching from western Syria to eastern Iraq, proclaimed the creation of a “caliphate”, imposed its brutal rule on almost eight million people and generated billions of dollars from oil, extortion, robbery and kidnapping.

Now, an estimated 300 militants and hundreds of civilians are surrounded inside about 0.5 sq km (0.2 square miles) of land in the Baghuz area, which is in the Middle Euphrates River Valley near the border with Iraq.

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Eleven Arrests After Fatal Stabbing Near Euston Street Station

Eleven people have been arrested after a man was stabbed several times in the street in London and collapsed and died in a hotel reception.

Euston StreetThe victim entered the Wesley Hotel on Euston Street, near London’s Euston Station, at about 22:45 GMT on Monday. The man was helped by hotel staff, who contacted the emergency services, but he died shortly after 23:30.

Police said the 11 people held had all been arrested on suspicion of murder and were in custody.

Staff at the luxury hotel were left “shocked by the experience”, according to the hotel’s chairman Rev Stuart Burgess. He said: “It was a complete shock to the staff late last night. “They realised that the person was beyond their help and they immediately called 999.”
Four or five staff working near the lobby at the time were “trying to come to terms with it”, he added.

Ayesha Begum, 38, who lives close to where the man was found, said she came out of her home after hearing a commotion. “Police were following a trail of blood,” she said.

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MI6 Head Warns Of IS Attacks

The head of MI6 has warned that the Islamic State group is reorganising for more attacks despite its military defeat in Syria.

Alex YoungerAlex Younger, the UK’s intelligence chief, also told of his concern about jihadists returning to Europe with “dangerous” skills and connections. They should expect to be investigated and possibly prosecuted, he said.

His comments come after Shamima Begum, a teenager who ran away to join IS, said she wants to return to the UK. Ms Begum, now aged 19 and pregnant with her third child, said she had no regrets about travelling to Syria in 2015 but wanted to have her baby in Britain.

Mr Younger told the Munich Security Conference that so far the return of IS militants had proved a “completely manageable problem”, but he warned that it was complex and unpredictable.

“We are very concerned about this because all experience tells us that once someone has put themselves in that sort of position they are likely to have acquired the skills and connections that make them potentially very dangerous,” he said.

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