The final hearing at a United Nations war crimes tribunal was dramatically halted when a former Bosnian Croat military chief claimed to have taken poison. Croatian state TV later reported that Slobodan Praljak has died. At court, he yelled, “I am not a war criminal!” and appeared to drink from a small bottle, seconds after judges reconfirmed his 20-year prison sentence for involvement in a campaign to drive Muslims out of a would-be Bosnian Croat ministate in Bosnia in the early 1990s. Presiding Judge Carmel Agius had overturned some of Praljak’s convictions but upheld others and left his sentence unchanged. Agius quickly halted the hearing at the International Criminal Tribunal.
UK ‘CLOSE TO €50 BN DEAL’ ON BREXIT DIVORCE BILL WITH EU
Britain has offered to pay much of what the European Union was demanding to settle a Brexit “divorce bill”, bringing the two sides close to agreement on a key obstacle to opening talks on a future free trade pact. The offer, which British newspapers valued at around €50 billion, reflected the bulk of outstanding EU demands that include London paying a share of post-Brexit EU spending on commitments made before Britain leaves in March 2019 as well as funding of EU staff pensions for decades to come.
A British government official said they “do not recognise” this account of the talks going on ahead of a visit by Prime Minister Theresa May to Brussels. EU officials close to the negotiations stressed that work was still continuing ahead of May’s talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and his chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. But EU diplomats briefed on progress said the British offer was promising and that, on the financial settlement, the two sides were, as one said, “close to a deal”.
UK MP backs ‘vindaloo visas’
Liberal Democrat Party leader Sir Vince Cable has called on the government to introduce temporary “vindaloo” visas to address severe staff shortages being faced by curry restaurants. The temporary visas would be valid for a year. The 3.6-billion-pound curry industry is feared to be closing at a rate of four a week due to a clampdown on visas to bring in chefs from the Indian sub-continent.
Cyclone kills 19 people on Indonesian island of Java
A tropical cyclone killed 19 people on the Indonesian island of Java, officials said that with most of the victims caught under a landslide. Video footage showed rivers overflowing and roads and villages submerged in brown water after the storm struck . “Nineteen people have died, thousands of homes have been flooded and other damage has been caused,” Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the Disaster Mitigation Agency, tweeted.
New York truck attack suspect pleads innocent
A man accused of killing eight people in a truck rampage in New York on October 31 pleaded innocent to murder and other charges. Sayfullo Saipov, 29 and originally from Uzbekistan, has said he acted in the name of the Islamic State group. President Donald Trump has called for his execution, but a capital punishment case would be rare in New York, which has abolished the death penalty at the state level.
State in Australia makes euthanasia legal
An Australian state parliament has legalised voluntary euthanasia 20 years after the country repealed the world’s first mercy-killing law for the terminally ill.
The final vote in the Victorian parliament means that doctor-assisted suicide will be allowed in Australia’s second-most populous state from mid-2019.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who became a euthanasia advocate after his father died of cancer last year, said the reform showed compassion. “This is a day that I’m very proud to have made this reform and to have led a team that has delivered the sort of leadership that all Victorians can be proud of.” Andrews told reporters. “For too long, we have denied, to too many, the compassion, the control, the power that should be theirs, in those final moments of their life,” he added.
Australian Christian Lobby managing director Lyle Shelton has accused the state government of sanctioning assisted suicide as an alternative to properly funding palliative care.