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Dutch suspect in tram shooting to face terrorism charge

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The main suspect in a deadly tram shooting in the Dutch city of Utrecht will be charged with offences including multiple murder or manslaughter with a terrorist intent, prosecutors said Thursday.

Investigations so far into Monday’s shooting that left three dead and three seriously injured indicate that the shooter acted alone, prosecutors said in a written statement.

The main suspect, identified by police as Gokmen Tanis, a 37-year-old man of Turkish descent, also faces charges of attempted murder or manslaughter and making threats with a terrorist intent.

The prosecution office statement adds that investigations are continuing into whether the suspect’s actions “flowed from personal problems combined with a radicalized ideology.”

The team investigating the shooting will ask a forensic psychiatry and psychology institute to carry out a personality test on the suspect.

Tanis is to appear before an investigating judge on Friday. Such hearings are held behind closed doors.

A 40-year-old man detained Tuesday afternoon is still under investigation to establish “if he possibly had a supporting role, outside the shooting incident,” prosecutors said.

Two men and a woman were killed Monday when a shooter opened fire on a tram in Utrecht. Authorities put the Netherlands’ fourth largest city in lockdown for hours amid fears that more than one shooter was active at different locations.

The terror alert level also was raised from four to the maximum five while police hunted for the shooter. It was dropped to four once the suspect was detained.

Prosecutors have said they were focused on a possible terrorist motive because of the nature of the shooting — they say none of the victims was known to the alleged shooter — and because of a note found in a getaway car. They have not disclosed what was written in the note.

A silent march is planned for Friday evening in Utrecht to commemorate the victims.

Mike Corder, The Associated Press


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Boris Johnson wins race to become UK’s next prime minister

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LONDON — Brexit hardliner Boris Johnson won the contest to lead Britain’s governing Conservative Party on Tuesday and will become the country’s next prime minister, tasked with fulfilling his promise to lead the U.K. out of the European Union “come what may.”

He defeated his rival Jeremy Hunt overwhelmingly in a vote of Conservative Party members.

He will be installed as prime minister in a formal handover from Theresa May on Wednesday.

The victory is a triumph for 55-year-old Johnson, an ambitious but erratic politician whose political career has veered between periods in high office and spells on the sidelines.

Johnson has vowed that Britain will quit the European Union on the scheduled date of Oct. 31 even if it means leaving without a divorce deal

But he faces a rocky ride from a Parliament determined to prevent him from taking the U.K. out of the 28-nation bloc without a withdrawal agreement.

Several Conservative ministers have already announced they will resign to fight any push for a “no-deal” Brexit, an outcome economists warn would disrupt trade and plunge the U.K. into recession. Fears that Britain is inching closer to a “no-deal” Brexit weighed on the pound once again Tuesday. Before the announcement, the currency was down another 0.3 per cent at $1.2441 and near two-year lows.

May stepped down after Britain’s Parliament repeatedly rejected the withdrawal agreement she struck with the 28-nation bloc. Johnson insists he can get the EU to renegotiate — something the bloc insists it will not do.

If not, he says Britain must leave the EU on Halloween, “do or die.”

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Follow AP’s full coverage of Brexit and the Conservative Party leadership race at: https://www.apnews.com/Brexit

Jill Lawless, The Associated Press






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Crime up, homicide down: Five things to know about the 2018 crime statistics

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OTTAWA — New national crime data for 2018 was released Monday, courtesy of Statistics Canada, with big changes to some key indicators. Here are five things that stood out:

Crime up, but still near decades-long low

The national statistics agency says both the crime rate and its measurement of the severity of crime were up two per cent this year, the fourth straight year of increases since 2014.

StatCan cautioned the prevalence of crime and its severity remain 17 per cent lower than in 2008, reflecting a long decline in crime rates nationally. From its peak in 1991, the national crime rate declined more than 50 per cent until 2014.

The agency says the increase in the severity of crimes in 2018 was attributable to marked increases in fraud (up 13 per cent), one particular class of sexual assault (15 per cent), shoplifting (14 per cent) and theft of items worth over $5,000 (15 per cent).

Less homicide, but provinces may vary

The rate of homicides in Canada ticked down nationally by four per cent, with 15 fewer homicides in 2018 than in 2017.

But the statistics tell a different story when broken down by province. Much of the decrease in came from declines in Alberta (38 fewer) and British Columbia (30 fewer), but Ontario experienced an enormous increase in homicides — 69 more than last year.

Statistics Canada analyst Greg Moreau notes that several incidents in Toronto, including the Danforth shooting one year ago (in which two people were killed), the discovery of eight victims of serial murders, and the North York van attack (in which 10 people died) all elevated the number of homicides recorded in 2018.

The data also shows decreases in firearm-related (by eight per cent) and gang-related (by five per cent) homicides across the country, the first time they have decreased since 2013 and 2014, respectively.

Statistics Canada further notes Indigenous people continue to disproportionately be the victims of homicide. Though they make up five per cent of Canada’s population, Indigenous people were 22 per cent of homicide victims.

Sexual assault is up, and more left unreported

The rate of “Level 1” sexual assault — defined statistically as sexual assault without a weapon and without other physical harm — was up 15 per cent in 2018 over 2017. And in his article, Moreau says that rate remains “likely an underestimation of the true extent of sexual assault in Canada.”

This is the fourth consecutive year this class of sexual assault increased, and it usually makes up around 98 per cent of all police-reported sexual-assault incidents. But since these types of crimes often go unreported, the actual incidence is likely not reflected in the statistics.

In 2014, another Statistics Canada survey estimated only five per cent of sexual assaults were reported to police.

Prince Edward Island reported an increase in sexual-assault reports by over half (55 per cent, though with the number of incidents provincewide in the dozens) while Nova Scotia (42 per cent), Yukon (20 per cent) and Ontario (18 per cent) all reported increases above the national average for 2018.

Hate crimes down from 2017 peak

After the rate of hate crimes spiked in 2017 by almost 50 per cent, there was a reduction of 13 per cent in 2018. Still, hate crimes occurred at a higher rate last year than in any other year since 2009, Statistics Canada says.

Statistics Canada notes the decline is almost completely attributable to reductions in Ontario, and the number of hate crimes against Muslims halved year-over-year.

Both violent and non-violent hate crimes decreased, and hate crimes that targeted black people and hate crimes targeting people over sexual orientation both fell by double digits. The share of hate crimes aimed at Jews also fell, by four per cent.

More fraud, more extortion

Statistics Canada notes the world of scams and extortion is increasingly moving online, with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre flagging schemes in which scammers pretend to be from the Canada Revenue Agency as well as gift-card scams.

Overall, the rate of fraud increased by 12 per cent, and sits almost 50 per cent higher than in 2008, after growing for seven years in a row. There were over 129,400 incidents of fraud reported to police in 2018, StatsCan says.

StatCan does say the increasing ease of reporting fraud online could have contributed to the higher numbers.

There was an even more dramatic increase in extortion from 2017 to 2018 — a 44-per-cent leap, Statistics Canada says. The dynamic is the same across the country, and the rate has been increasing since 2012.

Christian Paas-Lang, The Canadian Press

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