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Ten people killed in wedding bus crash in Australia



The bus overturned while making a turn at a roundabout late on Sunday night (pic BBC)

BBC reported that at least 10 people have died and more than 20 others are in hospital after a wedding bus crashed in an Australian wine region.

The passengers were returning from a wedding at a winery on Sunday night when their coach overturned on Wine County Drive near Greta in Hunter Valley, New South Wales. Police say they are investigating the circumstances surrounding the crash.The driver of the bus, a 58-year-old man, has been arrested.

NSW Police Acting Assistant Commissioner Tracy Chapman said the guests were travelling to Singleton “presumably for their accommodation”.The crash occurred around 23:30 local time – the bus rolled over while making a turn at a roundabout off a highway.

The number of fatalities could increase, with 25 passengers taken to hospital – two of them airlifted from the crash, Ms Chapman said. She added that the bus is still on its side and people could be trapped underneath, and a crane will be brought to the scene “at some stage” to lift the bus. She said there was “sufficient information” for police to charge the coach driver, who was also sent to hospital and treated for minor injuries. “He’s under arrest. He’s been the driver of a motor vehicle collision where there have been fatal injuries and there will be charges pending,” she added. She also said there had been heavy fog in the area around the time of the crash.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said it is “so cruel, so sad and so unfair” for a “joyous day in a beautiful place like that to end with such terrible loss of life”. “People hire a bus for weddings in order to keep their guests safe, and that just adds to the unimaginable nature of this tragedy,” he said at a press conference in Canberra.

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Foreign News

Trump liable for fraud, judge finds in New York civil case




Donald Trump “repeatedly” misrepresented his wealth by hundreds of millions of dollars to banks and insurers, a New York judge has ruled.

The decision resolves the key claim made by New York’s attorney general in her civil lawsuit against the former president.

“The documents here clearly contain fraudulent valuations that defendants used in business,” the judge wrote.

It is a major blow for the former President before the case goes to trial next Monday.

An attorney for Donald Trump called the judge’s decision “a miscarriage of justice” in a statement on Tuesday evening.

Attorney General Letitia James sued Donald Trump last September, accusing him, his two adult sons and the Trump Organization of lying about his net worth and asset values between 2011 and 2021.

Ms James claimed the defendants issued false business records and financial statements in order to get better terms on bank loans and insurance deals, and to pay less tax.

In a trial that will now resolve six remaining claims in her suit, she will seek $250m in penalties and a ban on Mr Trump doing business in his home state.

The non-jury trial is scheduled to begin 2 October and last until at least December.


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Foreign News

Manhunt for gang boss who controlled luxury jail in Venezuela




The Venezuelan authorities have issued a wanted poster for the fugitive (pic BBC)

Police across South America are searching for the leader of a Venezuelan gang who escaped from the luxurious prison which he controlled, shortly before it was raided.

When 11,000 soldiers and police entered the inmate-run Tocorón jail in Venezuela on Wednesday, Héctor Guerrero Flores was nowhere to be found.

Under Guerrero Flores’s rule, Tocoron came to resemble a luxury resort. The jail boasted a small zoo, a nightclub and a swimming pool.

The 39-year-old from Aragua state in Venezuela has been in and out of Tocorón prison for more than a decade.In 2012, the leader of the Tren de Aragua transnational crime gang managed to escape from the jail by bribing the guards.After his re-arrest in 2013, he was returned to the same prison, but it appears his power inside the jail – and over those tasked with guarding him – only grew.

Not only did he turn Tocorón into the nerve centre of the Tren de Aragua criminal enterprise, but under his rule, the jail was equipped with all the trappings of a luxury hotel. Families of inmates moved into the compound. Inmates had access to a makeshift bank, a betting shop, a restaurant and a baseball diamond, while their children could marvel at flamingos and ostriches in the animal enclosure.

Guerrero Flores reportedly could come and go as he pleased. Venezuelan author Ronna Rísquez, who has written a book about the Tren de Aragua, recounts how police came across him once at a party on a yacht in 2016.

According to Rísquez, the convict calmly showed officers a safe conduct issued by Venezuela’s prison service allowing him to travel freely through the country.

Humberto Prado, the director of the Venezuelan Prison Observatory NGO, told BBC Mundo that Guerrero Flores lived “like a king” inside the jail and probably returned to it because of the security it offered.

“He had an entire floor to himself, with all the luxuries… double beds, plasma screens, sound systems. He even had his own bodyguards and no one could enter the floor without his permission.”

According to Mr Prado and others familiar with the conditions inside the prison, Guerrero Flores had no rivals inside the prison and could therefore rule safely over his ever-expanding criminal network.

The Tren de Aragua has under his leadership expanded into Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Chile and diversified from extorting migrants into sex-trafficking, contract killing and kidnapping.

The gang’s reach is such that the Chilean President, Gabriel Boric, referred to it directly, saying that “we are going to hunt them down, jail them, and in cases where it is necessary, expel them”.

Pressure from Latin American leaders is thought to have led to the massive security operation launched by the Venezuelan authorities last week at the Tocorón prison.

Officials said 11,000 soldiers and police were deployed to regain control of the jail from the inmates.

It was during the raid that the absence of Héctor Guerrero Flores was first noted, but Venezuelan officials did not make his escape public at the time.

It was not until Saturday, three days after the security operation, that Venezuela’s interior ministry offered a reward for information leading to the capture of Guerrero Flores.

Despite the escape of its most powerful inmate, President Nicolás Maduro said the raid had been carried out “impeccably”. He did concede that “some inmates had escaped due to the corruption of officials, who had alerted the prisoners to the impending security operation”and added that those responsible would be “severely punished”.

Meanwhile, police in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Venezuela are searching for Héctor Guerrero Flores.


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Five alleged Russian spies appear in London court




The five suspects are (clockwise from top left): Katrin Ivanova, Vanya Gaberova (centre), Bizer Dzhambazov, Orlin Roussev and Ivan Stoyanov (pic BBC)

Five people accused of being part of a Russian spy ring operating in the UK have appeared in court.

Bulgarian nationals Orlin Roussev, Bizer Dzhambazov, Katrin Ivanova, Ivan Stoyanov, and Vanya Gaberova allegedly conspired to gather information which would be useful to an enemy. It is alleged they carried out surveillance on people and places targeted by Russia between August 2020 and February 2023. The suspects were remanded in custody.

Their surveillance activities are alleged to have apparently been for the purpose of assisting Russia to conduct hostile action against the targets, including potential abductions. They did not enter pleas at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, where they appeared via video link from four different prisons. All five defendants remained silent other than speaking to confirm their names and dates of birth.

Met Police counter-terrorism officers arrested them in February under the Official Secrets Act. They are:

  • Orlin Roussev, 45, of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
  • Bizer Dzhambazov, 41, of Harrow, north-west London
  • Katrin Ivanova, 31, of the same Harrow address
  • Ivan Stoyanov, 31, from Greenford, west London
  • Vanya Gaberova, 29, from Churchway, north-west London

Describing the charges, prosecutor Kathryn Selby said the “operating hub in this country for the offence of espionage” was the property of Orlin Roussev. His home address was a now-closed seaside guesthouse in Great Yarmouth. Roussev is alleged to have organised and managed the cell’s spying operations from the UK. It is alleged that such operations took place in the UK and Europe.

Ivan Stoyanov has fought as an amateur mixed martial arts fighter and has appeared in fights in the UK. In Bulgaria he appeared in so-called combat sambo fights, a form of martial arts popular in eastern Europe.

The five defendants are accused of being part of a conspiracy with a “person known as” Jan Marsalek from whom Roussev received tasking from abroad . Marsalek is not charged in the case.

Jan Marsalek is best known as the Austrian former chief operating officer of the company Wirecard, who became a wanted man in Germany after being suspected of having committed fraud. He is believed to have fled to an airport south of Vienna before flying to Belarus by private jet. He is reportedly now in Russia.

Speaking at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, Deputy Chief Magistrate Tan Ikram said the five would appear at the Old Bailey on 13 October.


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