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Argentina judge seeks arrest of ex-leader Fernández

Cristina Fernández is accused of covering up alleged Iranian involvement in a 1994 bomb attack.



A judge in Argentina says he is seeking the arrest of former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner over accusations she took part in a political cover-up.

Ms Fernández, who governed for eight years from December 2007, is now a senator and as such enjoys parliamentary immunity.

For her to be arrested, the Senate would have to lift that immunity with a two-thirds majority vote.

Senators said they would consider the judge’s request once they received it.

‘Criminal plan’

Federal judge Claudio Bonadio, who is seeking the arrest, alleges Ms Fernández was took part in “an orchestrated criminal plan” to cover up the alleged involvement of senior Iranian officials in a 1994 bomb attack against a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires.

She has always denied the allegations and has accused Judge Bonadio of pursuing a campaign of political persecution against her.

Judge Bonadio also ordered that Héctor Timerman, who was foreign minister under Ms Fernández, be placed under house arrest in connection with the same case.

Two more close allies of Ms Fernández were arrested on Thursday morning. They are Carlos Zannadi, a senior legal official in the Fernández administration, and political activist Luis D’Elía.

Argentina’s deadliest terror attack

Judge Bonadio presides over a commission which is investigating the 1994 bombing of the Israeli-Argentine Mutual Association (known as Amia for its initials in Spanish), a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires.

Image copyright AFP Image caption The Amia building collapsed in the bombing, which killed 85 people

Eighty-five people died in the bombing, which was Argentina’s deadliest terror attack.

Judge Bonadio re-opened the case against Ms Fernández after it had been dismissed by another federal judge in February 2015.

The allegations of a cover-up in the highest echelons of government were originally made by special prosecutor Alberto Nisman, whose sudden death in January 2015 is still being investigated.

What did Mr Nisman uncover?

Image copyright Reuters

Mr Nisman was found dead in his apartment on 18 January 2015 with a bullet wound to the head and a pistol lying by his side.

He had been only hours away from testifying in Congress against Ms Fernandez and Mr Timerman.

No one has been convicted of the Amia bombing.

World News

Saudi Prince bin Salman ‘was mystery buyer’ of $320m house

The house near Paris has a wine cellar, cinema and moat with an underwater chamber for viewing fish.




Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was the mystery buyer of a luxury French house, according to reporting by the New York Times.

The newspaper says a paper trail from a 2015 purchase leads back to him through several shell companies.

The house, near Versailles, has a wine cellar, a cinema and a moat with koi, sturgeon and an underwater chamber.

It cost €275m ($320m, £240m) and Fortune magazine called it the world’s most expensive house.

The buyer was unknown at the time.

But the New York Times reports that documents showed the house was owned by an investment company managed by Prince Mohammed’s personal foundation.

The Saudi government has declined to comment on the report.

A spokeswoman for the Saudi embassy in Washington accused New York Times journalists of “subjective reporting” and serving a “personal agenda”.

Skip Twitter post by @FatimahSBaeshen

In spite of this subjective reporting that self serves their personal agenda, the silver lining here is that there’s even more motivation to continually engage with the Press to share KSA’s amazing transformational story under the guidance of our current leadership.

— Fatimah S Baeshen (@FatimahSBaeshen) December 16, 2017 Report

End of Twitter post by @FatimahSBaeshen

From the exterior, the Chateau Louis XIV appears to be a 17th-Century chateau, constructed in a similar style to the nearby palace at Versailles.

On closer inspection, however, this is not the case: it was built after developer Emad Khashoggi demolished a 19th-Century building that had previously stood on the 57-acre (23-hectare) site and is modern inside. According to reports, its fountains and air conditioning, as well as lights and music, can be controlled by smartphone.

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionFive things about Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

A local official told the New York Times: “The idea is tacky, and then once you visit it isn’t.”

In 2015, Prince Mohammed reportedly bought himself a yacht from a Russian businessman for $590m.

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World News

Austria protest as far right Freedom Party tastes power

The Freedom Party is the EU’s only far-right party in power and plans controls on asylum seekers.




Thousands of protesters rallied in central Vienna against Austria’s new coalition government of conservatives and far right, during its swearing-in.

Among the banners were ones saying “Don’t let the Nazis govern”.

The Freedom Party (FPÖ) – the junior partner – is the only far-right party to get into power in the EU.

The FPÖ and People’s Party (ÖVP) plan to implement stricter rules for asylum seekers, after immigration proved a major concern for Austrian voters.

The coalition says Austria will stay in the EU. The new chancellor is Sebastian Kurz, 31 – Europe’s youngest leader.

Image copyright EPA Image caption A leftist banner: “Don’t let the Nazis govern – never let them parade!”

There was a heavy police presence outside the Hofburg Palace during the swearing-in.

About 6,000 people demonstrated against the new coalition, the BBC’s Bethany Bell reports.

The FPÖ was founded by former Nazis in the 1950s, but today it denies any connection with Nazi ideology.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Austrian President Alexander van der Bellen (L) conducted the inauguration at the Hofburg Palace

The FPÖ has received some key posts in the coalition, taking charge of interior and defence, and being allowed to choose the new foreign minister.

The FPÖ has a co-operation agreement with the ruling United Russia party of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the FPÖ says it wants to get the EU sanctions on Russia eased.

The new foreign minister, Karin Kneissl, is a Middle East expert who speaks Arabic and Hebrew.

She has accused German Chancellor Angela Merkel of “negligence” by allowing in record numbers of migrants.

Controversially she also said the turmoil in the Arab world was partly caused by young unemployed men “who cannot find a woman today” because of their low status.

Tough on asylum

The coalition plans to make asylum seekers hand over any cash they have when they submit an asylum claim, so that it funds their welfare.

They will also have to hand over their mobile phones so that the authorities can see from their data how they reached Austria and whom they contacted. Phones will not be confiscated but there will be systematic checks.

The FPÖ was in a coalition government before, in 2000. Back then there was a huge outcry and the government was left diplomatically isolated in the EU. But this time the reaction has been far more muted.

Migrant pressure

In 2015 Austria was at the heart of the EU’s migrant crisis, when more than a million asylum seekers arrived, hoping to reach Germany. Most did move on to Germany, but Austrian resources were severely stretched and the crisis fuelled anti-immigration sentiment.

Many were refugees from the wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the third quarter of this year, asylum applications in Austria were about 25% lower than in the same period of 2016, Eurostat reports. In Germany the numbers were more than 75% lower.

According to the new Austrian government’s plans:

In a Facebook post, FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache said (in German): “No longer will it possible for migrants who haven’t worked here a single day and have paid nothing into the system to get thousands of euros in social security!” He added: “On this point we in the Freedom Party have stuck to a central electoral promise!”

The Danish government was widely criticised in Europe when it introduced similar measures.

Who’s who in the new government?

Chancellor: Sebastian Kurz, People’s Party. The 31-year-old was foreign minister in the outgoing Austrian government.

Interior minister: Herbert Kickl, Freedom Party. The party’s general secretary and campaign director, 49, was a speechwriter for the late party leader Jörg Haider and is a close confidant of Mr Strache.

Foreign minister: Karin Kneissl, nominated by the FPÖ but not a member. The former diplomat, 52, speaks eight languages and is not afraid of controversy.

A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.

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World News

Shinee singer Jonghyun: K-pop boy band superstar dies

Jonghyun was a member of Shinee, who have had a string of number one hits in South Korea.




A member of one of South Korea’s leading boy bands has died suddenly.

Jonghyun, full name Kim Jong-hyun, was one of the five members of Shinee, who have had a string of number one hits in their home country.

The Korean Herald said he was 28 years old. He was taken to hospital after being found unconscious in an apartment in Seoul, according to reports.

Police told the BBC Korean Service that suicide will be investigated as a possibility.

South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that emergency services were alerted by the singer’s sister, and that he was later pronounced dead at hospital.

Jonghyun shot to fame with the band in 2008, and they also became big in Japan. He launched a successful solo career in 2015.

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