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Italy foils plot to blow up Rialto Bridge in Venice "With all the unbelievers there are in Venice, you put a bomb under the Rialto and you go straight to heaven," one of the alleged jihadist plotters said in a wiretapped conversation, said Adelchi d'Ippolito, the Venice prosecutor in charge of the case. World Bulletin / News Desk Three men from Kosovo and an unidentified minor have been arrested in Venice on suspicion of plotting to blow up the city's celebrated Rialto Bridge, Italian police said Thursday. "That was one the most worrying and alarming remarks we heard," he said at a press conference, revealing that the group had been under surveillance since last year. The suspects were detained in an overnight sweep carried out after it was established that they had undergone "religious radicalisation", according to a police statement. Raids were conducted at 12 locations in the historic centre of the city, which is a magnet for millions of visitors from around the world. D'Ippolito said the suspects appeared to have been studying how to build explosives but did not have the necessary components for making a bomb. "There was a lot of talk about unconditional support to ISIS (the Islamic State group). It wasn't just theory and dogma," d'Ippolito said of the wiretaps. They were also envisioning moving on to "planning and projects", he said. Interior Minister Marco Minniti praised the police for what he called "an important success in our terrorism prevention effort." The Rialto Bridge is the oldest of the four bridges that span Venice's Grand Canal, first built at the end of the 12th century. The current bridge, an arched stone construction which dates from the late 16th century, is one of the best-known landmarks in the floating city and its walkways are frequently packed with tourists. It was the only way of crossing the Grand Canal on foot for the best part of three centuries. According to media reports, the wiretap evidence against the suspects also includes recordings of them celebrating the attack outside Parliament in London last week and discussing their desire to join Islamist fighters in Syria. http://www.worldbulletin.net/world/187101/un-chief-arrives-in-baghdad-to-meet-with-iraq-officials
Amanda Knox found guilty again in Italian murder case Eric J. Lyman, Special for USA TODAY 4:18 p.m. EST January 30, 2014 ROME — An Italian court convicted American Amanda Knox and her ex-Italian boyfriend Thursday for the 2007 death of a British woman. Knox, who was in Seattle while the court verdict was reached Thursday night in Florence, was sentenced to 28 1/2 years, although the verdict is expected to be appealed. Ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito was also sentenced to more than 25 years in connection with the slaying of Meredeth Kercher, a 21-year-old student found stabbed to death in the villa that she and Knox had rented in Perugia. Knox and Sollecito's first two trials produced flip-flop verdicts of guilty,then innocent. The pair were acquitted on appeal in 2011 after spending four years in custody after a court found that important evidence regarding blood and DNA had been handled improperly by investigators. But Italy's supreme court — called the Court of Cassation — dismissed that ruling based on what it said was key evidence that had been omitted during the appeal. A Florence appeals panel was subsequently designated by Italy's supreme court to address issues it raised about the acquittal. Knox and Sollecito are expected to file appeals with the Supreme Court. Legal experts said a further trial could take place if new evidence is made available. Much of the attention has focused on Knox, 26, who has remained in Seattle during the latest trial, citing her fear of "the universal problem of wrongful conviction," according to her statement emailed to the Florence court. Her representatives say she is concentrating on her studies at the University of Washington. She told Italian state TV in an interview earlier this month that she would wait for the verdict at her mother's house "with my heart in my throat." In a statement to the court in closing arguments, Knox's lead attorney, Carlo Dalla Vedova, said he was confident his client would be vindicated. "The knowledge about Amanda is innocence is rock-solid and it allows us to wait for the verdict with complete serenity," Dalla Vedova said. "It is impossible for the court to convict someone because they are 'probably' guilty or 'may be' guilty." Legal experts have said that if Knox is again convicted, Italy may seek her extradition, but probably not before a final judgment has been made. If that happens, it is not clear how that may play out. "Italy would usually refuse to extradite someone convicted of murder to the U.S. based on human rights grounds, because of the death penalty," said Argia Bignami, a Rome-based attorney and frequent commentator on criminal justice issues. "But that is not relevant for an extradition request to Italy from the U.S. "But an extradition request is not automatic," she continued. "That's a further step that must be taken, and it's not at all clear how U.S. authorities would react to such a request or what would happen if they refused." Unlike Knox, Sollecito has said he would be in the courtroom when the verdict is announced. Some Italians said they are bothered by the fact that Knox refused to come back for the trial. "I have no opinion about guilt of innocence of these two, but it doesn't seem fair that one (Knox) stays at home, while Sollecito is brave enough to appear to hear the judgment," said 66-year-old Sabrina Vincente, a retired law firm office manager. "They either committed the crime together or they did not. It's not just to think the punishment would be given to only one half of the couple." Contributing: Gary Strauss in McLean, Va., Associated Press
July 21, 2015 Italy breaches rights over gay marriage - European court Italy violates human rights by failing to offer enough legal protection for same-sex couples, a European court has ruled. Judges said the government had breached the rights of three gay couples by refusing them marriage or any other recognised form of union. Italy is the only major Western European country with no civil partnerships or gay marriage. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has long promised to pass a law on civil unions. By failing to introduce new legislation, his government failed to "provide for the core needs relevant to a couple in a stable committed relationship," the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on Tuesday. The court said Italy was in breach of Article 8 - the right to respect for private and family life - of the European Convention on Human Rights. A small number of municipalities in Italy allow local civil unions, but there is a national ban on same-sex marriage and the benefits of the existing provision are limited. Revellers took part in a Gay Pride parade in Rome in June Hundreds of thousands of people attended a march against gay marriage in June The court said the existing legal protection was "not sufficiently reliable". It noted that 24 out of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe had passed laws in favour of legal recognition, and that the Italian constitutional court had repeatedly called for such protection and recognition. The three couples in the case have been together for years, and all had their requests to be married rejected. The ECHR ruled that the Italian government should pay the six men €5,000 (£3,500; $5,500) each in compensation, as well as expenses. The prime minister has said his government would introduce laws on same-sex civil unions this year. Hundreds of thousands of people marched in Rome in June against the proposed legislation. But opinion polls show an increase in support for gay marriage. It follows a pattern seen in Ireland - a strongly Catholic country like Italy - where voters overwhelmingly backed legalising same-sex marriages in May. Afterwards, a senior Vatican official said Ireland's referendum result was a "defeat for humanity".
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/david-cameron-to-challenge-eus-demand-for-an-extra-17bn-9814996.html David Cameron is heading for a fresh showdown with Brussels after Britain was instructed to contribute another £1.7bn to the European Union budget The surprise demand for extra cash will fuel anger on the Conservative backbenches and will be used by Ukip as ammunition in next month's Rochester and Strood by-election. The €2.1bn surcharge - which is due on December 1 - is being levied because the UK economy has fared more strongly than other member states since 1995. The Prime Minister signalled his determination to challenge the extra fee. He met Mark Rutte, his Dutch counterpart, tonight during an EU leaders' summit in Brussels to discuss tactics. The Netherlands has also been told to make an extra payment to the Union's coffers. A Downing Street source told the Financial Times: “It's not acceptable to just change the fees for previous years and demand them back at a moment's notice.” The source added: “The European Commission was not expecting this money and does not need this money and we will work with other countries similarly affected to do all we can to challenge this.” The surcharge has arisen from changes in the way the EU calculates member states' gross national income. According to preliminary calculations, Germany, France and Poland will all receive rebates. Patrizio Fiorilli, a Commission spokesman, said: “Britain's contribution reflects an increase in wealth, just as in Britain you pay more to the Inland Revenue if your earnings go up.” Mr Cameron yesterday urged his fellow leaders to resist a new request from the European Parliament's demands to increase spending across the Union.