Breaking news | March 18

Top marks in gun competency tests: Oscar Pistorius. Photo: lwpkommunikacio/flickr



Pistorius trial enters third week

As Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial enters its third week, his “great love and enthusiasm” for guns was cited in a testimony by firearms expert Sean Rens.  Pistorius is on trial for the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius agrees he shot Steenkamp through a closed toilet door, but argues it was a tragic accident after he mistook her for an intruder in his home. Prosecutors say he killed her intentionally after an argument.

The defence is depicting Mr Pistorius as an irresponsible, trigger-happy gun owner. Rens, manager of a firearms training academy south of Johannesburg, had been asked by Pistorius to acquire seven guns to add to his collection. The invoice was almost fully paid at the time of Steenkamp’s death, but the order was later cancelled. South African law allows non collectors to own only four firearms.

According to Rens, Pistorius had once mistaken the sound of a washing machine for an intruder and had gone into full combat mode, drawing his gun and checking rooms. The sporting celebrity had tweeted in November 2012: “Nothing like getting home to hear the washing machine on and thinking its an intruder to go into full combat recon mode into the pantry!” The post was later deleted.

Pistorius had achieved top marks in gun competency tests, which included questions about when a home owner is legally allowed to shoot intruders. Asked if he could fire at burglars stealing a television from his house, Pistorius wrote: “No. Life is not in danger.” The defence argued Pistorius was aware of South African firearms and self-defence laws that state an intruder may not be shot unless a life is threatened.

The trial is scheduled to run for another week but is expected to be extended, with a number of witnesses yet to be called. If convicted of murder, Pistorius will likely receive a life sentence, with a minimum term of 25 years.

Jagger’s girlfriend commits suicide

Rolling Stone Mick Jagger is “completely shocked and devastated” after it was announced that his long term girlfriend L’Wren Scott was found hanged in her New York apartment.

The death of 47-year old-fashion designer, model and girlfriend to Mick Jagger for more than a decade, is being investigated by police. The case is being treated as an apparent suicide. Sources in the US said there was no note left.

It was reported that Scott was found dead at 10am local time in New York on Monday by her assistant, after she received a text message from Scott asking her to come to her apartment.

The Daily Mail reported that Scott was “embarrassed” by the unsuccessful development of her fashion business, and that Scott owed creditors approximately $6 million.

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Police raid gangs in Melbourne

A police raid conducted in Melbourne’s northern and western suburbs has resulted in the arrest of at least 27 people believed to be linked to Middle-Eastern crime gangs. Police seized a multiple array of weapons, drugs, tobacco and stolen goods after searching 45 addresses, reported SBS News.

According to Assistant Commissioner Steve Fontana, $55,000 in cash, a large amount of ammunition, a large quantity of fireworks and firearms and 100kg of dried cannabis, as well as 35,000 tobacco plants were seized by police forces in their raids targeting the Middle Eastern crime syndicate.

The raids were executed after the Santiago Taskforce issued warrants after investigating the suspected gang. The taskforce was set up in 2008 with the intention to investigate organised crime and non-fatal shootings.

Despite having to deploy extra police back up, specifically the special operations group, the operation resulted in zero casualties or injuries. Assistant Commissioner Fontana told the ABC: “We’re very happy that this operation has run relatively smoothly. No-one has been injured which is a real bonus when you’re looking at such a high risk group of individuals that we were targeting.”

MH370: the mystery continues

Investigations into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on the March 8 are still underway. 

Aboard the plane were 239 passengers and crew, and pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah and co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid. There are many possible explanations as to what could have happened to the jetliner, but there is not enough evidence to confirm that any of these theories are correct.

Investigators are currently leaning towards the possibility the plane was hijacked. Co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid was last to speak from the cockpit. It is said that only someone with experience with aircraft could disable the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACAR) which shares data with airline officials.

There have also been suggestions that either the pilot or co-pilot committed suicide. Pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah’s family has defended him in a YouTube video, saying he is a “loving, generous and reflective person”.

Investigations continue.

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