Egypt Independent: World-Main news en Germanwings offers emotional damage payments to crash victims' families <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Germanwings is offering 25,000 euros (US$27,958) compensation payments to close relatives of those killed in the March 24 plane crash for their pain and suffering, it said on Tuesday.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Evidence shows co-pilot Andreas Lubitz locked the captain out of the cockpit of Germanwings flight 4U9525 from Barcelona to Duesseldorf and deliberately steered the plane into a remote mountainside, killing all 150 onboard.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The 25,000 euros payouts are on top of 50,000 euros already paid as immediate financial assistance to relatives. German law does not usually provide for a separate award for pain and suffering, unlike in the United States.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Germanwings, a unit of Lufthansa, said on Tuesday it wished to treat everyone fairly, although one lawyer said the offer was not sufficient.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The damages payout for emotional distress will be made to parents, widowed spouses, partners and children of the victims and does not require proof of damages incurred to be presented in order for the payout to be made, it said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Relatives living in Germany may also claim an additional 10,000 euros each as compensation for any health problems without needing to offer formal proof, the company said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Families of the victims still have the right to make further claims for other financial costs, such as burial costs or lost pensions, although this will require proof of damages incurred.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A lawyer representing some of the German victims, Elmar Giemulla, described the offer as &quot;completely inadequate&quot;, noting pilots&#39; strikes last year had cost Lufthansa around 200 million euros while the offer of 25,000 euros for the relatives would cost the airline around 7.5 million.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Lufthansa said in response it had looked at similar cases and its offer went beyond those.</div> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 16:00:00 +0000 Reuters 2453383 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/06/30/484151/germanwings.jpg France pursues terrorism charge against beheading suspect <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>A man who beheaded his boss, pinned the head on a fence and tried to blow up an industrial gas plant will be investigated on terrorism charges, France&#39;s chief public prosecutor said on Tuesday, dismissing the suspect&#39;s claim that his act was not motivated by connections with Islamist militants.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Prosecutor Francois Molins announced the news at the end of a 96-hour custody period following the arrest of Yassin Salhi, 35, at the scene of the crime near the southern city of Lyon.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The attack last Friday came five months after 17 people were killed in Paris by Islamist militants who targeted the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical journal and a Jewish shop.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Molins said 120 investigators had spent four days combing through phone messages and quizzing Salhi, who worked as a delivery man, and his relatives. They discovered he had sent two photos of his act to a Islamist militant contact in Syria. One showed the murdered man, and the other was a selfie with the victim.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The severed head of Salhi&#39;s boss was found chained to a fence, next to flags bearing professions of the Muslim faith, at the site of the U.S-based gas and chemicals company Air Products. Salhi was captured there after allegedly trying to blow up gas canisters.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A lawyer for Salhi told BFM TV that Salhi was &quot;in no way a militant&quot;, a line of defence his client pursued during initial questioning but which Molins dismissed.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The prosecutor detailed a chilling story, pieced together on the basis of the weekend&#39;s questioning, of a suspect he said had left home early on Friday with a long-bladed knife, hit his boss on the head with a car jack, then strangled him and driven to the gas plant. On the way, he allegedly stopped to sever the head, which he pinned to the factory fence.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Salhi, who initially refused to talk, argued that his act was purely motivated by personal problems, namely a quarrel with his wife and his boss, said Molins. But he said there was considerable evidence to support the charge that it was also a terrorist act: &quot;One doesn&#39;t rule out the other.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Molins revealed that Salhi&#39;s sister said during questioning that he had spent a year in Syria in 2009, and on his return invested time in both Koranic schooling and hardcore combat sports.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Yassin Salhi beheaded his victim and pinned his head on a fence to seek maximum publicity for his act,&quot; said Molins. He said this was a form of execution advocated by militants like Islamic State, which controls large swathes of Syria and Iraq.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Investigators had also unearthed evidence of regular contact between Salhi and Islamist extremists, said Molins.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Autopsy results were still pending to establish whether Salhi&#39;s boss, 54-year-old Herve Cornara, died before or as a result of the beheading, he added.</div> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 15:42:00 +0000 Reuters 2453379 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/06/29/484151/beheading.jpg Indonesian military plane crashes in northern city, killing at least 30 <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>At least 30 people were killed when a military transport plane crashed into a residential area two minutes after take-off in northern Indonesia on Tuesday, putting a fresh spotlight on the country&#39;s woeful air safety record.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The C-130 Hercules aircraft, which first went into service more than 50 years ago, plunged into houses and a hotel in a built-up area of the Sumatra city of Medan, killing passengers on board and people on the ground.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The latest information we have is that 30 have died,&quot; Hisar Turnip of the Basarnas search and rescue agency told Reuters. &quot;That&#39;s the latest information, the number could go up.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Military spokesman Fuad Basya said that 12 personnel, including the pilot, had been aboard the plane, which witnesses said appeared to explode shortly before it hit the ground.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Black smoke billowed from the crash site and crowds of people milled around the wreckage, hampering emergency services rushing to the scene.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Hercules transport plane was on its way from an air force base in Medan to the remote Natuna islands. Media said the pilot had asked to return because of technical problems.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;It passed overhead a few times, really low,&quot; said Elfrida Efi, a receptionist at the Golden Eleven Hotel.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;There was fire and black smoke. The third time it came by it crashed into the roof of the hotel and exploded straight away,&quot; she told Reuters by telephone.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Pressure to modernize</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>According to the Aviation Safety Network, there have been 10 fatal crashes involving Indonesian military or police aircraft over the last decade. The accidents put under a spotlight the safety record of Indonesia&#39;s aviation and its ageing aircraft.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>AirAsia flight QZ8501 crashed less than halfway into a two-hour flight from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singapore last December. All 162 people on board the Airbus A320 were killed.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;It&#39;s too early to say what caused today&#39;s disaster, but it will again raise concerns about air safety in Indonesia, especially since it comes just half a year after the crash of QZ8501,&quot; said Greg Waldron, Asia Managing Editor at Flightglobal, an aviation industry data and news service.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Indonesian air force has now lost four C-130s, reducing its transport reach in an archipelagic country that stretches more than 5,000 km from its western to eastern tips.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Although Indonesia accounted for nearly one-fifth of defence spending by Southeast Asian countries last year, as a percentage of GDP it was the lowest in the region at 0.8 percent, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute data.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>President Joko Widodo, who took office last year, has said he plans to double military spending to US$15 billion by 2020.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>However, the transport plane accident could bring pressure on the president to spend more on modernising the air force.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;This incident shows us that we must renew our aircraft and our military equipment,&quot; Pramono Anung, a lawmaker and member of the parliamentary commission overseeing defence, told Reuters.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The Hercules is already old, many of our other (weapons) systems are already old. As parliament we will support giving more funding to the military so that they can upgrade.&quot;</div> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 10:31:00 +0000 Reuters 2453336 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/06/30/501271/indo.jpg EU in last-ditch bid to Greece, urges "yes" vote to bailout <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>The head of the European Commission made a last-minute offer to try to persuade Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to accept a bailout deal he has rejected before a referendum on Sunday which EU partners say will be a choice of whether to stay in the euro.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>There was no official response from the leftwing government, elected in January on a promise to end austerity, but Greek daily Kathimerini reported that Tsipras had told Brussels he was considering the move.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A Greek official told Reuters: &quot;There has been a lot of movement in the last few hours, in the direction of a new proposal.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>After months of wrangling and acrimony, the growing possibility that Athens could be forced out of the single currency brought into sharp focus the chaos that could be unleashed in Greece as well as the danger that would arise for the stability of the euro.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;What would happen if Greece came out of the euro? There would be a negative message that euro membership is reversible,&quot; said Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who a week ago declared that he did not fear contagion from Greece.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;People may think that if one country can leave the euro, others could do so in the future. I think that is the most serious problem that could arise.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>EU and Greek government sources said Jean-Claude Juncker had offered to convene an emergency meeting of euro zone finance ministers on Tuesday to approve an aid payment to prevent Athens defaulting, if Tsipras sent a written acceptance of the terms.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He also dangled the prospect of a negotiation on debt rescheduling later this year if Athens said &quot;yes&quot;.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The last-ditch bid from Brussels came as uncertainty built ahead of Sunday&#39;s referendum, with a string of European leaders warning that it would effectively be a choice between remaining in the euro or reverting to the drachma.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Opinion polls show Greeks in favour of holding on to the euro but a rally of tens of thousands of anti-austerity protestors in Athens on Monday highlighted the defiance many in Greece feel about being pushed into a corner by the lenders.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Tsipras broke off negotiations with the Commission, the IMF and the European Central Bank and announced early on Saturday a referendum on the bailout terms next Sunday, giving voters just one week to debate the fundamental issues at stake.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Under Juncker&#39;s offer, Tsipras would have to send a written acceptance by Tuesday of the terms published by the EU executive on Sunday and agree to campaign in favour of the bailout in the planned July 5 referendum.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>European Union leaders hammered home the message that the real choice facing Greeks is whether to stay in the euro zone or return to the drachma, even though the EU has no legal way of forcing a member state to leave the single currency.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>French Finance Minister Michel Sapin, who has been most sympathetic to Athens in the negotiations, said in a television interview that negotiations could continue if Greeks voted &quot;Yes&quot; on Sunday, but added: &quot;With a &#39;no&#39;, we go into an unknown territory.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi warned against turning the referendum into a personality contest between Tsipras and Juncker or German Chancellor Angela Merkel.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;This is not a referendum on European leaders. This is a run-off vote: euro or drachma,&quot; Renzi told the Italian business daily Il Sole 24 Ore.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The Greeks do not have to say whether they love their prime minister or the head of the European Commission more. They have to say whether they want to stay in the single currency.&quot; &nbsp; &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Default</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>As the hours ticked by before the bailout officially expires later on Tuesday, Greek officials have said the government will not make a 1.6 billion euro debt repayment to the IMF which also falls due on the same day.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>If that does not happen, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde will immediately report to the global lender&#39;s board at close of business, Washington time, that Greece is &quot;in arrears&quot; - the official euphemism for default.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It will be the first time in the history of the IMF that an advanced economy has defaulted on a loan from the world&#39;s financial backstop, putting Athens in the same bracket as Zimbabwe, Sudan and Cuba.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Greece has received nearly 240 billion euros in two EU/IMF bailouts since 2010. Leftist Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis argues that Athens has had no benefit from the money, which largely went to repay German and French banks which had imprudently lent large sums to successive Greek governments.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Greek economy has shrunk by more than 25 percent since 2009 and unemployment has soared to over 25 percent, including more than 50 percent of young job seekers.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>While the Tsipras government blames German-driven austerity for this economic disaster, EU officials note that other euro zone countries such as Ireland, Portugal and Spain that received bailouts for the state or banks have carried out similar reforms and returned to economic growth, even if unemployment remains high.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Credit ratings agency Standard &amp; Poor&#39;s lowered its sovereign rating on Greece to &#39;CCC minus&#39; from &#39;CCC&#39; late on Monday, saying the probability of Athens exiting the eurozone was now about 50 percent.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Tsipras put his own position on the line in a television interview on Monday evening, saying he would respect the result of the referendum vote but would not lead a government to administer &quot;austerity in perpetuity&quot;.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;If the Greek people want to have a humiliated prime minister, there are a lot of them out there. It won&#39;t be me,&quot; he said in an interview on Greek state television as one of the biggest rallies seen in Athens in years was taking place.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The show of defiance came at the end of a day that started with stunned Greeks waking up to shuttered banks, long supermarket lines and overwhelming uncertainty over their future in the euro zone.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Juncker&#39;s final offer incorporated a proposal from Greece to set value-added tax rates on hotels at 13 percent, rather than the 23 percent in the lenders&#39; original plan. It was not immediately clear whether there would be any additional changes.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>If the offer were accepted, the euro zone finance ministers could adopt a statement saying that a 2012 pledge to consider stretching out loan maturities, lowering interest rates and extending an interest payment moratorium on euro zone loans to Greece would be implemented in October.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The offer would be conditional on a letter to Juncker, Eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande arriving in time to arrange an emergency meeting of the Eurogroup on Tuesday.</div> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 10:22:00 +0000 Reuters 2453334 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/06/07/501010/greece_06-07-15.jpg