Egypt Independent: World-Main news en Ex-IMF chief Rodrigo Rato gets 4.5 years in jail for embezzlement <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Former IMF chief Rodrigo Rato was handed a jail sentence of four years and six months for misusing funds when he was the boss of two Spanish banks<br /><br />Spain&#39;s National Court, which deals with corruption and financial crime cases, said he had been found guilty of &quot;embezzlement&quot; when he headed up Caja Madrid and Bankia, at a time when both groups were having difficulties.<br /><br />Rato, who is also a former Spanish economy minister, was on trial with 64 other former executives and board members at both banks accused of misusing 12 million euros ($12.7 million) between 2003 and 2012 -- sometimes splashing out at the height of Spain&#39;s economic crisis.<br /><br />They were accused of having paid for personal expenses with credit cards put at their disposal by both Caja Madrid and Bankia, without ever justifying them or declaring them to tax authorities.<br /><br />According to the indictment, Rato maintained the &quot;corrupt system&quot; established by his predecessor Miguel Blesa when he took the reins of Caja Madrid in 2010.<br /><br />He then replicated the system when he took charge of Bankia, a group born in 2011 out of the merger of Caja Madrid with six other savings banks, prosecutors said.<br /><br />Blesa was sentenced to six years in jail.<br /><br />Rato had always denied any wrongdoing and said the credit cards were for discretionary spending as part of executives&#39; pay deal.<br />&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 14:41:00 +0000 AFP 2476629 at sites/default/files/photo/2017/02/23/507556/rato.jpg UK asylum claims drop despite rising refugee crisis <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>The number of people applying for asylum in Britain in 2016 was just over 38,500, falling for the first time in six years, official&nbsp;data&nbsp;showed on Thursday.</p><p>But refugee advocates said the drop was no cause for celebration, with ever more people fleeing their homes in an increasingly dangerous world.</p><p>Britain received a total of 38,517 asylum applications last year, down from 39,968 in 2015, in the first year-on-year drop since 2010, before the Syria crisis triggered the biggest migration crisis since World War Two.</p><p>&quot;If the fall in the number of people seeking refuge in Britain was because the world had become a safer, more peaceful place then we&#39;d have cause to celebrate,&quot; said Lisa Doyle, head of advocacy at the Refugee Council.</p><p>&quot;However this is plainly not true. The situation globally has become ever more dangerous and more and more people have been forced to flee from their homes,&quot; she said in a statement.</p><p>The greatest number of claims came from Iran (4,792), followed by Pakistan (3,717), Iraq (3,651), Afghanistan (3,094) and Bangladesh (2,234), according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).</p><p>Asylum claims made by Syrians, who chalked up the ninth highest application rate, dropped to 1,588 from 2,794 in 2015.</p><p>Unaccompanied child migrants seeking asylum in Britain - about one in ten claimants - also fell slightly to 3,175, according to new&nbsp;Home&nbsp;Office (interior ministry) data.</p><p>The figures were released amid growing pressure from campaigners for the government to ensure children&#39;s safe passage to Britain after it announced plans to end a scheme to take in lone child migrants stranded in Europe.</p><p>&quot;Shamefully, the UK government&#39;s response to this global refugee crisis has been to deliberately cut off refugees&#39; escape routes and offer safe haven to fewer and fewer people,&quot; said Doyle. &quot;If Britain is truly a global leader, then the government must step forward and ensure we do our bit to help.&quot;</p><p>Britain had the sixth highest number of asylum claims in the European Union in 2016, the ONS said.</p><p>The three countries with the most applications, Germany (692,000), Italy (117,000) and France (83,000), accounted for about 75 per cent of all the EU claims, the Home Office said.</p><p>The number of asylum applications made in the EU also dropped in 2016, falling to 1,189,000 from 1,319,000 in 2015.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>(Reporting by Lin Taylor @linnytayls, Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian issues, conflicts, global land and property rights, modern slavery and human trafficking, women&#39;s rights, climate change and resilience. Visit&nbsp;<a href=""></a>&nbsp;to see more stories)</em></p> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 14:14:00 +0000 Reuters 2476627 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/08/04/499612/asylum_seekers_from_various_countries_wait_to_be_registered_inside_a_hall_used_by_german_police_as_a_makeshift_reception_centre_for_migrants.jpg Muslims raise over US$91,000 for vandalized Jewish cemetery in Missouri <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Muslim Americans have helped raise more than US$91,000 to repair vandalized headstones at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri, according to an online fundraising page, amid attacks and threats against Jewish institutions.</p><p>US Vice President Mike Pence visited the graveyard on Wednesday and told clean-up volunteers, state officials and reporters that there was no place in America for hatred, violence, anti-Semitism or acts of prejudice.</p><p>&quot;I must tell you the people of Missouri are inspiring the nation by your love and care of this place, for the Jewish community in Missouri and I want to thank you for that inspiration,&quot; Pence said.</p><p>About 170 headstones were toppled or damaged at the century-old Chesed Shel Emeth Society cemetery over the weekend, according to cemetery staff.</p><p>Some Jewish groups described the vandalism and threats as the latest evidence that anti-Semitic groups have been emboldened by the election of Donald Trump as US president. His campaign last year drew the support of white nationalists and right-wing groups, despite his disavowals of them.</p><p>&quot;Muslim Americans stand in solidarity with the Jewish-American community to condemn this horrific act of desecration,&quot; the fundraisers said on their website.</p><p>More than 3,000 people had donated US$91,583 by late Wednesday afternoon. Cemetery staff declined comment on the fundraising.</p><p>Jewish community centers across the United States have reported a surge in bomb threats, all of which have so far proved to be hoaxes.</p><p>On Wednesday the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish advocacy group, said its national headquarters in New York City received an anonymous bomb threat but was later given the all clear.</p><p>New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered state police to investigate and work with federal and local law enforcement. In a statement, Cuomo said the threats were &quot;now a national crisis&quot; because of their regularity.</p><p>Trump condemned the previous threats as anti-Semitism for the first time on Tuesday after repeatedly declining to do so when asked by journalists last week. Some Jewish organizations have criticized his approach.</p><p>The fundraising effort was launched by Linda Sarsour, a liberal political activist, and Tarek el-Messidi, the founding director of Celebrate Mercy, a non-profit organization that teaches the public about Mohammad, the founder of Islam.</p><p>Sarsour was a supporter of US Senator Bernie Sanders in his bid to become the Democratic Party&#39;s presidential candidate, and was one of the organizers of the Women&#39;s March on Washington on January 21, the day after Trump&#39;s inauguration.</p> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 10:17:00 +0000 Reuters 2476599 at sites/default/files/photo/2017/02/23/507555/jewish_cemetary.jpg British suicide bomber in Iraq had won compensation for Guantanamo stay <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>An Islamic State suicide bomber from Britain who blew himself up in an attack on Iraqi forces this week had been given compensation for his detention in the Guantanamo Bay military prison, Western security sources said on Wednesday.</p><p>Islamic State militants said Abu-Zakariya al-Britani, a British citizen who was originally known as Ronald Fiddler and then cast himself as Jamal Udeen al-Harith, detonated a car bomb at an Iraqi army base southwest of Mosul this week.</p><p>The militants also published a photograph of the smiling bomber surrounded by wires in the seat of what appeared to be the car in which he blew himself up.</p><p>The Islamic State statements could not be independently verified by Reuters but three Western security sources said it was highly likely that Britani was the bomber and now dead.</p><p>Britain made a civil damages settlement with British former Guantanamo Bay inmates in 2010 but did not disclose the size of the payouts, citing confidentiality agreements, then-Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke told parliament at the time.</p><p>The Daily Mail reported that Britani had been awarded US$1.25 million by the British government after claiming British agents knew or were complicit in his alleged mistreatment.</p><p>Originally from the northern English city of Manchester, he converted to Islam in his 20s. He was detained in Afghanistan by US special forces and taken to Guantanamo in 2002.</p><p>He was released in 2004 after the government of then prime minister Tony Blair lobbied for his release. He later traveled to Syria to fight with the Islamic State group.</p><p>Britain&#39;s foreign ministry declined to comment on the death of Britani but said it had advised for some time against all travel to Syria and large parts of Iraq.</p> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 12:57:00 +0000 Reuters 2476579 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/02/07/499612/iraqi_police_clear_pedestrians_off_a_street_after_a_suicide_bomber_targeted_a_restaurant.jpg