France: Imam jailed over Channel migrant crossings

A French court has sentenced an imam to two years in prison for helping migrants try to cross the English Channel in inflatable boats. The 39-year-old Iranian national was accused of arranging several crossings from northern France to England. A 29-year-old Senegalese man who attended the mosque where the imam preaches also stood trial. He was given nine months in jail and was banned from visiting Nord and Pas-de-Calais for three years. The imam, who has not been named in French media, fainted upon hearing his sentence. The men admitted…

Julian Assange: Swedish judge rejects detention of Wikileaks founder

Media playback is unsupported on your device A Swedish judge has rejected a request to detain Julian Assange in absentia, complicating hopes to extradite him from the UK. Prosecutors said Assange had not co-operated with their investigation into a 2010 allegation of rape against the Wikileaks founder, and so should be remotely held for questioning. This would have allowed them to move forward with steps to extradite him. But the judge rejected the motion, as Assange is already detained in the UK. Detention in absentia is an ordinary procedure in…

Merkel coalition parties hold crisis talks amid SDP turmoil

Germany’s embattled coalition parties were holding separate crisis talks on Monday after the resignation of the leader of the centre-left SPD plunged the government into turmoil. Andrea Nahles said she was stepping down following her party’s poor performance in the European elections. Her resignation has raised concerns that Chancellor Angela’s coalition government could collapse. Mrs Merkel said she respected her « far-reaching » decision. Rolf Mutzenich, deputy chairman of the SPD, put himself forward to serve as the party’s interim leader after an initial meeting on Sunday. Ms Nahles’ long-term…

Germany’s Merkel vows to carry on despite coalition setback

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says her coalition government will continue despite the surprise resignation of the leader of its junior partner, the Social Democratic Party (SPD). Mrs Merkel said she respected the « far-reaching » decision by Andrea Nahles. Ms Nahles resigned after her centre-left party came third, behind Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Greens, in the European elections. She had been criticised by the SPD’s left for remaining in the coalition. Ms Nahles became SPD leader in April 2018, replacing Martin Schulz who also resigned following the…

Venice crash reignites calls for cruise ship ban

Media playback is unsupported on your device A cruise ship crash in Venice has reignited calls for large vessels to be banned from the city’s Giudecca canal. Four people were injured on Sunday when the MSC Opera – a 275m long (900ft) ship – collided with a dock and a small tourist boat after losing control. Critics say such ships pose a conservation risk to the lagoon city, pollute its waters and mar its beauty. Ministers said the crash proved the need for a ban on liners, and that they…

Pope Francis apologises to Roma for Catholic discrimination

Pope Francis has apologised to the Roma people on behalf of the Catholic Church during his visit to Romania. At a meeting with Roma people on the last day of his visit to the country, the pontiff asked forgiveness for « all those times in history when we have discriminated, mistreated or looked askance at you ». Roma people have faced persecution in Europe for centuries. Hundreds of thousands are thought to have been killed during the Holocaust. Nowadays Roma live mainly in southern and central Europe, and make up…

Andrea Nahles: SPD leader and Merkel coalition partner to resign

Andrea Nahles has announced she will resign as leader of Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD). The politician has said she will quit as party leader on Monday, and as head of its parliamentary group on Tuesday. It comes after the centre-left party came third, behind the Greens and Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), in the European elections. She had been heavily criticised by the SPD’s left for remaining in coalition with Ms Merkel’s party. In a statement released by the SPD on Sunday, Ms Nahles said: « The discussions within…

Trump: Prepare for no deal and send in Farage

The UK should walk away from the EU without a deal if it cannot secure the terms it wants, Donald Trump has said. The US president was speaking to the Sunday Times ahead of his arrival in the UK on Monday for a state visit. Mr Trump also said the UK should include Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage in talks with the EU, describing him as « a very smart person ». Mr Trump’s comments came after he said Boris Johnson would be an « excellent » Conservative Party leader.…

Jose Antonio Reyes: Former Arsenal winger dies aged 35

Former Arsenal winger Jose Antonio Reyes has died in a car accident aged 35, Spanish club Sevilla have announced. « We couldn’t offer any worse news », the La Liga club said on Twitter. The Spaniard joined the Gunners from the La Liga side in January 2004 and was part of the ‘Invincibles’ side that went through the 2003-04 season unbeaten, winning the Premier League. He later spent a season on loan at Real Madrid in 2006-07, winning La Liga. After leaving the Gunners in 2007 he won the Europa…

Hungary boat crash: Strong currents hamper rescue efforts

Media playback is unsupported on your device Rapid river currents are hindering rescue efforts in the Hungarian capital Budapest days after a tour boat sank. At least seven people died and more than 20 remain missing after a large vessel collided with the Hableany, or Mermaid, near the the Margit (Margaret) Bridge on the Danube on Wednesday. Relatives of South Korean victims have been arriving in Hungary. South Korea’s foreign minister has vowed not to give up the search for more survivors. Kang Kyung-wha, speaking at a press conference with…

Morocco suspect admits killing Scandinavian hiker

The suspected leader of a jihadist cell has told a Moroccan court that he beheaded one of two Scandinavian hikers murdered in the High Atlas mountains. Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, from Denmark, and Maren Ueland, 28, from Norway, were found beheaded in an isolated area in December. Abdessamad Ejjoud, a 25-year-old street vendor, told the court: « I beheaded one of them… I regret it. » He and 23 other alleged Islamists are on trial in Salé, near Rabat. Three of them – Ejjoud, Younes Ouaziyad, 27, and Rachid Afatti,…

Hungary boat capsizes: Witnesses describe horror on Danube

Media playback is unsupported on your device Witnesses have described the horrifying moment a tour boat sank on the Danube river after colliding with another vessel, killing at least seven people. Strong currents on the Danube in Budapest have hampered the search for 21 people still missing, but hopes have faded that anyone will be found alive. The boat carrying South Korean tourists sank seven seconds after the collision in the heart of Hungary’s capital city. A criminal investigation has been launched into Wednesday’s accident. Seven people rescued alive were…

Austria gets first woman chancellor after video scandal

Austria has named a top lawyer, Brigitte Bierlein, to be interim chancellor – the first woman to occupy the post – ahead of early elections. She replaces Sebastian Kurz, whose government lost a confidence vote in parliament over a video sting scandal. The scandal involved Mr Kurz’s far-right ally Heinz-Christian Strache, secretly filmed offering public contracts to a woman posing as a Russian oligarch’s niece. A September early election is expected. The appointment of Ms Bierlein, 69, was announced by President Alexander Van der Bellen. The choice was agreed with…

Hungary: Three dead after boat capsizes on the Danube

Three people have died and 16 are missing after a boat capsized on the Danube river in Hungary, according to reports in state media. Thirty four people, mostly tourists from Asia, were aboard the cruise boat when it turned over in the capital Budapest, the MTI news agency said. The boat was reportedly hit by another vessel just after 10 pm while it was moored near the parliament building. The river had been flooding due to a rainstorm. The boat that sank was identified as the « Hableany », or…

Niki Lauda: F1 stars attend Mass for late racing legend in Austria

Thousands of people, including Formula 1 stars, are paying their last respects to racing legend Niki Lauda, whose body is lying in state in Vienna, Austria. His coffin, topped with his red crash helmet, was carried into St Stephen’s cathedral earlier on Wednesday. A Mass will be held later, followed by a private funeral. Lauda died last week aged 70 in Switzerland, where he was treated for kidney problems. The Austrian driver won Formula 1 championship in 1975, 1977 and 1984. He almost died following a crash in the 1976…

Europe’s leaders launch fight for EU top jobs in Brussels

EU leaders are heading to Brussels to assess the post-election political landscape and consider rival candidates for the EU’s top jobs. The haggling over jobs – including a replacement for EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker – is likely to last several months. The UK is involved in the discussions. For the first time the big centrist blocs no longer have a majority. The European Parliament elections boosted nationalists, the Greens and liberals. It leaves the EU more fragmented, so finding consensus may be harder than in the past. The talks…

Match-fixing in football: Spanish police make arrests in top two divisions

Police in Spain have made a number of arrests as part of an investigation into match-fixing. Current and former players as well as club executives – reportedly from the country’s top two divisions – have been detained. « The police action follows complaints about possible match-fixing in a May 2018 match from La Liga to the Spanish authorities, » said a La Liga spokesman. La Liga has reported a further eight possible match-fixing cases to police. « During the 2018/19 season La Liga has filed eight complaints with the general…

Sebastian Kurz, Austrian chancellor, ousted by MPs after video row

Media playback is unsupported on your device Austria’s parliament has removed Chancellor Sebastian Kurz from office in a special parliamentary session. His previous coalition ally, the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ), and the opposition Social Democrats (SPÖ) on Monday backed the no-confidence motion. The FPÖ had become embroiled in a political scandal caused by a secret video, which ended the coalition. Austria’s president named Vice-Chancellor Hartwig Löger as the interim leader after the no-confidence vote. In a televised address, President Alexander Van der Bellen said the constitution mandated all offices must…

UK minister warns against no-deal Brexit ‘suicide’

Tory leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt has warned that his party will be committing « political suicide » if it tries to push through a no-deal Brexit. The foreign secretary is one of 10 people seeking to replace Theresa May. Michael Gove has begun his pitch by pledging to allow EU nationals in the UK at the time of the referendum to apply for citizenship free of charge. The Brexit-supporting environment secretary will make an « open and generous » offer, sources said. A Tory rival, International Development Secretary Rory Stewart,…

European elections 2019: Power blocs lose grip on Parliament

The big centre-right and centre-left blocs in the European Parliament have lost their combined majority in the European Parliament amid an increase in support for liberals, Greens and nationalists. The centre-right European People’s Party remains the largest bloc, and is expected to form a pro-EU coalition. The Liberals and Greens had a good night, while nationalists were set for victory in Italy and France. Turnout was the highest for 20 years. Populists gained ground in some countries but fell short of the very significant gains some had predicted. In the…

European elections 2019: What we know so far

Latest results indicate a decline in support for centre-right and centre-left parties in the European elections, with some of the votes going to green, liberal and far-right parties instead. Turnout was higher than expected, with some observers suggesting this was due to more young people voting. In 2014 the centre-right and centre-left had more than half the seats in the European Parliament – but this is set to change. Full results are expected overnight. 1. Centre falls away In Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democrats got 28% of the…

French IS accused sentenced to death in Iraq

Three French men have been sentenced to death by an Iraqi court after being found guilty of joining the Islamic State (IS) militant group. The men – named as Kevin Gonot, Leonard Lopez and Salim Machou by news agency AFP – have 30 days to appeal. They were among 12 French citizens who were transferred to Iraq from Syria for trial in February. French officials are yet to react to the news of the sentence, handed down on Sunday. How do countries deal with IS returnees? How many IS foreign…

German Jews warned not to wear kippahs after rise in anti-Semitism

The German government’s anti-Semitism commissioner has urged Jews to avoid wearing skullcaps in public. Felix Klein warned Jews against donning kippahs in parts of the country, following a rise in anti-Semitism. Mr Klein said his opinion on the matter had « changed compared with what it used to be ». « I cannot recommend to Jews that they wear the skullcap at all times everywhere in Germany, » he told the Funke newspaper group. A sharp increase was recorded last year by the German government last year in the number…

Russia ordered to release Ukraine sailors

Media playback is unsupported on your device An international tribunal has ordered Russia to « immediately » release 24 Ukrainian sailors and three naval ships it seized off Crimea in November. Moscow says the sailors violated its maritime border near the peninsula which it seized from Ukraine in 2014. But the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea sided with Ukraine in the dispute, which has stoked tensions between the nations. Russia, however, refuses to recognise the jurisdiction of the body. It boycotted the hearings and analysts say the…

Divorce referendum: Ireland votes to liberalise laws

People in the Republic of Ireland have voted overwhelmingly in favour of liberalising divorce laws, in a referendum held on Saturday. The constitution currently states that spouses must be separated for four of the previous five years to divorce. But that clause will now be removed, allowing the Oireachtas (Irish parliament) to decide a new separation period before divorce is allowed. Divorce was legalised in Ireland in 1995. The country voted in the 1995 referendum by a margin of just 50.3%. In Friday’s poll, with two of 31 constituencies still…

Austria scandal: Lawyer says he was part of Ibiza sting

Media playback is unsupported on your device A Vienna lawyer says he was involved in the video sting that brought down far-right leader Heinz-Christian Strache. The lawyer – named by Germany’s Bild newspaper as Ramin Mirfakhrai – said it was a « civil society-driven project in which investigative-journalistic approaches were taken ». However the statement does not reveal who was ultimately behind the sting operation, or who paid for it. The scandal has led to the collapse of Austria’s coalition government. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is facing a no-confidence vote in…

France’s Macron urges Brexit clarity after May resignation

EU leaders have praised Theresa May’s « courage » and « determination », but French President Emmanuel Macron also urged « swift clarification » on Brexit. Mr Macron said Mrs May had done « courageous work » on Brexit, in his response to her resignation statement. But he stressed the need to « maintain the smooth functioning of the EU, which requires swift clarification ». Earlier, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU had « failed » over the UK’s 2016 vote to exit the EU. « Here we…

Paul Whelan: Ex-US marine alleges abuse in Russia spy case

A former US marine imprisoned in Russia on suspicion of spying has complained of « abuses and harassment » and says he is a « victim of political kidnap ». Mr Whelan – a citizen of the US, UK, Canada and Ireland – was arrested in late December, accused of espionage. The 48-year-old denies the charges and told a court on Friday that he had been subjected to threats and abuse by a security service investigator. The comments came as his pre-trial custody was extended until 29 August. Mr Whelan…

UK set for new PM as Theresa May quits

Media playback is unsupported on your device Theresa May has said she will quit as Conservative leader on 7 June, paving the way for a contest to decide a new prime minister. In an emotional statement, she said she had done her best to deliver Brexit and it was a matter of « deep regret » that she had been unable to do so. Being prime minister had been the « honour of my life », she said. Mrs May said she would continue to serve as PM while a…

European elections 2019: Dutch Labour celebrate after vote

The Dutch centre-left Labour party is toasting an « unexpected comeback » in European elections held on Thursday. The results will not come out until late Sunday, in common with the rest of the EU, but the Dutch Labour party are celebrating what they claim as victory based on exit polls they have seen. These exit polls are not necessarily an accurate indication of the result. Under UK law, the BBC is barred from publishing exit polls from the European Parliament elections. UK voters also went to the polls on…