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9 RP militants may face death in Malaysia

Tuesday, 26 July 2016 00:00 Published in Nation

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — A Malaysian court has convicted three locals and 14 Filipinos of terror-related offenses, some punishable by death, following an armed incursion that left scores dead and paralyzed a remote corner of Borneo for weeks, a lawyer said yesterday.
The 2013 siege, inspired by a self-proclaimed Filipino sultan who tried to resurrect long-dormant land claims, saw clashes between Malaysian forces and some 200 Filipino militants who had arrived by boat in the eastern state of Sabah on Borneo island.
The crisis embarrassed both Manila and Kuala Lumpur, shining a spotlight on the latter’s porous border and locals’ complaints of rampant illegal immigration and lawlessness.
“Following today’s high court conviction, nine of the Filipinos face an option of death sentence or life in prison. The court will make a decision on Tuesday,” N. Sivananthan, counsel for the Filipino militants, told AFP.
“I hope the nine will be spared the death sentence,” he added.
Sivananthan said among those found guilty was 53-year-old Amir Bahar Hushin Kiram, the son of the late self-styled Sulu sultan Esmail Kiram.
Esmail claimed to be the heir to the Islamic sultanate of Sulu, which once controlled parts of the southern Philippines and part of Borneo.
A total of 29 people — 26 Filipinos and three Malaysians — went on trial, with 12 Filipinos acquitted.
The others were convicted of offences ranging from “harbouring persons committing terrorist acts” to “waging of war” against Malaysia’s king.
Nine Filipinos convicted of waging war face life imprisonment or death.
Sivananthan said the three Malaysians and five remaining Filipinos face up to 30 years in prison.
Clashes between the gunmen and Malaysian forces, who launched a ground and air attack on their hideout, led to at least 70 deaths, mostly of militants. 


Russia decision divides sporting world

Tuesday, 26 July 2016 00:00 Published in Sports


LAUSANNE, Switzerland — The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision not to ban Russia from the Rio Games over state-run doping left international sports leaders divided on Monday, less than two weeks before the opening ceremony.

Seeking to justify Sunday’s decision, IOC president Thomas Bach said an outright ban would trample the rights of clean Russian athletes who are hoping to compete at the upcoming Games.
Individual sports federations will have primary responsibility for determining every Russian athlete’s eligibility for Rio, the IOC executive said.
The World Anti-Doping Agency last week called for Russia to be banned after detailing how Russia’s sports ministry had directed a massive cheating program with help from the FSB state intelligence agency.
United States anti-doping chief Travis Tygart — one of many who urged a total ban against Russia — accused the IOC of creating “a confusing mess” with its decision.
“In response to the most important moment for clean athletes and the integrity of the Olympic Games, the IOC has refused to take decisive leadership,” the USADA boss said in a statement.
Drug Free Sport New Zealand chief executive Graeme Steel also criticized the IOC’s decision to “pass the hot potato to international federations.”
“The fight against doping in sport requires strong international leadership, none more so in this case, where the integrity of an entire Olympic and Paralympic Games is at stake,” added Australian Sports Minister Sussan Ley.
WADA officials said they were “disappointed” with the IOC’s decision, which director general Olivier Niggli said would “inevitably lead to a lack of harmonization, potential challenges and lesser protection for clean athletes.”
The cheating affected 30 sports, including at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and other major events, WADA said, in revelations that widened the worst drug scandal in Olympic history.
Russia’s entire track and field squad has already been barred from Rio following a similar WADA report on “state-supported” doping in that sport.
Fourteen national anti-doping agencies — including the US, Germany and Japan — as well as several national Olympic committees had demanded Russia’s exclusion from Rio.
But others, including the global governing body for swimming FINA, opposed a blanket ban, as did countries such as Italy and others closer to Russia.
Pat Hickey, president of the European Olympic Committees, said the group “completely supports” the IOC decision which will “enable the participation of clean Russian athletes at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, just days away.”
The Association of National Olympic Committees also backed the IOC, with ANOC president Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah saying an all-out ban “would have unfairly punished many clean athletes.”
Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko — a key player in the WADA report who has been banned from Rio — hailed the IOC’s “objective” decision.
Separately, an IOC ethics commission ruled that 800m runner Yuliya Stepanova, who turned whistle-blower on doping in Russian athletics, could not go to Rio even as a neutral — a decision that both WADA and USADA denounced as likely to discourage others from coming forward. 

Philippine team sets foot in Rio

Tuesday, 26 July 2016 00:00 Published in Sports

RIO DE JANEIRO — Members of the Philippine team, including six of the 12 athletes who qualified to the Rio Olympics, arrived in this populous city Saturday afternoon from a back-breaking journey from Manila.
They made it to Rio safe and sound.
Flag-bearer Ian Lariba of table tennis led the small batch of Pinoy athletes who flew in after an eight-hour flight from Manila to Dubai, a three-hour stopover and then a 14-hour trip to Rio.
It was a tiring 25-hour journey that can turn any ordinary person upside down.
Joining the trip were athletes Elaine Alora of taekwondo, Jessie Khing Lacuna of swimming, Marestella Torres of track and field and Hidilyn Diaz and Nestor Colonia of weightlifting.
Diaz and Torres are in their third straight Olympics while Lacuna is in his second stint in the Summer Games.
The rest of the Filipino qualifiers will arrive in Rio in the coming days. They are boxers Rogen Ladon and Charly Suarez, who are training in the United States; runner Eric Cray, who’s in Houston; swimmer Jasmine Alkhaldi, who’s flying in from Hawaii; marathoner Mary Joy Tabal, who’s still in Japan; and golfer Miguel Tabuena, still competing this week in the King’s Cup in Thailand.
Chief of mission Jose Romasanta and fellow Philippine Olympic Committee official Col. Jeff Tamayo, together with team physician Dr. Ferninand Brawner accompanied the athletes and their coaches, including former SEA Games taekwondo king Kitoy Cruz, in Saturday’s flight.
From the airport, the Filipinos joined fellow delegates from Malaysia, Hong Kong and Uganda on a one-hour bus ride to the sprawling Athletes Village, a collection of high-rise condominiums with units that can fit as many as seven to eight persons.
This early, there are signs of poor construction, with leaking pipes and low water pressure, especially for those staying in the higher floors, and beds that maybe too small and less comfortable for some athletes.
The Filipinos are on the 11th floor of Building 2.
Romasanta said the issue will certainly be brought up during Sunday morning’s DRM (delegations registration meeting) and another one among the CDMs (chef-de-mission) of the 206 participating countries.
“The organizers will hear it from some delegates,” he said.
From the airport, the presence of security forces along the main roads cannot escape one’s eyes. Military personnel in fatigue uniforms and heavily armed secure the main streets.
There is very strong police visibility days before the August 5 opening of the Summer Games, which is facing security threats, peace and order problems and the dreaded Zika virus.
All the delegates, including the more than 10,000 athletes and officials, have been briefed by their respective NOCs (National Olympic Committees) regarding these threats.
Despite the long travel, the Filipino athletes are expected to break sweat Sunday, their first full day in this city of around six million.
Alora, who will not see action until August 20 or the eve of the closing ceremony, can’t wait to don her training uniform.
“We will train tomorrow,” said Alora.
Seeing action the day after the opening ceremony are Lariba, Ladon, Squarez and Lacuna, each one hoping to win a medal or move on to the succeeding rounds. 






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