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Nation & World Briefs


Tuesday, February 13, 2018
French trial on sex with 11-year-old fuels debate

PONTOISE, France — A 29-year-old French man went on trial Tuesday in a Paris suburb for having sex with an 11-year-old girl, a case that has rekindled strong debate on the age of sexual consent in France.

Unlike many countries, France does not have a legal age under which a minor cannot agree to a sexual relationship — although the country’s top court has ruled that children aged five and under cannot consent. Lawyers for the suspect argued that the girl was consenting and aware of what she was doing, while lawyers for the girl have said she was simply too young and confused to resist.

In a decision that shocked many, the prosecutor’s office in the town of Pontoise decided to put the man on trial not for rape but for charges of “sexual abuse of a minor under 15.”

Defense lawyers say the man and the girl met in a park and the girl voluntarily followed him to an apartment and consented to have sex. They’ve also claim their client, then 28, thought she was over 15.

The girl’s family filed a complaint for rape in the town of Montmagny but prosecutors apparently felt the suspect did not use violence or coercion. French law defines rape as sexual penetration committed “by violence, coercion, threat or surprise.”

Trump prods Congress on immigration debate

WASHINGTON — A high-stakes Senate debate over immigration got off to a halting start Tuesday, with Republican and Democratic leaders immediately at loggerheads over how to move forward and President Donald Trump warning this was the “last chance” to extend protections to “Dreamer” immigrants.

Trump issued the warning in a morning tweet as the Senate opened what was billed as an unusual and open-ended debate on a host of immigration issues. Democrats had pushed for the debate, hopeful they might be able to craft a piece of legislation in real time on the Senate floor — or at least force Republicans on the record on some difficult issues.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., began the process by throwing his weight behind legislation based on the president’s priorities.

To kick it off, he proposed allowing Republicans to bring up an amendment targeting cities that don’t fully cooperate with federal immigration authorities, so-called “sanctuary cities.” Then, Democrats would bring up legislation of their choosing. Amendments gaining 60 votes would become part of the broader immigration bill.

Bomber gets life in prison for New York, New Jersey attacks

NEW YORK — A New Jersey man who set off small bombs in two states, including a pressure cooker device that blasted shrapnel across a New York City block, was sentenced Tuesday to multiple terms of life in prison by a judge who repeatedly called it a miracle nobody was killed.

Ahmad Khan Rahimi, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Afghanistan, was criticized by a prosecutor for failing to show remorse and was scolded by a victim for not apologizing to the 30 people he injured.

U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman in Manhattan said it was hard to reconcile the “reasonable enough” man he saw in court with the terrorist who tried to kill as many people as he could when he left his home early the morning of Sept. 17, 2016, with two pressure-cooker explosives and a bag full of smaller bombs.

“You sound like most people and yet your actions are totally at odds with your voice,” Berman said.

UK judge upholds arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder

LONDON — A judge upheld a British arrest warrant for Julian Assange on Tuesday, saying the WikiLeaks founder should have the courage to come to court and face justice after more than five years inside Ecuador’s London embassy.

Judge Emma Arbuthnot rejected arguments by Assange’s lawyers that it is no longer in the public interest to arrest him for jumping bail in 2012 and seeking shelter in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden. Prosecutors there were investigating allegations of sexual assault and rape made by two women, which Assange has denied.

Arbuthnot did not mince words in her ruling at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court, saying that by jumping bail Assange had made “a determined attempt to avoid the order of the court.”

She said Assange appeared to be “a man who wants to impose his terms on the course of justice.”

“He appears to consider himself above the normal rules of law and wants justice only if it goes in his favor,” the judge said, drawing exclamations of dismay from Assange supporters in the public gallery.

From Associated Press