Pike River families continue court battle to make mine boss accountable for tragedy

The families of the 29 Pike River coal miners are having another day in court to continue their fight to hold someone accountable for the tragedy.

Mr Peters had made re-entering the drift a bottom line in any coalition deal. Source: 1 NEWS

Sonya Rockhouse, who lost her son, and Anna Osborne, who lost her husband, have taken their fight against former mine boss Peter Whittall all the way to the Supreme Court in Wellington.

They have been joined in the hearing by Bernie and Cath Monk, who lost their son Michael.

All political parties bar National have vowed to re-enter the mine as soon as possible. Source: 1 NEWS

All have just come from a meeting with Winston Peters to firm up discussions about the next government pushing on with a body recovery effort.

In the hearing this morning lawyer for the families, Nigel Hampton QC, argued the fact that 12 Health and Safety charges against Mr Whittall were dropped by the District Court in 2013 was unlawful.

"This is unprecedented in New Zealand history, unprincipled ... and unlawful," Mr Hampton argued.

He said the $3.41 million paid to families by Mr Whittall, around $110,000 per family, does not amount to reparations.

He compared the payment to being pursuant of a bargain and said the money was used to put an end to a prosecution.

The hearing is set down for the rest of the day.

The video was captured on a camera lowered into the mine four days after the first explosion in 2010. Source: Newshub



Trump says Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh 'anxious' to testify over sexual assault allegations

President Donald Trump says it's "terrible" that Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California didn't raise allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sooner but says he's "totally supporting" his nominee.

Trump says he wants everyone to have the chance to speak out and Kavanaugh is "very anxious" to testify in his defense. He says, "we want to hear both sides."

A psychology professor named Christine Blasey Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her decades ago when they were teenagers. Kavanaugh has denied it.

Trump also says the FBI shouldn't be involved in investigating the Kavanaugh allegation "because they don't want to be involved."

He adds he's "totally supporting" and "very supportive" of his nominee, calling him an "outstanding" person.

Democrats have criticised the Kavanaugh nomination process.

The US president told media he is “totally supporting” his nominee, who he called “outstanding”. Source: Associated Press


As Australia's strawberry scare expands to apples and bananas, police offer big reward hoping for clues

Almost two weeks after a Queensland man was taken to hospital after biting into a strawberry with a sewing needle inside, the hunt for those responsible goes on.

The contamination has spread nationwide, with West Australian police confirming on yesterday that they were investigating claims a primary school student had bitten into a strawberry with a needle inside.

Starting this morning, all fresh strawberries being exported from Australia must be metal-contaminant free.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources announced the interim control measure yesterday evening in response to the growing situation.

"In order for strawberry export permits to be approved, exporters will be required to provide assurance to the department that their consignment is free from metal contaminants," the department said in a statement.

The family of one grower has shared the heartbreak of having to dump truckloads of strawberries. Source: Donnybrook Berries/Facebook

"These measures apply to fresh strawberry exports to all markets, and will remain in place until the risk of metal contaminants has been appropriately managed."

Yesterday's report was the fifth incident of needle-contaminated strawberries in WA.

The latest incident has led to the WA government following the Queensland government in offering a NZ $110,000 reward for information on the culprit or culprits.

"The motive appears unclear ... at the end of the day it's an act of treachery to the people of Australia," Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty told reporters, confirming NSW police were investigating at least 20 cases of needles being found in fruit including claims of needles being found in an apple and a banana.

The halt comes after needles were found in different brands in Australia. Source: 1 NEWS

Det Supt Doherty said perpetrators, including copycats and consumers falsely claiming a discovery, could face up to 10 years in jail for food contamination.

No-one has been charged in relation to the tampering.

In Queensland, struggling growers have been boosted by the announcement of a NZ $1.1 million fund to assist them through the crisis.

Horticulture body Growcom has implored consumers to keep buying strawberries.

"Hang in there with us and our saying will be 'cut it up, don't cut us out'," Growcom chief executive David Thomson said.

The scare is expected to result in a review of fruit handling, storage and packaging following the police investigations, Mr Thomson said.

NSW authorities are investigating more than 20 incidents of needles found in strawberries. Source: Breakfast

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Supporters call for fair trial for Sri Lankan university student held on terror charges in Australia

Family members, human rights activists and civic groups have gathered in Colombo to demand a speedy and fair investigation of a Sri Lankan student detained in Australia on suspicion of terrorism.

The New South Wales police website says Kamer Nizamdeen was arrested in Sydney on August 30 for allegedly planning to attack targets in the city and assassinate prominent people. Police say they found the alleged plans described in a notebook.

A support group, United for Kamer, planned a silent protest today to support their call for a fair trial for the 25-year-old student.

The group says Nizamdeen was working for the University of New South Wales and has been kept in solitary confinement since his arrest.

It says Nizamdeen denies what police say he wrote in the notebook.

A statement from the family read out at the protest said Kamer was allowed to contact one family member immediately after the arrest but thereafter denied access to legal counsel or family members.

The protesters silently held placards and banners with slogans about Kamer's innocence as well as the investigation.

Kamer Nizamdeen was arrested in Sydney last month for allegedly planning to attack targets in the city and assassinate prominent people. Source: Associated Press


Homeless man charged with US murder of top amateur Spanish golfer, whose body was found in course pond

A homeless man attacked and killed a top amateur golfer from Spain who was playing a round alone near her university campus in central Iowa, leaving her body in a pond on the course, police said today.

Collin Daniel Richards, 22, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Celia Barquin Arozamena, a student at Iowa State University. He was ordered jailed today on a $7 million, cash-only bond.

Barquin was found yesterday morning at Coldwater Golf Links in Ames, about 50 kilometres north of Des Moines.

Police were called to the course around 10.20am to investigate a possible missing female after golfers found a golf bag with no one around it.

Officers found Barquin's body some distance from the bag, with several stab wounds to her upper torso, head and neck, according to the criminal complaint filed Tuesday.

Barquin, the 2018 Big 12 champion and Iowa State Female Athlete of the year, had no known prior relationship with Richards, Ames police Commander Geoff Huff said.

Richards, who faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison if convicted, reported in a financial affidavit that he has no job.

"We have had encounters with him in the past, " Huff told reporters at a news conference today.

"I don't have any specifics on him no about criminal record or how many incidents we've had with him."

The university said Barquin, a native of Puente San Miguel, Spain, was finishing her civil engineering degree this semester after exhausting her eligibility at Iowa State in 2017-2018.

Iowa State President Wendy Wintersteen said in a statement on Twitter that she was "deeply saddened" by Barquin's death.

She was one of the most accomplished players in Cyclone golf history. In April, she became the second women's golfer at Iowa State to earn medalist honors at a conference tournament when claiming the 2018 Big 12 Championship. She did it with a three-shot victory.

It is the second fatal stabbing of a female student in Iowa in recent months.

An immigrant from Mexico is charged in the July 18 kidnapping and stabbing of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, who vanished while out for a run in the small town of Brooklyn.

Celia Barquin Arozamena was playing a round in central Iowa when she was allegedly attacked by Collin Daniel Richards. Source: Associated Press