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Sect leader warns of 'death' to 'those who prosecute the church'
Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs declined to give an opening statement Thursday after firing his attorneys in his sexual assault trial.
July 29th, 2011
08:30 PM ET

Sect leader warns of 'death' to 'those who prosecute the church'

San Angelo, Texas (CNN) - A Texas judge warned Warren Jeffs against calling "for the jury's destruction" shortly after the polygamous sect leader said Friday during his sexual assault trial that those who prosecuted his church would face "sickness and death."

The comments that precipitated the warning to Jeffs, who has been granted the right to represent himself, occurred around midday after Judge Barbara Walther had sent the jury out of the San Angelo courtroom.

"I, the Lord God of heaven, ask the courts to cease the prosecution of my holy ways," Jeffs said. "There will be a judgment against all those who prosecute the church. ... I shall let all people know of your unjust ways. I will bring sickness and death. Let this cease."

Walther then told him that "if you call for the jury's destruction" while the jury - who will decide if Jeffs is guilty on two counts of sexual assault on a child - is present, "you will be removed from the courtroom."

The defendant responded by saying, "I am not threatening. I am releasing a message."

The exchange was one of several contentious ones Friday, when the one-man defense team ended his self-imposed silence by repeatedly interrupting prosecutors and launching into a diatribe on religious freedom.

Jeffs' trial stems from a 2008 raid on a ranch near Eldorado, Texas, run by his church, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This trial addresses the two sexual assault counts, while Jeffs is expected to be tried later on a related bigamy charge.

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July 28th, 2011
06:45 PM ET

Representing self, Warren Jeffs sits silent rather than present case

San Angelo, Texas (CNN) - Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs sat silent in a Texas court Thursday afternoon, declining to give an opening statement in his sexual assault trial hours after winning the right to defend himself.

Hours earlier, Jeffs delivered an impassioned 30-minute speech, saying "true justice cannot be served" if he does not act as his own attorney. Judge Barbara Walther granted the request - but did not push back the start of opening arguments from Thursday afternoon, as the defendant had hoped.

Jeffs is charged in Texas with two counts of sexual assault on a child and one count of bigamy stemming from a 2008 raid on a ranch operated by his church, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is expected to be tried later on the bigamy charge.

When his sexual assault trial resumed Thursday afternoon, Walther again urged Jeffs - who was sitting between two empty chairs, with a notebook and pen in front of him - to use his defense team.

After about 30 seconds of silence, he said, "I object to proceedings continuing" and then declined to elaborate.

Prosecutors then gave their opening arguments, telling jurors that they would hear an audiotape documenting the sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl. They also promised to present DNA evidence proving that Jeffs fathered a baby girl with a 14-year-old girl.

Afterward, the judge and others waited for Jeffs to give his own opening statement. Instead, for about a minute, he remained silent, with his head down, as the jurors looked back and forth between the defendant and judge.

Walther said she understood that, by Jeffs' silence, he had chosen not to give a statement. Then she gave prosecutors the go-ahead to start calling witnesses.

Jeffs' silence in the San Angelo, Texas, courtroom was a stark contrast to his comments earlier, when he argued to Walther that his attorneys "do not have the full understanding of (the) facts" and are unwilling to follow his ideas on how to present the case.

The judge gave Jeffs warnings regarding the perils of representing himself - with the defendant insisting he understood them all. One of his ex-lawyers must be available to him at all times to answer any questions Jeffs might have, Walther ruled.

The defendant said he had been trying to serve as his own attorney all along, because he felt no counsel could adequately represent him. He insisted then that his intentions were "sincere" as he sought to "present a full defense."

"My release of counsel has been with great thought," Jeffs said. "I stand before the court presenting this need for true justice to be served."

Walther ruled to allow Jeff to exercise his constitutional right and defend himself, and granted his request to have one of his former lawyers available to him at all times.

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July 27th, 2011
09:00 AM ET

Norway PM announces commission to examine attacks

Oslo, Norway (CNN) - An independent commission will be set up to examine Friday's terror attacks in which at least 76 people died, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg announced Wednesday.

Stoltenberg said he wants the commission to prepare an overview of both the bombing in Oslo, in which eight people died, and the mass shooting on Utoya Island, where 68 people attending a youth political camp lost their lives, and report back to Parliament within a year.

He wants the commission to have a high degree of integrity, the prime minister said, and hopes its work will prevent any other such attack.

"Part of the work of the commission will be to look into the whole scale of the attack," he said. "We've never had an attack on this scale since the Second World War, and it was targeted against a youth movement - it's an attack against our nation, it's an attack against our democracy."

He said it is important for all those affected to have answers to all their questions about what happened.

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July 25th, 2011
07:45 PM ET

Norway police looking into claim that cells helped terrorist suspect

Oslo, Norway (CNN) - The suspect in the deadliest attack in Norway since World War II has acknowledged carrying out the mass shooting and bombing and claims to have worked with two cells, a judge said Monday.

Judge Kim Heger said the suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, acknowledged carrying out Friday's bombing and shooting, but has said they were necessary to prevent the "colonization" of the country by Muslims. Breivik accused the Labour Party, whose members were targets of the mass shooting, of "treason" for promoting multiculturalism, the judge said.

Police refused to release information about their investigation into the possibility that two cells aided Breivik, saying Monday that a court hearing was closed so as not to disclose any evidentiary information.

During his court hearing Monday, Breivik appeared "very calm," a police official said. "He was very concise in trying to explain why he was trying to do this," the official said. He has pleaded not guilty, police said Monday.

Two court psychiatrists will be assigned to the case, police said.

Monday's hearing was closed to the public for "security reasons and because of a concern that it would impede the investigation," court communications director Irene Ramm told CNN.

Afterward, Heger told reporters that he had ordered that Breivik remain in custody for eight weeks, until his next scheduled court appearance. Authorities continue to investigate the bombing in Oslo and the mass shooting at a nearby island that together killed at least 76 people. If police need more time, they can petition the court for it, he said.

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July 25th, 2011
07:35 PM ET

Strauss-Kahn accuser: 'I want justice'

New York (CNN) - The woman accusing former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her insisted she was "telling the truth from my heart," in an interview broadcast Monday.

"I want justice. I want him to go to jail," Nafissatou Diallo told ABC. "I want him to know you cannot use your power when you do something like this."

The 32-year-old hotel maid, whose credibility has been called into question by prosecutors and Strauss-Kahn's lawyers, said she was terrified when she found out how powerful Strauss-Kahn was.

When she saw news reports explaining that the man she was accusing was a leading candidate for the French presidency, "I said, 'Oh, my God.' I was crying. I said, 'They're going to kill me, I'm going to die.' " That's because in her native Guinea, West Africa, accusing "a powerful man like that" would put her life in danger, she said.

Diallo's choice to go public with her accusations in the middle of a pending criminal investigation is extremely unusual. She spoke with both ABC and Newsweek magazine.

CNN previously has not identified Diallo, given the network's policy against naming alleged sexual assault victims. But it is now naming her, in light of her decision to make her case to the media.

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Protester attacks Rupert Murdoch at hearing
Rupert Murdoch was attacked by a man apparently carrying a plate full of light blue shaving foam, but seems to be unhurt.
July 19th, 2011
03:30 PM ET

Protester attacks Rupert Murdoch at hearing

London (CNN) - A man tossed light-blue shaving cream at media magnate Rupert Murdoch during a parliamentary hearing Tuesday.

"You naughty billionaire," the man said, according to the British Press Association, as he hit Murdoch with the foam.

Murdoch appeared stunned but unharmed.

Murdoch's wife, Wendi Deng, who was seated behind him, leaped to her feet and smashed the attacker's hand with her own, pictures from the scene showed.

A police officer arrested the protester, identified by the British Press Association as a man known by the name "Jonnie Marbles" on the social networking service Twitter. CNN wasn't able to independently verify the man's identity.

Police said only that the man was 26 years old, according to the press association.

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July 19th, 2011
02:00 PM ET

London's top cops defend themselves in phone-hacking scandal

London (CNN) - London's outgoing police commissioner denied Tuesday that he put pressure on the Guardian newspaper in 2009 to drop its investigation into the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.

Commissioner Paul Stephenson said he was relying on assurances from his deputy - Assistant Commissioner John Yates - that there was nothing new in a series of 2009 Guardian articles detailing a phone-hacking scandal that was significantly more expansive than had been previously reported.

"They seemed to disagree," Stephenson said of the newspaper's editors. "So it seemed entirely appropriate ... that I meet with them and actually represent to them what I was being told, and that is that this was nothing new, and I had no reason to doubt the first inquiry," he said.

Stephenson and Yates both testified Tuesday before Parliament, on a day that also saw testimony from media baron Rupert Murdoch before another parliamentary committee. Rupert's News International subsidiary and its now-defunct News of the World newspaper are at the heart of the scandal, which has rocked the country's political, media and law enforcement establishments.

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Japan bans beef shipment from Fukushima
Calves are prepared after arriving at a dairy cattle market to be put up for auction in Fukushima prefecture on July 14.
July 19th, 2011
09:00 AM ET

Japan bans beef shipment from Fukushima

Tokyo (CNN) - Japan announced Tuesday it is banning all shipments of cattle raised in the Fukushima Prefecture amid fears that the meat may have been contaminated from radiation at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano made the announcement.

Last week, a Japanese health official downplayed the dangers after cesium contaminated meat from Fukushima cows was delivered to Japanese markets and probably ingested.

"If we were to eat the meat everyday, then it would probably be dangerous," Goshi Hosono, state minister in charge of consumer affairs and food-safety, said at a news conference on July 12.

"But if it is consumed only in small portions, I don't think it would have any long-lasting effects on the human body."

When the Fukushima Prefectural Government investigated the farm that was the source of the meat, it found cesium in cattle feed such as hay, with radiation levels as much as 57 times higher than the ceiling set by the Japanese government.

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July 18th, 2011
07:15 PM ET

Phone-hacking scandal expands with police probe, whistleblower's death

London (CNN) - British Prime Minister David Cameron will cut short his trip to South Africa to deal with the nation's phone-hacking scandal, his office confirmed Monday - another day of dizzying developments that also saw a second top police official resign and the announcement of a broader police corruption probe.

The day also brought the death of a key figure in the allegations. Former News of the World reporter Sean Hoare, who told the New York Times in 2010 that former newspaper editor Andy Coulson encouraged him and other reporters to hack into the voice-mail accounts of public figures, was found dead, according to the British Press Association.

Hertfordshire police confirmed that a man's body was found and "pronounced dead at the scene shortly after." The death is "being treated as unexplained, but not thought to be suspicious," the department said in a written statement.

Britain is in an uproar over the scandal, which has cast its shadow not just across British journalism, but also Scotland Yard and the prime minister's office. It began with the phone-hacking allegations involving reporters from News of the World - which led its parent company, Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, to shut it down - and quickly broadened into claims that journalists had paid police for confidential information.

It has led to the resignations of the commissioner and assistant commissioner of London's Metropolitan Police, known as Scotland Yard, forced the closure of one of the country's best-selling newspapers and resulted in 10 arrests. Among those arrested is Rebekah Brooks, the former News of the World editor and News International executive who resigned after the scandal broke.

It also forced the resignation of Coulson, who quit as Cameron's communications director in January as the scandal began to heat up. Coulson was News of the World editor when one of the newspaper's reporters and a private investigator were sent to prison after pleading guilty to phone hacking in 2007.

"I don't think anybody anticipated that it would snowball in this fairly dramatic way," said Jef McAllister, a London-based lawyer and former bureau chief for Time Magazine.

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July 14th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

New York man charged in boy's killing placed under suicide watch

New York (CNN) - Levi Aron, arraigned in a New York court Thursday on charges of murder and kidnapping in the first degree in the killing of an 8-year-old boy, was remanded under suicide watch until a mental evaluation is completed.

Aron, 35, showed no emotion as he entered the court handcuffed and did not enter a plea. He said earlier in a statement that he was sorry for the trouble he has caused, said New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

Defense attorneys Pierre Bazile and Gerard Marrone told the court that Aron has said he hears voices and hallucinates. They requested an exam to determine whether Aron understands the charges, and asked authorities to keep him under suicide watch while he's in custody.

"I have sincerest concerns about the defendant's mental state and his cognitive abilities," Bazile said.

Aron's next court date is July 28.

Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes had said he would ask a grand jury for the "maximum charges permitted by law" for "the vicious and callous murder and dismemberment of eight-year-old Leiby Kletzky."

Police found human remains in Aron's freezer and a trash bin which they believe are those of the boy, who went missing Monday afternoon.

Kelly called the case "heartbreaking."

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