Archive for 09/30/2011

Louise Hall – 

The American man dubbed the ”honeymoon killer” should not face trial in the US despite widespread public anger at a plea deal that saw him serve just 18 months in an Australian jail, an international law expert says.

 

The state of Alabama intends to try Gabe Watson on charges of murder and kidnapping stemming from the death of his wife Tina during a scuba diving trip on the Great Barrier Reef in 2003.

 

The trial, scheduled for February, will be a violation of the principle of double jeopardy, under which a person cannot be prosecuted twice for the same offence or conduct, Dr Melanie O’Brien will tell a crime conference today.

 

Dr O’Brien, a research fellow with the ARC Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security at Griffith University, said Alabama authorities had attempted to circumvent the principle of double jeopardy by trying Watson for murder and kidnapping, rather than manslaughter.

 

”This second trial over in Alabama shouldn’t be happening, regardless of the fact many people don’t think justice was served by his 18 months [jail sentence],” she said yesterday.

 

Under a plea deal with the Queensland Director of Public Prosecutions, Watson pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was deported to the US at the end of his imprisonment. He was extradited from California to his home state of Alabama for two capital murder offences.

 

In April, Watson’s lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the charges, based in part on double jeopardy, and that it was a ”vindictive prosecution”. The judge did not rule on double jeopardy. However, he did find that the prosecution had the right to establish jurisdiction through evidence.

 

The trial, which is expected to last three weeks and call on a dozen Australians to give evidence, has twice been delayed because of budget cuts to courthouse security staff.

 

Watson, on bail and living with his second wife, will not be given the death penalty under a deal struck by the Australian government, but if found guilty, he faces a maximum life sentence without parole.

Full story…

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BBC News –

Officials are still investigating the source of pollution which turned part of the River Neath orange and its effect on the environment.

Members of the public alerted Environment Agency Wales (EAW) after discolouration was spotted on Friday along a 10km (6.2 mile) area.

The agency said the main stretch of the river and the Garwed Brook were running clear, but there were still problems downstream towards Aberdulais.

A number of dead fish have been found.

Gavin Bown, spokesman for Environment Agency Wales, said: “We are in the process of assessing the impact of the incident and whether it is feasible to rescue any fish in distress.

“Our priority is to minimise the impact of the pollution on the local environment and investigate how and why this has happened.”

One theory is that iron ore pollution leaked from an old mine to run into the river.

Riverside resident Cliff Davies, of nearby Abergarwed, near Neath, said: “There is severe pollution, it is bright orange.

“Iron ore turns water this sort of orange colour like rust.

“But it looks just like somebody has tipped tankers of orange juice into the river.”

Local fisherman Lee Jefford, 29, said: “It was nice and clear water and then it turned brown.

Full story…