BERLIN: Germany’s federal prosecutor said yesterday that it had filed charges against two men over the alleged illegal export to Iran of dozens of aircraft engines for use in drones. It said a 30-year-old German-Iranian man identified as Iman J L and 54-year-old Iranian citizen Davood A were suspected of having contravened the law on foreign trade. They allegedly exported to Iran 61 aircraft engines for use in unmanned robotic drones without official permission between October 2008 and September 2009, the prosecutor said in a statement. It said the exported engines were “suitable for operating the ‘Ababil-3’ type drone which are used by the Iranian armed forces as target simulation-, reconnaissance- and combat drones”. The exports were falsely declared to get around German customs, the federal prosecutor said.
Ex-lawmaker Jackson Jr admits fraud
WASHINGTON: Former US congressman Jesse Jackson Jr, the son of the well-known civil rights leader, pleaded guilty yesterday to misusing $750,000 in campaign funds, including by buying himself a gold Rolex watch. The admission capped a stunning fall from grace for the Illinois Democrat who was once a rising national star but resigned under a cloud in November after 17 years in the House of Representatives. Prosecutors said Jackson used some of the siphoned funds to buy children’s furniture, fur capes and a $43,350 gold-plated Rolex watch. His wife, former Chicago alderwoman Sandy Jackson, was expected to plead guilty to submitting false tax returns. Jackson, 47, faces up to five years in prison on charges of conspiracy, making false statements, and mail and wire fraud, but his lawyer told reporters that he hoped for a lenient sentence.
Kidnapped French hostages now in Nigeria
YAOUNDE/DAKAR: The Islamist militants believed to have abducted a French family of seven, including four children, in Cameroon have taken them into Nigeria, a Cameroonian minister said. The abduction highlights the growing risk of attacks on French nationals and interests in Africa since Paris sent forces into Mali to oust Islamist rebels occupying the country’s north. Speaking on French television, Joseph Dion Ngute, a junior minister at the foreign ministry, said the kidnappers had put the hostages on motorcycles after their car broke down. “They then took another woman hostage with her car and fled into Nigeria,” he said. It was not clear what had happened to the additional female hostage.
Putin ally quits House in US property scandal
MOSCOW: An ally of Vladimir Putin resigned from the Russian parliament yesterday to fight accusations that he failed to declare ownership of property in the United States and to protect the reputation of the president’s party. Vladimir Pekhtin, who had already stepped down as head of parliament’s ethics committee, denied owning real estate abroad despite documents posted by bloggers on the Internet showing his name on the deeds of property in Florida worth $2m. The documents posted by anti-corruption bloggers online show Pekhtin’s name on the deeds of three properties in Florida, one of which was bought for about $1.3m. The law does not prevent officials from owning property overseas, but Pekhtin’s critics say he neglected to include the real estate in declarations he made for the State Duma on his property and income.
Biden’s tip for self-defence: Get a shotgun
WASHINGTON: US Vice President Joe Biden’s advice for self-defence: Buy a shotgun, not an assault rifle. Biden, who is spearheading a push for President Barack Obama’s gun control proposals, dispensed this off-the-cuff tip for protecting life and property during an online question-and-answer session on Facebook on Tuesday. The vice president has not one but two shotguns that he says he keeps in a locked cabinet at his house in his home state of Delaware, and he has given his wife, Jill, explicit instructions on how to deal with any would-be intruder. “We live in an area that’s wooded and secluded,” Biden said. “I said, Jill, if there’s ever a problem just walk out on the balcony here ... put that double-barreled shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house. I promise you whoever’s coming in is not gonna,” Biden said. “You don’t need an AR-15 (assault rifle). It’s harder to aim. It’s harder to use and in fact you don’t need 30 rounds to protect yourself. Buy a shotgun,” he said. Agencies