PRETORIA, South Africa

Judge rules out murder but calls Pistorius negligent

The judge in Oscar Pistorius’ trial ruled out a murder conviction for the double-amputee Olympian Thursday in the shooting death of his girlfriend but said he was negligent, raising the possibility he’ll be convicted of culpable homicide.

The verdict in the case that has riveted much of South Africa and the world is expected on Friday when Judge Thokozile Masipa reconvenes the judgment phase, climaxing the trial that began in March.

The red-robed Masipa, sitting in the dais and looking down at Pistorius and the packed courtroom, said she felt Pistorius acted negligently when he fired four times through a toilet door in his home in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine’s Day last year. In a moment of high-drama, Masipa then stopped reading out her verdict in the six-month-long trial and adjourned until Friday.

JERUSALEM

Human Rights Watch alleges Israel committed war crimes

A leading international rights group on Thursday alleged that Israel committed war crimes during this summer’s Gaza war, saying it reached that conclusion after investigating three attacks on or near United Nations-run schools housing displaced Palestinians.

According to its investigation, based on field research and interviews with witnesses, the New York-based group said no military targets were apparent in the area of the schools and that some of the attacks were indiscriminate.

Israel argues that the heavy civilian death toll during the 50-day summer war was Hamas’ fault, accusing the Islamic militant group of launching rockets – and drawing retaliation – from school yards, residential areas and mosques.

BARCELONA, Spain

Hundreds of thousands rally for Catalan secession vote

Hundreds of thousands of Catalans energized by Scotland’s upcoming independence referendum protested Thursday for a secession vote aimed at carving out a new Mediterranean nation in what is now northeastern Spain, illustrating how the Scottish vote in just one week is captivating breakaway minded Europeans from Barcelona to Spain’s Basque country, Belgium and Italy.

Sporting bright yellow and red shirts red shirts representing the colors of the Catalonian flag emblazoned with the phrase “Now is the time,” they shouted “Independencia!” to signal their desire for a Catalonia independence referendum that the central government in Madrid insists would be illegal.

Just how many showed up was in dispute after the protest ended Thursday evening. Barcelona police said 1.8 million participated but the Spanish Interior Ministry’s regional office in Catalonia put the number at no more than 525,000.

– From news service reports


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