05/03/2014 World News Today


05/03/2014

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This is BBC World News Today, with me, Philippa Thomas.

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Diplomatic efforts are underway in Paris - trying to find common ground

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over Ukraine. Russian and American foreign ministers come face to face

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on the crisis, but there's been no meeting of minds.

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On the ground, the struggle for control continues. First the Ukraine

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flag flies in Donetsk in the east, hours later marchers replace it with

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the Russian flag flying over government buildings. I'll will be

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live from Sevastopol where Russian forces are continuing to consolidate

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their grip here in the Crimea. Also coming up: Israel says it's

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seized a ship carrying advanced Iranian weapons to Gaza.

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And we'll meet the 13-year-old British boy who's carried out atomic

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fusion in his classroom. Hello and welcome.

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The first day of direct diplomatic talks about the Ukraine crisis is

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still underway in Paris, with no breakthrough yet in American and

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European efforts to persuade Russia to back down. There's a fragile calm

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in Ukrainian cities from Donetsk in the east, where rival groups have

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wrestled each others flags from the top of government buildings, to

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Sevastopol in Crimea in the south, where Russia has tightened its grip

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on key military facilities. NATO has reviewed a fool review of its

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cooperation with Russia. Russia has tightened its grip on key military

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facilities. There has been a nasty diplomatic incident. My colleague

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Ben Brown is there. Yes, it has been another difficult

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and tense day here in Crimea. Highlighted perhaps by a series

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incident in which the United Nations's special envoy who were

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sent here on a fact mind -- fact-finding mission, he was

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surrounded by armed men, armed pro-Russian supporters and

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protesters, and he took refuge in a coffee shop and he was seeking

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sanctuary there, really. He was pretty frightened and shaken up, and

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he ended up cutting short his mission year, getting on an

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aeroplane and leaving. The United Nations taking that very seriously

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and saying he was seriously threatened. Meanwhile Russian forces

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here in Crimea have been tightening their grip on Ukrainian military

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bases, they have taken over partial control today of two missile defence

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units in separate areas of Crimea. They are also continuing to tighten

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their naval blockade of Ukrainian naval vessels here. As my colleague

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Daniel Sandford no reports. The first sign that the Russians

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were tightening further their stranglehold on Ukraine's small

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navy. Russian troops taking up new positions overlooking a Ukrainian

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military dock. We climbed down to see what was happening and found,

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two of Ukraine's must fight -- sophisticated fighting ships,

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blockaded in the bay by Russian boats and overlooked by a Russians

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neighbour. -- sniper. On the dock we find this woman speaking to her

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husband. He was only metres away. The ship dear not come closer in

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case it is dolled by the Russians. -- stormed. When the commander of

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the Black Sea Fleet came to the ship and said he would storm it, of

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course it was frightening. War is a very frightening thing. On these

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heavily armed ships, the sailors have resorted to medieval methods to

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defending themselves. The Ukrainian soldiers have put

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mattresses over the railings, that is to stop the Russians throwing

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grappling irons and boarding the ship. Well almost the entire

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Ukrainian navy is stuck in the harbour, they have to watch Russian

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warships coming and going at will. What would have and if you try to

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leave the harbour? TRANSLATION: There could be a clash between the

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ships and navigation accident which can result in casualties. Then two

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men in black courts arrived. They remonstrated with the officers on

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the ship for our Ukrainian navy statement which had called the

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Russian president ally. The Ukrainian stood their ground and

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complained about the armed men surrounding them. -- president a

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liar. I am the only one who has a weapon said the senior officer. I

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have given up everything else. I just have the one pistol to protect

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my crew. This evening a small boat came up to replenish the ships. The

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Ukrainians are preparing for a long siege.

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So it is as you can stay still very tense here in Crimea. Yesterday we

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had that incident where Russian troops actually fired warning shots

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over the heads of unarmed Ukrainian soldiers at the Belbek a military

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airfield. We have not had any shots of any kind fired today. But still

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another dangerous day in Crimea. The stand-off between the Russian forces

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and Ukrainian forces continuing at bases around Crimea.

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We have come to the Ukrainian naval headquarters where there are

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volunteers from the self-styled Russian defence Force, besieging the

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space along with unidentified Russian soldiers as well. And they

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will not even let us go from here, the few yards to those gates, to try

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to talk to interview the Ukrainian naval staff who inside there.

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TRANSLATION: wives arrived to bring them food and

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fresh clothes. But the Russians laying siege to this base here

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refuse to let them deliver their suffice. A retired naval commander

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told me it is tense but peaceful. Only one week this is a peaceful

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coexistence. That is it. It is like a barrel with powder. Right now

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everyone can understand that war is not the case. War is not the choice

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of the people. No one doubts the very real dangers of the stand-off

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but it is also beginning to look like a stalemate that could last for

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quite some time. One footnote to that, interesting to

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hear today the Foreign Minister saying that Russia has no control

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whatsoever of these armed groups that are surrounding various

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Ukrainian bases here in Crimea. When you see those pictures that we were

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showing you there and that report of the forces who are outside the

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pro-Russian forces, clearly some of them are local volunteers as a style

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themselves, but there are also these uniformed troops who look very much

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like Russian armed troops, although they do not have the Russian army

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insignia on their uniforms. Then when you see their vehicles, they

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are definitely Russian army, because you can see they have Russian army

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number on them. There is not any doubt about that. The Ukrainian

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prime minister, the acting prime minister, he is 100% sure that these

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forces are under the control of Moscow. That shows I suppose how far

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as said, far apart the two sides are, the Russians and Ukrainians on

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this one issue of who is controlling these pro-Russian forces. Clearly it

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will be a difficult divide that the diplomats are trying to address, the

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US Secretary of State has been meeting Sergey Lavrov in Paris. We

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await the details of exactly what they have discussed and whether

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there has been any progress in those talks. That is all from here in the

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Crimea, and you back to the studio in London.

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Let's take a closer look at the European response to this crisis.

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Joining me from Brussels is Daniel Brossler. He's the correspondent for

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the centre left German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung. Daniel, thank

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you for joining us on World News Today. I was going to ask you about

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the European response, but we do not have one as yet, and it is difficult

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for there to be a united European response, isn't there? It is

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difficult. But everyone understands the needs to be a response and I

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think there will be one. If tomorrow, at the summit, the leaders

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will not find a common position, Putin will laugh at that. This is

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impossible. I think there will be strong wording, there will be an aid

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package for Ukraine, and probably there will be sanctions as well. As

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the German Chancellor Merkel has the strongest position with President

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Putin, she has been cautious in the way she has spoken about his

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actions? That is how a way of doing politics. She is looking at the

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options, being careful. But if you asked her, she would say she was

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outspoken, she called Putin several times and she made it known to the

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public that she really criticised harshly during those telephone

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calls. I think she did not do before. So I think she is trying to

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send a message to Vladimir Putin. I do not think that she will reject

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sanctions as there is a need to have sanctions. Reminders, Daniel, how

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close the relationship is and when -- how much is at stake? The

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relationship is very important. First of all you have to see that

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economic play Germany and Russia are having really close ties, as far as

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energy is concerned, Germany pretty much depends on supplies from Russia

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to a great deal. So this is of course at stake. But on the other

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hand I think in Germany the federal government is clearly seeing that if

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there is no strong message noted Russia, then there is a red line

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that they have crossed, then it will be very difficult to deal with

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Russia in the future. So I think there is a strong understanding of

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this. And the Chancellor, coming from East Germany, knows very well

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who she is dealing with. She harbours no illusions whatsoever as

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far as Mr Putin is concerned. Do you think from her point of view it is

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important to keep the conversation going. She can treat him German and

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Russian face-to-face? She speaks Russian, he speaks German. I think

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there is no real trust between them. There is something like a working

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relationship. It is known that we tend to speak quite frankly, quite

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openly. Anglo-American will has criticised Vladimir Putin in

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public. -- Angela Merkel. Not really trust, but a working relationship.

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But if there is anybody know who is able to find a dialogue with Mr

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Putin, probably it would be Angela Merkel. Finally, could you give me a

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brief idea, can we say there is German public opinion flowing one

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way or the other, saying what the sentiment is? In Germany you always

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have a certain fear of war. If you would as Germans now, they would

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say, do everything to avoid anything that is coming close to war. So I

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think Germans would say, it is really bad what is happening in the

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Ukraine. But the priority should be to come to terms with Russia and to

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avoid any military conflict. Thank you very much for joining us.

:13:17.:13:24.

A South African boxer and friend of Oscar Pistorius has told his murder

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trial, that Pistorius once fired a shot under a table in a restaurant

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in Johannesburg, and then asked him to take the blame for it. The

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incident happened last January, just weeks before the Olympic and

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Paralympic athlete killed his girlfriend. He says he mistook her

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for an intruder. Our Africa correspondent Andrew Harding reports

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from Pretoria. For relatives guarding Oscar

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Pistorius on his way into court this morning. As the prosecution

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continues to build its case against him. Taking the stand, the first

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witness to agree to appear live on camera. Professional boxer. He

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describes an incident at her South African restaurant. This is the

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place today. The athlete fired a Fred's done under one of these

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tables, seemingly by accident. Then allegedly as the friend to take the

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blame. I remember Oscar clearly apologising, is everybody OK. He at

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pleased to Darren, to say it was you. I do not want any attention.

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This is a murder trial saw it may seem to discuss a separate minor

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incident and a restaurant. It gives the prosecution the unique

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opportunity to raise questions about Pistorius' character. The painted a

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picture of Oscar Pistorius being a bit of gun fiend. But it was not all

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bad for him today. His lawyer picked holes in the vital evidence of two

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neighbours. That cannot be. They said they had heard a woman scream

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before the gunshots on the night that Reeva Steenkamp died,

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contradicting his version of events. It is a man's life at stake. In all

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fairness let's say, let's look at other possibilities. Today's

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restaurant revelations may prove damaging to the story is, but his

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team has shown signs of the formidable research it has done to

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prove it he did not need to kill Reeva Steenkamp. In Cairo the trial

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has resumed of Al-Jazeera journalists accused of supporting

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the Muslim Brotherhood, the outlawed movement of ousted Egyptian

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president Mohamed Morsi. In all 20 people, including former

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BBC correspondent Peter Greste, are on trial, 12 of them in absentia.

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The trial is seen as a test of how far the current military-installed

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government will tolerate independent media. From the court Quentin

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Sommerville reports. Here we heard some of the first

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detailed allegations against the three journalists today. Up for

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questioning was the lead investigator in the case. He was

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asked a direct question about the bureau chief for Al Jazeera English

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here in Egypt's. He was asked if he is a member of the Muslim

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Brotherhood. The policeman responded that as long as he was supporting

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them then he was a member of the group. They all deny the terrorism

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charges. I spoke to Peter Greste at the end of the child -- trial. He

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said the men were doing well but they had been incarcerated for 66

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days. He says they are political prisoners, caught in a battle

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between the government of the jet and the government of Qatar that

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owns the Al Jazeera network. The trial still has some way to go.

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Peter Greste said to us that he hopes for more support from the

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Australian government. He thinks the Prime Minister there could do more

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to help the man. More witnesses will be called. At least four more are

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expected but they will not be heard from and to March 24 when the

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hearings resume. The Israeli military says it has

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seized a ship carrying rockets made in Syria that was heading towards

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Gaza. The cargo ship was intercepted in the Red Sea. Israel says it began

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tracking the missiles several months ago as they were flown from Damascus

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to Tehran. Yolande Knell reports. This footage shows Israeli marines

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inspecting a rocket in the hold of a ship. The Israeli military says it

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is a Syrian made surface to surface missile and that dozens were found

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on board a cargo ship that it intercepted in the red Sea. Israeli

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intelligence is understood to have tracked the shipment over months. It

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says the rockets were moved from Damascus airport to Teheran and then

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taken to a port in southern Iran. From there it is said they were

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placed on a civilian vessel which sales to Iraq. Finally the ship was

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intercepted by Israeli naval forces in international waters on its way

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to Sudan. Add a news conference journalists were told that the

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rockets were bound for militants in Gaza. If they had reached their

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destination it would have meant that millions of a stray leaves were at

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the mercy of the terrorists in Gaza. -- millions of Israelis. That

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is what we set out to stop. Israel blames Iran for supplying the

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weapons because these cement bags were found with them. The Prime

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Minister that is in the US pressing for tougher international action on

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Iran was quick to clandestine operation was organised by Iran.

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While Iran is conducting these plots and smiling to the international

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community it continues to perpetrate terrorism around the world. The

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government in Gaza denies any link to these rockets but Iran has not

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commented. The crew of the ship is being questioned.

:19:29.:19:32.

Now a look at some of the day's other news.

:19:33.:19:34.

Pope Francis has strongly defended the record of the Catholic Church on

:19:35.:19:37.

tackling the sexual abuse of children by priests. In a rare

:19:38.:19:40.

interview with an Italian newspaper the Pope said no-one had done more

:19:41.:19:44.

to root out paedophilia. Last month the United Nations strongly

:19:45.:19:46.

criticised the Vatican for failing to stamp out child abuse and for

:19:47.:19:51.

allowing systematic cover-ups. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab

:19:52.:19:54.

Emirates and Bahrain have withdrawn their ambassadors to Qatar. It's in

:19:55.:19:59.

protest at what they've called its interference in their internal

:20:00.:20:02.

affairs. The three countries accuse Qatar of failing to implement a

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security deal signed last year stipulating non-interference in each

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other's affairs, including support to hostile media.

:20:08.:20:13.

A big parade in Venezuela's capital, Caracas, has marked the first

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anniversary of the death of the former president Hugo Chavez who led

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the country for 14 years. Thousands of troops and supporters took part.

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The commemoration comes at a time of high tension. Mr Chavez's successor

:20:26.:20:29.

Nicolas Maduro has faced a month of protests and demonstrators say they

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will be back on the streets during the day.

:20:34.:20:41.

Across the United States, in fact in 17 states so far, there've been

:20:42.:20:44.

efforts to decriminalise marijuana and now that campaign has come to

:20:45.:20:49.

the US capital. A bill passed by the council in Washington DC may mean it

:20:50.:20:53.

will no longer be a criminal offence to possess and smoke marijuana in

:20:54.:21:00.

the privacy of one's own home. Michael Collins works with the Drug

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Policy Alliance and joins me now from Washington. A favourite treat

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-- decriminalisation. Thank you for being with us. We should make it

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clear that this is not about being allowed to smoke marijuana in the

:21:17.:21:21.

streets of the US capital but do you think it is a significant step in

:21:22.:21:25.

decriminalisation terms? Yes, it is a huge step forward for the capital

:21:26.:21:32.

of the United States and a huge step forward towards ending what is a

:21:33.:21:36.

failure, the war on drugs. I think that the interesting thing about the

:21:37.:21:41.

Washington, DC initiative is that the arguments used to persuade the

:21:42.:21:45.

council members to vote in favour of decriminalisation were ones that

:21:46.:21:49.

involved racial justice because inside the nation's B majority of

:21:50.:21:54.

people who are arrested for crimes related to marijuana are people of

:21:55.:21:58.

colour and the council members voting in favour agreed that the law

:21:59.:22:03.

was unjust and racially -- unjust and racially biased. So it is not

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just a drugs or medical issue, it is seen as a civil rights issue as

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well. Absolutely. Other states such as Colorado and Washington that have

:22:15.:22:19.

legalised marijuana and taken steps towards decriminalisation have used

:22:20.:22:23.

different arguments that have been more persuasive. In Colorado and

:22:24.:22:27.

Washington there was a huge debate about using the money from taxation

:22:28.:22:33.

towards education but in Washington, DC the prevalent debate revolved

:22:34.:22:38.

around civil liberties and the fact that the laws in Washington, DC

:22:39.:22:43.

adversely affect minorities, people of colour and people of low income

:22:44.:22:47.

so they were seen as being in complete -- completely unjust. This

:22:48.:22:52.

could change police priorities? We hope so. We think it is a waste of

:22:53.:22:57.

time for police to be going after low-level drug users, marijuana

:22:58.:23:02.

users. The resources would be better spent on serious crimes and we are

:23:03.:23:05.

very pleased that the City Council agreed with us. Where next do you

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think such initiatives are likely to come up? We have covered Colorado

:23:12.:23:18.

where voters have legalised the sale of marijuana and where else in the

:23:19.:23:22.

United States is the issue coming to the fore? Perhaps in Washington, DC

:23:23.:23:25.

this year we will go a step further. The decision has not been

:23:26.:23:30.

made yet but perhaps we will see a referendum on full legalisation.

:23:31.:23:34.

There are initiatives being prepared this year for Oregon and Alaska. In

:23:35.:23:41.

2016 you will see a number of other states putting legalisation there.

:23:42.:23:50.

In Colorado the train has left the station. There is a lot of momentum

:23:51.:23:54.

around marijuana legalisation. People have crossed the Rubicon. A

:23:55.:23:59.

lot of other states are looking at marijuana legalisation as a way to

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increase their revenue for budgets and so we have no doubt that the we

:24:07.:24:09.

are going to see this movement spread elsewhere. We will watch this

:24:10.:24:14.

developing story. Thank you. A 13-year-old British boy has become

:24:15.:24:16.

the youngest person ever to successfully carry out atomic

:24:17.:24:19.

fusion. Today Jamie Edwards showed off his experiment for the first

:24:20.:24:22.

time and proved that it really worked. Our correspondent Danny

:24:23.:24:32.

Savage was there. A school classroom in Preston is not

:24:33.:24:37.

the first place you would expect to see a nuclear reactor but yes, this

:24:38.:24:43.

is a 13-year-old who has built one. Jamie Edwards today attempted to be

:24:44.:24:47.

the youngest fusion era in the world by smashing two hydrogen atoms

:24:48.:24:52.

together, making helium through nuclear fusion. I need to ask you

:24:53.:24:57.

all to leave... It is not without its risks so the room was cleared

:24:58.:25:00.

although we left the camera running and after a few minutes. I heard the

:25:01.:25:07.

geiger counter rapidly go up and I thought, what is that? Then I looked

:25:08.:25:13.

over and the neutron counter was write-up of the scale. I've realised

:25:14.:25:17.

we must have done it, that is neutrons, I cannot believe it. His

:25:18.:25:22.

mum watched on from outside, hoping that practical science did not turn

:25:23.:25:27.

into horrible histories. Relief that it is safe and he is all right and

:25:28.:25:30.

he has achieved what he wanted to achieve. I am really relieved at the

:25:31.:25:53.

moment. Radiation is measured with a geiger counter and a couple of

:25:54.:25:55.

Christmases ago Jamie spent all his Christmas money on buying a geiger

:25:56.:25:58.

counter. He has since gone on to develop this project to become the

:25:59.:26:00.

youngest fusion era in the world. The previous record was held by a

:26:01.:26:02.

14-year-old in America. Jamie turns 14 this weekend so he had to get it

:26:03.:26:06.

done today. For his next trick Jamie plans and mini hadron Collider.

:26:07.:26:08.

That makes the rest of us feel very inadequate!

:26:09.:26:11.

The US secretary of state, John Kerry, has held meetings with his

:26:12.:26:16.

Russian counterpart in Paris. The highest level diplomatic encounter

:26:17.:26:21.

since the Ukraine crisis escalated. The Russian Foreign Minister left

:26:22.:26:25.

the French following mirrors/ -- French Foreign Ministry today

:26:26.:26:28.

without having held a hoped-for meeting with his Ukrainian

:26:29.:26:32.

counterpart, hoped for by the Ukrainians anyway. The UN

:26:33.:26:36.

representative in the Crimea was forced to cut his mission short

:26:37.:26:40.

after being threatened by armed men as he left the naval headquarters in

:26:41.:26:45.

the regional capital. Thank you for being with us.

:26:46.:26:57.

Hallo. An area of high pressure is going to build in next week and

:26:58.:27:07.

bring some dry weather. Tomorrow there is more rain to come. There

:27:08.:27:08.

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