Thursday, October 14, 2010

Crewe murders: 'Who killed Mum and Dad?' asks daughter. Controversial 40 year old NZ murder still unsolved...

The only child of Harvey and Jeannette Crewe has broken her silence to ask the police to re-investigate the unsolved murders of her parents 40 years ago.

Rochelle Crewe - just 18 months old when found crying in her cot five days after the Crewes were last seen alive - has written to Police Commissioner Howard Broad to request that the case be reopened.

Speaking publicly for the first time since her parents' murders in June 1970, Rochelle told the Herald that speculation had been allowed to "fester" since Arthur Allan Thomas was pardoned after spending nine years in prison.

She was critical of the decision of the Solicitor-General in the 1980s, Paul Neazor, QC, not to lay charges against two detectives after a royal commission of inquiry concluded they had planted evidence to frame Mr Thomas.

Justice Robert Taylor, Australian head of the 1980 commission, said it was "an unspeakable outrage" that Detective Inspector Bruce Hutton and Detective Len Johnston buried a shellcase from Mr Thomas' rifle in the Crewes' garden to link him to the crime.

But in his report to the police the following year, Mr Neazor decided against charging the pair because he believed there was not enough evidence to justify a prosecution.

Rochelle told the Herald that it "concerns me that the Solicitor-General unilaterally usurped the role of the court".

"I would like to know why the police didn't prosecute Hutton and Johnston on the commission's findings that they had planted the cartridge case.

"The commission did have access to live witnesses and direct evidence and reached its conclusion that Hutton and Johnston did plant the cartridge case and fabricate evidence. At the very least, the Solicitor-General should have given a court the opportunity to reach a decision on the same basis.

"Instead, the Government's failure to act allowed speculation to fester and harm our family and others."

Rochelle said she had intended to approach the Police Commissioner for some time but the catalyst was reading Arthur Allan Thomas: The Inside Story.

Ian Wishart's new book presents a different theory from the commonly held belief that if Mr Thomas was innocent, then Jeannette Crewe's father, Len Demler, was the prime suspect.

Wishart claims the evidence points to Mr Johnston. Rochelle said an article in the Weekend Herald by Ross Meurant, a detective on the original murder inquiry, acknowledged this was a possibility.

She said the article highlighted a "pervasive corruption" exposed by the new book.

"This concerns me. Lastly, I just want to know who killed my Mum and Dad."

The unsolved homicide is one of New Zealand's greatest murder mysteries.

"A terrible bloody mess" was what Len Demler found in the Crewes' farmhouse in Pukekawa, south of Auckland, in June 1970.

He also found Rochelle crying in her cot. Doctors who examined her said she could not have been abandoned for five full days since the murders, so someone must have fed her. Witnesses reported seeing a blonde at the house, but she was never identified.

The case gripped the nation for months. Police initially considered it a murder-suicide - a theory later pushed by investigative journalist Pat Booth, who campaigned for Mr Thomas to be freed - but soon switched attention to Mr Demler.

The body of Jeannette, 30, was recovered from the Waikato River in August 1970, her jaw badly broken. Her 28-year-old husband was found in the river a month later, weighed down by an axle. Both had been shot.

After three months, the police were under huge pressure to solve the crime and quickly found two pieces of evidence to implicate Mr Thomas, who lived on a farm 13km from the Crewes.

Axle stubs hidden on his farm tip apparently matched the axle that weighed down Harvey Crewe. Then police found in the Crewes' garden the case of a shell fired from his .22 rifle - despite having found nothing there a few months before.

Mr Thomas was convicted of the murders and spent nearly 10 years in prison. But he was famously pardoned in 1979 after mounting public protest and the personal intervention of Prime Minister Rob Muldoon.

The royal commission set up to investigate the case found Mr Hutton and Mr Johnston had planted the shell case at the Crewe house to frame Mr Thomas.

Mr Johnston was also the detective who found the axle stubs on Mr Thomas' farm. Mr Hutton retired from the police in 1976 and is living in South Auckland. Mr Johnston died in 1978.

The police never restarted their homicide investigation, and Rochelle Crewe said yesterday that, after 40 years, no one had been held accountable for her parents' murders.

"In reopening the case, I am seeking truth and justice as to what happened during the original investigation and what really happened to my parents, Jeannette and Harvey Crewe."

Acknowledgements: NZ Herald/ Jared Savage

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Trapped Miners-San Jose Mine, Copiapo, ChileImage by DigitalGlobe-Imagery via Flickr
BREAKING NEWS:  First of 33 trapped Chilean miners being rescued right this very minute...

 Reuters: NEW HOPE: A screengrab shows rescue worker Manuel Gonzalez being welcomed by trapped miners as his rescue capsule reaches down to hoist trapped miners out at San Jose mine in Copiapo.

CELEBRATE: Residents cheer when the first rescuer reached the underground refuge of the miners trapped in the San Jose mine.

TRIBUTE: Mounted policemen keep journalists off the hills surrounding the area where the operation to rescue the 33 miners trapped underground in the San Jose mine is being prepared. The banner shows the names of the miners.

PRACTICE RUN: Members of the rescue team perform tests with the capsule before using it to lift the 33 trapped miners to safety.

CAMPING OUT: A general view of the area at the San Jose mine with journalists vehicles in the foreground and the rescue area in the distance.

LONG WAIT: A relative of a trapped miner sits above the rescue operation in Copiapo.

RESCUE: A general view of the area at the San Jose mine in Copiapo.

HORSING AROUND: Chilean policemen take the children of trapped miners for a stroll on horseback a few hours before the rescue operation is to begin.

PREENING: Daniela Torres, Lissette Gallardo and Leslie Torres, relatives of trapped miner Mario Gomez, prepare to receive the miners when they are hoisted out of their underground refuge.

ANTICIPATION: Lilianett Ramirez, wife of trapped miner Mario Gomez, brushes her hair as she prepares for the start of the rescue operation at the San Jose mine.

BREAKING NEWS: Local and foreign journalists work under shades as the hour to begin the rescue of the trapped miners approaches at the San Jose mine.

BANDING TOGETHER: The relatives of the 33 miners have a meal a few hours before the start of the rescue operation in Copiapo.

WAITING: The family of miner Mario Gomez, one of the 33 miners trapped underground in the San Jose mine, preen themselves a few hours before the start of the rescue operation in Copiapo.

DIGGING DEEP: Austrian mine workers install the final platform where the winch that will hoist the trapped miners is being installed, hours before the rescue operation begins at San Jose mine in Copiapo.

HOPE FLIES: A flag with the portraits of the 33 miners trapped inside the San Jose mine stands as the rescue operation continues in the distance.

WAITING: Relatives of the one of the 33 miners trapped deep underground in a copper and gold mine hold up a flag with the miners' portraits printed on it, two months after the accident at San Jose mine near Copiapo city.

INCOMING: One of the 33 trapped miners operates a machine used to cart away rock dropped into the tunnel by one of the rigs drilling from the surface to rescue them.

HIGH-HO: Miners Luis Urzua and Mario Sepulveda talk while working to cart away rock dropped into the tunnel by one of the rigs drilling from the surface to rescue them and 31 other miners, who are trapped in the San Jose mine in Copiapo.

CHEERS: A frame grab shows trapped miners holding food during celebrations of the bicentenary of Chile's independence in their refuge deep underground inside a copper and gold mine near Copiapo.

CALLING ON: A frame grab shows trapped miners communicating with the surface in Chile.

PEACE: A frame grab shows a group of trapped miners underground inside a copper and gold mine in Chile.

MAN CAVE: A frame grab shows miners trapped deep underground inside a copper and gold mine near Copiapo, Chile.

« Previous« PreviousNext »Next » Related LinksTrapped miners in Chile Relevant offers

Americas Eight police killed in Mexico's drug war Cat and dog honoured for bravery Alleged abuser acquitted - Oprah upset Wednesday rescue for Chilean miners Obama campaigns to rev up Democrats SNL spoofs Republican 'witch' ad Clinton campaigns, Bush hides Cheers, tears as rescue shaft reaches miners Escape shaft nearly reaches Chile's trapped miners Over a million Haitians still living in tents LATEST: Florencio Avalos, the first of 33 miners to be rescued, has surfaced after 69 days underground.

Avalos climbed out of the rescue capsule and was immediately embraced by rescue workers and others, as bystanders cheered and clapped.

A rescuer in a missile-like escape capsule was lowered down a nearly half-mile tunnel in the Chilean desert Tuesday night to bring the miners to fresh air and freedom after the longest anyone has ever been trapped underground and survived.

Mine rescue expert Manuel Gonzalez grinned and made the sign of the cross as he was lowered into the shaft. Chilean President Sebastian Pinera wished him good luck and urged him to bring the miners up in good shape.

Gonzalez made it to the bottom of the shaft apparently without incident and entered the chamber where the miners waited for their first human contact in more than two months.

A rescue expert with the state copper company Codelco, Gonzalez will be followed by Roberto Ros, a paramedic with the Chilean navy's special forces. Together they will prepare the miners for their rescue - expected to take as many as 36 hours for all to surface.

Rescue workers, the president and his ministers then sang the national anthem and chanted "Chi, Chi, Chi, Le, Le, Le" - the country's name - while horns honked and people cheered in the tent camp below.

In the family camp outside the mine, relatives of Florencio Avalos, the miner chosen to come up first, cheered, sang and prayed.

"We made a promise to never surrender, and we kept it," Pinera said earlier as he waited to greet the miners, whose endurance and unity captivated the world as Chile meticulously prepared their rescue.

Mining Minister Laurence Golborne said he hoped the first of the miners would still emerge before midnight, a slow process because of the need for methodical testing with a rescue worker inside once all the cables are attached and tested.

Avalos, the 31-year-old second-in-command of the miners, has been so shy that he volunteered to handle the camera rescuers sent down so he wouldn't have to appear on the videos that the miners sent up.

The last miner out is also decided: Shift foreman Luis Urzua, whose leadership was credited for helping the men endure 17 days with no outside contact after the collapse. The men made 48 hours' worth of rations last before rescuers reached them with a narrow borehole to send down more food.

Janette Marin, sister-in-law of miner Dario Segovia, said the order of rescue didn't matter. "What matters is that he is getting out, that they are all getting out.

"This won't be a success unless they all get out," she added, echoing the solidarity that the miners and people across Chile have expressed.

The paramedics can change the order of rescue based on a brief medical check once they're in the mine. First out will be those best able to handle any difficulties and tell their comrades what to expect. Then, the weakest and the ill - in this case, about 10 suffer from hypertension, diabetes, dental and respiratory infections and skin lesions from the mine's oppressive humidity. The last should be people who are both physically fit and strong of character.

Ad Feedback Chile has taken extensive precautions to ensure the miners' privacy, using a screen to block the top of the shaft from the more than 1000 journalists at the scene.

The miners will be ushered through an inflatable tunnel, like those used in sports stadiums, to an ambulance for a trip of several hundred metres to a triage station for a medical check. They will gather with a few relatives in an area also closed to the media, before being taken by helicopter to a hospital.

Each ride up the shaft is expected to take about 20 minutes, and authorities expect they can haul up one miner per hour. When the last man surfaces, it promises to end a national crisis that began when 700,000 tons of rock collapsed August 5, sealing the miners into the lower reaches of the mine.

The only media allowed to record them coming out of the shaft will be a government photographer and Chile's state TV channel, whose live broadcast will be delayed by 30 seconds or more to prevent the release of anything unexpected. Photographers and camera operators are on a platform more than 300 feet (90 meters) away.

The worst technical problem that could happen, rescue coordinator Andre Sougarett told The Associated Press, is that "a rock could fall," potentially jamming the capsule partly up the shaft.

Panic attacks are the rescuers' biggest concern. The miners will not be sedated - they need to be alert in case something goes wrong. If a miner must get out more quickly, rescuers will accelerate the capsule to a maximum 3 meters per second, Health Minister Jaime Manalich said.

The rescue attempt is risky simply because no one else has ever tried to extract miners from such depths, said Davitt McAteer, who directed the US Mine Safety and Health Administration in the Clinton administration. A miner could get claustrophobic and do something to damage the capsule. Or a falling rock could wedge it in the shaft. Or the cable could get hung up. Or the rig that pulls the cable could overheat.

"You can be good and you can be lucky. And they've been good and lucky," McAteer told the AP. "Knock on wood that this luck holds out for the next 33 hours."

Golborne, whose management of the crisis has made him a media star in Chile, said authorities had already thought of everything.

"There is no need to try to start guessing what could go wrong. We have done that job," Golborne said. "We have hundreds of different contingencies."

As for the miners, Manalich said, "It remains a paradox - they're actually much more relaxed than we are."

Rescuers finished reinforcing the top of the 622-metre escape shaft Monday, and the four-metre capsule descended flawlessly in tests. The capsule - the biggest of three built by Chilean navy engineers - was named Phoenix I for the mythical bird that rises from ashes. It is painted in the white, blue and red of the Chilean flag.

The miners were to be closely monitored from the moment they're strapped in the capsule. They were given a high-calorie liquid diet donated by NASA, designed to keep them from vomiting as the rescue capsule rotates 10 to 12 times through curves in the 28-inch-diameter escape hole.

A small video camera is in the escape capsule, trained on each miner's face for panic attacks. The miners will wear oxygen masks and have two-way voice communication.

Their pulse, skin temperature and respiration rate will be constantly measured through a biomonitor around their abdomens. To prevent blood clotting from the quick ascent, they took aspirin and will wear compression socks.

The miners will also wear sweaters because they'll experience a shift in climate from about 90 degrees underground to near freezing on the surface after nightfall. Those coming out during daylight hours will wear sunglasses.

Engineers inserted steel piping at the top of the shaft, which is angled 11 degrees off vertical before plunging like a waterfall. Drillers had to curve the shaft to pass through "virgin" rock, narrowly avoiding collapsed areas and underground open spaces in the overexploited mine, which had operated since 1885.

Seconds before each miner surfaces, a siren will sound and a light will flash for a minute to alert doctors to an arriving miner.

After initial medical checks and visits with family members selected by the miners, the men will be flown to the hospital in Copiapo, a 10-minute ride away. Two floors have been prepared where the miners will receive physical and psychological exams and be kept under observation in a ward as dark as a movie theatre.

Chilean air force Lt Colonel Aldo Carbone said helicopter pilots have night-vision goggles but won't fly unless it is clear of the thick Pacific Ocean fog that rolls in at night.

Families were urged to wait and prepare to greet the miners at home after a 48-hour hospital stay. Manalich said no cameras or interviews will be allowed until the miners are released, unless the miners expressly desire it.

Neighbours looked forward to barbecues and parties to replace the vigils held since their friends were trapped.

Urzua's neighbours told the AP that he probably insisted on being the last one up.

"He's a very good guy - he keeps everybody's spirits up and is so responsible - he's going to see this through to the end," said neighbour Angelica Vicencio, who has led a nightly vigil outside the Urzua home in Copiapo.

US President Barack Obama praised rescuers, who include many Americans. "While that rescue is far from over and difficult work remains, we pray that by God's grace, the miners will be able to emerge safely and return to their families soon," he said.

Chile has promised that its care of the miners won't end for six months at least - not until they can be sure that each miner has readjusted.

Psychiatrists and other experts in surviving extreme situations predict their lives will be anything but normal.

Since Aug. 22, when a narrow bore hole broke through to their refuge and the miners stunned the world with a note, scrawled in red pen, disclosing their survival, their families have been exposed in ways they never imagined. Miners had to describe their physical and mental health in minute detail with teams of doctors and psychologists. In some cases, when both wives and lovers claimed the same man, everyone involved had to face the consequences.

Acknowledgements:  Reuters for story and images.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Screen Actors GuildImage via Wikipedia
Hobbit movie actors 'political' pawns...

.Kiwi actors are being used as pawns in a high-stakes game involving Sir Peter Jackson's The Hobbit, in a bid to keep all movie production in the United States.

That's the claim from the Screen Production and Development Association (Spada) which believes the powerful American union, the Screen Actors Guild, is trying to impose their working conditions on New Zealand productions.

Actors Equity is battling Jackson over working agreements. He has threatened to take production offshore if it is not resolved. Shows his real motives?

Spada chief executive Penelope Borland believed Kiwi actors may not be aware of what political games were behind the issue of stopping "runaway" productions setting up outside the States.

Actors Equity spokeswoman Frances Walsh would not comment yesterday.

Actors Equity, backed by Australia's Media Entertainment Arts Alliance, has instituted a stop work order, with the support of performers' unions from the States, United Kingdom and Canada.

This prevents union members from signing up to work on The Hobbit until the producers negotiate a collective agreement with actors.

Jackson has refused to do so because he says it would be illegal under New Zealand law.

He is also reluctant to set a precedent for the industry by negotiating such an agreement.

Borland says the dispute is throwing future film and television work into doubt.

But film industry veterans are worried about losing work here.

Film technician Daniel Birt, who worked on King Kong, District 9 and Avatar, is nervous that if union rules are introduced, New Zealand will lose its competitive advantage as a film location to countries such as Czech Republic or South Africa which have also developed state-of-the-art facilities.

"If we set up these unions the Americans won't come here," said Birt.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

England and Wales.Image via Wikipedia
 More black people jailed in England and Wales proportionally than the US... 

More black people jailed in England and Wales proportionally than in USNew study finds seven times more black people per population are in prison – in the US number is just four times as many


Randeep Ramesh, social affairs editor The Guardian, Monday 11 October 2010 Article history

The number of black people jailed in England and Wales is seven times larger than the amount they make up of the population. Photograph: i love images / Alamy/Alamy

The proportion of black people in prison in England and Wales is higher than in the United States, a landmark report released today by the Equality and Human Rights Commission reveals.

The commission's first triennial report into the subject, How Fair is Britain, shows that the proportion of people of African-Caribbean and African descent incarcerated here is almost seven times greater to their share of the population. In the United States, the proportion of black prisoners to population is about four times greater.

The report, which aims to set out how to measure "fairness" in Britain, says that ethnic minorities are "substantially over-represented in the custodial system". It suggests many of those jailed have "mental health issues, learning disabilities, have been in care or experienced abuse".

Experts and politicians said over-representation of black men was a result of decades of racial prejudice in the criminal justice system and an overly punitive approach to penal affairs.

"People will be and should be shocked by this data," said Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust. "We have a tendency to say we are better than the US, but we have not got prison right."

Lyon said that although there had been "numerous efforts to address racism in the prison system … we have yet to get a better relationship between justice authorities and black communities. Instead we have ended up with mistrust breeding mistrust."

Evidence of this damaged relationship can be found in the commission's report. On the streets, black people were subjected to what the report describes as an "excess" of 145,000 stop and searches in 2008. It notes that black people constitute less than 3% of the population, yet made up 15% of people stopped by police.

The commission found that five times more black people than white people per head of population in England and Wales are imprisoned. The ethnic minority prison population has doubled in a decade – from 11,332 in 1998 to 22,421 in 2008. Over a similar period, the overall number of prisoners rose by less than two thirds. The commission says that the total number of people behind bars accelerated in the last decade despite "a similar number of crimes being reported to the police as in the early 1990s … the volume of indictable offences has fallen over this time".

A quarter of the people in prison are from an ethnic minority. Muslims now make up 12% of the prison population in England and Wales.

Some on the left of the Labour party blame its policies while in power. Diane Abbott, who raised the alarm over the growing numbers of jailed black men as a backbencher, said she "very much regretted that the last Labour government swallowed [former home secretary] Michael Howard's line that 'prison works'."

"There was never a serious examination of the consequences of locking up a generation of young black men. The result is there are some prisons in the south east which are now virtually all black. Many are converting to Islam."

The problems may start at school. The commission points out that black children are three times as likely to be permanently excluded from education.

"We are reaping the effects of criminalising a community in the 1970s," says Ben Bowling, professor of criminal justice at Kings College London and a former adviser to the home affairs select committee.

"The question is how you break the cycle when young men experience custody. Three quarters simply re-offend. We have to intervene with families more effectively to stop kids going to prison. That means looking at school exclusions. You need to deal with issues like mental health and substance abuse. It is not enough to throw our hands in the air."

The policies implemented in the last decade mean incarceration levels in Britain are now among the highest in western Europe. England and Wales have an imprisonment rate of 155 per 100,000 and Scotland of 149 per 100,000 of the population. This contrasts with rates of less than 100 per 100,000 for most of Britain's neighbours.

The commission also warns of the rising numbers of women in jails. It says that the "number of women prisoners has nearly doubled since 1995 in England and Wales, and since 2000 in Scotland – currently around 5% of prisoners are women".

The Ministry of Justice said that the government would not comment on individual portions of the report.