Sep 19, 2017 Last Updated 8:40 AM, Sep 19, 2017


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The Zimbabwean High Court on Monday deferred to Thursday the hearing of an urgent chamber application by the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC-T, where the main opposition political party is seeking an order to suspend the new registration of voters, saying the country’s elections management body, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), is “ill-prepared” to conduct the exercise.

The opposition party on September 13, through their lawyers Rudo Magundani and Evans Moyo of Scanlen and Holderness, filed the urgent chamber application challenging President Robert Mugabe’s proclamation which he made on September 8, arguing that Zec was not prepared for the beginning of new registration of voters.

They said the electoral body did not have both sufficient equipment and trained personnel to commence the registration exercise.

High Court judge Justice Davison Foroma deferred the case to Thursday after Mugabe’s representatives indicated they needed time to study and respond to the opposition party’s sit-down application.

Mugabe proclaimed September 14, 2017, as the date upon which new voter registrations would begin and January 15, 2018, as the last date upon which claims and applications for registration shall be received in all wards and constituencies.

Magundani and Moyo argued that notwithstanding Mugabe’s proclamation, there was a risk of disenfranchisement of voters because of the “premature” proclamation and the period prescribed in Mugabe’s proclamation was “inadequate” to complete the voter registration exercise and capture all the biometric voter registration data.

The MDC-T also protested against the “lack of clarity on procurement of and custody of servers, involvement of security personnel, inadequate information on location of polling stations and voter registration”.

Borussia Dortmund moved top of the Bundesliga by thrashing Cologne, who suffered the German top-flight's worst start since the 1962-63 season.

Cologne have lost all four Bundesliga matches this campaign, have only scored one league goal and have a goal difference of minus 11.

Both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Maximilian Philipp netted twice, with Sokratis Papastathopoulos also scoring.

Cologne's Europa League game at Arsenal on Thursday was delayed by an hour.  

About 20,000 Cologne fans arrived in London for the first match in the group stage despite a ticket allocation of only 2,900, with the Gunners going on to win 3-1.

Dortmund have won three and drew one of their four Bundesliga matches, but did loce 3-1 to Tottenham  in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Forty-three people have been sentenced to life in prison after a mass trial in Egypt that also saw years-long sentences given to hundreds of others.

Almost 500 people were charged with crimes over the violence which erupted following the removal of President Mohammed Morsi in 2013.

Three hundred of those on trial received sentences ranging from five to 15 years.

Fifty-four people were acquitted, including Irish citizen Ibrahim Halawa.

Mr Halawa was aged 17 when he was arrested and says he was tortured during his more than fou-year imprisonment. 

A US citizen, Ahmed Etiwy, was among those sentenced to five years in prison.

The mass trial was held in a courtroom at Wadi al-Natroun prison north of Cairo, human rights group Amnesty International says.

The defendants faced a range of charges, including killing 44 people, breaking into a mosque, and possessing firearms, following rallies in support of the ousted Mr Morsi in August 2013.

Hundreds of protesters and dozens of security personnel died when security forces broke up pro-Morsi gatherings.

In the months that followed, there was a crackdown on the former president's supporters, and on the Muslim Brotherhood group to which he belongs, which Egypt later declared a "terrorist organisation".

Thousands of people have been arrested since.

In the latest mass trial, all defendants had faced a possible death penalty, but instead:

  • 43 were sentenced to life imprisonment (25 years)
  • 17 were sentenced to 15 years
  • 67 were given 10-year sentences
  • 216 were given five years
  • 52 were acquitted

It remains unclear exactly what sentences the others received.

Amnesty International labelled the mass trial "utterly disgraceful" and accused the court of "sham proceedings".

It claimed that out of 330 defendants who had been imprisoned for more than four years, there was only evidence against two of them.

"These proceedings expose the deep flaws in Egypt's notorious criminal justice system," the group's North Africa campaign spokesperson, Najia Bounaim, said.

Isha Johansen is to bid for re-election as Sierra Leone's FA president despite saying she suffered 'intimidation' and 'discrimination' during her first term.

Africa's only female FA president took charge in 2013 and her reign has been blighted by controversy, infighting and the Ebola crisis.

"I have decided to run for a second term in office - after careful deliberation," Johansen told BBC Sport.

"I would like to finish what I started. There is unfinished business."

"Considering Ebola took away two years and the remaining two years were marred with controversy, infighting, boycotts and all kinds of weird and wonderful antics by those who oppose my leadership, we have still managed to achieve quite a great deal."

Johansen lists an increase in coaches, both male and female, better playing surfaces and improved national teams among her feats.

The Sierra Leone FA (SLFA) should have held elections on 3 August but these were delayed by Fifa until integrity checks on current and potential SLFA executive members are carried out.

Football's world governing body is due in Freetown next week to pave the way for new elections and address a match-fixing inquiry.

Johansen believes her decision to back the inquiry into whether Sierra Leone's World Cup qualifier against South Africa in 2008 was fixed has created many of her problems, which include an arrest and a court injunction.

Since 2014, eleven officials and four players have been suspended by the SLFA pending investigation. They have all denied wrongdoing.

"Are the intimidation and harassment because of the match-fixing? Maybe it is because certain people believe I instigated it," she refuted.

"I believe it would probably not have been so aggressive and antagonistic had the impending match-fixing inquiry been dropped."

"(But) if it has been alleged that this has been going on, we owe it to the country and world to prove that Sierra Leone is clean of these allegations. If it did indeed happen, then those who are guilty will be brought to book."

Criminal networks smuggling rhino horn out of Africa are turning it into jewellery to evade its detection in airports, an investigation has found.

Wildlife trademonitoring network Traffick revealed an “emerging trend” of making and smuggling beads, bracelets and bangles and rhino horn powder.

The lead investigator told BBC News the trade in rhino horn was now "morphing" into a market for luxury items.

At least 7,100 rhinos are estimated to have been killed in Africa since 2007.

Today, about 25,000 of the animals remain.

Julian Rademeyer from Traffic explained that the production of rhino horn "trinkets" mirrored some of the patterns seen in the trade in ivory.

"It's very worrying," he told BBC News. "Because if someone's walking through the airport wearing a necklace made of rhino horn, who is going to stop them?

"Police are looking for a piece of horn and whole horns."

The primary destinations for smuggled rhino horn remain the same; the largest markets are in China and Vietnam. But this investigation also found that smuggling routes constantly changed and adapted, becoming more complex in order to avoid countries and airports where law enforcement resources were being focused.

This shift in how horn is processed before it is moved could make it more difficult to detect.

"This is quite a preliminary assessment," explained Mr Rademeyer, "but it's vital that there's information sharing about these new trends - particularly with law enforcement."

He added that the market for medicinal rhino horn - believed by many to be a cure for a range of illnesses, from rheumatism to cancer - seemed to have "reduced somewhat".

But owning rhino horn - particularly for wealthy men in Vietnam - is also seen as a status symbol.

"It's about power - about showing off your wealth," said Mr Rademeyer. "It's been called the Ferrari factor - having something says you are wealthy and that you're untouchable [by the law]."

Susie Offord-Woolley, managing director of the charity Save the Rhino International, said this kind of information was "essential" in order that law enforcement officers could be trained to identify rhino horn jewellery.

"The fact they're carving [the horn] up now means these gangs are getting more concerned about security, and that's a good sign," she added.

At the current rate of poaching, Save the Rhino says that rhinos could be extinct in the wild within the next 10 years.

"That's what we're all trying to avoid," said Ms Offord-Woolley.

And while this is a fight to save a species, she added, "this also affects so many people".

She added: "In last 10 years, 1,000 rangers have been killed in Africa while on patrol protecting rhinos.

"So this is an issue for people's lives, as well."

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