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Emiliano Sala: man who organised fatal flight ‘knew pilot was unqualified’



Emiliano Sala

Emiliano Sala: man who organised fatal flight ‘knew pilot was unqualified’

A plane operator who organised the flight in which the footballer Emiliano Sala was killed knew the pilot was not qualified to fly at night and was not competent in bad weather, a jury has been told.

The court heard that when David Henderson was told the plane piloted by David Ibbotson had crashed into the sea he messaged a friend: “Ibbo has crashed the Malibu and killed himself and VIP pax [passenger]! Bloody disaster. There will be an enquiry.”

He told another contact: “Opens up a whole can of worms. Keep very quiet”. And he sent a note to the plane’s engineer: “Don’t say a word to anyone.”

The single-engine Piper Malibu aircraft was flying the 28-year-old Argentinian striker from Nantes in France to Wales, where he was to join Cardiff City, then a Premier League side.

It crashed on 21 January 2019 north of Guernsey. Sala’s body was recovered from the seabed the following month, but neither the body of Ibbotson, 59, from Crowle, Lincolnshire, nor the plane’s wreckage have been recovered.

Henderson, 67, of Hotham, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, denies acting in a reckless or negligent manner likely to endanger the aircraft. The court heard how Henderson, himself a pilot, was not available to fly the aircraft himself as he was away with his wife in Paris.

The jury at Cardiff crown court heard that the football agent Willie McKay asked Henderson to arrange for Sala to be flown from Nantes to the UK. Henderson sent McKay a note: “Can you ping me over £4k as float?”

Martin Goudie QC told the jury that Henderson organised for Ibbotson to carry Sala even though he did not have a commercial pilot’s licence and he was not competent to fly in poor weather.

Goudie said: “Mr Henderson acted either negligently or recklessly in a manner that was likely to endanger [the plane] and those on it. He ignored certain requirements when it suited him and his business interests.”

The jury was told there were issues with Ibbotson’s flying the year before the tragedy. A message from a friend to Henderson in the summer of 2018 after a flight involving the pilot read: “The Ibbotson experience was interesting! He was all over the place.”

In an exchange of messages between Henderson and Ibbotson at around the same time, the operator wrote: “We both have an opportunity to make money out of the business model but not if we upset clients or draw the attention of the CAA [the Civil Aviation Authority].”

On the morning of 19 January Henderson raised the issue of bad weather with Ibbotson. The pilot flew to Nantes and informed Henderson he had had difficulties with the plane. The time for the flight back to Cardiff was pushed back to after dark on 21 January.

Goudie said: “He [Henderson] raised no issue with Mr Ibbotson flying at such a time even though he knew full well Mr Ibbotson was not qualified to fly at night.”

At 9.23pm the coastguard spoke to Henderson about the crash. He quickly contacted engineer David Smith and told him: “Don’t say a word to anyone.”

Goudie said: “The wording of this message was interesting – it’s not: ‘Isn’t it a disaster someone we’ve been working with has gone missing’; it is instead just: “Don’t say a word to anyone’.”

The prosecutor said Ibbotson had never held a commercial pilot’s licence, so he should not have been paid for being a pilot. Nor did he have a “night rating”, required for a flight to be flown between half an hour after sunset to half an hour before sunrise

The trial continues.

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UN chief warns of ‘catastrophe’ from global food shortage



UN chief warns of ‘catastrophe’ from global food shortage

The head of the United Nations warned Friday that the world faces “catastrophe” because of the growing shortage of food around the globe.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the war in Ukraine has added to the disruptions caused by climate change, the coronavirus pandemic and inequality to produce an “unprecedented global hunger crisis” already affecting hundreds of millions of people.

“There is a real risk that multiple famines will be declared in 2022,” he said in a video message to officials from dozens of rich and developing countries gathered in Berlin. “And 2023 could be even worse.”

Guterres noted that harvests across Asia, Africa and the Americas will take a hit as farmers around the world struggle to cope with rising fertilizer and energy prices.

“This year’s food access issues could become next year’s global food shortage,” he said. “No country will be immune to the social and economic repercussions of such a catastrophe.”

Guterres said U.N. negotiators were working on a deal that would enable Ukraine to export food, including via the Black Sea, and let Russia bring food and fertilizer to world markets without restrictions.

He also called for debt relief for poor countries to help keep their economies afloat and for the private sector to help stabilize global food markets.

The Berlin meeting’s host, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, said Moscow’s claim that Western sanctions imposed over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were to blame for food shortages was “completely untenable.”

Russia exported as much wheat in May and June this year as in the same months of 2021, Baerbock said.

She echoed Guterres’ comments that several factors underlie the growing hunger crisis around the world.

“But it was Russia’s war of attack against Ukraine that turned a wave into a tsunami,” Baerbock said.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted that Russia has no excuse for holding back vital goods from world markets.

“The sanctions that we’ve imposed on Russia collectively and with many other countries exempt food, exempt food products, exempt fertilizers, exempt insurers, exempt shippers,” he said.

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Bandits release Zamfara wedding guests after payment of ransom



Bandits release Zamfara wedding guests after payment of ransom

Local and federal highways in the North-west have become vulnerable as bandits continue to ambush and abduct travellers.

The gunmen who abducted 29 people returning to Zamfara State from Sokoto State where they had gone to attend the wedding of colleagues have released them after the payment of an unspecified ransom.

The victims, who were mostly dealers of mobile phones and phone accessories at Bebeji Communication Market (Bebeji Plaza) in Gusau, the capital of Zamfara State were abducted in Sokoto 13 days ago.

Secretary of the GSM Dealers Association in the state, Ashiru Zurmi, confirmed the release of the victims but didn’t give details.

One of the victims reportedly died in captivity.

Though the amount paid as ransom to secure the release of the hostages has not been revealed, Abdullahi Lawal, whose brother was among those abducted, said their relatives were asked to make donations. He said his family raised N33,000 while the phone sellers’ association “provided the remaining money.”

“Every family was told to gather N400,000 while the members of the plaza and their colleagues in the state provided the remaining money. Some family members were able to raise the money in full, but we couldn’t. I took the money to the plaza and I was told that they were still negotiating with the bandits” he said.

He said he didn’t know how much was given to the bandits “but I’m happy that my brother is okay,” he said.

From N5m to N700,000

A phone accessories seller, Sharhabilu Muhammad, told PREMIUM TIMES over the phone that the officials of the phone dealers association negotiated with the bandits to reduce the ransom they originally demanded to release the captives.

“You know that the initial money they said was N5m for each of the captives but our officials kept negotiating with them (bandits) until they reduced the money to N700k,” he said.

When asked about the person who reportedly died in captivity, Mr Muhammed said his identity has not been revealed.

“We don’t know because even the bandits didn’t tell but we’ll surely find out when they (captives) arrive at Gusau tonight,” he added.

The police command spokesman, Mohammed Shehu, didn’t respond to calls and SMS sent to him on the development.


PREMIUM TIMES reported that the wedding guests were abducted when bandits opened fire on the two buses they were travelling in a few kilometres after Bimasa in the Dogon Awo junction, Sokoto State.

They were returning from Tambuwal town in Sokoto State where they had attended the wedding of a colleague, Jamil Umar.

The captives were travelling on a Toyota Coaster bus belonging to the Universal Basic Education Commission UBEC and another bus owned by Gusau Local Government.

The bandits had demanded a ransom of N145 million to release the 29 hostages.

Bandits have been terrorising North-west states and a part of North-central Nigeria, killing and displacing hundreds of people and rustling domestic animals.

Travelling on federal and local highways is becoming dangerous as bandits block roads, abduct and kill motorists.

Major federal highways including Abuja-Kaduna, Gusau-Sokoto-Birnin Kebbi, and Birnin Gwari-Kaduna have become travellers’ nightmares with attacks and abduction or killing of travellers becoming a daily occurrence.

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Reps demand review of public officers’ salaries, allowances



Reps demand review of public officers’ salaries, allowances

A motion seeking the intervention of the House of Representatives in the conflict between the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad, and Justices of the Supreme Court, over issues bordering on welfare and working conditions suffered a setback on Thursday.

While the House called for a general review of salaries and allowances of all political office holders and public servants, the members were divided over which committees should handle the task.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, Onofiok Luke, had moved a motion to seek the intervention of the chamber in the crisis rocking the apex court and better welfare package for judicial officers across the courts.

Luke, who moved the motion titled, ‘Need to Address the Deteriorating Working Conditions of Judicial Officers,’ prayed the House to urge the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission to upwardly review the remuneration of judicial officers in line with present economic realities.

The lawmaker prayed the House to urge the Federal Government to increase the budgetary allocation of the judiciary for the upcoming fiscal year and provide special intervention funds for the development of the arm

He further prayed the House to mandate the Committee on Judiciary to ensure compliance and report back within six weeks for further legislative action.

While the lawmakers were making amendments to the prayers, the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, called for an upward review of the welfare package of all public office holders.

Wase, who stated that he appreciated the memo from the Justices to the CJN, noted that only the RMAFC had the responsibility to review remuneration of government officials.

The Deputy Speaker made reference to a part of the motion that read, ‘The remuneration of judicial officers was last reviewed in 2008 by the RMAFC when the official exchange rate was N117.74 to $1, whereas the naira has considerably depreciated.’

Wase partly said, “I think this particular element does not affect just judicial officers, maybe because they cried out now. I don’t think it is right that we have to wait every time until people write letters of complaints and there is protest before we begin to do the right thing.”

Rephrasing Wase’s proposed amendment, Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, said: “The DSP’s amendment is that we should not isolate the Judiciary and all those enumerated constitutional bodies and public office holders. They should be reviewed; a comprehensive review based on all the things that Hon Luke said – the exchange rates and this and that.”

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