Belarus ‘hijack’ draws world angst
There has been global condemnation for the Belarus Government after it forced a Ryanair airliner flying from Athens to Vilnius, to land in Minsk under the pretext of a bomb threat on board and arrest an opponent in exile, journalist Roman Protasevich, together with his girlfriend. European nations reacted with outrage, accusing Belarus of “state terrorism” and L’Echo quotes European Council chairman Charles Michel saying EU leaders will discuss “this unprecedented incident” later today at a special European Council. Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, called it “utterly unacceptable” and warned that those responsible must be sanctioned.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said this was a “serious and dangerous incident”. The UN’s agency for civil aviation, ICAO, said it was concerned about an “apparent forced landing” which could be “in contravention of the Chicago Convention” which sets out the rules on airspace and aircraft safety. The US State Department said it was “a shocking act” that endangered the lives of more than 170 passengers. Other countries, including France and the UK, lined up to condemn Belarus’ actions. Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said: “Hijacking a civilian plane is an unprecedented act of state terrorism that cannot go unpunished.” Both Latvia and Lithuania said the airspace over Belarus should be recognised as unsafe, with Latvia’s Foreign Minister saying it should be closed to all international flights.
Minneapolis remembers George Floyd
USA Today says some 1,500 people rallied in Minneapolis on Sunday ahead of the first anniversary of the death of George Floyd, the unarmed 46-year-old who was killed when former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for around nine minutes. Chauvin was found guilty of murder and the incident reignited the Black Lives Matter movement as protests took place around the world. The event was held in front of the court building, where Chauvin will tomorrow hear how long he will have to spend in prison. President Biden will tomorrow receive Floyd’s family at the White House.
Black Lives Matter UK member shot
Meanwhile, Sky News reports a young activist of the Black Lives Matter movement has been hospitalised in critical condition in London after someone shot her in the head. Sasha Johnson, in her twenties and mother of three, had been repeatedly threatened with death, and was shot on Sunday afternoon in the Southark neighborhood of south London.
Victoria investigates new COVID-19 positive cases
The Age says Australia’s second most populous state Victoria is investigating two suspected positive COVID-19 cases in Melbourne. If confirmed, these would be the first community transmissions in the state in nearly three months. Victoria was the worst hit Australian state during a second wave of the pandemic late last year, accounting for about 70% of total cases and 90% of deaths. The state only controlled the outbreak after one of the world’s longest and strictest lockdowns.
13 killed in Italy’s cable car tragedy
La Stampa reports 13 people died instantly when a cable car linking Italy’s Lake Maggiore with a nearby mountain plunged 20 meters to the ground. The dead included a two-year-old child, while another nine-year-old died at the children’s hospital in Turin, where the only survivor, a five-year-old, is hospitalised on a reserved prognosis. The plant had reopened on April 24.