Rescuers reveal desperate fight to save drowning siblings from notorious rip at Apollo Bay


King Fue spent the first 15 years of her life living beside the sea in Samoa, where she would swim with her brothers on most days in calm, protected bays.

Anton McMurray grew up in the mountains of the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne, but spent his summers surfing with his brother at the beaches along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road.

Last Monday, on January 25, these strangers found themselves grasping each other and gasping for air in a desperate fight for their lives as a ferocious ocean rip tried to drag them under and pull them further out to sea.

Around the nation, similar terrifying experiences have cast a pall over summer, with 40 people losing their lives in Australian beach tragedies since December 1, and many more being pulled from the sea close to death.

But much can be learned from the fateful encounter of King and Anton.

This is the story of how four siblings were rescued from the watery clutches of death by two brothers from another family, who risked their own lives to save them.

It is also the story of how a makeshift triage team of family, friends and other bystanders on the beach flew into action, helping from the shallows, administering lifesaving first aid and communicating with emergency services to give those pulled from the water a fighting chance.

In short, it is the inside story of how a day at the beach became a fight for life — and what it took to fend off tragedy.

King Fue doesn’t have many opportunities to visit the coast these days, as the 25-year-old flight attendant now lives in a housing estate in Melbourne’s far-northern suburbs.

So on Monday last week, King and her family were full of enthusiasm when they decided to make a spontaneous trip down the Great Ocean Road to Apollo Bay.

They had never been before, but had heard it was beautiful, so they packed a picnic and hit the road. Two and a half hours later, they arrived at Marengo, an unpatrolled beach west of Apollo Bay’s main swimming area.

King said that some family members, eager to feel the splash of salt water on their skin, rushed into the water while others set up the picnic under a shady tree.

Within moments, three members of King’s family — her brother Junior and sister Vaisaele, both 18, and her 14-year-old sister Agnes — were caught in a strong rip at the mouth of an estuary.

She instinctively rushed into the water to help them.

Within minutes they were all struggling to keep their heads above water as they were being swept out to sea.

By the end of the day, King’s siblings were in hospital and she was on her way home, in shock and exhausted.

If sculptor Anton McMurray, 47, and his brother Myron, 41, had not been nearby with their friends and family, that could very well have been the outcome for the Fue family last Monday.

It was soon after taking this photograph and making a video call to her brother to show him how beautiful the beach was, that King realised her siblings were not having fun in the water, as she had thought, but were actually in real trouble, struggling against a rip.

“All I wanted to do was to get in the water and save them,” King said.

“I got fabric so I could try and rope them in but the fabric wasn’t long enough, and then I was in the current.

“I said, ‘I can’t get to you but I need you to float’.”

King estimates her brother and sisters had been struggling in the water for about 10 minutes before she reached them. She had rushed into the water so quickly she was still wearing her dress, and it began to weigh her down.

“It was just the rip, no matter how hard we tried to come to shore it was just pushing us back,” King said.

Then, like a miracle, a group of bystanders — or “angels”, as King describes them — appeared on the beach.

As fate would have it, those “angels” had sufficient medical skills and surf-lifesaving knowledge to make it through the mammoth effort required to save King and her siblings.

But the ocean did not give in without a fearsome fight.

Anton and Myron McMurray, both strong swimmers, heard the Fue family’s calls for help and made a snap decision to attempt a rescue at the notorious Marengo rip.

Everyone knows the cruel irony that it is often the people who rush into raging surf to rescue others who end up drowning due to exhaustion.

Amid the frantic battle for survival unfolding just a few kilometres from one of Victoria’s most popular beaches, both the rescuers and those they were trying to save knew the odds of them all surviving were slim.

As the Fue and McMurray families and other beachgoers watched anxiously from shore, Anton and Myron ploughed through the ocean and reached Vaisaele and Agnes first.

Anton said they managed to pull the girls from the rip and get them back to the shallows, where their friends were waiting to carry the teenagers to shore.

Both girls were breathing but Vaisaele was unresponsive.

Friends and family of the McMurray brothers and other bystanders immediately used their lifesaving and nursing skills to administer first aid as they waited for an ambulance and lifesavers from Apollo Bay to arrive.

Rushing straight back out into the waves again, the brothers finally reached King and Junior, who by that stage were exhausted and incapable of keeping their heads above water.

A friend attempted to help with the rescue by using a stand-up paddle board but was unable to reach them in the rough conditions.

Anton took hold of King and Myron supported Junior. But as they all struggled, Anton and Myron realised they, too, were quickly running out of energy.

It was at this point, Anton said, that his training as a pool lifeguard really helped him to keep calm and make decisions during the chaos of the rescue.

“They were climbing on top of us and pushing us under, just to try to get a breath of air.

“Then of course we’re getting exhausted by that stage and I was really worried about my brother.

Back on shore, as Myron’s partner, a nurse, and others focused on trying to help the girls, Anton and Myron’s friends’ children realised that the brothers’ lives were now also in danger.

The children grabbed their boogie boards and alerted another adult in their group who was able to swim far enough out to skim the boards across the water to Myron and Junior.

“It was lucky that the kids thought we needed boogie boards, and they ran back and got them,” Anton said.

In the children’s swimming lessons, they had learned that boogie boards could be used to save people from drowning. That early life lesson proved crucial.

After Myron got Junior to shore, he returned with the boogie boards to help his brother.

Anton said that once King knew her siblings were safe, she remained calm despite her exhaustion and the terror of still being caught in the rip.

Eventually, in a last heroic effort to save King and themselves, the exhausted brothers used the boogie boards to “crash” onto some nearby rocks using the force of the waves to propel them.

“I stood back in disbelief.”

Anton said the whole rescue scene on the beach reminded him of a movie set, with everyone quick to act and pitch in.

Two nurses happened to be among those helping, including a local woman who is a critical care nurse.

“It was incredible everyone knew what to do,” he said.

“I’m an experienced surfer, my brother and I have both done surf-lifesaving.

“There [were] nurses amongst us and three of us had done workplace first aid.

He said it proved how important it was for people to make sure they had the basic skills to deal with emergencies, and that it was sheer luck that a team of people so well-equipped to deal with the situation happened to be on the beach at the time.

“We’re not heroes, we didn’t do anything amazing outside of taking opportunities that have been offered [such as] doing some first aid courses,” he said.

“If you like to go to the beach, you’ve learned how to swim and importantly, identify rips.

After emergency services arrived, Vaisaele was airlifted to Geelong Hospital and Junior and Agnes were taken to hospital in ambulances.

King’s family swapped contact details with the McMurrays and the families have kept in touch.

Anton said the “big, beautiful family” was gushing with tears and gratitude.

Anton said he hoped that speaking about last week’s incident would remind beachgoers that it was vital to learn how to safely navigate the ocean rather than be afraid of it.

“It’s not about fear, it’s a beautiful playground we come into contact with, it’s a wild place,” he said.

He said he supported a proposal from the Apollo Bay Surf Lifesaving Club to build a centre in the town dedicated to teaching people practical skills, including how to identify rips and how to enter the water safely.

At the time of the rescue, Apollo Bay volunteer lifeguard Thom Cookes, who helped to save the Fue family, said they had been swept out to sea “very, very quickly” by the notorious rip at Marengo.

King said her family members had all recovered now and were extremely grateful to be alive.

“We are very religious people,” she said.

“I believe we were given a second chance in life by God and he sent those angels that were on the beach to help us through our toughest time.”

She said the children in her family had said they would not swim in the ocean again.

“I told them they can still swim but we need to ask questions about where it’s safe to swim, especially at a new place,” King said.

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Exposing life inside the world’s most notorious prison



Slahi does not want to relive the worst moments of his captivity and so has avoided watching the most traumatic scenes in the film. But, now his book has been turned into a major feature film, he believes it is a clear example of the pen being mightier than the sword. “I don’t believe in violence but my whole story was violence against my body, my innocence, members of my family and I never did anything to the US,” he says. “My movie is a victory for non-violence, it’s a victory of the pen.”

The fact is, however, that while many feature films, documentaries, TV shows, books and news reports have shown the reality of the prison camp, it still remains open. The Obama administration promised to close it and failed. Now President Biden has said he aims to close it before his first term finishes. So with a new president in the Oval Office, could The Mauritanian be the Guantánamo Bay movie to herald the end of the detention centre?

Rahim wants audiences to take away the message of “hope and forgiveness over anger,” while Eviatar says, “any films that depict the tragedy of Guantánamo, the unjust and often haphazard way many men ended up there and thereby put pressure on the US government to close it down, is doing a great service.”

Slahi, who continues to be denied entry into the US and the UK five years after his release from Guantanamo Bay with no compensation or apology, hopes the film will show the Western world that he is an innocent man and that the negative perceptions of Middle Eastern and North African citizens need to end.

“I want people to know my side of the story [and] I feel humbled that it was made into a major motion picture,” he says. “I don’t have weapons, I don’t have the police. I don’t have drones to take out people but I have my words and I want to debate the negative exceptionalism [towards] the Arab world and Africa. We can’t be kidnapped; we can’t be tortured.”

The Mauritianian is in select cinemas in the US now, and will be available on demand there from 2 March. It will be released in the UK on 1 April.

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Snapdeal Says US Report Naming It On Notorious Markets List Defamatory


Snapdeal has contested a US Trade Representative a report.

Washington:

Snapdeal, one of India’s largest e-commerce platforms, has contested a US Trade Representative report that placed it on the Notorious Markets List for counterfeiting and piracy, and termed it ill-informed and incorrect.

Snapdeal and four Indian shopping complexes have figured in the latest 2020 Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy issued by the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR).

“The report released by the USTR tarnishes the image of the world’s leading marketplaces, including Amazon, Mercado Libre, Pinduoduo, Shopee, Snapdeal, Taobao, Tokopedia and many others, based on incorrect understanding of practices and laws applicable to various markets,” a Snapdeal spokesperson said in a statement on Friday.

“The report reflects a poor understanding of the governing law in various jurisdictions, including India. While courts in India continue to uphold and assert the distinction between marketplaces and sellers, the USTR report wilfully blurs this distinction to further a flawed point of view.

“In doing so, it ignores clear and well-established regulatory and legal frameworks under which marketplaces operate,” the company said.

The spokesperson said the comments made about Snapdeal were factually incorrect and repeated the falsehoods contained in a 2019 report, which it had also strongly rebutted.

The lack of diligence is evident in including reference to related sites that have ceased to operate four years ago, the company said.

The USTR, in its report, said Snapdeal remains a concern for right holders who report that the volume of counterfeit products on this platform has increased over the past year.

“According to a November 2018 survey, 37 per cent of purchasers reported that they had received a counterfeit product from Snapdeal. In July 2019, Snapdeal’s founders were accused of criminal conduct in India for selling counterfeit products there. Right holders have also sued Snapdeal for selling counterfeit goods,” it added.

Snapdeal, however, asserted that the USTR report omits any mention of the various on-going, proactive and preventive anti-counterfeiting efforts of the company.

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These include Snapdeal’s robust reporting and swift takedown process program Brand Shield, which has been in operation now for more than two years, it said.

The program has led to close and effective collaboration with leading national and international brands, building on which Snapdeal has formed alliances with various brands to provide additional protection for brands with registered trademarks, the company said.

“The report also fails to acknowledge the continuing close co-operation between platforms, brands and law-enforcement agencies, all of which have led to significant and productive outcomes,” the spokesperson said.

“The USTR report reflects a blinkered and flawed view of the world. The report not only fails to make a distinction between the respective roles of brands, sellers and platforms, but also wilfully ignores the applicable laws in various jurisdictions, including in India,” Snapdeal alleged.

The report is also factually incorrect on many counts, it said, adding there have been no criminal accusations against the founders for selling counterfeit products.

“Such negligent statements and unverified reporting by USTR is defamatory and unacceptable,” it said.

“The process of collating inputs by USTR continues to be outdated, opaque and based on unverified inputs. We firmly disagree with the ”findings” of the report, specifically in its observations relating to Snapdeal,” the spokesperson said.

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RSPCA adoption transformed this beagle’s life after his mum was rescued from notorious puppy farm


Toowoomba woman Ali Davenport is proud to call herself a “foster failure” in the animal rescue world.

Eleven years after she and husband Ivan brought home a beagle puppy for a month or so, Marco is still there — sleeping on the bed and getting endless pats.

But their lives would look very different if not for an RSPCA raid that saved the dog from being born at one of Queensland’s most notorious puppy farms.

Ms Davenport wants to raise awareness of the joys of adopting rescue dogs and make people think twice about buying puppies without seeing their parents’ living conditions.

“[Marco] is absolutely one of the loves of our life,” she said.

RSPCA inspectors seized 244 dogs, including Marco’s mum, from a property at Wondai in the South Burnett region in 2009, many in terrible health and living in shocking conditions.

Marco was born in the RSPCA’s care a short time later and joined the Davenports at four months old when they saw a call-out for temporary homes.

“We weren’t looking for a dog at all. We had a busy life,” Ms Davenport said.

“But when we heard the call … we thought, ‘Yeah we can do that’.

“For the first month you couldn’t let him out of your sight. He was such a terror.”

But she was smitten regardless.

Marco’s mum was seized from one of Queensland’s worst puppy farms.(ABC News: Ellen Jolley)

Laws limit RSPCA’s power

RSPCA spokesperson Michael Beatty said the raid at Wondai was one of the largest and most distressing the organisation had ever carried out in Queensland.

“Our inspectors were stunned,” he said.

“They’d expected that there could well be a few animals that needed veterinary care and perhaps they might have to issue welfare directions to the kennel owners.

Among the 244 dogs seized were Labradors, miniature and standard poodles and shih tzus, as well as beagles.

“It was a very depressing situation, compounded by the fact that they only had a license for 60 dogs,” Mr Beatty said.

“We haven’t actually come across numbers like that since.”

A cocker spaniel dog lies in a cage with its head down in a dilapidated shed.
A scene from the raid of the Wondai puppy farm in 2009.(Supplied: RSPCA)

More than a decade on, he said the RSPCA remained limited in its ability to stop mass breeding at puppy farms because it could not prosecute operators over the number of dogs they owned.

“Legally we can’t do anything about numbers. We probably would like to see that changed,” Mr Beatty said.

“[Right now] it’s the conditions, the welfare of the animals — that’s a situation where we can take action.

Tears at court outcome

Dogs seized by the RSPCA remain the property of the original owner until court proceedings are finalised.

Ms Davenport remembers getting an email saying the RSPCA had won the court case and giving foster carers the option of keeping their dogs.

“I’m not really a tearful person, but I burst into tears knowing we could keep him,” she said.

A man and woman sit on a couch each holding a dog.
Ali and Ivan became “foster failures” for a second time when they adopted Bonnie, who they only intended to foster.(ABC News: Ellen Jolley)

“Once you get that dog under your skin, there’s no going back.”

The family “failed” another foster attempt two years later, adopting heeler cross Bonnie.

While thrilled with her decision to adopt Marco and Bonnie, she warned that people needed to think carefully about the long-term decision to adopt as well as where to source a pet.

“Marco cost us a fortune in health [bills] and it’s also a really big investment in your time as well,” Ms Davenport said.

“Don’t go to a pet shop, don’t buy a pet online.



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Protests Erupt as South Korea’s Most Notorious Rapist Walks Free


SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s most infamous rapist was released on Saturday after serving 12 years in prison, sparking angry demonstrations and anonymous death threats that led to an increased police presence outside the predator’s home.

Protesters gathered outside a prison in southern Seoul on Saturday, shouting “Send him to hell!” and “Castrate him!,” as the rapist Cho Doo-soon was released.

Mr. Cho was arrested in 2008 and later convicted for raping an 8-year-old girl, and his name has since become synonymous with the soft-glove treatment sex offenders are said to receive in the country’s courts.

When Mr. Cho, now 68, was released at dawn on Saturday, people were still enraged.

“What kind of country is this, protecting such a rapist?” protesters shouted as Mr. Cho was driven out in a gray government van under heavy police protection.

Some protesters lay on the pavement, holding signs and shouting slogans, in an attempt to prevent Mr. Cho from leaving. Police officers removed them and built barricades to allow the van carrying Mr. Cho to pass. Protesters kicked at the van and hurled eggs and insults at the vehicle. Anonymous death treats were issued against Mr. Cho online, forcing the authorities to add more police officers and surveillance cameras around his home.

Public anger has surged in recent months as the date of Mr. Cho’s release approached. Last Wednesday, the National Assembly passed a bill, nicknamed the “Cho Doo-soon law,” which banned people convicted of sexually assaulting minors from leaving their homes at night or during hours when students commute to and from school. The law also bans such sex offenders from going near schools.

South Korean courts have long been accused of leniency in meting out justice to white-collar criminals and sex offenders.

In April, a 24-year-old man named Son Jong-woo was released from prison after completing an 18-month sentence for running one of the world’s biggest child pornography websites. In July, a local court rejected the United States Justice Department’s request to have him extradited to face money-laundering and other charges in an American court.

Women’s rights advocates have said the justice system’s inability to properly punish sex offenders has allowed sexual abuse to proliferate nationwide.

But sex crimes here have also attracted more scrutiny in recent years, coupled with the country’s growing #MeToo movement, and the government has vowed tougher punishments. Last month, a 25-year-old man named Cho Joo-bin was sentenced to 40 years in prison for blackmailing young women, including eight minors, into making sexually explicit videos that he sold through encrypted online chat rooms.

Cho Doo-soon, who is not related to Cho Joo-bin, was drunk when he kidnapped a first-grader on her way to school and raped her in a church restroom in 2008. His drunkenness, age and “weak mental state” were cited as mitigating factors when the court sentenced him to 12 years in prison. The prosecutors, who in South Korea can push for stiffer punishments after sentencing in an appeal, chose not to.

Mr. Cho’s pending release from prison captured the attention of many South Koreans and the local news media for weeks. The Justice Ministry had not revealed from which prison Mr. Cho would be released on Saturday or at what time. But hundreds of protesters and journalists found out and gathered outside the Seoul prison from which he was released, the Justice Ministry facility in Ansan south of Seoul where Mr. Cho made a brief stop, and a house in Ansan where he planned to live with his wife.

Ansan residents have protested his return home, saying that they don’t feel safe with him in their neighborhood.

The police promised round-the-clock monitoring. Mr. Cho was seen wearing an electronic ankle monitor when he left prison on Saturday and was ordered to wear it for seven years. His whereabouts and photograph will be available on a government website for registered sex offenders.

The police also installed a monitoring system at his home and will make random visits there to check on him. They also have added 35 surveillance cameras, brighter streetlights and police booths in Mr. Cho’s neighborhood to monitor his movements and also deter people who have threatened to attack him. Police officers specially trained in martial arts will patrol his neighborhood.

Mr. Cho, wearing a cap and mask, did not respond to questions shouted by reporters on Saturday. But Ko Jeong-dae, a Justice Ministry official assigned to supervise Mr. Cho during his post-prison life, said Mr. Cho was surprised by the rage directed at him.

“While we were moving in the car, he told me he hadn’t expected this,” Mr. Ko told reporters in a briefing. “He said he had committed an unpardonable atrocity and he would live in repentance for the rest of his life.”



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Notorious Zodiac Killer’s coded message ‘cracked’ after more than 50 years | US News


A team of amateur detectives appear to have cracked one of the notorious Zodiac Killer’s coded messages – more than 50 years after it was sent.

The killer is confirmed to have fatally stabbed or shot five people in Northern California in the 1960s, although it is believed he may have murdered more.

He was dubbed the Zodiac Killer after sending taunting letters and mysterious ciphers to police and local newspapers.

Image:
An artist’s sketch based on a victim’s testimony about the Zodiac Killer

Until now, one of the ciphers – sent to The San Francisco Chronicle in November 1969 – had never been cracked.

But three members of the public, Australian software engineer Sam Blake, American cryptographer David Oranchak and Belgian software engineer Jarl Van, say they have managed to make sense of the coded symbols, letters and numbers.

According to the amateur team, the 340-character cipher reads: “I HOPE YOU ARE HAVING LOTS OF FUN IN TRYING TO CATCH ME THAT WASNT ME ON THE TV SHOW WHICH BRINGS UP A POINT ABOUT ME I AM NOT AFRAID OF THE GAS CHAMBER BECAUSE IT WILL SEND ME TO PARADICE.”

It continues: “ALL THE SOONER BECAUSE I NOW HAVE ENOUGH SLAVES TO WORK FOR ME WHERE EVERYONE ELSE HAS NOTHING WHEN THEY REACH PARADICE SO THEY ARE AFRAID OF DEATH I AM NOT AFRAID BECAUSE I KNOW THAT MY NEW LIFE IS LIFE WILL BE AN EASY ONE IN PARADICE DEATH.”

Investigators had hoped the cipher would reveal the killer’s name, but the message does not mention this.

The FBI’s San Francisco arm said in a statement its own Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records Unit (CRRU) had acknowledged and confirmed the work.

One of the ciphers sent to The San Francisco Chronicle
Image:
One of the ciphers sent to The San Francisco Chronicle
A police captain inspects the door of a car belonging to a Zodiac Killer victim in 1969
Image:
A police captain inspects the door of a car belonging to a Zodiac Killer victim in 1969

“Over the past 51 years CRRU has reviewed numerous proposed solutions from the public – none of which had merit,” it said.

“The cipher was recently solved by a team of three private citizens.”

Mr Oranchak, who lives in Virginia, told The Chronicle that the find was “exciting”.

“We’ve been sitting on the solution since last Saturday,” he said. “When I first started looking at the Zodiac ciphers all those years ago, I thought, ‘Oh, I can just write a computer program and solve it,’ but it’s been kicking my a** all this time. Until now.”

It is the second time a cipher from the Zodiac Killer has been cracked.

Schoolteacher Donald Harden broke another of the Zodiac's codes
Image:
Schoolteacher Donald Harden broke another of the Zodiac’s codes

The first, also sent to The Chronicle, was solved by a schoolteacher and his wife – but it said little other than: “I like killing because it is so much fun.”

The killer has never been caught, despite gaining notoriety, and the case is still active.



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Minimum jail terms of notorious rapists increased to 40 years



Giving the court’s ruling on Friday, the Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett said: “The offending in the cases of McCann and Sinaga, very serious indeed though it is, does not, in our judgment, call for either to receive a whole life tariff.

“This is not to minimise the seriousness of their offending but instead to ensure that the most severe sentence in our jurisdiction is reserved, save exceptionally, either for the most serious cases involving loss of life, or when a substantive plan to murder of similar seriousness is interrupted close to fulfilment.”

Lord Burnett said that in the collective experience of the senior judges who heard the case, McCann and Sinaga’s crimes are some of the most serious offences of rape to have been tried within England and Wales.

He added: “Neither man has shown any remorse and the long-term psychological damage for at least some of the victims in both trials is profound and will only be understood in the years to come.”

The judge said whether either man is in fact ever released from prison will depend on the Parole Board’s assessment of the risk they pose after they have served their minimum jail terms.

In a statement after the ruling, Mr Ellis said: “Both offenders carried out some of the most heinous and depraved sexual attacks that shocked the nation.

“I am grateful for the guidance the court gave about whole life orders and I am pleased that the court imposed a longer minimum term.

“I hope this brings some solace to the victims of these despicable crimes.”

The case was the first time two separate offenders’ sentences have been challenged together as being unduly lenient.





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Khmer Rouge executioner ‘Comrade Duch’ who oversaw notorious torture prison dies age 77


Kaing Guek Eav, commonly known by his alias, Comrade Duch, died just after midnight on Wednesday at a hospital in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh, according to a spokesperson for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Neth Pheaktra, who made the announcement on Twitter.

Duch was a senior figure in Pol Pot’s tyrannical communist regime and ran the notorious Tuol Sleng S-21 torture prison in Phnom Penh, where at least 14,000 people died.

At least 1.7 million people — nearly a quarter of Cambodia’s population — died from execution, disease, starvation and forced labor under the Khmer Rouge regime that ruled the country between 1975-1979.

Many of those killed were intellectuals or trained professionals — people considered counter-revolutionaries by the Khmer Rouge leadership bent on turning Cambodia into a purely agrarian society through ruthless social engineering policies.

Duch was the first Khmer Rouge commander to be convicted of war crimes, crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Convention by a United Nations-backed tribunal in 2010. He was handed a life sentence in 2012 after losing an appeal in which he argued that he was just following orders of senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime.
At his trial, Duch — then a born-again Christian — pleaded guilty to his crimes and apologized to the victims’ families, asking for their forgiveness.
His charges were heard at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) — a special UN-backed tribunal that was formed in 2006 to prosecute senior Khmer Rouge leaders and other regime figures responsible for especially heinous acts.

The tribunal began its work in 2007 after a decade of on-and-off negotiations between the United Nations and Cambodia over the structure and functioning of the court.

In 2018, almost four decades after the collapse of Pol Pot’s brutal regime, the tribunal ruled that the Khmer Rouge committed genocide.

A former school teacher, Duch became head of the Santebal, which was in charge of internal security and operating prison camps under the Khmer Rouge, according to the Cambodia Tribunal Monitor, a group of academic and nonprofit organizations.

Known by the code name S-21, the former high school of Tuol Sleng became the Khmer Rouge’s secret prison and the most potent symbol of its brutality.
At the prison, men, women and children were shackled to iron beds and tortured before they were beaten to death, prosecutors said. Few people taken there made it out alive. Many inmates ended their days along with tens of thousands others in the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek.
“I thought that was the end of my life,” one survivor told CNN in 2008. “In my room people kept dying, one or two every day.”
The prison was turned into a memorial site documenting the horrors and atrocities of the regime. One building has been preserved exactly as the Vietnamese invaders found it in early 1979, down to the bloodstains on the floor and the implements of torture left on the bed frames. In another hang black and white portraits of the prisoners — photos taken by the regime — who died there.





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Nicola Gobbo is ready to speak about one of Australia’s most notorious unsolved murder cases


Former barrister Nicola Gobbo believes she could help police solve one of the most notorious unsolved cases in Australian history.

The double murder of police informer Terence Hodson and his wife Christine in their Melbourne home has remained unsolved since 2004.

The police investigation into the couple’s execution has been described as the most significant in Victoria’s history.

Ms Gobbo, who acted as a lawyer for numerous people connected to the unsolved double murder, has told the ABC podcast Trace: The Informer that she believes she knows who was involved and would be willing to testify, if asked.

While she says she has no hard evidence, she does have a theory.

“Not directly, other than putting the pieces of the jigsaw together in my own head, from bits of conversations with people, briefs of evidence and circumstantial evidence,” Ms Gobbo told the ABC.

“And a genuine belief that [he] is a very dangerous man capable of murder.”

For legal reasons, the ABC can’t publish who Ms Gobbo believes killed Mr and Mrs Hodson.

Details surrounding the murder of Terence and Christine Hodson have emerged as part of the royal commission investigating the use of Nicola Gobbo as a police informer.(Supplied: Mandy Hodson)

Despite falling out spectacularly with Victoria Police after years of acting as a secret informer, Ms Gobbo said she would be willing to be a witness if charges were laid.

“Morally, it’s the right thing to do,” she said.

“I genuinely would like to think that if someone … was put in a position where they knew about a crime or they could assist in a person who is a danger to the community being removed from society, that they would step up and do that … because if I don’t do it, I’m just as bad as anyone else.

“If I’m subpoenaed, I’m subpoenaed.”

Nicola Gobbo was an ‘accumulator of information’ before the murders

The Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants (RCMPI), which is investigating the use of Ms Gobbo as an informer by Victoria Police, has released more than 1,000 documents including court transcripts, statements, police reports, prosecution material and secret recordings.

The RCMPI has heard Ms Gobbo’s connections to various individuals in the case were inappropriate, legally unethical and that she was acting as an “accumulator of information” for people.

Police would later have numerous targets in the murder investigation, with many criminals suspected of having a motive to kill Mr Hodson, given his drug dealing and police informing.

Police eventually narrowed their investigations in on one suspect, Paul Dale, who they alleged may have ordered the murders.

Before he was murdered, drug dealer and police informer Terence Hodson was preparing to give evidence against two Victoria Police detectives who were accused of stealing $1.3 million worth of drugs allegedly owned by gangland boss Tony Mokbel.

Mr Hodson had been caught near the scene of the burglary, as was his police ‘handler’, drug squad detective David Miechel.

Ms Gobbo would soon become Mr Hodson’s lawyer.

Terence Hodson smiling, his daughter Mandy has one arm around him and is smiling.
One of the Hodsons’ daughters, Mandy (right), described the couple as close and happy.(Supplied: Mandy Hodson)

Mr Hodson was set to testify against Miechel, and Miechel’s boss, Sergeant Paul Dale.

The RCMPI heard Ms Gobbo took on Mr Hodson as a client and around this same time, she slept with the man Mr Hodson was being asked to turn on, Mr Dale.

The RCMPI heard that before he died, Mr Hodson alleged to anti-corruption police Mr Dale had organised the burglary with Mr Miechel, but was not able to take part on the night.

Mr Dale has since said Mr Hodson was a career criminal and proven liar, who just pointed the finger at him as a high-ranking officer to win a better deal for himself.

Paul Dale in close up against a background of rainbow coloured lights.
Paul Dale, then a drug squad detective, allegedly wanted to know about developments in the burglary case from Nicola Gobbo.(ABC News)

A prosecution summary tendered to the RCMPI shows anti-corruption investigators were considering a theory as to whether Mr Dale struck up a relationship with Ms Gobbo to try and find out if Mr Hodson was going to implicate him and to stay abreast of the police investigation into the burglary.

Ms Gobbo would later complain to a detective that she was tricked by Mr Dale, according to a transcript of the conversation tendered to the RCMPI.

“Paul Dale just played me for a fool from day one,” she said.

Detective Shane O’Connell replied, in the tendered transcript: “You’re not the only one he pulled the wool over … he was pretty good at it.”

Nicola Gobbo wears a black dress.
Nicola Gobbo said she felt she had been “played” by Paul Dale.(Supplied)

The lawyer described being under pressure from competing interests when she gave evidence to the Royal Commission.

“I was also being pushed in the background by Tony Mokbel, who wanted to find out as much as he could about what police did and didn’t know. Initially I didn’t know it was his operation, but I learned that over time,” Ms Gobbo said.

“Was I accumulating information, and on one level trying to impress people around me? Yes, I was.”

But passing on information in the underworld can get people killed.

Son of the Hodsons feels betrayed by Nicola Gobbo

Terence and Christine Hodson’s son, Andrew, jokingly refers to himself as an OG: an old school gangster.

He followed his father into illegal drug dealing and went to Port Phillip Prison in 2001, where he became close to Mokbel.

Andrew Hodson, wearing glasses and an earring, stares down the barrel of the camera intensely.
Andrew Hodson introduced Nicola Gobbo and his father Terence.(ABC News: Billy Draper)

Andrew Hodson said Mokbel referred him to his own lawyer, Ms Gobbo.

She successfully applied for bail on Andrew Hodson’s behalf, getting him out of jail.

“I loved her like a trusted friend,” he said.

The royal commission heard that after his father was charged over the drug house burglary, Andrew Hodson referred him to Ms Gobbo for legal advice on his bail application.

Andrew Hodson said he did not know about the lawyer’s personal relationship with Paul Dale, the man his father would accuse of planning the burglary.

“She was working both sides of the fence. If I had known that at the time I wouldn’t have taken my father anywhere near her,” he said.

The Hodson family in an old photograph, in formal wear. Terence and Christine are surrounded by two daughters and one son.
Andrew Hodson (left) said he never would have introduced Nicola Gobbo to his father if he knew then what he knows now.(Supplied: Mandy Hodson)

The RCMPI has heard allegations that Ms Gobbo was passing on messages between Paul Dale and Terence Hodson.

Andrew Hodson claims that as he drove his father to meetings with Ms Gobbo, he personally witnessed such communication.

“Conversations between her and my father, ‘Can you tell Paul this?’ And next time we met up, ‘Paul said that’,” he said.

“There’s no disputing she was the liaison officer between Paul Dale and my father.”

In a statement to police investigating the murders, tendered to the royal commission, Ms Gobbo said Mr Dale was desperate to find out if Terence Hodson had made a statement accusing him.

In her statement Ms Gobbo denied telling Mr Dale that Terence Hodson was cooperating with anti-corruption police.

Andrew Hodson believes Ms Gobbo’s behaviour was unethical, and amounted to a betrayal of his father’s best legal interests.

Andrew Hodson sits on a couch with his arms folded, wearing a half smirk.
Andrew, the son of Terence and Christine Hodson, said he thought of Nicola Gobbo as a trusted friend.(ABC News: Billy Draper)

He told the ABC he has his own personal story of betrayal at the hands of Ms Gobbo.

After his parents were murdered, police considered him a potential suspect.

His own lawyer, Ms Gobbo, pointed homicide squad detectives at her client, in a police video recorded in 2004 and tendered to the royal commission.

“The strongest rumour at the moment is that Andrew was responsible … and I say ‘rumour’,” Ms Gobbo told homicide squad detectives.

The royal commission also heard Ms Gobbo secretly worked with detectives investigating the murders four years later, to convince Andrew Hodson to take a polygraph test about the murders.

The commission heard a police handler recorded at the time that a detective asked “Ms Gobbo not to talk Mr Hodson out of it [the polygraph] and to allude to it being safe for Mr Hodson to participate in”.

Andrew Hodson said he had nothing to do with his parents’ murder.

The royal commission has heard police never considered him a “firm suspect” and ruled him out.

And he has a message for his former lawyer.

“I hope you hear this Nicola: I was a friend of yours but you destroyed that friendship,” Mr Hodson said.

Terence Hodson’s secret informer file

When homicide squad detectives interviewed Ms Gobbo over the murders of Terence and Christine Hodson in 2004, in a video tendered to the royal commission, the lawyer admitted she had passed on Terence Hodson’s secret status as a police informer to some of her underworld clients.

Ms Gobbo defended her actions by saying Mr Hodson’s informing status was widely known in the criminal world.

File photo of Carl Williams leaving the Melbourne Magistrate's Court in 2003
Carl Williams was killed in prison in 2010.(AAP: Joe Castro)

In the months leading up to the Hodson murders, Ms Gobbo was also passing on information between Paul Dale and one of her other clients, infamous gangland killer Carl Williams, according to allegations heard at the RCPMI.

The RCMPI heard allegations about Mr Dale’s relationship with Williams.

In a statement from 2009 to police that was tendered to the royal commission, Ms Gobbo said she suspected a corrupt relationship, because there was no other reason she was aware of for the detective and criminal to have contact.

“I was aware of Carl and Paul having some sort of relationship, which in my view was inappropriate,” she said.

Nicola Gobbo on stage holding a microphone next to Carl Williams.
Nicola Gobbo (left) with Carl Williams and an unidentified man at the christening of Carl Williams’ daughter in 2003.(ABC News)

Mr Dale denies this and told the ABC all his dealings with Williams were for police purposes.

The commission heard that after a night of heavy drinking at Crown Casino with Mr Dale, three months before the Hodson murders, Ms Gobbo was on the phone to her client, Carl Williams.

She passed the phone to Mr Dale, who referred to Williams as his “buddy”.

Ms Gobbo told the royal commission the pair then organised a meeting.

A detective investigating the Hodson murders wrote in a statement to the RCMPI, less than two days after the Crown Casino phone call with Williams, that: “Thirty-one pages of information reports from the [Terence] Hodson informer management file were on their way to Queensland via Tony Mokbel’s fax machine”.

The RCMPI has heard Terence Hodson’s secret informer file had been stolen from police headquarters around the time of the drug burglary and Mr Dale was named in an Office of Police Integrity report as an obvious suspect.

It was one of several theories that were not proven. Mr Dale denies stealing the file.

But the royal commission has heard homicide detectives were also investigating another theory that Ms Gobbo might have been the link between Mr Dale and the crucial informer file being circulated to the underworld.

Detective Sol Solomon wrote in a statement to the royal commission that detectives planned to “investigate her possible role in leaking the information reports, which if determined to be the case made her an accessory”.

Under the Victorian Crimes Act, to prove someone is an accessory, it must be proved that they have intentionally assisted an offender in some material way.

Nicola Gobbo in profile, half her face obscured by shadow.
Nicola Gobbo suspected a corrupt relationship between Paul Dale and Carl Williams, the RCMPI has heard.(ABC News: Greg Nelson)

The commission heard Williams would later make a statement to police that Mr Dale had asked him to arrange the murder of Mr Hodson.

Williams said he hired hitman Rodney Collins to carry out the killings, who has since died in prison.

Mr Dale was charged with the murder of Terence Hodson but the case against him collapsed after Williams was murdered in prison in 2010.

Mr Dale believes he was being wrongfully targeted by police because senior police wanted a high-profile arrest.

In a book about his life, Mr Dale claimed police never focused on other suspects with compelling motives, including rival drug dealers and Williams.

Mr Dale claims that Williams had a motive to kill Mr Hodson, because Mr Hodson had been offered a large sum of money to kill Williams.

Mr Dale told Trace: The Informer he believes the Crown Casino phone call with Ms Gobbo and Williams may have been staged to frame him.

Ms Gobbo denied leaking parts of Mr Hodson’s informer folder to the underworld.

“That’s ridiculous,” she said.

She pointed out the royal commission had heard that similar paperwork identifying Hodson as an informer was mistakenly released to a Melbourne law firm by Victoria Police.

“There was a perfect storm of cock-ups and negligence by Victoria Police in terms of the way that they were looking after him,” Ms Gobbo said.

“He was allowed to reside in his own home, operate security surveillance on his own, there was no independent surveillance of him and he was still running a drug trafficking business.”

Detective believes ‘powerful forces’ got in the way of investigation

Ms Gobbo is now notorious for being a lawyer and a police informer, but she was not an informer at the time the Hodsons were murdered. She signed up as a registered police informer about a year later, in 2005.

Detectives from a taskforce set up in 2007 to investigate the Hodson killings have told the royal commission they were deliberately kept in the dark by senior police about Ms Gobbo’s informer status.

In a statement to the RCMPI, Detective Sol Solomon wrote that he believed Victoria Police chose to protect Ms Gobbo’s role as a secret informer over finding justice for the Hodsons.

“I have no doubt the powers above did not like where we were proposing [to] take our investigation into 3838 [Nicola Gobbo],” he wrote.

“We were up against a powerful force operating behind the scenes who were determined to ensure that the case against the Hodson murderers … would never see the light of day,” Detective Solomon wrote.

Terence and Christine Hodson stand together in their home, looking at eachother.
Victoria police say the case of the Hodson murders is still open and have offered a $1 million reward for information.(Supplied: Mandy Hodson)

Former drug squad detective sergeant Mr Dale has long maintained his innocence in relation to the Hodson murders.

Speaking to Trace: The Informer, Mr Dale admitted he had motive to murder Terence Hodson.

“You could look at Paul Dale [myself], did he have motivation? Well Hodson’s giving evidence against him … so arguably yes, and I understand that, and I have to live with that,” he said.

For 16 years, the former detective has denied having anything to do with the drug stash burglary, or the murders of Terence and Christine Hodson.

“The really frustrating part of that is … I’ve got some really good … theories and I think if those theories had’ve been investigated correctly you probably say that that murder was solved now. It is such a shame,” Mr Dale said.

He declined to share his theories with the ABC.

The ABC has been told by a former detective for Victoria’s taskforce to investigate gangland killings, taskforce Purana, that Mr Dale approached the taskforce and offered to pose as a corrupt detective to infiltrate Williams’ inner circle.

The detective said the offer was declined and he filed an information report saying it was highly dubious.

“Bullshit, complete bullshit, but that doesn’t come as any surprise because I’ve just watched them lie and lie,” Mr Dale said.

Mr Dale told the ABC he was actually approached by Purana twice to assist with investigations.

“Yeah it was certainly their idea. Look, I got asked twice … it was about putting out some false information to some certain criminals that they knew I spoke to and I said ‘look, I would love to, but I’m actually under investigation for … another matter’,” Mr Dale said.

Andrew Hodson believes he knows who ordered his parents’ murders, but he is sceptical there will ever be convictions.

“Unless someone with some balls, male or female, actually charges him and goes right through with it,” he said.

Nikki Hodson sits in a room in her house, surrounded by family photographs.
Nikki, the daughter of Terence and Christine Hodson.(ABC News: Ron Ekkles)

The two daughters of Terence Hodson, Nikki Komiazyk and Mandy Hodson, wish someone would be held accountable for their deaths.

“I think justice should be served for us, I think Mum and Dad deserve that,” Ms Komiazyk said.

In a statement to the ABC, Victoria Police said the Hodson murder investigation remained open.

“A $1m reward for information remains on offer and anyone with information about their deaths is urged to contact Crime Stoppers,” the statement read.



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Jam Master Jay: Two charged over notorious unsolved killing of hip hop star in 2002 | Ents & Arts News



Two men have reportedly been charged over the 2002 killing of hip hop artist Jam Master Jay.

The case is one of New York City’s most notorious unsolved killings.

Federal prosecutors are expected to announce the charges at a news conference, according to the PA news agency.

Jason “Jay” Mizell, known professionally as Jam Master Jay, was a member of 1980s hip-hop pioneers Run-DMC.



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