Friday, April 18, 2014
Guilty: Man who beheaded his teenage girlfriend with a kitchen knife while she was still alive is jailed for life
A man who beheaded his teenage girlfriend with a kitchen knife before stabbing himself has been jailed for life.
Aras Hussein, 21, attacked Reema Ramzan, 18, with the blade while she was still alive before plunging it into his own chest in his flat in Sheffield.
Sentencing him to life, with a minimum of 20 years in jail, Justice Laura Cox said his motive for the attack was 'unclear and may never be known'.
After the attack, he was seen on the street by a neighbour, naked, holding a wad of money and a passport, and covered in blood.
The body of Miss Ramzan, left, was found in the kitchen of Iraqi-born Hussein's, right, flat on June 4 last year
The killer admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility but denied murder.
However, he was found guilty of murder at Sheffield Crown Court.
The body of Miss Ramzan was found in the kitchen of Iraqi-born Hussein's flat on June 4 last year.
Mrs Justice Cox said Hussein had used 'severe and sustained' force to decapitate Reema in a 'chilling and brutal' attack.
Reema Ramzan was described as 'not just a beautiful girl to look at, she was a beautiful girl inside'
She said: 'The pathological evidence indicated that she was likely to be alive while decapitation was taking place although at some stage, mercifully, she would have lost consciousness.
'The pain, terror, anguish and desperation she would therefore have suffered, as you inflicted these appalling injuries upon her and ended her life, is truly horrifying to contemplate.
'Why you did this to a young woman who was your girlfriend is unclear and may never be known.'
The court previously heard that Miss Ramzan had arrived at Hussein’s flat in Sheffield at approximately 2.30pm and had brought with her around £5,000 in cash, as well as her passport and a substantial amount of Iraqi currency.
The jury was told Miss Ramzan did not tell her family she was going to meet Hussein and it was not clear what her intentions had been prior to her death.
Mrs Justice Cox: 'While you were both in the flat you stabbed [Reema] in the chest and decapitated her, in what was clearly a chilling and brutal attack.'
After the attack, Hussein took off his clothes, stabbed himself and wandered into the street. The court how he approached a member of the public - who was waiting for a friend near Hussein’s block of flats - and asked him to take him to hospital.
The man refused, but alerted emergency services who arrived minutes later. The court heard that when the defendant got back to the flat he also called the police and was still naked when they arrived.
Prosecutor Graham Reeds QC said a neighbour of Hussein's heard a woman 'screaming for dear life' that afternoon, and that the defendant told emergency workers who came to his aid: 'I don't know why I did it.'
He said Hussein told the paramedics: 'She liked me but I raped her. What I did was wrong. I need punishing for it.'
And he told them: 'Why are you helping me? I've murdered someone.'
Miss Ramzan was studying health and social care at Sheffield City College and lived in Darnall, Sheffield with her family who, the court was told, disapproved of the couple's relationship.
During the trial, the jury heard how on one occasion Hussein had threatened to show the victim's family sexual pictures he had taken of her if she broke up with him.
Mr Reeds outlined another incident when Miss Ramzan's brother Sohail argued with the defendant after spotting red marks around his sister's neck.
Hussein's lawyers said he was suffering from diminished responsibility at the time of the attack due to schizophrenia, but the jury rejected this.
Miss Ramzan's family said after the verdict: 'Words cannot describe the pain we feel not having her here.
'Reema was not just a beautiful girl to look at, she was a beautiful girl inside; so kind and helpful, she was always smiling and we loved her so much.
We couldn't have wished for a more loving and caring daughter and sister.'
After the attack, Hussein took off his clothes and stabbed himself in the chest before wandering onto the street
Detective superintendent Phil Etheridge of South Yorkshire Police, who investigated the case, said: 'This is an incredibly sad and heartbreaking case and my deepest sympathies are with Reema's family and friends.
'Reema was a kind and considerate young woman who had a bright and promising future to look forward to. Regrettably, her life was taken far too soon and in such tragic circumstances.
'This has been a difficult investigation however I am satisfied with the verdict today and I hope it provides some form of closure for Reema's family.'
Teachers call for Muslim pupils to be allowed to use Ramadan as grounds of appeal against poor exam results
Teachers are calling for GCSEs and A-level exams to be scheduled in the morning to help Muslim students who are fasting during Ramadan, it emerged today.
Hundreds of thousands of pupils across Britain could be forced to take 'large entry' tests, such as maths and English, before 12pm under a radical shake-up.
School exam boards and universities are considering the move over the next five years, when the religious period of Ramadan progressively clashes with the exam season in June.
The holy period in the Islamic calendar requires Muslims to fast during daylight hours - meaning they will be at their hungriest towards the end of the day.
This will inevitably cause students to struggle and lose marks during their summer exams, the Association of Teachers (ATL) annual conference in Manchester heard.
Barry Lingard, who is on the ATL executive committee, said the union had been discussing the issue with the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), which represents exam boards, and a number of Muslim organisations.
WHAT IS RAMADAN?
He said it was 'highly unlikely' that exam boards will change summer timetables - but added: 'JCQ have said that they will work collaboratively on a timetable with Muslim groups to review whether a balance of morning and afternoon slots for large entry exams is more appropriate, or just morning slots.'
It is thought that this could mean that schools would be forced to schedule GCSE and A-level exams taken by large numbers of students, including maths and English, in the morning only.
Abdul Choudhury, an ATL member from Tower Hamlets, London, said Ramadan will have 'quite an effect on a number of schools across our country' compared to the last time it fell during exams season, around 25 years ago.
'We have quite a significant number of Muslim students and I have no doubt whatsoever that standards will be affected by this,' he said.
'We work so hard as teachers to try and get just that one mark, that two marks, and if kids - 16-year-olds, 18-year-olds, even university students - are going into exams without any water, and food, it will have an effect on their overall results.'
Delegates passed the resolution, which called on the union to raise awareness of the potential impact of Ramadan on Muslim students' education.
Michael Turner, JCQ director, said: 'We are consulting on the exams timetable for 2015 and we will be looking at the impact of Ramadan on that timetable.'
Monday, April 14, 2014
Tony Blair's religious charity has links to an Islamic extremist group being investigated by MI5 and MI6, it has been alleged.
It has been claimed that two Muslim leaders, who have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, are advising The Tony Blair Faith Foundation.
The organisation has been declared a terrorist group in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and could be banned in Britain, despite insisting they do not have links to extremist factions.
Extremist links: Tony Blair, who set up the religious charity in 2008, has been accused of taking on controversial Muslim advisers
The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch, which has been looking into the group for 13 years, revealed that Dr Ismail Khudr Al-Shatti, an adviser to the Kuwaiti government and a member of Mr Blair’s advisory council, is a leading member of the Kuwaiti branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. the Islamic Constitutional Movement (ICM).
He is said to have told a crowd of Kuwaitis protesting over Palestine: 'Israel is an evil, and we can never live with evil,' according to a news agency report in 2000.
In 1995, it was reported in America that a Palestinian terrorist group wrote to him requesting funds.
Another Islamic adviser to Mr Blair is Mustafa Ceric, a Bosnian Muslim cleric who has made controversial statements about Islam in the Balkan states.
The former Grand Mufti of Bosnia-Herzegovina has been linked to the the global Muslim Brotherhood through his membership of the European Council for Fatwa and Research.
Controversial: Another Islamic adviser to Mr Blair is Mustafa Ceric, a Bosnian Muslim cleric who has made controversial statements about Islam in the Balkan states
The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch says Mr Blair’s links to the Brotherhood through the men threatened to overshadow the charity's work.
Steven Merley, a US investigator of extremist movements, who runs Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch, told The Sunday Telegraph: 'Many groups don’t call themselves Muslim Brotherhood but they are linked to what I call the 'Global Muslim Brotherhood’.
'These individuals have fooled a lot of politicians, like Blair, who should know better. The very presence of people like Shatti and Ceric in the same room as him is a judgment on Blair.'
The Muslim Brotherhood denies being an extremist organisation, and has asked Lord Macdonald, the former director of public prosecutions, to help defend them.
It has even threatened legal action against people who try to restrict their activities.
David Cameron has asked the British intelligence agencies to investigate the Islamic group, after they opened an international office about a disused kebab shop in Cricklewood, London.
After news of the inquiry into the activities emerged, it was revealed the group is moving its headquarters from London to Austria.
A spokesman for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation told the paper they were 'grateful' for the work done by the pair and described them as 'great supporters of the foundation'.
The oragnisation said they were not aware of the men's alleged links.
Horror at halal slaughterhouse: Shocking undercover film shows the 'needless suffering' of livestock that are butchered without being stunned first
Knife poised at the throat of a helpless sheep, this is the moment a slaughterman cuts the throat of a fully conscious animal.
Our exclusive pictures reveal for the first time the full horror of a religious practice that Britain’s top vet wants outlawed.
Undercover Mail on Sunday investigators secretly filmed inside a halal abattoir as more than 100 sheep appeared to writhe in agony after being ritually killed.
Step one: The animals are immobilised but not stunned, so they are still aware of their surroundings
Step two: The sheep are moved on a conveyor belt to slaughter
Step three: They are still fighting for their lives, even after having their throats cut
Step 4: Even when strung up. A leading vet has called for the practice of unstunned killing to be banned
They were placed onto a conveyer belt with their legs tethered before the knife was drawn swiftly across their throats.
In the seconds after the sudden cut, the sheep strained to raise their heads as blood poured from their wounds. They then twitched and convulsed as they were hoisted by their hind legs on metal hooks to drain their bodies of blood.
In non-halal abattoirs, livestock are stunned before killing to prevent unnecessary suffering. Some halal abattoirs also practise pre-stunning.
But the animals we saw at this abattoir were fully conscious when slaughtered – a practice campaigners say is inhumane and needlessly cruel.
Killing an animal without prior stunning is illegal in Britain, but the law gives special exemption to Muslim and Jewish meat producers on the grounds of religion.
According to some Islamic scholars, stunning an animal before it is slaughtered for meat is not permitted. There are believed to be about 12 abattoirs dedicated to unstunned slaughterhouses in the UK, and hundreds of abattoirs that do stunned halal slaughter.
Denmark and Poland have recently banned unstunned ritual slaughter – a precedent animal welfare groups in Britain want the Government to follow. Last night, John Blackwell, the new president-elect of the British Veterinary Association (BVA), said: ‘We would like to see unstunned slaughter banned in the UK on the grounds of animal welfare.
There is current scientific evidence which says that animals do feel pain if they are slaughtered without any stunning.’
However, supporters of ritual slaughter have accused Mr Blackwell and the BVA of ‘inflaming prejudice’. Nadheem Adham, a director at the Halal Monitoring Committee, which certifies unstunned Islamic abattoirs, said: ‘We believe that halal unstunned slaughter is the most humane method of killing, as a swift stroke in the neck by a sharp knife renders the animal insensible to pain.’
Two Mail on Sunday reporters posing as meat buyers visited the Simply Halal abattoir in Banham, Norfolk.
The abattoir, which is a dedicated slaughterhouse for killing animals without stunning, dispatches about 1,000 sheep and cattle each week. It received £366,000 of taxpayers’ money from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to set up an adjoining plant to pack and store the slaughtered meat.
The MoS investigators were given a tour of the abattoir during a dawn slaughter session on Friday morning, before they placed an order for lamb and mutton.
Simply Halal is among a number of new abattoirs that have sprung up across Britain, providing a rising demand among Britain’s 2.7 million Muslims for meat from animals not stunned during killing.
Britain’s halal market is now worth £2.6 billion, accounting for 15 per cent of all meat eaten here.
Latest figures from the Food Standards Agency show that about 32 million chickens, 1.4 million sheep and goats and 70,000 cattle are slaughtered without stunning each year in the UK.
John Blackwell, President-elect of British Veterinary Association: 'We'd like to see unstunned slaughter like this banned in the UK'
Simply Halal, which switches its operations once a week to produce kosher meat for the Jewish market, is run by Roger Carr, 65, who says he has operated abattoirs since he was 15.
Although most of his customers are Muslim traders, in an astonishing outburst which was recorded, Mr Carr referred to his customers as ‘Pakis’ and told an undercover reporter of Bangladeshi origin: ‘There’s more bad in your people than there is, erm, well that’s what I found.’
During the ‘business meeting’ at his shabby office, Mr Carr showed contempt for Asian butchers and restaurant owners on the famous ‘curry mile’ of Brick Lane in East London. He appeared to say that they will accept even dog meat from suppliers.
He said: ‘You see the Pakis only want lean sheep, they don’t want no covering on it. They only want 24-26 kilos. Then you got Brick Lane, you can put any shit there, even dogs...’
He also said that he supplied his meat to mainstream butchers and the supermarket giant Morrisons, whose unsuspecting customers may be eating the meat products without knowing they have come from animals that were not stunned.
Customers assume that mainstream butchers source their meat from abattoirs where all animals are slaughtered with prior stunning. They also expect that fresh and frozen meat in supermarkets is also from stunned slaughter.
Some supermarket stores in Asian areas do sell ‘unstunned’ fresh meat, but it is sold at special concession counters.
But Mr Carr revealed that his Simply Halal frozen meat products are sold in 34 Morrisons stores, alongside conventional frozen meat products.
A spokesman for Morrisons said: ‘We sell unstunned meat because this is purchased by some Muslim and Jewish customers. It is clearly labelled as halal and it is the responsibility of the brand owner – in this case Simply Halal – to decide how they label their product.’
After the ‘business meeting’ at Simply Halal, the MoS reporters visited the abattoir, where they filmed more than 20 sheep getting slaughtered. The sheep were dragged from their pen and put on an escalator belt that also restrained their legs.
Then the abattoir’s Muslim slaughterman cut each animal’s throat as he chanted ‘Allahu Akbar [God is great]’, before dangling them by their legs on metal hooks upside down, as they writhed.
As the automated hook line took the sheep to another room, they were beheaded by another slaughterman, and fleeced and skinned by other workers.
Niche market: Simply Halal abbattoir, one of 12 in the UK dedicated to slaughtering animals without stunning
The slaughterman, from Luton, Bedfordshire, said he had been killing animals for the past 25 years. When asked how long it took an animal to die from the cut, he said coldly: ‘25 seconds.’ We showed our footage to Mr Blackwell, who said that it confirmed the latest scientific research on unstunned slaughter, which states that animals like sheep feel excruciating pain for as long as 30 seconds after their throats are cut.
The vet added that the Simply Halal slaughterman appeared to be breaching some rules set out by the Food Standards Agency, which regulates Britain’s abattoirs.
Mr Blackwell said: ‘The slaughterman should not have put more than one sheep on the escalator belt ahead of slaughter, so that one animal does not witness the other being killed. Secondly, the slaughterman should have cleaned his knife after each cut as a hygiene rule.
But he was not doing that.’ The BVA, along with the RSPCA, this weekend renewed its call to have ritual slaughter banned in the UK, and said it plans an e-petition against the practice.
Mr Blackwell said: ‘We don’t want religious slaughter banned, but there are ways to meet in the middle, like employing post-cut stuns, which would reduce the pain, and improve animal welfare.’
He also added that since about 90 per cent of halal meat in the UK is pre-stunned, Muslim leaders should work to increase that figure and bring it closer to 100 per cent.
The BVA has also asked for better labelling, so that all meat products on supermarket shelves are labelled ‘stunned’ or ‘unstunned’. He said a robust labelling system would prevent unsuspecting customers eating meat which they may feel is ‘unethically produced’.
Last month, The MoS revealed how left-over unstunned kosher meat is ending up in the mainstream food chain, being sold in supermarkets, ready-made meals and even burgers.
The European Commission is reviewing current legislation on stunning, and is likely to make a decision by the end of the summer.
When the Mail on Sunday contacted Mr Carr for a response, he said his slaughterhouse had not done anything illegal. He said: ‘It’s to do with religion. It’s not cruel at all. We are not doing anything unlawful.’ He denied that he sold his meat to mainstream butcher shops, but did not deny using terms like ‘Paki’ in his conversation.
He added: ‘What you did is out of order. I have nothing to say to you. You are scum.’
A spokesman for the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers, who spoke on Mr Carr’s behalf, added that his abattoir complied with all UK laws.
A DEFRA spokesman said: ‘Although we would prefer animals to be stunned before slaughter, we respect the rights of Jewish and Muslim communities to eat meat in accordance with their beliefs. The Government has no intention of banning religious slaughter.’