Hells Angels Darkside president Mohammed Khodr jailed, but keeps undercover cops’ cash


Hells Angels Darkside president Mohammed Khodr jailed, but keeps undercover cops’ cash

Hells Angels Darkside chapter president Mohammed Khodr following his arrest.

Hells Angels Darkside chapter president Mohammed Khodr following his arrest.

AN ICE-trafficking bikie boss will not have to repay any of the hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to him by undercover police in a five-month sting, a judge has ordered.

President of the Hells Angels Darkside chapter Mohammed Khodr received $220,000 of taxpayer money from cops in exchange for 910 grams of methylamphetamine.

County Court Judge Michael Bourke sentenced the 27-year-old to seven-and-a-half years’ imprisonment but refused the prosecution’s application for Khodr to repay just $78,200 of the hand-out.

He said the Balwyn North man, who will serve a minimum term of five years, would not be in any position to repay the debt when released from jail.

Khodr was on a suspended sentence when police contacted him through a car advertisement he placed on online trading site Gumtree and began buying increasing quantities of ice from him.

Following a request, Khodr also sold a semi-automatic pistol and ammunition to undercover police for $10,500.

Darkside bikie raids

He was arrested in February 2014 — around the time his only child was born — at a staged drug sale meeting, turned police raid.

The court heard it was not clear how much Khodr profited from the sales.

Judge Bourke said he had a “substantial number of prior court appearances” for violence, dishonesty, drug, property and firearms offences.

The court heard Khodr suffered psychological symptoms — including anxiety and depression — and cognitive effects from an acquired brain injury, which made him more immature and prone to impulsive behaviour and “mindless aggression”.

The judge found this did not reduce his moral culpability for the offending, which required consideration and organisation, but would make his time in prison more difficult.

A motorcycle seized at the Darkside chapter’s Boronia clubhouse coinciding with Khodr’s a

A motorcycle seized at the Darkside chapter’s Boronia clubhouse coinciding with Khodr’s arrest.

He is currently in lockdown 23 hours per day at Barwon Prison due to an assault on a prison officer.

Khodr, originally charged with 24 offences, pleaded guilty to trafficking a large commercial quantity of the drug ice — which carries a maximum term of life imprisonment — and being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm.

Judge Bourke said the offending was “extremely serious” because ice was “highly damaging to our community” but ordered a lower than normal non-parole period, saying Khodr had some prospects of rehabilitation.

He ordered that the six-month suspended sentence for offences including making a threat to kill, possessing steroids and weapons and assaulting police be served at the same time.

No penalty was imposed for the charge of breaching a suspended sentence.

Khodr was arrested by the heavily-armed Special Operations Group at the same time as raid

Khodr was arrested by the heavily-armed Special Operations Group at the same time as raids on the Darkside clubhouse at Boronia.

Defence counsel Emma Turnbull earlier warned Khodr — who appeared via video link — not to react when his sentence was handed down.

“No wobbly?” he joked.

“I thought I was the gift that keeps on giving.”

His co-accused, 28-year-old Logo Afuie — who helped Khodr source the drugs that were sold to police — will be sentenced next week.

“Multi-level marketing” scam? I say yes.


OPINION: Don’t mention the ‘P’ word

Egypt, the spiritual home of multi-level marketing.

Egypt, the spiritual home of multi-level marketing. Source: Getty Images

HERE we go again.

Another p— sorry, “multi-level marketing” scheme convincing people they’ll get rich by flogging — what is it this time? Protein powder? Makeup? Toilet rolls? — to their friends and acquaintances.

US weight-loss company Isagenix was slammed by Consumer group Choice this week for allowing unqualified operatives to spruik its products and provide diet advice while recruiting new sellers into the scheme.

Multi-level marketing, network marketing, direct selling, call it what you will. Whatever you do, don’t mention the ‘P’ word. You wouldn’t want to get sued.

ASPIRE LOYALTY SCHEME UNDER INVESTIGATION

LYONESS TAKEN TO COURT BY CONSUMER WATCHDOG

MLM companies like Amway, Avon, Herbalife and Isagenix present themselves as legitimate business opportunities. Maybe, but that depends on your definition. Of all three words.

Yes, multi-level marketing is technically legal. But — and this is my opinion, so feel free to tell me why I’m wrong in the comments below — that doesn’t make it a good investment, either of your time or money.

These companies lure people with big promises (“Be your own boss! Work from home! Make passive income!”) that almost never eventuate.

It sounds great: using your network of friends and acquaintances to sell products that people want. Win-win. But as Robert L. Fitzpatrick, author of False Profits, says, the reality of MLM recruiting is, on the whole, “disruptive and destructive”.

“At best it is awkward, annoying and manipulative. It could not be otherwise since it is based upon commercialising and exploiting relationships of love and trust, the so-called ‘warm list’ for recruiting,” he writes on his blog.

Olympic athlete Jana Pittman promotes Isagenix.

Olympic athlete Jana Pittman promotes Isagenix. Source: Supplied

“With a 99 per cent failure rate, it is inevitable and understandable that recruiting friends, families and neighbours into such losing propositions leads, almost universally, to rancour, alienation and the loss of trust. Divorces are a common outcome.”

Yet, he goes on to note, the private language of multi-level marketing — “network” marketing, “relationship” selling, “personal” referrals — disguises its true nature. “Such terms indicate cooperation, mutual support and a smooth blending of commercial and non-commercial values — the opposite of what actually occurs.

“MLM is, in fact, the only business on earth based entirely upon the commercialisation of personal relations, a fundamental contradiction that obviously could not work.”

Gerard Brody, chief executive of the Consumer Action Law Centre in Melbourne, warns consumers to be very wary of multi-level marketing schemes. “They tend to overpromise what they deliver, even potentially mislead people about the sorts of income generation they can obtain,” he says.

“Our concern is that they can target some pretty vulnerable people, maybe low income earners but also those potentially easily persuaded by pressure sales or marketing claims.”

Many employ psychological techniques to encourage an in-group, out-group mentality, not unlike a cult. “They encourage a sort of family or team-like atmosphere, so people tend to think they’re getting something out of it beyond the business outcomes that it’s delivering,” Mr Brody says.

CONFEDERATED PRODUCTS

AN INDUSTRY IN CHANGE

Of course, like any industry, there is good and bad to be found.

The Direct Selling Association of Australia, the peak body which represents around 70 companies including those mentioned above, is working to reform an industry long plagued by these “reputational issues”, as it puts it.

DSAA chief executive John Holloway is candid in acknowledging there have been problems in the past. “You’re quite entitled to make the observations you’ve made, and when you look at some companies from past experience — and I’m including DSAA members — you may be entitled to draw those conclusions,” he says.

But the industry is changing. The old stereotypes no longer apply, and for every negative experience, there are many positive ones, Mr Holloway says. First and foremost, actual network marketing now represents just a part of a bigger picture for these companies.

“They use an increasingly omnichannel presence, so not just direct selling but other aspects of retailing such as distance selling and online selling. The entire channel is changing.”

Herbalife has been dogged by controversy in the US.

Herbalife has been dogged by controversy in the US. Source: News Limited

A December 2013 report by Deloitte Access Economics, commissioned by the DSAA, estimated that there were around 478,000 “independent sales people” associated with direct-selling organisations.

Roughly 250,000 were considered ‘active’, defined as having made a sale within the prior three months. Of those, 32,000 worked nine hours per week, and 7,700 worked 37.5 hours per week. Overall, Deloitte estimated the total economic contribution of the direct selling industry at $1.165 billion for 2012.

“We’ve got a good message to sell, but we’re also realistic in knowing there are excesses out there, certainly they are out there,” says Mr Holloway.

The DSAA maintains very strict membership standards, he says, to avoid any suggestion of the ‘P’ word. So what are the red flags?

“If there’s a high cost of joining — what are you getting for your money? What representations are being made about earning potential? What, realistically, are the prospects of success? Direct selling is not unlike any other small business. You only get out what you put in.”

But at the end of the day, Mr Holloway says, it has to be a “real, quality product, competitively priced”, that people will actually want to buy.

Fair enough. But personally, I’ll just wait to get it at Woolies.

frank.chung@news.com.au

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Comments on this story

  • Deb of Sydney NSW Posted at 4:12 PM Today

    Be your own boss…equates to ‘do all the work and get nothing for it’. Passive income is actually very true…it’s perfectly still..you start with a dollar and 12 months later, it’s still a dollar:) Although, great for tax…all your expenses make it a good loss:) Opportunity equates to being alone, as all your friends avoid you like the plague and even strangers will cross a busy expressway to avoid you! Having been through the Avon, Tupperware, Nutrametics, Amway and a few others I can’t remember…I can quite honestly state that when 29 year old son rang me up to mention ‘business opportunity’ in something like Jurlique (whatever the name), I sprouted ‘will cost you about $1500 or more (think inflation) and all of the above…it was actually $1800….he didn’t sign:) I have four children….not one of them will ever sign up. Pity, because most of the products are good, but the prices ridiculous. When someone states ‘I have a business opportunity I would to share with you’…I state…’there are times in one’s life, when they shouldn’t share…consider this one of them’.

    Comment 1 of 26

  • oh dear, another MLM beatup of QLD Posted at 4:07 PM Today

    If you don’t like pyramid schemes you better not work in a traditional business where they are…..a pyramid…..boss gets rich at the top, managers next, then employees, not much!!! Isagenix is obviously doing well because I’m seeing lots of noise about it……thanks for the info, I’m going to check it out! I’m happy to support a friend trying to get ahead in MLM….better than supporting a multinational traditional pyramid scheme, I mean company!!!

    Comment 2 of 26

  • petey of morley of perth Posted at 3:37 PM Today

    Moral of the story? “If it was that easy to make so much money, everyone would be doing it”

    Comment 3 of 26

  • Chris of Reality Posted at 3:31 PM Today

    Ok, so lets review. MLM is waste of time because it has a 99% failure rate… and 75% of small business in Australia fail within the first five years… MLM means selling to friends and family first… and if you opened a traditional bricks and mortar store front you wouldn’t tell your friends and family?? Yeah, I thought not. Which leads to the final sobering fact glossed over by this useless opinion piece. Woolworths CEO Grant O’Brien was remunerated $4.2million last year… the average Australian full time wage is $74,000… your “non-pyramid” Woolies CEO makes 56 YEARS of your average Australian wage earners salary in a SINGLE year… now tell me about pyramids again.

    Comment 4 of 26

  • Mark Posted at 3:26 PM Today

    These MLM’s are prolific and work in small groups social groups. i.e. I’m an ex mormon with mormon family members that flog MLM weight loss programs and products.. They work their fellow member contacts and family members to ad nauseam using every opportunity to sell their wares i.e. social media like Facebook. dumb dumb dumb

    Comment 5 of 26

  • Danny Posted at 3:16 PM Today

    That’s like saying people who go to school is not a good investment because the ideal mentality is that when you study a certain course and practice your going be doing that your whole life yet almost 80% of students after grad don’t even end up in their practice that they studied for and spend thousands of dollars on. Multi level marketing compared to anything is a better way. Don’t look at is as a lotto or your going to get rich quick because it requires work like ANYTHING in life, but does that mean you shouldn’t do anything with your life? Idk. Simply I think this article — http://buildingabrandonline.com/BrandosBlog/how-to-sponsor-people-into-your-mlm/ sums up what it takes to make it in MLM which is selling and recruiting.

    Comment 6 of 26

  • Nicki Keohohou Posted at 2:36 PM Today

    Frank: I can tell that you have a very strong opinion of what direct selling is about. I commend you for reaching out to John Holloway of the DSAA – he is a very knowledgable man and a good resource for anyone wishing to understand this profession. According to wikipedia the definition of a pyramid scheme is: an unsustainable business model that involves promising participants payment or services, primarily for enrolling other people into the scheme, rather than supplying any real investment or sale of products or services to the public. In other words, it is an opportunity to sell a business opportunity. I have worked with thousands of distributors in AU and NZ who have contributed to their family income or been the sole provider of their family as single parents. They are thankful for the opportunity to work from home and grateful for their companies. I am on a mission to educate the public about this amazing profession and the people in it. I would be happy to speak with you at any time to discuss any aspect of the business model if you are open. Sincerely, Nicki Keohohou

    Comment 7 of 26

  • Professor Frink Posted at 2:30 PM Today

    Vitamin supplements = Expensive wee! Unless directed by your doctor or some other qualified health professional, there is no need to take vitamins. If you insist on taking them without a genuine reason, do not take them everyday, but cut it down to three times per week.

    Comment 8 of 26

  • Richer of Hobart Posted at 2:22 PM Today

    One very Rich deVos – if you think business longevity or success equals ethical sales then you are beyond stupid

    Comment 9 of 26

  • Rocket of Scarborough WA Posted at 2:19 PM Today

    I’m keeping my Avon Lady. I think they she makes that much money off the prices they charge.

    Comment 10 of 26

  • Tony of Bne Posted at 2:16 PM Today

    1. Surely a journalist does not start a sentence with But. 2. The business training we received for around $1,000 pa was an option we chose and helped us develop an income which meant we were able to afford a full time parent. It also gave us the skills to develop a $200k + traditional full time business – so at $10k over the time we were active in MLM it was well worth it compared to a $100k uni degree

    Comment 11 of 26

  • Roger Posted at 2:15 PM Today

    If the products work/are high quality, I see no issue with recommending them to friends, colleagues and family members. In the nutrition/health food/weight loss categories there are products sold through pharmacies and endorsed and marketed by pharmacists that are no better than the stuff sold by MLM companies. Tony what’s his name is a good example. The difference is that the only people who can make money by selling through pharmacies is the pharmacist and the inventor of the product. With MLM it is actually possible to make a living and, in some cases quite a large amount of money. The issue is that most people who take up MLM opportunities don’t have what it takes to succeed. This is no different to real estate sales. Most people don’t last in the industry because they don’t have the attributes needed for success in that kind of job. And if you want to use the P word, what large company isn’t a P? You have the CEO and other senior execs making millions while the worker bees are just getting by. I was involved in a MLM business for a year or so. I didn’t succeed because I lacked what was needed to succeed. Most people are the same.

    Comment 12 of 26

  • tony of bne Posted at 2:11 PM Today

    Whilst there are some good elements to this story – lets look at the facts. Whether you like it or not or fits your coy description. A pyramid scheme involves putting money in and the people at the top always making more – there is rarely a product involved. Direct selling may involve MLM but not always and may be only one tier – MLM or network marketing always involves products – yes some may be highly priced some may be good or bad. John this will answer your request too. Amway is the biggest and oldest MLM company in the world. I joined in 2003 but have not been active since 2009. You have to understand the structure and the is not enough space here. For a long time I made way more $ than the person who introduced me and the next people up who were “diamond” made more the their sponsor. Making $$ is directly related to the work you do – not your group. now if you find develop 3 good groups you can make heaps- if only 1 you will get a great discount but not a lot more. in my peak I made $50k pa part time – I left because my full time business bloomed and we were making heaps more Amway is in decline & they have not moved with the times but you can still make it work.

    Comment 13 of 26

  • Terribla Posted at 1:53 PM Today

    No Pyramids please! They’re only in Egypt

    Comment 14 of 26

  • David of P-town Posted at 1:39 PM Today

    They target most peoples dreams and desires. pay of your parents mortgages, live carefree with constant income travel the world earn more to give more.. pffft if that was the case it would flip the system upside down on itself and the more people who join the less they would pay to help the world get “fit” and beat “obesity” Cleanse away with un-natural products lol

    Comment 15 of 26

  • Anna Trigg of Adelaide Posted at 1:37 PM Today

    Agree totally. Have been targeted by many “friends” on recruitment drives. Don’t think so much of them any more.

    Comment 16 of 26

  • Dave Posted at 1:35 PM Today

    unethical and hilarious to witness!!

    Comment 17 of 26

  • Alain Millett of Glenmore Park Posted at 1:29 PM Today

    It is not a pyramid – but then a traditional company is a bit like a pyramid – boss at the top and various levels of management going down with a wide base of workers at the bottom. I know people who are making hundreds of thousands in income every month from reputable Network Marketing Companies, but they are the rarity, these people have treated these business’s just like any other business, they work full time at them and operate with honesty and credibility. Disclaimer I am involved in a Network Marketing Company (not one of the ones mentioned) and I remain loyal to that company as the products are the best I have ever seen or can get anywhere else.

    Comment 18 of 26

  • chellmc of Sydney Posted at 1:17 PM Today

    Read Fraser Beath McEwing’s book ‘Cafe’ it’s a satirical tale of ‘P’ oops I mean multi-level marketing. Written by someone who has been there and done that and can see the funny side of the tales that are told to hook us all in.

    Comment 19 of 26

  • Brad of Adelaide Posted at 12:45 PM Today

    If you haven’t figured it out, the P word is Pyramid. As in ‘Pyramid selling’

    Comment 20 of 26

  • im not home Posted at 12:45 PM Today

    Is distance selling like those people that come to your house drop a penny miller brochure at your door and leave without you knowing? P selling – a great way to lose friends, collegues and family! and dont get me started about telemarketers…

    Comment 21 of 26

  • GeoffU of Narangba QLD Posted at 12:43 PM Today

    I’ll get what I need at Aldi.

    Comment 22 of 26

  • But That’s Just One of Many Online Scams Posted at 12:41 PM Today

    If I can’t buy it in a store than it can’t be that good. Anything decent has multiple sellers, a unique product/opportunity is usually a con. Caveat Emptor

    Comment 23 of 26

  • sam Posted at 12:34 PM Today

    I had an old friend who worked for a company called Infinity International – whenever I asked what they did he would be broad and secretive – turns out they just sell vitamins, but those vitamins are so good they don’t use traditional marketing, only word of mouth (sell to your friends and family) – just made no sense to me that if vitamins were so effective make a radio ad, a TV ad, don’t keep that a secret and try to seem legit

    Comment 24 of 26

  • Lauren of Melbourne Posted at 12:32 PM Today

    Not to mention that a huge number of these people selling herbalife and isagenix are firness trainers providing nutritional and dietary advice which falls outside their scope of practice as set by Fitness Australia. I’d hate to see what happens if something goes wrong and there is a lawsuit. Their insurance won’t cover them as they’ve been acting outside something they’re qualified to do

    Comment 25 of 26

  • John Posted at 12:30 PM Today

    “Of course, like any industry, there is good and bad to be found.” Tell us about the good. One example will do.

    Comment 26 of 26

Violent and Graphic video footage of couple being bashed in Melbourne karaoke bar released


The young thugs in this video must be found quickly. If you know who they are, and more importantly where they might be, contact police immediately or ring crime stoppers .We do not want them on our streets or on a night out our kids might be at. Disgraceful behaviour

Reporting crime or hoon behaviour
If you have any information regarding a crime, criminal activity, or hoon behaviour you can contact Crime Stoppers Victoria online or by calling on 1800 333 000 and confidentially report what you know.

Mon 19 Jan 2015, 3:38pm

Video footage of a man and woman being bashed in a vicious attack at a Melbourne karaoke bar has been released.

The couple in their 20s were drinking at the Elizabeth Street bar early on January 11 when they were assaulted.

Footage of the attack shows a 25-year-old man being punched and stomped on by a group of men until he was unconcious on the floor.

The man’s girlfriend can be seen trying to protect him on the ground.

A man is then seen to grab her by the hair and throw her to the floor, before she is punched and kicked by the group.

Shortly before the brawl, the couple was sitting at a table with their attackers.

Detective Senior Constable Matt Folvig said it was unclear what started it, but words were exchanged beforehand.

“Apparently they’ve just said something that was disagreed with and they’ve just turned on the pair,” he said.

Police released images and CCTV footage in the hope of identifying the people involved.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers.

Artist and wife of embassy official Jane Hardy, Vytas Kapociunas allegedly molested child


After months and months of diplomatic bullshit at our expense, this sick pervert is going down.A sleazy “Artist” again, happened to be married to an Aussie diplomat. So what happens, Harm minimisation of course to the image…Fuck that…read on

Husband of Australian diplomat to stand trial on child sex offences

January 15, 2015 – 11:30AM

Courts reporter for The Canberra Times.

Vytas Bronius Kapociunas with his wife and former ambassador to Spain Jane Hardy.Vytas Bronius Kapociunas with his wife and former ambassador to Spain Jane Hardy. Photo: Facebook

The husband of a top Australian diplomat accused of molesting a child while overseas has been committed to stand trial.

Vytas Bronius Kapociunas, 71, maintained pleas of not guilty to three charges of sexual intercourse with a child outside Australia when he appeared in the ACT Magistrates Court on Thursday.

The offences are alleged to have occurred overseas, but are before the ACT courts as the charges fall under Commonwealth law.

Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker on Thursday committed him to stand trial in the ACT Supreme Court.

Kapociunas was arrested at Canberra Airport in September last year.

Court documents said the allegation surfaced after the girl told her mother that the artist kept kissing her.

When questioned further, the girl allegedly said he “kisses me on the lips, and here,” pointing at her groin.

The mother reported the conversation to the Australian Federal Police.

Kapociunas, in a police interview, allegedly acknowledged he had had physical contact with the girl that included kissing in greeting and farewelling, piggy-back rides, and blowing raspberries on her belly button.

But he denied abusing the girl.

He was originally charged with one count of child sex and first appeared in court in October.

Two additional charges were laid in December.

The painter and sculptor is married to top Australian diplomat, Jane Hardy, who, in November, ceased her role as Australia’s ambassador to Spain and returned home almost two years into a three-year appointment.

Ms Hardy’s identity and diplomatic position were previously subject to a court suppression order, but that has now been lifted.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have emphasised that “no allegations of inappropriate or illegal behaviour” have been made against Ms Hardy.

Lithuanian-born Kapociunas studied art in South Australian and lived Spain, France and Britain before he wed Ms Hardy in 1982.

He has since accompanied her on diplomatic postings to Malaysia, South Korean, the United States, and Spain .

He work has been exhibited at the Australian embassy in Washington.

On Thursday, Ms Walker continued the defendants bail, but added the condition that he notify the court if he changes address.

The case will appear in the Supreme Court for directions next month.


 

Australian diplomat returned from posting after husband charged over child-sex allegations

January 14, 2015 – 4:31PM

Vytas Bronius Kapociunas with his wife and former ambassador to Spain Jane Hardy.Vytas Bronius Kapociunas with his wife and former ambassador to Spain Jane Hardy. Photo: Facebook

One of Australia’s top diplomats has returned early from an overseas posting after her spouse was arrested and charged with child sex offences. 

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has confirmed that Jane Hardy ceased duty as Australia’s ambassador to Spain on November 3, 2014, less than two years into what would normally be a three-year appointment.

A DFAT spokesperson declined to answer Fairfax Media questions about the precise circumstances leading to the ambassador’s return to Australia, only saying Ms Hardy “returned by mutual agreement with the department.”

Charged: Vytas Bronius Kapociunas, 71, is accused of child sex offences.

Charged: Vytas Bronius Kapociunas, 71, is accused of child sex offences.

However it is a matter of public record that the Australian Federal Police arrested Ms Hardy’s husband, artist Vytas Kapociunas, on September 20, 2014, in relation to an allegation of sexual intercourse with a child outside Australia. 

Mr Kapociunas, now aged 71, appeared before the ACT Magistrates Court in Canberra on October 3 in relation to one charge of sexual intercourse with a child outside of Australia. Two additional charges of sexual intercourse with a child outside of Australia were laid against Mr Kapociunas in December. He has pleaded not guilty to all three charges. 

The sculptor and painter first came to police attention after the girl told her mother that she had a secret to tell her.

“I need to tell you a secret,” the child said, according to court documents. “I think Vytas really likes me, because he keeps kissing me.”

The AFP say the mother questioned her daughter further, and the girl allegedly said: “He kisses me on the lips, and here,” pointing to her groin.

The mother contacted the AFP who opened an investigation and interviewed the girl.

Mr Kapociunas was informed of the allegations on September 17 and was met by AFP officers at Canberra Airport three days later.  He agreed to an interview in which, according to police, he acknowledged he had met the girl three times and had physical contact with her including kissing.  However he denied he had committed any child sex offences, saying he was “unsure” why the girl would say such things. He was then arrested. 

Born in Lithuania in 1943, Mr Kapociunas studied at the South Australian School of Art and spent his early post-graduate years in Spain, France and Britain . He married Ms Hardy in 1982 and accompanied her on diplomatic postings to Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Washington DC and most recently Madrid.  In 2008 his sculpture Passage through Fire was exhibited at the Australian embassy in Washington.

Ms Hardy’s identity and position were subject to a temporary court suppression order, now no longer in force. not anymore

DFAT has emphasised that “no allegations of inappropriate or illegal behaviour” have been made against Ms Hardy who assumed duty as ambassador to Spain in January 2013.

“Ms Hardy performed creditably in her role in Spain and, following her return, has taken up a suitably senior position in Canberra,” a departmental spokesperson said.

DFAT’s organisation chart shows Ms Hardy is now in charge of the department’s arms control and counter-proliferation branch.

Her executive assistant told Fairfax Media she is not currently in Canberra and cannot be contacted.

A new ambassador to Spain has not yet been appointed.

Mr Kapociunas’s solicitor, Chloe Preston, declined to comment. His case is listed for a further procedural hearing in the Magistrates Court on January 15.


 

Artist pleads not guilty to child sex offences allegedly linked to overseas Australian embassy

Date
December 4, 2014

Reporter for The Canberra Times.

An Australian artist has been accused of two more sexual offences against a child connected to an overseas Australian embassy.

Sculptor and painter Vytas Bronius Kapociunas, 70, is facing the ACT Magistrates Court, accused of molesting a child overseas.

He was charged on Thursday with two additional offences of sexual intercourse with a minor outside of Australia, meaning he is now charged with three offences.

Kapociunas, represented by lawyer Chloe Preston, has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

He first came to police attention when his alleged victim told her mother she had a secret.

“I need to tell you a secret,” the girl allegedly said.

“I think Vytas really likes me, because he keeps kissing me.”

She also allegedly told her mother:

“He kisses me on the lips and here”, pointing to her groin.

Police went to meet Kapociunas at Canberra Airport earlier this year and he agreed to an interview, court documents suggest.

He told police he had no idea why the girl had been saying such things. Kapociunas denied her allegations.

He was arrested and initially charged with a single count of having sexual intercourse with a child outside Australia, which is a Commonwealth offence.

The artist allegedly told police he piggy-backed the girl, blew raspberries on her belly button, and that she kissed him on the lips when saying hello and goodbye.

The case was adjourned by Magistrate Robert Cook until January.


 

Artist Vytas Kapociunas allegedly molested child linked to overseas embassy

October 17, 2014

Christopher Knaus

An Australian artist has been accused of molesting a child connected to an overseas embassy.

Well-known sculptor and painter Vytas Bronius Kapociunas, 70, was arrested earlier this year after a young girl at an Australian embassy alleged he sexually assaulted her.

Kapociunas, who is fighting the allegation, first came to police attention after the girl told her mother that she had a secret to tell her.

“I need to tell you a secret,” the girl said, according to court documents. “I think Vytas really likes me, because he keeps kissing me.”

Police say the mother questioned her daughter further, and the girl said:

“He kisses me on the lips, and here”, pointing to her groin.

The offence is alleged to have occurred overseas, but is now being prosecuted in the ACT under Commonwealth law.

The mother called the Australian Federal Police, who began investigating, and went to meet Kapociunas at Canberra Airport last month.

He agreed to an interview and denied the allegations, claiming he had no idea why the girl would say such things.

Police arrested the artist, and he is currently before the ACT Magistrates Court on one charge of sexual intercourse with a child outside Australia, an offence under the Commonwealth Criminal Code.

He appeared before Magistrate Peter Morrison on Friday morning, and pleas of not guilty were entered on his behalf.

The artist told police during an interview that he had piggy-backed the victim and blown raspberries on her belly button, and that she kissed him on the lips when saying hello and goodbye.

But he denied to police that he had committed any child sex offences.

The court heard on Friday the brief of evidence against him was mostly prepared, and the case was adjourned until December. 

Kapociunas is an artist who has worked across Australia and the world, and studied and taught in South Australia.

He has also studied at the University of Canberra, according to his earlier news reports, and has written children’s books.


 

Do you know this guy? victim snapped him allegedly flashing at Melbourne’s Sandringham beach


Sleazy disgusting snake bellies like these need to be weeded out exposed and jailed. Only then will the have the slightest chance to help themselves. Contact police anywhere any time or call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. He has to be known and dobbing him in does not mean you need to be exposed as a family member, workmate or otherwise…Regards Robbo

Victim takes photo of alleged flasher at Melbourne’s Sandringham beach

Mon 12 Jan 2015, 6:38pm

A woman who was allegedly indecently assaulted by a flasher at Sandringham beach, in Melbourne’s south-east, has managed to take a photo of her attacker.

The woman, aged in her 40s, was walking her dog along the foreshore path earlier this month when she was approached by a man wearing a towel.

Police said he exposed himself to the woman before indecently assaulting her.

Detective acting inspector Brad Daly said she managed to take a photo of her attacker before he was disturbed by a passersby and fled.

“I’m sure she was very stressed but she was cool enough to take a photo of him,” he said.

It is believed he may have left the area in a silver hatchback.

Police have released the photo taken by the woman as part of an appeal for help.

Anyone with information can contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

‘Thrill killer’ Thomas Hemming sentenced over Melbourne double murder


Judge considers media request for police interview with ‘thrill killer’ Thomas Hemming

Mon 12 Jan 2015, 3:40pm

A taped police interview with a man who stabbed a Melbourne couple to death last year is “not entertainment”, according to a Supreme Court judge considering a media request for access to the vision.

“Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds” of schoolchildren were traumatised by the murder of teacher Cheryl Adamson and her husband Robert, Justice Betty King said.

Ms Adamson, a librarian at Melbourne Grammar’s primary school, and her accountant husband were killed in their Murrumbeena home in Melbourne’s south-east last year by 21-year-old Thomas Hemming.

The double murder was described as a “thrill kill”, with Hemming telling police he had “wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone” for several months.

Hemming lived in the same neighbourhood as the Adamsons, both aged in their 60s, and the court heard he chose the couple on a whim because he thought it was better to kill older people than young victims.

He was sentenced last year to 32 years in prison with a minimum term of 27 years

While handing down the decision, Justice King described his crimes as “savage, horrific and motiveless”.

“There is nothing to indicate that you would not do it again as you lack an emotional connectedness with people in general,” Justice King told Hemming.

She described Hemming’s prospects of rehabilitation as “exceedingly poor”.

Justice King was back in court on Monday to assess a media application from the A Current Affair and Sunday Night television programs for access to vision of Hemming’s police interview.

She questioned the timing of the request and said it was important to consider how many children had been affected by the murders.

“I’ve been approached by people I know, due to the fact they had children at the school where the deceased taught,” Justice King said.

“They say they’re so glad it (the case) is done and finished, because of the ongoing trauma of all those children.

“They were so traumatised… it upset the entire Year 12.

“This is not entertainment… this is really serious.

“It’s a very important and relevant consideration in this case… because the position occupied by the deceased teacher involves hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of children.”

Justice King said she did not believe new coverage would be able to shed new light on the case.

“It’s inexplicable… really you can’t explain,” she said.

Hemming’s parents and siblings were in court to hear the application.

Justice King has reserved her decision.


 

Thrill killer‘ Thomas Hemming sentenced over Melbourne double murder

Updated 24 Oct 2014, 7:23pmFri 24 Oct 2014, 7:23pm

A 21-year-old man who stabbed a Melbourne couple for a thrill will spend 32 years in jail, with a minimum term of 27 years.

Thomas Hemming pleaded guilty to stabbing Robert and Cheryl Adamson to death in their home in Murrumbeena in February, in what prosecutors described as a “thrill kill”.

The court had previously heard Hemming “wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone”, a fantasy he had for several months leading up to the killings.

The court heard he chose the Adamsons on a whim because he knew an elderly couple lived at the home, and he thought it was better to kill older people than young victims.

Hemming has admitted knocking on the couple’s door at 6:00am on February 19 after a night of drinking and asking them if he could use their telephone.

When Mr and Mrs Adamson let him in, Hemming set upon them with a knife he had ordered off the internet.

Media player: “Space” to play, “M” to mute, “left” and “right” to seek.

There is nothing to indicate that you would not do it again as you lack an emotional connectedness with people in general.

Justice Betty King

In sentencing, Justice Betty King said his crimes were “horrific” and “motiveless”.

She called it a “savage attack” on two decent, caring and helpful people that sent a “shudder of fear” throughout the community.

“The Adamsons suspected nothing and were behaving as good, decent caring neighbours,” she said.

“The circumstances of your offending are entirely inexplicable and incomprehensible to anyone involved in this matter and accordingly as a result are totally unnerving to every member of the community in which we live.”

Justice King said Hemming had “exceedingly poor prospects of rehabilitation”.

“You have pleaded guilty to these offences and you know what you did was wrong,” she said.

“But there is nothing to indicate that you would not do it again, as you lack an emotional connectedness with people in general.”

During the trial, Hemming’s lawyer Damian Sheales, told the court his client had shown no empathy for his actions nor provided any detail about why he had carried out the killings, calling it “the most fathomless case I’ve come across”.

Hemming has Asperger’s syndrome, which was discussed during the trial as a possible cause for the attack, but his psychiatrist told the court people with Asperger’s were more likely to be vulnerable victims in the community than perpetrators.


 Melbourne couple murdered in ‘thrill kill’, attacker Thomas Hemming wanted to know what killing was like, court hears

Updated 14 Oct 2014, 1:14am

The man who randomly stabbed a Melbourne couple to death wanted to know what it was like to kill someone and had fantasies about it, a court has heard.

Thomas Hemming pleaded guilty to stabbing Robert and Cheryl Adamson to death in their home in Murrumbeena in February, in what prosecutors described as a “thrill kill”.

At Monday’s plea hearing, the court heard Hemming “wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone”; a fantasy he had for several months leading up to the killings.

The court heard he chose the Adamsons on a whim because he knew an elderly couple lived at the home, and he thought it was better to kill older people than young victims.

Hemming has admitted knocking on the couple’s door at 6:00am on February 19 after a night of drinking and asking them if he could use their telephone.

When Mr and Mrs Adamson let him in, Hemming set upon them with a knife he had ordered off the internet.

The knife was found at the scene and Hemming was later found with blood on his clothes.

A terrifying sociopath with no feeling: Justice King

Hemming’s lawyer Damian Sheales, and his treating prison psychiatrist, told the court their client had shown no empathy for his actions, or provided any detail about why he had carried out the killings.

They also acknowledged there was no evidence he would not act similarly again in the event he was released.

“It’s the most fathomless case I’ve come across in all circumstances,” Mr Sheales said.

“As you can imagine, his own family are shattered.”

Justice Betty King described Hemming as “terrifying to us, terrifying to the community”.

“What is going on?” she said.

“He’s a sociopath … there’s no feeling, no empathy, no care … it’s truly terrifying.

“There’s nothing to indicate in any way that he’s not going to remain a danger.”

Hemming has Asperger’s syndrome, which was discussed as a possible cause for the attack, but his psychiatrist told the court people with Asperger’s were more likely to be vulnerable victims in the community than perpetrators.

Hemming showed no emotion as details of the case were read out.

He will be sentenced at a later date.


 

Thomas Hemming killed Robert and Cheryl Adamson in Murrumbeena home for the ‘thrill’, court hears

Date
October 13, 2014

Court Reporter for The Age

View more articles from Mark Russell

Thomas Hemming.
Thomas Hemming. Photo: Jason South

A Supreme Court judge has described as “terrifying” the case of a young man who had been thinking about killing someone for months before stabbing to death a much-loved couple in their Murrumbeena home.

“I have to say what’s going on?” Justice Betty King said on Monday during a pre-sentence hearing for Thomas Hemming, 21, who pleaded guilty to murdering Robert Adamson, 64, and his wife, Cheryl, 60, on February 19.

The judge said the case was the second “thrill kill” murder she had had to deal with in less than a year and looking at Hemming’s behaviour, she had to ask if he was a sociopath.

Hemming had tragically told his mother months earlier how he was preoccupied with killing someone and she had organised for him to see a psychologist but he cancelled the appointment.

The other ‘thrill kill’ case involved loner Gareth Giles who wrote an 18 point step-by-step plan on his computer on how to commit the perfect murder before he tied up and strangled a man near Geelong. Giles was jailed by Justice King for 26 years in April.

Chief Crown prosecutor Gavin Silbert, QC, told the court Hemming did not know the Adamsons, who had two children, Michael and Katie, when he decided to kill them, believing it was better to murder someone older.

Mr Silbert said Hemming,who worked in the Woolworths bottle shop at Carnegie, was living at home with his parents when he had a friend over on the night of February 18.

The pair were drinking a bottle of Jack Daniels whisky and listening to music before Hemming began to feel sick and vomited.

Hemming and his friend then went for a walk around the neighbourhood some time between 1am and 3am.

Mr Silbert said Hemming’s friend drove home at about 4am and Hemming went back to his house before deciding to act out his fantasy of killing someone.

Hemming, who lived only 160 metres from the Adamsons’ house in Omama Road, had ordered a Cold Steel Marauder knife from a Queensland company online in October 2013.

Wearing black leather gloves and a black leather coat, Hemming took the knife and walked to the Adamsons’ home where he knocked on the door at about 6am and asked to use the phone.

Mr Silbert said the Adamsons, who were both wearing pyjamas, invited Hemming inside in the spirit of being good neighbours.

Hemming followed the couple down the hall before attacking Mr Adamson, an accountant, in the living room area, stabbing him repeatedly.

Mrs Adamson, a librarian at Melbourne Grammar School, hit Hemming over the head with a broom trying to save her husband of 33 years.

The prosecutor said Hemming then stabbed Mrs Adamson in the neck, chest and back before walking home and hiding his bloodied clothes under his bed.

Mrs Adamson’s brother, Craig Collier, in a victim impact statement read to the court, said he could not fathom what was going through his sister’s mind as she tried to stop Hemming from attacking her husband.

“Life will never be the same for any of us,” Mr Collier, who lives in Washington, said.

“My sister was more loved than anyone I know.”

Mr Collier asked: would Hemming having the same desire to kill again if he was ever released?

He had been unable to tell his 86-year-old mother that his sister had been murdered, instead telling her that the Adamsons had died in a car accident.

Defence barrister Damian Sheales told the court one of the most troubling aspects of the case was the senseless nature of it.

Mr Sheales said Hemming had the autism spectrum disorder Asperger syndrome but it did not explain his offending.

Psychiatrist Dr Daniel Sullivan said people with Asperger syndrome were usually more likely to be victims of violence and more vulnerable in the community.

Justice King said Hemming killed the Adamsons and took steps to try to avoid being caught which showed he was aware what he had done was wrong.

Hemming will be sentenced at a later date.


Gunman Amedy Coulibaly killed in Paris grocery store siege


Charlie Hebdo attack: gunmen killed after police storm hide-out January 10, 2015 3:47PM

  • Kouachi brothers shot dead in overnight siege
  • Gunman Amedy Coulibaly killed in Paris grocery store siege
  • Four Paris grocery store hostages declared dead
  • Third siege at a jewellery store in south of France underway, police say not related to Charlie Hebdo massacre
  • Female terror suspect still at large

SEVEN people have been killed in two sieges across France overnight, including the two brothers accused of slaying 12 people at a Paris newspaper, another gunman and four innocent captives.

The two groups of terrorists had seized hostages at separate locations around the French capital on Friday, facing off against thousands of French security forces as the city shut down a famed Jewish neighbourhood and scrambled to protect residents and tourists from further attacks.

HOSTAGE: ‘I was spared for being a woman’

CHARB’S GIRLFRIEND: ‘I knew he would be assassinated’

The moment police move in

Moving in … The moment police storm into the Kosher supermarket. Picture: France 2 Source: Supplied

Risky operation ... Police rush to get the rescued hostages to safety. Picture: Snapper M

Risky operation … Police rush to get the rescued hostages to safety. Picture: Snapper Media Source: Snapper Media

A female terror suspect, 26-year-old Hayat Boumeddiene, remains at large as authorities scramble to end the three days of terror that have gripped France.

Boumeddiene, the girlfriend of slain gunman Coulibaly, is believed to have fled during the supermarket siege which saw four hostages killed.

A third siege, which saw two people held hostage at a jewellery store in Montpellier, south of France has now ended after the man holding them surrended to police.

RT News reports that the two hostages have not been harmed and that Montpellier prosecutor, Christophe Barret, said there was no attempted robbery and stressed that the situation in Montpellier was not connected to the earlier events in Paris and in Northern France.

Free ... French police special forces evacuate the hostages after launching the assault a

Free … French police special forces evacuate the hostages after launching the assault at a kosher grocery store in Porte de Vincennes, eastern Paris. Picture: Snapper Media Source: Snapper Media

Enferno ... Members of the French police special forces launch an assault at a kosher gro

Enferno … Members of the French police special forces launch an assault at a kosher grocery store in Porte de Vincennes, eastern Paris. Picture: Snapper Media Source: Snapper Media

al-Qaeda Yemen claims responsibility for Paris magazine attack

Meanwhile, a member of the al-Qaeda Yemen branch- speaking on the condition of anonymity — has claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attack.

He told The Associated Press that the massacre was carried out as “revenge for the honour” of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

TIMELINE OF TERROR: France rocked by three days of terrorism

The terrorist organisation has also released a chilling new warning for France, threatening the nation with fresh attacks.

“It is better for you to stop your aggression against the Muslims, so perhaps you will live safely. If you refuse but to wage war, then wait for the glad tiding,” sharia official leader Harith al-Nadharisaid in an audio clip released by AQAP.

The three gunmen have also been deemed “heroes” by Islamic State group radio.

First siege: Printworks office in Dammartin-en-Goële

At the first stand-off, explosions and gunshots rang out and white smoke rose outside a printing plant in Dammartin-en-Goele, northeast of Paris, where brothers Cherif Kouachi, 32, and Said Kouachi, 34, had holed up with a hostage.

The brothers were shot dead by special forces as they reportedly burst out of their hide-out.

Security forces had surrounded the building for most of the day.

Their hostage, identified as Michel Catalano, is believed to have been rescued alive.

Suspect's Wanted In Connection With Attack At The Satirical Weekly Charlie Hebdo

Killed … Charlie Hebdo massacre suspects Said Kouachi, 34 (left) and Cherif Kouachi, 32, have been killed. Picture: Direction centrals de la Police judiciaire via Getty Images Source: Getty Images Source: Getty Images

Scene ... smoke rises as a special forces soldiers storm a printing warehouse on an indus

Scene … smoke rises as a special forces soldiers storm a printing warehouse on an industrial estate where the Charlie Hebdo massacre terrorists sought refuge. Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images Source: Getty Images

Second siege: Kosher grocery store in Vincennes

Moments after police surrounded the Kouachi brothers outside Paris, explosions were heard at a second siege, where another Islamic militant gunman was threatening to kill his hostages if the brothers were injured.

Gunman Amedy Coulibay spoke to French TV station BFM during the siege, saying he had taken 16 people hostage at a kosher grocery store, selected specifically “because it was Jewish”.

Free ... Hostages are rescued after being held hostage in the grocery store. Picture: Sna

Free … Hostages are rescued after being held hostage in the grocery store. Picture: Snapper Media Source: Snapper Media

He said four of his captives were dead.

He told the station he had “co-ordinated” with the suspected Charlie Hebdo attackers and belonged to the Islamic State group.

BFM released the recording of the conversation, which was translated from French by The Guardian.

In the clip, the anchor explains that a BFM reporter called the print works office the Kouachi brothers had taken over, and managed to secure a conversation with the younger brother, Cerif Kouachi. This is what he said:

Tense standoff ... Police had to move quickly after Gunman Amedy Coulibay said he would s

Tense standoff … Police had to move quickly after Gunman Amedy Coulibay said he would shoot all the hostages if the brothers were killed. Picture: Snapper Media Source: Snapper Media

“We just want to say that we are the defenders of the prophet, and that I, Cherif Kouachi, was sent by al-Qaeda in Yemen. And that I went there and that it was Sheikh Anwar al-Awlaki who financed me”, adding that the visit took place before Awlaki was killed.

Later that day, BFM got a call from Amedy Coulibaly, who wanted to be in contact with the police. Their conversation is below.

BFM: Are you in touch with the two brothers who conducted the operation at Charlie Hebdo?

Coulibaly: Yes. We synchronised our operations.

BFM: Are you still in touch with them? Have you recently spoken with them by phone?

Coulibaly: No.

BFM: How were you synchronised with the Kouachis? Are there further attacks planned?

Coulibaly: No, we only synchronised to kickstart things: so when they started Charlie Hebdo, I started on the police officers.

On the run ... Hayat Boumeddiene, the girlfriend of dead gunman, Gunman Amedy Coulibay, m

On the run … Hayat Boumeddiene, the girlfriend of dead gunman, Gunman Amedy Coulibay, managed to escape. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

He also tells the TV channel that he has killed four of his 16 hostages, a fact later confirmed by French interior minister Bernard Cazenueve with the following tweet by French news source infos140: “B. Cazeneuve confirms the results from 5 deaths (including A. Coulibaly) and 4 wounded, Porte de Vincennes (France 2)”.

Coulibay, who was suspected of killing a police officer yesterday, was shot dead by police.

An official said the two sets of hostage-takers knew each other.

Hayat Boumeddiene, 26. Picture: Direction centrale de la Police judiciaire via Getty Imag

Hayat Boumeddiene, 26. Picture: Direction centrals de la Police judiciaire via Getty Images Source: Getty Images

Amedy Coulibaly, 32. Picture: Direction centrale de la Police judiciaire via Getty Images

Amedy Coulibaly, 32. Picture: Direction centrals de la Police judiciaire via Getty Images Source: Getty Images

France on high-alert

The French ambassador to the US, Gerard Araud, has sent a series of Tweets confirming reports that two of the terror suspects were killed, according to “his information”.

France has been on high alert since the country’s worst terror attack in decades — the massacre on Wednesday in Paris at Charlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead.

At the kosher grocery near the Porte de Vincennes neighbourhood in Paris, the gunman, Amedy Coulibay, burst in shooting just a few hours before the Jewish Sabbath began, declaring “You know who I am,” the official recounted.

The official said Coulibay is also believed responsible for the roadside killing of a Paris policewoman on Thursday.

Paris police released a photo of Coulibaly and a second suspect, a woman named Hayet Boumddiene, who the official said was his accomplice and girlfriend.

Several people wounded when the gunman opened fire in the kosher grocery were able to flee and get medical care, the official said.

Police said 100 students were under lockdown in schools nearby and the highway ringing Paris was closed.

Evacuation ... French police special forces evacuated businesses and other properties in

Evacuation … French police special forces evacuated businesses and other properties in Porte de Vincennes when a gunman opened fire at a kosher grocery store. Picture: AFP/Martin Bureau Source: AFP

Hours before and 40 kilometres away, a convoy of police trucks, helicopters and ambulances streamed toward Dammartin-en-Goele, a small industrial town near Charles de Gaulle Airport, to seize the Charlie Hebdo suspects, who had hijacked a car in a nearby town after more than two days on the run.

“They said they want to die as martyrs,” Yves Albarello, a local lawmaker who said he was inside the command post, told French television station i-Tele.

Siege ... a helicopter of the French Special Police Forces waits in fields surrounding an

Siege … a helicopter of the French Special Police Forces waits in fields surrounding an industrial estate where the Charlie Hebdo attack suspects were hiding out. Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images Source: Getty Images

Leaders respond to tragedy

French President Francois Hollande has confirmed that four people were killed in the siege in the Vincennes supermarket in a live televised address on Friday.

“I want to congratulate the courage, the bravery of the police officers of all those that participated in these operations,” he said. “I want to say to them we are proud of them.”

He also described the attack on the kosher supermarket as “anti-Semitic”.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama rallied to the support of France on Friday after the bloody end to hostage sieges in Paris, vowing to offer all assistance to combat the threat of militant Islamists.

“I want the people of France to know that the United States stands with you today, stands with you tomorrow,” Obama said at a speaking engagement in Tennessee, describing France as America’s “oldest ally”.

Network Writers and AP

Charlie Hebdo shooting: 12 people killed, 11 injured, in attack on satirical newspaper


A disgusting barbaric and gutless attack on the whole of society. I hope they round up these savages quickly and bring them to justice. Freedom of speech is the very fibre of a free society. WE must never ever fold to the threat of terrorism!If anyone in Australia has a thread of sympathy for the cause of these terrorists. get the hell out of our country now. Watch as they assassinate this policeman point blank.

updated 10th Jan 2015

Charlie Hebdo suspects among three gunmen killed as French police end hostage stand-offs in Paris and Dammartin-en-Goele

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Sat 10 Jan 2015, 1:57pm

French police have killed three gunmen, including two brothers suspected of shooting dead 12 people in an attack at the Paris offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

Cherif and Said Kouachi were at the centre of a stand-off at a printing business in an industrial area in Dammartin-en-Goele, around 40 kilometres from an area which was subject to intense police searches on Thursday.

Police stormed the building several hours after a car chase that saw shots fired. A hostage was freed unhurt. It has been reported the gunmen came out firing when police moved in.

In a simultaneous assault, dozens of heavily armed officers stormed a kosher grocery store in eastern Paris where a gunman with links to the same Islamist group as the Kouachi brothers had taken several people hostage.

Explosions were heard shortly before television pictures showed a number of people being freed.

The gunman was shot dead and four hostages were killed. Two officers were injured as police forced their way into the store.

After police brought the sieges to an end, French president Francois Hollande called for unity and vigilance from his countrymen.

“With the prime minister I have further strengthened the means to protect public places. But we must be vigilant. I also call upon unity because as I have expressed before… it is our best weapon,” he said.

“Today in a kosher supermarket it was a terrible act that was committed. The people who committed the acts, these fanatics, have got nothing to do with the Muslim religion.”

Mr Hollande has invited a number of world leaders to a “great gathering” on Sunday, when he has called for “all French men and women to rise”.

Police said the gunman in the grocery store was believed to be connected to the killing of a policewoman at a metro station on Thursday and released mugshots of Amedy Coulibaly, 32, and Hayat Boumeddiene, 26.

Coulibaly knew at least one of the suspects in the Charlie Hebdo massacre, a source told French news agency Agency France-Press.

It is understood police are still searching for Boumeddiene.

The exact number of hostages in the grocery store siege was unclear, but local media reported at least five were held.

A security source said Coulibaly shot two people as soon as he entered the store, and had “one or more bags” of explosives with him but did not detonate them.

He had tried to booby-trap the entrance to the shop “but had not hooked up the explosives”, the source added.

Police cordoned off the area in Port de Vincennes and interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve rushed to the scene.

Reports have surfaced that Coulibaly and Cherif Kouachi were known to each other and were seen together in 2010 while visiting another jihadist, Djamel Beghal, the mastermind of a failed prison break-out plot.

Coulibaly was convicted for his role in the planned break-out and was well-known to anti-terrorist police.

Plan to ‘neutralise’ Charlie Hebdo gunmen

On Wednesday the two Kouchai brothers had stormed the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo armed with Kalashnikov rifles.

They shot dead eight journalists, two police officers, a maintenance man and a visitor to the offices in the worst militant attack on French soil in decades.

The French government then launched a massive manhunt for the suspects, deploying 88,000 soldiers and police.

Mr Cazeneuve confirmed police had cornered the Kouachi brothers in Dammartin-en-Goele.

“An operation is underway which is set to neutralise the perpetrators of the cowardly attack carried out two days ago,” he said in a televised statement.

Helicopters were seen flying over an industrial zone outside the town where around 200 children from a pre-school, primary school and high school were evacuated to the town gymnasium.

Earlier, police had chased a vehicle at high speed along the A2 motorway towards Paris as authorities appeared to be closing in on the two brothers. Parts of the chase were broadcast live on TV as media vehicles followed closely behind police.

Gunshots rang out and police trucks, ambulances and armoured vehicles descended on the area close to Charles de Gaulle airport.

The Paris prosecutor denied French media reports that at least one person had been killed when the shots were fired during the car chase.

The previous night officers had focused their search on the woodland village of Corcy, not far from a service station where police sources said the brothers had been seen in ski masks.

Said and Cherif Kouachi were French-born sons of Algerian-born parents, both in their early 30s, and both were already under police surveillance.

One was jailed for 18 months for trying to travel to Iraq a decade ago to fight as part of an Islamist cell.

Police had described them as being “armed and dangerous”.

US and European sources close to the investigation said on Thursday that Said Kouachi was in Yemen in 2011 for several months training with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), one of the group’s most active affiliates.

A Yemeni official familiar with the matter said the Yemen government was aware of the possibility of a connection between Said Kouachi and AQAP and was looking into any possible links.

US government sources said Said Kouachi and his brother were listed in two US security databases, a highly classified database containing information on 1.2 million possible counter-terrorism suspects, called TIDE, and the much smaller no-fly list maintained by the Terrorist Screening Centre, an interagency unit.

US television network ABC reported that the brothers had been listed in the databases for years.

Dave Joly, a spokesman for the Terrorist Screening Centre, said he could neither confirm nor deny if the Kouachis were listed in counter-terrorism databases.

Reuters/AFP

Keep watching after he drops, they run up to him and bang from less than a metre.

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Updated about 2 hours agoThu 8 Jan 2015, 11:49am

At least 12 people have been killed by gunmen reportedly armed with Kalashnikovs and a rocket-launcher who opened fire in the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

French officials said 11 other people were injured, at least four seriously, in the shooting at the central Paris offices about 11.30am (local time) on Wednesday.

Two police officers and ten journalists are thought to have been killed.

It is understood the gunmen initially burst into number 6 rue Nicolas-Appert in a Paris neighbourhood, where the archives of the Charlie Hebdo are based, shouting “is this Charlie Hebdo?” before realising they had got the wrong address.

The men then moved quickly down the road to number 10 around noon (local time) and fired at reception staff before moving to the second floor where journalists and cartoonists were holding an editorial conference.

“The two men opened fire and coldly killed the people in the conference room, as well as the police officer in charge of protecting [cartoonist] Charb, who did not have time to react,” a police source said.

Only one person survived, by hiding under the table, according to police.

The deputy mayor of Paris, Patrick Klugman, said the killers knew exactly who they were looking for.

“Two shooters enter into the press room and pick the journalists, asked for their names, and shot bullets in their head,” he said.

A manhunt is underway for a total of three masked men who escaped the scene. Their hijacked getaway car was later found abandoned on the outskirts of the city.

A raid by France’s elite anti-terrorist unit was under way late on Wednesday in the north-eastern city of Reims.

A member of the anti-terror unit at the scene of the raid said either the suspects would be able to escape, or “there will be a showdown”.

According to a police source two of the gunmen are brothers from the Paris region. The third man is believed to be from Reims.

A police document identified the men as Said Kouachi, born in 1980, Cherif Kouachi, born in 1982, and Hamyd Mourad, born in 1996.

In a video filmed by journalist Martin Boudot, who was taking refuge on a nearby rooftop, the men can be heard shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) between rounds of gunfire.

Police said another witness heard the attackers shouting “we have avenged the prophet”.

Another short amateur video broadcast by French television stations showed two hooded men outside the building. One of them sees a wounded policeman lying on the ground and strides over to him to shoot him at point-blank range.

Video: Video of armed gunmen from a distance (ABC News)

In another clip on Television station iTELE, the attackers are heard shouting “We have killed Charlie Hebdo. We have avenged the Prophet Mohammed.”

The pair can then be seen calmly walking over to a black car before driving off.

The gunmen fled towards the eastern Paris suburbs after hijacking a car, police officials said.

It is the worst militant attack on French soil in recent decades.

Charlie Hebdo has been at the centre of repeated controversy around its publication of cartoons lampooning the Prophet Mohammed and its offices were firebombed in 2011.

Dozens of police and emergency services were at the site as police secured a wide perimeter around the shooting scene, where a car could be seen riddled with bullet holes.

Police union official Rocco Contento described the scene inside the offices as “carnage”.

French president Francois Hollande rushed to the scene of the attack and the government said it was raising France’s security warning to the highest level.

“This is a terrorist attack, there is no doubt about it,” Mr Hollande said.

“An act of indescribable barbarity has just been committed today in Paris. Measures have been taken to find those responsible, they will be hunted for as long as it takes to catch them and bring them to justice.

“They will be pursued for as long as is necessary in order that they be arrested and put in front of a court and a judge so they can be prosecuted.”

A source close to the investigation said two men “armed with a Kalashnikov and a rocket-launcher” stormed the building and “fire was exchanged with security forces”.

The source said the gunmen hijacked a car and knocked over a pedestrian as they sped away.

A man who lived close to the newspaper’s offices described what he saw from the window.

“I was at home, I heard gunshots. At first I thought it was the Chinese New Year but it wasn’t the date. I looked through the window and I saw police officers playing hide and seek with the criminals and I understood it was a shooting,” he said.

“I saw people hiding in the subway station and I gathered something serious was going on.”

Sources at the newspaper said the deceased included co-founder and cartoonist Jean Cabut, editor-in-chief Stephane ‘Charb’ Charbonnier, deputy chief editor Bernard Maris, and cartoonists Georges Wolinski and Tignous.

“About a half an hour ago two black-hooded men entered the building with Kalashnikovs,” one witness told French iTELE TV News.

“A few minutes later we heard lots of shots,” he said, adding that the men were then seen fleeing the building.

Charlie Hebdo (Charlie Weekly) is renowned for courting controversy with satirical attacks on political and religious leaders and has published numerous cartoons lampooning the Prophet Mohammed.

The last tweet on its account mocked Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the militant Islamic State, which has taken control of large swathes of Iraq and Syria.

The publication gained notoriety in February 2006 when it reprinted cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that had originally appeared in Danish daily Jyllands-Posten, causing fury across the Muslim world.

Its offices were fire-bombed in November 2011 when it published a cartoon of Mohammed under the title “Charia Hebdo”.

Despite being taken to court under anti-racism laws, the magazine continued to publish controversial cartoons of the Muslim prophet.

In September 2012 Charlie Hebdo published cartoons of a naked Mohammed as violent protests were taking place in several countries over a low-budget film, titled “Innocence of Muslims”, which was made in the United States and insulted the prophet.

French schools, consulates and cultural centres in 20 Muslim countries were briefly closed along with embassies for fear of retaliatory attacks.

Mr Charbonnier had received death threats and lived under police protection.

‘Possibility of other attacks’

“There is possibility of other attacks and other sites are being secured,” Mr Contento said.

Sirens could be heard across Paris as prime minister Manuel Valls said security was being ramped up at transport hubs, religious sites, media offices and department stores.

Danish media group JP/Politikens Hus, whose newspaper Jyllands-Posten has also published cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed, has increased its security level.

Jyllands-Posten published the cartoons in 2005, sparking a wave of protests across the Muslim world in which at least 50 died.

“If the perpetrators are still at large, we’re going to track them down, and we’re going to work with the French to do that,” a White House spokesman told MSNBC television.

World leaders were united in condemning the attack on Charlie Hebdo.

British prime minister David Cameron described the attack as “sickening” and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the shooting was not only an attack on French citizens, but on freedoms of press and speech.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said consular officials were in contact with French authorities to confirm no Australians were affected by the attack.

A Department spokesperson said Australians in Paris should remain vigilant and should follow the instructions of the French authorities.

Australians travelling to France are encouraged to monitor the travel advice on the Smart Traveller website.

Local Muslims denounce attackers as ‘barbarians’

France last year reinforced its anti-terrorism laws and was already on alert after calls from Islamist militants to attack its citizens and interests in reprisal for French military strikes on Islamist strongholds in the Middle East and Africa.

The attack, as yet unclaimed, comes amid what a number of commentators have identified as rising xenophobia in Europe, with thousands of protesters in several German cities rallying earlier this week against Muslim immigration.

France’s five-million-strong Muslim population is Europe’s largest.

“I am extremely angry. These are criminals, barbarians. They have sold their soul to hell. This is not freedom. This is not Islam and I hope the French will come out united at the end of this,” said Hassen Chalghoumi, imam of the Drancy mosque in the northern Paris suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis.

Late last year, a man shouting “Allahu Akbar” injured 13 people by ramming a vehicle into a crowd in the eastern city of Dijon.

French officials say several attacks were prevented in recent weeks.

The last major attack in Paris was in the mid-1990s when the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA) carried out a spate of attacks, including the bombing of a commuter train in 1995 which killed eight people and injured 150.

However, the Islamic State insurgent group praised Wednesday’s attack saying the raid was revenge for insults against Islam.

“The lions of Islam have avenged our Prophet,” Abu Mussab, a Syrian who fights with the Islamic State, said via an internet connection from Syria.

“These are our lions. It’s the first drops – more will follow,” he said. He added that he and his fellow fighters were happy about the incident.

ABC/Wires


Charlie Hebdo attack: Multiple fatalities in French newspaper shooting

January 08, 2015 2:08PM

THE youngest of three terrorists believed to be responsible for killing at least 12 people in the attack on a French satirical magazine has handed himself in, French police sources have said.

France’s elite anti-terrorism unit is believed to have cornered the terrorists at a property in the north-eastern city of Reims.

Earlier, a member of the unit hinted at a possible bloody outcome saying: “There will be a showdown”, as heavily armed officers surrounded the property following a massive manhunt after the offenders fled Charlie Hebdo newspaper’s Paris headquarters after gunning down 12 people.

Police surround a property in Reims where it is believed they have the terrorists cornere

Police surround a property in Reims which is believed to have been used by the three suspects in the Charlie Hebdo massacre Source: Supplied

The surrounded property is in the Reims suburb known as Croix-Rouge

The surrounded property is an apartment block in the Reims suburb known as Croix-Rouge Source: AFP

Residents wait outside as French police search the Reims apartment block

Residents wait outside as French police search the building for evidence relating to the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack Source: AFP

Police have identified three men, two Parisian brothers, 32 and 34, and another 18-year-old man they believe are responsible for the worst post-war terror attack in France.

Police have named Said Kouachi, Cherif Kouachi, Hamyd Mourad now believed to have fled to the north-eastern city of Reims.

It is understood French police discovered who the attackers were after finding an identity card in an abandoned getaway car.

French police have released new photographs of the wanted brothers: Cherif Kouachi (left)

French police have released new photographs of the wanted brothers: Cherif Kouachi (left) 32 and Said Kouachi, 34. Source: AFP

French magazine Le Point is reporting the two brothers had returned to France from Syria last month, and had ties to an Iraqi network in Paris encouraging young men to join militants in Iraq.

Cherif may have served prison time in 2008 for involvement in an Iraqi jihadist group operating out of France.

Masked gunman run towards a victim of their gun fire outside the French satirical newspap

Masked gunman run towards a victim of their gun fire outside the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo’s office, in Paris.  Source: AP

Armed ... Armed gunmen face police officers near the offices of the French satirical news

Violent … armed gunmen face police officers near the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Picture: AFP/Anne Gelbard Source: News Corp Australia

Scene ... two of the gunmen who opened fire at French magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Pi

Scene … two of the gunmen who opened fire at French newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Picture: Live Leak Source Source: News Corp Australia

Armed with Kalashnikovs and a rocket-launcher, two gunmen, claiming to be affiliated with al-Qaeda, stormed the satirical paper’s office about 11.30am on Wednesday (9:30pm AEDT Wednesday) shouting “we have avenged the Prophet” and “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is the greatest) as they fired.

MORE: The victims of Charlie Hebdo terror attack

MORE: Newspaper gunmen ‘on the loose’

MORE: What to know about Charlie Hebdo

The gunmen headed to the second floor editorial department where staff were holding their daily meeting and asked people who they were before shooting.

Terrified staff scattered, with some seeking refuge on the roof as the attack went on for five to 10 minutes before the gunmen managed to escape.

After being called out by name and executed in front of colleagues, ten staff members were gunned down and a police officer was also shot dead before the offenders fled in a getaway car where a third man was waiting.

Driving to Porte de Pantin in northeast Paris where they abandoned the first car and hijacked another, the three gunman emerged from their getaway vehicle to casually injure and execute a French policeman.

WARNING: Graphic content – Moments before Paris gunmen shoot victim

WARNING: Graphic content - Moments before Paris gunmen shoot victim

The escape prompted a huge manhunt with 3000 police are scouring the city in search of the terrorists as French President Francois Hollande described the bloodbath as an “undoubtedly terrorist act.”

Police are now conducting France anti-terror raids in the north-eastern city of Reims as part of their search for the terrorists.

‘A REAL SLAUGHTER’: WITNESSES DESCRIBE ATTACK

Rocco Contento, spokesman for the Unite police union, said the attackers exchanged gunfire with

“They opened fire on everyone, it was butchery, a real slaughter,” Mr Conteno has told the daily Libération.

“Some of the people there took refuge up on the roof. The attackers then emerged, and there was a shootout with police.”

Mr Contento added that the Charlie Hebdo offices had increased its security in recent weeks following renewed threats against the paper.

The contentious newspaper has drawn repeated threats for its controversial caricatures and was firebombed in 2011 in response to a satirical cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed.

In videos posted from scenes of the attack, the gunmen can be heard yelling “Allahu Akbar” as gunshots fire.

WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO

Witness Corinne Rey told L’Humanite she was forced to let the attackers into the building, and they claimed to be from al-Qaeda.

“I had gone to pick up my daughter from daycare. Arriving at the door of the newspaper building, two hooded and armed men brutally threatened us,” she said.

“They wanted to enter, go up. I typed the code. They shot Wolinski, Cabu … it lasted five minutes … I had taken refuge under a desk … They spoke French perfectly … claiming to be al-Qaeda.”

MANHUNT: Newspaper gunmen ‘on the loose’

CHARM: ‘I’d rather die standing than live on my knees’

Australian journalist Amanda Morrow, who lives near the Charlie Hebdo offices, told News Corp Australia that even two hours after the attack, emergency vehicles were still streaming to the site.

Ms Morrow, who has worked for Radio France International for six years and, incidentally, is due to give birth today, said she was not surprised by the attack.

“If you live anywhere near Charlie Hebdo, which has continually printed cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, you know that it is always going to be a target,” she said. “Paris is no stranger to these sorts of attacks, there has been a lot of animosity between Jews and Muslims.”

French soldiers patrol the Eiffel Tower in Paris as the capital was placed under the high

French soldiers patrol the Eiffel Tower in Paris as the capital was placed under the highest alert status. Picture: Joel Saget Source: AFP

Investigation ... French police and forensic experts examine the car used by armed gunmen

Investigation … French police and forensic experts examine the car used by armed gunmen who stormed the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo. Picture: AFP/Getty Images Source: AFP

A police car riddled with bullets during the attack.

Damage … a police car riddled with bullets. Picture: AFP Source: AFP

Massive manhunt

The gunmen’s escape prompted a massive manhunt with about 3000 police officers scouring the streets of Paris for hours following the attack.

Police are forensically examining the abandoned black Citroen getaway car, which was found in the nearby 19th district in north-eastern Paris.

Liberation is reporting three suspects aged 18, 32, and 34, two of them believed to be brothers, have been arrested.

According to MetroNews, police have identified the men as Said and Cherif K, brothers born in the 10th arrondissement of Paris, and Hamyd M, the 18-year-old, whose nationality is not yet known.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (centre) arrives at the offices of the French satirica

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (centre) arrives at the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Picture: Getty Images Source: Getty Images

A police officer stands next to the bicycle of a police officer who was hit by a car near

A police officer stands next to the bicycle of a police officer who was hit by a car near the shell of a bullet (bottom R) not far from the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Picture: Philippe Dupeyrat Source: AFP

People hug each other outside Charlie Hebdo's office. Picture: Remy de la Mauviniere

People hug each other outside Charlie Hebdo’s office. Picture: Remy de la Mauviniere Source: AP

French far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon reacts outside of the headquarters of Charlie H

French far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon reacts outside of the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo. Picture: Kenzo Tribouillard Source: AFP

A woman cries outside the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo. Picture: Kenzo Tribouillard

A woman cries outside the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo. Picture: Kenzo Tribouillard Source: AFP

Victims

Two police officers and 10 newspaper staff are among at least 12 killed in the attack.

Police said 11 are injured, four critically.

French media have named five of the victims: controversial cartoonist and editor Stephane Charbonnier, known as “Charb”; cartoonists Jean Cabut, Georges Wolinski and Bernard ‘Tignous’ Verlhac; and economist and writer Bernard Maris.

Victims ... Charlie Hebdo staff killed in the attack include (clockwise from top left) ca

Victims … Charlie Hebdo staff killed in the attack include (clockwise from top left) cartoonist Jean Cabut, aka Cabu, cartoonist Tignous, Georges Wolinski and publisher Charb. Picture: AFP Source: AFP

Charbonnier, 47, faced constant threats over the controversial publication, and once famously said: “I’d prefer to die standing than live on my knees.”

He appeared in a 2013 Wanted Dead or Alive for Crimes Against Islam article published by Inspire, the terrorist propaganda magazine published by al-Qaeda.

The magazine’s editor-in-chief, Gerard Biard, was in London at the time of the attack.

“I don’t understand how people can attack a newspaper with heavy weapons. A newspaper is not a weapon of war,” he told France Inter.

It has been reported the gunmen asked for the cartoonists by name before killing them.

Thousands of tributes to the cartoonists have appeared online with the hashtag Je Suis Charlie, which means “I am Charlie.”

Killled ... writer Bernard Maris was murdered in the attack. Picture: AFP

Killed … writer Bernard Maris was murdered in the attack. Picture: AFP Source: AFP

Staff ... members of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo pictured in 2006, inclu

Staff … members of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo pictured in 2006, including cartoonists Cabu (L), Charb (2nd L), Tignous (4th L) and Honore (5th L) posing in front of the then headquarters of the weekly in Paris. Picture: Joel Saget Source: AFP, a 42-year-old Muslim man has been named as one of the officers killed.

Graphic video shows the officer being killed point-blank on the sidewalk by the terrorists after begging for his life.

What is Charlie Hebdo?

The satirical newspaper gained notoriety in February 2006 when it reprinted cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that had originally appeared in Danish daily Jyllands-Posten, causing fury across the Muslim world.

Its offices were firebombed in November 2011 when it published a cartoon of Mohammed and under the title Charia Hebdo. No one was injured in that attack.

Previous attack ... this picture shows the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie H

Previous attack … this picture shows the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo when it was firebombed in 2011. Picture: Getty Images Source: Getty Images

Despite being taken to court under anti-racism laws, the weekly continued to publish controversial cartoons of the Muslim prophet. In September 2012 Charlie Hebdo published cartoons of a naked Mohammed as violent protests were taking place in several countries over a low-budget film, titled Innocence of Muslims, which was made in the United States and insulted the prophet.

French schools, consulates and cultural centres in 20 Muslim countries were briefly closed along with embassies for fear of retaliatory attacks at the time.

Before his death in Wednesday’s shooting, editor Stephane Charbonnier received death threats and lived under police protection.

Charlie Hebdo’s front page on the day of the shooting

The French newspaper has long been the subject of threats and attacks in its 50-year history, particularly for poking fun at the Muslim Prophet Mohammed.

The cover of Wednesday’s paper — the day of the shooting — featured a caricature of Michel Houellebecq, a novelist whose sixth novel, Submission, predicts a future France run by Muslims, in which women no longer wear Western clothes and polygamy is accepted.

On the cover, Mr Houellebecq is depicted as a wizard and smoking a cigarette, saying: “In 2022, I will do Ramadan.”

The last tweet on Charlie Hebdo’s Twitter profile page @Charlie_Hebdo_, sent about an hour before the shootings, included a satirical cartoon of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In it he wishes everyone “good health”.

It has not been confirmed if Charlie Hebdo’s latest cover image or tweet were the cause of the shooting.

Paris raises terror alert

French President Francois Hollande has condemned the attack as an “undoubtedly terrorist act.”

Paris has raised its terror alert level to the highest setting following the attack, with Mr Hollande calling an emergency cabinet meeting.

“France is today in shock, in front of a terrorist attack. This newspaper was threatened several rimes in the past and we need to show we are a united country,” he said.

French President Francois Hollande (C) arrives at the headquarters of the French satirica

French President Francois Hollande (C) arrives at the headquarters of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Picture: AFP Source: AFP

“We have to be firm, and we have to be stand strong with the international community in the coming days and weeks. We are at a very difficult moment following several terrorist attacks. “We are threatened because we are a country of freedom. We will punish the attackers. We will look for the people responsible.”

The French interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, said prosecutors have been asked to take all precautions to protect publications, cultural institutions and public places.

He said that all measures were being taken “to neutralise these three criminals who have committed this barbaric act.”

Thousands rally in Paris for victims

Thousands of people joined rallies in Paris and other French cities on Wednesday evening to pay tribute to the victims of the massacre.

At least 10,000 people gathered in the eastern city of Lyon and another 5000 in Paris not far from the site of the attack that killed 12 people, according to police.

Crowds chanted “liberate d’expression” and held up pens, as a black armband was placed on Lady Liberty at Place de la Republique.

Peaceful rally ... thousands gather in front of the prefecture in Lille, northern France.

Peaceful rally … thousands gather in front of the prefecture in Lille, northern France. Picture: AFP/ Denis Charlet Source: AFP

People holds placards reading ‘I am Charlie’ in a gathering in Toulouse. Picture: AFP/Eri

People holds placards reading ‘I am Charlie’ in a gathering in Toulouse. Picture: AFP/Eric Cabanis Source: AFP

A woman demonstrates in Toulouse for press freedom. Picture: AFP/Eric Cabanis

A woman demonstrates in Toulouse for press freedom. Picture: AFP/Eric Cabanis Source: AFP

Liberty ... a black armband was placed on Lady Liberty at Place de la Republique as demon

Liberty … a black armband was placed on Lady Liberty at Place de la Republique as demonstrators for peace wave the French flag. Picture: AFP/Dominique Faget Source: AFP

World leaders respond

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott condemned Thursday the “barbaric act” in Paris

“Australia stands with the people and the government of France at this difficult time,” Abbott said in a statement.

“The thoughts of all Australians are with the families of those who have lost their lives in this barbaric act. Freedom of expression is the cornerstone of a free society,”

World leaders have condemned Wednesday’s shooting, calling it an attack on press freedom and barbaric.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said the murders were “sickening”.

“We stand with the French people in the fight against terror and defending the freedom of the press.”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the killings were a “barbaric attack on freedom of speech”.

“My thoughts are with the victims, their families and their colleagues,” he said.

The White House said it condemns the Paris attack in “strongest possible terms.”

“Everybody here at the White House are with the families of those who were killed or injured in this attack,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, speaking on MSNBC.

“Senior officials at the White House have been in close touch with their counterparts in France this morning.”

He said the US was willing to help the French with an investigation.

German chancellor Angela Merkel said the shooting was “also an attack on press and free speech”, while Russian president Vladimir Putin said he “resolutely condemns terrorism.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi condemned the deadly attack highlighted the need to close ranks against militants.

“This terrorist attack (is) condemned by Iraq, which has suffered greatly at the hands of terrorist groups,” Abadi said in a statement. “This confirms that terrorism threatens all the countries of the world, and not Iraq alone.”

Queen Elizabeth also sent a message to Mr Hollande.

“Prince Philip and I send our sincere condolences to the families of those who have been killed and to those who have been injured in the attack in Paris this morning,” she said. “We send our thoughts and prayers to all those who have been affected.”

Pope Francis strongly condemned the “horrible attack” against a French satirical weekly Wednesday that left 12 people dead, his spokesman said.

“The Holy Father expresses the strongest condemnation for the horrible attack that plunged the city of Paris into mourning,” Federico Lombardi said in a statement.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said the attack was a “direct assault on democracy, media and freedom of expression.”

Obama Comments on Paris Attack
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