June 24, 2013

Jury mulls rape and kidnap verdict

A jury has retired to consider its verdict in the case of a Wairarapa man accused of raping and kidnapping a teenager.

Michael Lihou, 44, denies a total of eight counts that he raped, sexually assaulted, assaulted, kidnapped and threatened to kill the then 17-year-old in Carterton last year jeans embroidery, following a drinking and smoking cannabis session.

The woman said she had been employed by Lihou to write his memoirs, but the job didn't involve much paperwork and they spent a lot of time drinking and getting stoned.

Judge Warwick Gendall on Friday gave his instructions on how to treat the evidence presented during the five-day trial in the High Court at Wellington.

The case is unusual in that the jury has been informed Lihou has convictions for similar rape and kidnapping charges in 1988 and 1996.

The Crown says that there are similarities in the incidents, but Justice Gendall warned the jury the earlier convictions were only one part of the evidence.

"He has done some awful things before but he is entitled to be judged by you in a manner that does not involve prejudice or sympathy wine class."

Lihou's lawyer Noel Sainsbury has argued that the woman had consensual sex with Lihou following a night of "diesel and weed" and willingly went with him when they walked into the Wairarapa countryside.

He said she made up the rape and other accusations because she realised her father and boyfriend would be furious with her for spending the night with Lihou.

She knew Lihou had the previous convictions and that her story would be "lapped up" Asian college of knowledge management, Mr Sainsbury said.

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June 17, 2013

Assange hosts Ecuadorean foreign minister

Australian-born WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has made a fleeting public appearance as he welcomed the Ecuadorean foreign minister to his refuge at the South American country's embassy in London.

Ricardo Patino said Assange was in "good spirits" despite the "limitations" of his accommodation.

The foreign minister is in Britain for a meeting with counterpart William Hague to try and find a solution to the impasse which has led to Assange spending a year in the embassy in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden.

The foreign minister arrived at the embassy at 6.30pm (0330 AEST) and waved to about a hundred Assange supporters before heading inside the building thailand real estate.

Shortly afterwards, the pair opened a window in Assange's ground floor residence and greeted supporters before returning inside for talks, which lasted around an hour.

"I have just finished meeting with Julian Assange who is in good spirits despite the limitations of his accommodation," said Patino.

"I was able to say face to face to him, for the first time, that the government of Ecuador remains firmly committed to protecting his human rights and that we continue to seek cast iron assurances to avoid any onward extradition to a third state."

Assange and WikiLeaks insist that Britain's real aim in seeking to deport him to Sweden, where prosecutors want to quiz him over sex claims, is to send him to the United States.

"During the meeting we were able to speak about the increasing threats against the freedom of people to communicate and to know the truth, threats which come from certain states that have put all of humanity under suspicion," added Patino.

Assange said Sunday's meeting was "very good" and that Patino had "set out how he and the Ecuadorean government are actively seeking a solution to my present situation.

"I remain immensely grateful to the support Ricardo, President (Rafael) Correa and the people of Ecuador have shown me over the last year," he added.

Hague and Patino are searching for a diplomatic solution to the stalemate, which was triggered when Assange turned up at the embassy demanding asylum on June 19 last year.

Earlier, Ecuadorean Deputy Foreign Minister Marco Albuja said in a phone interview that bilateral "ties really reached a critical point when (last August) there was an inappropriate threat to invade Ecuadorean territory, violating the diplomatic legation, seeking Mr Assange's capture Hong Kong loan important notice.

"That was the key moment at which relations were in danger of being broken off," Albuja said.

"Now there is no real effect on (bilateral) relations, and we have in London, as well as in Quito, a fluid dialogue. Ties are good," Albuja said.

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