Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Former Vatican diplomat indicted on child pornography charges

A Vatican court indicted Mgr Carlo Alberto Capella, a former staff member at the Vatican nunciature in Washington, and ordered him to stand trial beginning June 22 on charges of possessing and distributing child pornography. Vatican City State’s criminal court issued the indictment on June 9, the Vatican press office announced. Mgr Capella has been held in a jail cell in the Vatican police barracks since April 9. Mgr Capella is accused of having and exchanging with others “a large quantity” of child pornography; the quantity is such that the charges are considered “aggravated” by the Vatican City court. If found guilty, he faces a prison sentence of one year to five years and a fine from 2,500 to 50,000 euros (about $3,000-60,000). However, according to Vatican law, “the penalty is increased if a considerable quantity of pornographic material is involved.” The 50-year-old Italian monsignor had been working in Washington just over a year when he was recalled to the Vatican after the US State Department notified the Holy See of his possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images.



Newsline: Italy Summons French Ambassador in Row Over Migrant Ship

Italy’s foreign minister summoned the French ambassador to Rome in an escalating row over the Italian government’s decision to block access for a migrant rescue ship. Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi summoned the ambassador to a morning meeting “following the statements made yesterday in Paris on the Aquarius affair,” his ministry said in an emailed statement on Wednesday. French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that Italy was “cynical and irresponsible” over the migrant vessel which had been left stranded in the Mediterranean after Italy and Malta refused to grant it permission to dock. International law says the country with the nearest coastline is responsible for welcoming ships in distress, Macron told a cabinet meeting, according to government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux. Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, of the anti-immigrant League, has spearheaded a hardline stand on curbing arrivals from across the Mediterranean as a priority for the new populist coalition with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement. The Aquarius, with some 600 people saved from the sea over the last few weeks, is sailing to Spain after the country agreed to welcome the ship.


Newsline: Ireland to Open Embassy in Rabat for the First Time

Irish Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Simon Coveney announced that his country will open a new embassy in Rabat to develop trade and business opportunities between Morocco and Ireland. “Ireland is so far one of the few European Union member states without presence in North Africa…a new embassy in Rabat will allow us to develop trading opportunities, especially in the fields of agri-food, agricultural machinery and renewable energy,” Coveney said in a statement to Moroccan state owned press, Maghreb Arab Press (MAP). The decision comes in line with the Global Ireland 2025 strategy to strengthen Ireland’s presence globally. The country plans to open other embassies and consulates in Cardiff, Wales; Frankfurt, Germany; Los Angeles, US; and Kiev, Ukraine, starting from 2019.


Newsline: Malaysia to reopen embassy in North Korea

Malaysia will reopen its embassy in Pyongyang, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has said, suggesting an end to the diplomatic row over the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s half-brother in Kuala Lumpur last year. “Yes, we will reopen the embassy,” Mahathir said in an interview with the Nikkei Asian Review published on Monday during his trip to Japan. Malaysia’s once-close ties with North Korea were severely downgraded after Kim Jong Nam was killed at a Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017 when two women smeared his face with VX nerve agent, which the United Nations lists as a weapon of mass destruction. The United States and South Korea have said the murder was orchestrated by Pyongyang. After Kim Jong Nam’s death, North Korea’s ambassador to Malaysia questioned the credibility of the police probe and insisted he was an ordinary citizen who died of a heart attack. Malaysia then recalled its ambassador to North Korea, banned its citizens from traveling to the North and canceled visa-free entry for North Koreans. North Korea retaliated with a travel ban on all Malaysians in Pyongyang, trapping three diplomats and six family members. They were able to fly out only after Malaysia agreed to hand over Kim Jong Nam’s corpse and send three North Koreans wanted for questioning back to North Korea.


Newsline: Diplomat’s guards under investigation for shooting ‘robber’ in South Africa

Security guards protecting a diplomat are under investigation for attempted murder after they shot and wounded an alleged robber in Pretoria. A graphic video – which has gone viral – shows the diplomat and his entourage attempting to drive off shortly after the man‚ who was armed with a knife‚ was shot in Du Toit Street. Police spokesman‚ Colonel Lungelo Dlamini‚ said a case of attempted murder was under investigation. “Those who shot the knife-man were security guards for the diplomat. They were confronted by the man who they shot in the upper body‚” he said‚ declining to identify the diplomat’s nationality. He said the wounded man was taken to hospital.


Newsline: Cuba ‘doesn’t know what happened to latest US embassy worker to fall ill’

Cuba said on Sunday that it that has no idea what caused a US diplomat to suffer a mysterious ailment in the country, soon after similar symptoms were experienced by US officials in a Chinese consulate. Similar incidents have ended with US diplomats and their families suffering suspected brain injuries as a result of what some speculate may be a sonic weapon. Following the previous attacks, the US – saying Cuba had a responsibility to protect diplomats – expelled Cuban staff from the Cuban embassy in Washington, and issued a travel warning to US citizens. Sunday’s foreign ministry statement termed those actions politically motivated, pointing out that “after more than a year of investigations by Cuba and the United States … there are no credible hypotheses nor scientific conclusions that justify the actions taken by the US government against Cuba.” Havana said it sent investigators to the home who found no potential source of a sound and were not granted access to the official. US officials said on Friday that they had pulled two workers from Cuba and were testing them for possible brain injury. There was no immediate explanation of why the Cuban statement only referred to one official. The two individuals are considered “potentially new cases” but have not yet been “medically confirmed,” a State Department official said.


Newsline: Trump may discuss opening US embassy in Pyongyang

US President Donald Trump may discuss establishing official diplomatic ties with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and consider opening an American embassy in Pyongyang, a US media website reported, quoting sources. Citing two sources familiar with preparations for the Singapore summit, the Axios news website reported that this was among topics that could be discussed during their talks on Tuesday. “It’s definitely been discussed,” the unnamed source told Axios. “His view is: ‘We can discuss that: It’s on the table. Let’s see.’ Of course we would consider it. There’s almost nothing he’ll take off the table going in.” But nothing has been decided for sure or is necessarily expected to emerge from Mr Trump’s talks with Mr Kim, the Axios report said. The White House has not officially commented on the matter.