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Judge in Trump’s fraud trial threatened

Judge in Trump’s fraud trial threatened

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Judge in Trump's fraud trial threatened

Former US President Donald Trump arrived at a New York court on Thursday to observe closing arguments in a civil fraud trial that could hobble his business empire, as a threat against the judge overseeing the case prompted the court to bolster security.

The New York Times reported that authorities in suburban Nassau County responded to a bomb threat at the home of Justice Arthur Engoron, who has been a frequent target of Trump’s criticism.

A court spokesperson confirmed that Engoron had been threatened and a Nassau County spokesperson confirmed that police had responded to a security incident at a residence at 5:30 a.m. Eastern time (1030 GMT), without providing further details.

Security has been an issue throughout the months-long trial. Engoron’s top staffer faced threats after Trump criticized her as politically biased, prompting the judge to issue a gag order barring him from disparaging court staff. Trump has been fined $15,000 for twice violating the order.

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Most recently, Engoron on Wednesday denied Trump’s bid to deliver his closing arguments after the former president would not accept ground rules barring him from making a “campaign speech.”

Trump has criticized the trial as a “witch hunt” and complained that he was not being allowed to make his case.

“I have no rights,” Trump said as he arrived at the court. “We’ll see whether or not the judge allows me to speak.”

The state is seeking nearly $370 million in penalties from the former US president for overstating his net worth to banks.

The lawsuit by New York Attorney General Letitia James alleges Trump and his associates inflated the value of his assets by billions of dollars to secure better loan terms and other financial benefits for more than a decade.

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Some onlookers cheered and chanted “Thank you James” as she arrived at the courthouse.

Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic President Joe Biden in the November election, has denied wrongdoing. He has complained that the trial is interfering with his campaign but has used occasional court appearances to rally support with inflammatory remarks to news cameras assembled outside.

Republican voters in Iowa and New Hampshire will be the first to decide their preferred nominee this month in contests that are seen as bellwethers for the wider race.

The lawsuit is one of many legal troubles Trump faces, though none have diminished his commanding lead over party rivals.

Engoron presided over the trial in Manhattan and will issue a verdict at a later date without a jury. He found Trump liable for fraud in September, leaving the trial to focus largely on how much money Trump should surrender as ill-gotten gains.

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Trump has appealed Engoron’s prior order and is almost certain to appeal any verdict against him, which could delay a final judgment for many months to a year or more.

Throughout the trial, the state’s lawyers sought to show that Trump consistently overvalued many of the towers, golf clubs, and other assets that burnished his reputation as a business mogul before he entered politics.

During defiant and meandering testimony in November, Trump defended the valuations of his properties, boasted of his business acumen, and accused James and Engoron of being political partisans.

The trial featured a tense face-to-face reunion between Trump and his onetime lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who had not seen his former boss in person since their acrimonious break five years ago. Cohen said Trump directed him to change asset values on his financial statements to arrive at whatever arbitrary net worth he desired.

Trump’s lawyers said Cohen lacked credibility because of his past felony convictions and open animosity toward Trump. That was the basis for one of their several bids for an immediate verdict in their favor, all of which Engoron denied.

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Trump’s adult children Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka Trump also testified, saying they had little or no involvement in preparing their father’s financial statements while running the Trump Organization. All three have denied wrongdoing.

Unlike her brothers, Ivanka Trump is not a defendant.

Trump faces four potential criminal trials this year. He has been charged in Washington and Georgia for his attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss, in Florida for his handling of classified documents, and in New York for hush money he paid to a porn star.

Trump has pleaded not guilty in all those cases. 

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Thai court accepts complaint seeking PM’s removal over minister’s appointment

Thai court accepts complaint seeking PM’s removal over minister’s appointment

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Thai court accepts complaint seeking PM's removal over minister's appointment

Thailand’s Constitutional Court accepted a complaint on Thursday seeking to remove Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin over his cabinet appointment of a lawyer who served jail time, in a new legal setback for the government.

The decision comes after three ministers quit in recent weeks as the government battles to jumpstart an underperforming economy and find funds to deliver on a delayed election promise of cash handouts for 50 million people.

The court chose not to suspend Srettha from duty pending a verdict, as was sought by 40 senators who had complained Pichit Chuenban fell short of moral and ethical standards for ministers set out in the constitution.

Srettha has 15 days to file his defence in court. “The prime minister is focused and determined, this will not affect his work,” said government spokesperson Chai Wacharonke.

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Pichit’s qualifications prior to becoming a minister in the prime minister’s office had been carefully vetted and the appointment was in line with the law, he added.

For decades a close aide of the politically influential Shinawatra family, Pichit resigned on Tuesday in an effort to insulate Srettha from the court case.

He had been jailed for six months in 2008 for contempt of court after being accused of a bid to bribe court officials with 2 million baht ($55,218) placed in a grocery paper bag, which he denied. His law license was suspended for five years.

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As a lawyer, Pichit fought, and lost, big court cases against former premiers Yingluck Shinawatra and billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra, who has been a towering figure in Thailand for more than two decades.

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Thaksin is a close ally of Srettha and founder of his ruling Pheu Thai party, which together with its predecessors has won all but one Thai election since 2001.

The court gave no timeframe for a decision in the case.

If it dismisses Srettha, a new government must be formed and Pheu Thai would need to put forward a new candidate for premier to be voted on by a parliament in which it is not the biggest party.

VReal estate mogul Srettha was elected by the legislature in August last year after weeks of political deadlock, following a deal with parties and lawmakers allied with the royalist military, which staged coups against Shinawatra-backed governments in 2006 and 2014.

Government critics say Pichit got the job thanks to his close ties with Thaksin. The tycoon still holds significant sway in politics, despite officially being retired and having spent 15 years in self-imposed exile until his return last year.

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The government has said Pichit was picked because he was suitable.

Thaksin, who was convicted of conflicts of interest and abuse of power and was released from detention on parole in February, will learn next week if he is to be prosecuted for an alleged insult to the powerful monarchy.

He has denied wrongdoing in the case over comments made in an interview a decade ago.

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Putin to hold two-day talks with Lukashenko in Belarus, says Kremlin

Putin to hold two-day talks with Lukashenko in Belarus, says Kremlin

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Putin to hold two-day talks with Lukashenko in Belarus, says Kremlin

 Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold wide-ranging talks with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk on Thursday and Friday, the Kremlin said.

Russia and Belarus are close allies, with Minsk set to take part in exercises aimed at simulating preparations for the launch of tactical nuclear weapons this month.

Belarus has offered Russia logistical support during its conflict with Ukraine, with Russian forces entering Ukraine from Belarusian territory during their initial offensive against Kyiv in February 2022.

Separately, Belarusian state news agency Belta reported on Thursday that Lukashenko had appointed Pavel Muraveyko as the new chief of the Belarusian army’s general staff. 

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Thai hospital says 20 people from Singapore Airlines flight remain in intensive care

Thai hospital says 20 people from Singapore Airlines flight remain in intensive care

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Thai hospital says 20 people from Singapore Airlines flight remain in intensive care

Twenty people who were aboard a Singapore Airlines flight that hit severe turbulence and diverted to Bangkok for an emergency landing on Tuesday remain in intensive care, a hospital official said on Thursday.

Of the 40 people on the flight still under treatment, 22 patients have spinal cord injuries and six have brain and skull injuries, Adinun Kittiratanapaibool, Director of Bangkok’s Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital told reporters.

Adinun had said 41 people were still under treatment, but later said one person had been discharged. One passenger died of a suspected heart attack and dozens were injured after Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 encountered what the airline described as sudden, extreme turbulence while flying over Myanmar on Tuesday. 

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