Chat about pet cat after Gao shot dead

Roger Rogerson shot Jamie Gao dead over a botched drug deal, pointed a pistol at his co-accused and made threats against his children, but then went to his home for a “light-hearted” chat about family pets and dodgy vets, a court has heard.

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Glen McNamara on Friday told a NSW Supreme Court jury how he had been forced to help move Gao’s body after Rogerson shot him twice following an expletive-laden stand-off over the exchange of a package of drugs at a Padstow storage unit in May 2014.

McNamara, the court has heard, stepped back and hid under a table when he saw Rogerson level his gun at Mr Gao.

But moments after shooting the allegedly triad-connected drug dealer, Rogerson swung his aim onto McNamara.

With his gun pointed directly at McNamara’s head, Rogerson demanded help moving Mr Gao’s body.

“I’ll do you. Get up and help you weak c*** or you will be on the floor next to him,” McNamara said he was told by Rogerson.

“Do as I tell you or I’ll kill your girls.”

“Terrified”, “stunned” and fearing for his life and that of his two daughters, aged 20 and 22 at the time, McNamara decided to go along with Rogerson’s plan to dispose of Mr Gao’s body, he told the court on Friday.

McNamara was sent to fetch something from the car to help them do so and returned with a busted surf board bag, he said.

Rogerson struggled to stuff Mr Gao’s body into the bag.

“This is s***house. Get rid of it,” McNamara said he was told.

The men eventually lifted Mr Gao’s body into a car and drove to the Cronulla unit block where McNamara lived and stored his boat.

According to McNamara, Rogerson said “we’ll put the c*** in your boat” and the pair went and hired a block and tackle to hoist Mr Gao’s remains into the vessel.

After relocating the body, Rogerson told McNamara he wanted to speak to his “lovely daughters” in what the jury was told was a menacing tone.

McNamara then told Rogerson he didn’t need to speak to the girls.

“I said ‘I’ve got the message’,” McNamara said on Friday.

The men then went to McNamara’s unit and sat at a table drinking a few beers.

“It was a friendly conversation,” McNamara said.

“We spoke about our pet cat and we spoke about how Rogerson knew a vet that charged too much money to look after people’s animals.”

After about an hour of generally light-hearted conversation, at which McNamara’s eldest daughter was present, Rogerson asked McNamara if they were going fishing early the next day.

“We’ll get rid of that c*** in the morning,” McNamara said he was told by Rogerson.

Mr Gao’s body was spotted by fishermen on May 26, 2014, wrapped in a surfboard bag and a blue tarpaulin, bobbing in waters off Cronulla.

The crown case is the two men, who accuse each other of killing Mr Gao, shot the alleged drug dealer and stuffed his remains into a surfboard bag before dumping it at sea.

The trial continues.

Panama seizes Mossack Fonseca files

Panamanian authorities have seized scores of digital files after a 27-hour raid on the offices of Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the centre of the “Panama Papers” leaks scandal, but have made no arrests.

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The government said it was seeking evidence of any illegal activities at the firm. The leak of the papers has generated public outrage over how the rich and powerful can hide money to avoid taxes.

Javier Caraballo, the prosecutor in charge of the raid, said officials now had access to 100 “virtual servers” and some physical servers that hold the company’s records, and were working on analysing them.

“We have not ordered a freezing of accounts for the moment,” he told reporters, nor detained anyone.

“At the moment, we do not have any convincing elements that would allow us to make any decision.”

Mossack Fonseca, which specialises in setting up offshore companies, has said the company broke no laws and all of its operations were legal.

“As we’ve always done over nearly 40 years of doing business, we stand ready, willing and eager to co-operate with authorities again on their latest investigations to ensure this situation is brought to a just conclusion,” the firm said in a statement after the raid.

The leak of 11.5 million documents, spanning four decades, revealed how prominent figures, including the friends or relatives of leaders in Russia, Britain, Pakistan and China use offshore companies or other vehicles to hide wealth.

Governments around the world are now investigating possible wrongdoing by the rich and powerful, including money laundering and tax evasion.

Government desperate to crush me: Palmer

Clive Palmer claims the Turnbull government wants to erase him from the political landscape because his party can win the balance of power in the Senate.

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The federal MP says the government is going to dangerous lengths to end his political career, and its pursuit of him over the Queensland Nickel collapse is Nazi-esque.

The Coalition government has promised to cover some of the $73.9 million owed to almost 800 workers sacked from Mr Palmer’s Queensland Nickel refinery in Townsville, with the company almost certain to be put into liquidation next week.

But in an unprecedented move, the government will seek court permission to appoint a special-purpose liquidator to target assets held by the Fairfax MP and his companies, in the hope taxpayer funds can be clawed back.

Mr Palmer laughed at claims by Employment Minister Michaelia Cash that the move had nothing to do with his position in parliament.

“Here we have the executive of the federal government ordering the investigation of a political opponent,” he told AAP on Friday.

“They know that the polls are showing we can win three, four senators and have the balance of power. They want to crush us by any means whatsoever. They are absolutely desperate.”

Senator Cash said Mr Palmer’s company had abandoned its workforce and there was no way taxpayers were going to foot the bill if the MP had assets that could be recovered.

“Everything will be looked at,” she told reporters in Townsville.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Mr Palmer’s role in the Queensland Nickel collapse was a disgrace.

“He’s been taking money out of that company for his own purposes and that has played a major part in the dire state the business is in,” he said.

Mr Palmer said he didn’t know if he personally had $74 million to cover the entitlements bill.

“I don’t know. I haven’t looked,” he said.

But he said the government must explain why the Queensland Nickel case was being treated so differently.

“There are a whole lot of other liquidations and administrations going on across Australia. There’s no call for any of their shareholders to pay anything,” he said.

“Why call on me? Because Malcolm Turnbull knows we can get the balance of power but poor old Malcolm shouldn’t worry about that because he hasn’t done nothing as prime minister anyway.”

Senator Cash expects the majority of sacked workers would get most of what they’re owed, but admits the entitlements of some will exceed the cap that applies to the Fair Entitlements Scheme.

In that case, a drawn-out liquidation process will determine if they’ll receive the balance owing to them.

Townsville MP Ewen Jones broke down as the federal assistance was announced, saying so many in the city had been plunged into desperate circumstances.

“Our city is bigger than Clive Palmer and we’ll get over him.”

He said a special-purpose liquidator would look at “everyone at Queensland Nickel”, not just Mr Palmer.

“If it just so happens that Clive Palmer is in line, he’ll get it,” he said.

Earlier this week, Queensland Nickel’s administrators said there was evidence of gross, and possibly criminal, mismanagement by Mr Palmer and his nephew, Queensland Nickel’s sole appointed director Clive Mensink.

McLaughlin on top at Phillip Island

All the talk leading into the weekend’s V8 Supercars meet at Phillip Island was of Scott McLaughlin’s future.

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On Friday, the Volvo man showed there’s plenty worth talking about in his present.

McLaughlin scorched the Phillip Island circuit to set a new all-time lap record around the coastal track.

He shaved two-tenths off Mark Winterbottom’s previous benchmark, set three years ago and put an ocean between himself and the field with a 1:30.3918 lap just as the curtain fell.

The time makes McLaughlin, 22, the man to beat on the Island this weekend.

“Happy days, quite a bit under the record,” he said.

“I’m stoked but it’s early days yet … I wish it was qualifying.”

McLaughlin, out of contract at season’s end, has been linked with a DJR Team Penske and Holden Racing Team drive next year.

He has said he will wait to hear where Volvo continues its involvement in the sport before making a decision.

On a picture-perfect day at the beautiful Victorian track, the New Zealanders were fastest.

Fabian Coulthard and Shane van Gisbergen were next home with times just above one minute 31 seconds.

Coulthard said the gap between the field can be made up.

“This is one of these tracks where if the conditions are right and you get it right, the margins can be massive because it’s got a big flow on effect,” he said.

“We know we’ve got a bit of work to do.”

McLaughlin’s teammate James Moffat joined him to sit one-two in the standings mid-way through the final practice session only to take two trips into the gravel around the sweeping turn two.

He would finish 10th.

Rick Kelly showed pace in his Nissan Altima to finish fourth while reigning champion Mark Winterbottom ended up seventh.

Jamie Whincup couldn’t find race pace and finished 19th.

Garth Tander, who charted 15th, said conditions were “low-grip which is old school Phillip Island”.

Swedish man on trial for planning attack

A young Swedish man has gone on trial charged with planning to commit a suicide attack in Sweden after police seized bomb-making materials from his apartment, Swedish Radio reports.

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The 20-year-old had wanted to set off an explosion, killing people and becoming a martyr, prosecutor Ewamari Haggkvist told the Attunda District Court, near the capital of Stockholm, Swedish Radio reported on Friday from the courtroom.

She said the “planned criminal act could have seriously harmed Sweden”, citing the indictment, according to the report.

Evidence in the case included seized materials that could be used to make a bomb, including six bottles of acetone, steel balls and a pressure cooker, Haggkvist added.

The man, who was arrested in February, denied the charges, his attorney Peter Jansson said.

The prosecutor also mentioned how the defendant in June was stopped twice in Turkey, from where he had planned to travel on to Syria to join the Islamic State.

Prior to the trips he had become more and more interested in religion, especially Islam, and withdrew large sums of money.

When his family took his passport from him after he was sent back from Turkey the second time, he said he planned to commit an attack in Sweden, the court was told.

Haggkvist said several of the man’s family members had expressed concerns about his views, and that his mother and an uncle alerted police.

Information retrieved from the man’s mobile phone also showed he had searched online for how to make a bomb.

Experts at the Swedish Defence Research Agency cited by the prosecutor said the device could have been lethal if it had been assembled, but some explosive ingredients were missing.

The design was similar to that used in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing where three people were killed.

Legal action against Linc grinds to halt

Legal action against embattled underground coal gasification company Linc Energy has been indefinitely delayed after the company announced it had gone into voluntary administration.

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PPB Advisory administrator Stephen Longley said the Queensland government would have to apply to the courts to progress the five charges against the company.

It follows the decision by a Queensland court in March to commit Linc Energy to go to trial over allegations a leak at one of its plants caused serious environmental harm.

Administrators made the announcement about the company’s future to the Singapore Stock Exchange – where it is listed – on Friday afternoon.

In a statement on Linc’s website, administrators said the board decided it “was in the best interests of the company” to wind up its operations.

Mr Longley said they would meet with creditors in 10 days’ time to work out what should be done with the company’s assets.

Linc Energy’s 57 staff and 20 external creditors are owed an estimated $150 million.

He said he expected them to receive a portion of their entitlements, but he was unsure how valuable the company’s assets would be to buyers given the “depressed” value of coal, oil and gas.

Mr Longley said the Queensland court case had impacted on the board’s decision to go into administration.

He said Linc Energy directors had wanted to restructure the business, but investors were nervous about the charges it was facing.

“The court action was clearly an impediment to the restructure,” he said.

Linc Energy was charged with five counts of causing serious environmental harm after an investigation into a leak at its Hopeland plant, west of Brisbane, caused the hospitalisation of four workers with suspected gas poisoning.

The American subsidiary of Linc Energy is not affected by the announcement and will continue to operate.

Czech Republic to be called ‘Czechia’

The Czech Republic’s leaders have chosen “Czechia” as the one-word alternative name of their country to make it easier for companies, politicians and sportsmen to use on products, name tags and jerseys.

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The choice, agreed on Thursday evening by the president, prime minister, heads of parliament and foreign and defence ministers, must still win cabinet approval before the foreign ministry can lodge the name with the United Nations and it becomes the country’s official short name.

The Czech Republic emerged, along with Slovakia, from the peaceful breakup of the old Czechoslovakia in 1993. But so far there has been no standardised one-word English name for the Czech Republic, unlike, say, France, the shortened version of the French Republic.

That has led to a lot of head-scratching. The largest part of the country is known as Bohemia (“Cechy” in Czech), but there are also other parts, Moravia and Silesia, so one name is needed that does not exclude those historic lands.

The Czech Republic’s adored ice hockey team has donned “Czech” on their jerseys, as have bottles of the country’s premium export beer, Pilsner Urquell. But “Czech” is an adjective and cannot be used as a one-word name for the country.

Supporters of “Czechia” say the term in English can be traced back to the 19th century and was codified by the Czech surveying and mapping authority soon after the 1993 split of Czechoslovakia as a possible one-word alternative.

But it never gained traction until now and it may not have an easy start once it gains official status.

To some, it sounds ugly. Others, including Regional Development Minister Karla Slechtova, think it is too close to “Chechnya”, making it prone to confusion.

Slechtova tweeted on Thursday that the Czech Republic had invested more than $US40 million ($A52.00 million) into a tourism promotion campaign using its full name, and should stick to it.

In some other languages, including French and German, the Czech Republic is already designated by a single name, but in Czech itself the name “Cesko” has only made slow progress since 1993 and “Cechy” – or Bohemia – is still commonly used to mean the whole country.

Clinton, Sanders in fiery debate

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and rival Bernie Sanders have challenged each other’s judgment and experience in a fiercely combative US presidential debate ahead of the crucial nominating contest in New York.

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Clinton and Sanders attacked each other over Wall Street, gun control and other issues on Thursday in a series of exchanges that laid bare the mounting pressures on them both but seemed unlikely to change the dynamics of the race.

While far short of the brawls that have characterised Republican debates, the tone reflected a contentious turn in the Democratic contest. Clinton and Sanders out-shouted each other while a split crowd roared its approval.

“If you’re both screaming at each other, the viewers won’t be able to hear either of you,” moderator Wolf Blitzer of CNN warned during the debate at the historic Navy Yard in the New York borough of Brooklyn.

As the two-hour debate ended, social media analyst Brandwatch said Sanders had more than 173,000 mentions on Twitter, 55 per cent of them positive, while Clinton had more than 191,000 mentions, 54 per cent of them negative.

Clinton mentions were more negative than positive in two out of the three previous debates.

Sanders, 74, will take a quick break from the campaign trail on Friday to fly to the Vatican, where he will give a brief speech at a conference on the world economy and social justice.

Sanders, who will be back in New York to campaign on Sunday, has said the trip is not a political appeal for the Catholic vote but a testament to his admiration for Pope Francis.

Clinton, who represented New York in the US Senate, has a big lead in state polls heading into Tuesday’s New York contest.

She needs a New York win to stop a recent streak of seven victories in the last eight contests by Sanders, and expand her commanding lead in pledged delegates to her party’s nominating convention, also in July.

Clinton leads Sanders by 251 bound delegates to the July Democratic convention, where 2383 delegates will be needed for the nomination. Her lead balloons to almost 700 when the support of superdelegates – party leaders who are free to back any candidate – are added.

Sanders, who had questioned the former secretary of state’s qualifications to be president, conceded during the debate she was qualified but said she had shown poor judgment by taking money from Wall Street for speeches, by voting as a US senator to back the 2003 Iraq invasion, and by supporting free trade deals.

Clinton, 68, responded the charges were also an attack on President Barack Obama, who as a candidate raised money on Wall Street and utilised Super PACS, outside funding groups that can raise unlimited sums of money, but still fought for tough regulations on the financial services industry.

“This is a phoney attack that is designed to raise questions when there is no evidence or support,” she said.

Pressed on what Clinton had done to show she was influenced by the money she had raised on Wall Street or her speaking fees, Sanders said she was too busy giving speeches to Goldman Sachs to break up the big banks.

“He cannot come up with any example because there is no example,” Clinton replied. “I stood up to the behaviour of the banks when I was a senator.”

Sanders responded sarcastically: “Secretary Clinton called them out – oh, they must be really crushed by this.”

Clinton, who has repeatedly attacked Sanders for his vote in Congress for a bill that protected gun manufacturers from being sued over the criminal use of their products, confronted the US senator from Vermont when he laughed as she discussed her accusations.

“It’s not a laughing matter,” she said.

Benji hamstrung again in NRL for Dragons

The future of St George Illawarra playmaker Benji Marshall has come under a cloud, with the halfback again ruled out because of a niggling hamstring complaint.

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The off-contract 31-year-old has been restricted to just three appearances for the besieged Dragons this year and will again miss Saturday’s crunch round-seven clash with Gold Coast at Cbus Super Stadium.

Marshall is fighting for his future and his latest setback raises questions about his body’s ability to stand up to the scrutiny of the NRL beyond this year.

He has been tabled a $300,000 contract by the Dragons but has knocked back that initial offer because it is well below the worth of his current deal.

Coach Paul McGregor on Friday gave no guarantees Marshall would be back for the side’s big Anzac Day clash with the Sydney Roosters.

He said they were wary of not rushing back their star half too early for fear of a recurrence of the injury which had plagued him since round one.

“He’s frustrated, as we all are,” McGregor said.

“And that’s Benji’s biggest challenge at the moment, not trying to push it too quick because hamstrings can be a real danger. If you come back too early, you can really extend the length of time on the sidelines.”

Josh McCrone will fill in at halfback however the loss of the former New Zealand Test representative is a massive blow for the under-pressure Dragons.

They have failed to score a point over the previous fortnight against North Queensland and Brisbane. If they do not get on the scoreboard against the Titans, they will tie Cronulla’s 2014 unwanted record for going the most games without scoring a point.

Belgian minister quits over airport safety

Belgium’s transport minister has resigned following opposition accusations she lied about an EU report that criticised security at Brussels Airport a year before last month’s Islamic State suicide bombings.

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Jacqueline Galant had previously maintained before parliament that her office had not been aware of a critical report sent in March 2015 by EU officials. Opposition parties said they had emails proving the contrary.

European Commission officials declined comment on the report but noted they carry out regular checks on security at European airports and raise any concerns with national authorities.

“A summary of the report had been discussed and sent to the minister’s cabinet in June 2015,” Prime Minister Charles Michel told a news conference on Friday after accepting Galant’s resignation.

“I cannot accept that parliament was not made aware of this important point yesterday,” Michel added.

He would appoint a replacement as soon as possible, he said.

Galant is a member of Michel’s centrist party, which rules in coalition with three others.

Galant complained of a “crusade” against her by a senior official in the state transport administration.

On March 22, two Islamic State suicide bombers detonated suitcase bombs in the airport departure hall before a third struck a metro train in the city. In all, they killed 32 people.

Following the attacks and in the face of criticism of the Belgian government at home and abroad, the interior and justice ministers offered their resignations to Michel over failures by police to detain one of the bombers, who had been on wanted lists, but the premier asked them to stay on.