The Latest: Brexit: UK makes plans for European elections

LONDON — The Latest on Brexit (all times local):

9:25 a.m.

Prime Minister Theresa May says Britain will make contingency plans to take part in European Parliament elections in May if no Brexit deal is reached in the interim.

She said in her letter Friday to the EU that she is making these preparations even though she believes it’s not in Britain’s interest or the European Union’s interest for Britain to take part in the elections because it is a departing member state.

May says she “accepts” the EU position that if Britain hasn’t left the 28-nation bloc by May 23, it will have a legal obligation to take part in the elections.

The prime minister says she is still hopeful of reaching a compromise agreement that could take Britain out of the EU before that time.


9:20 a.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is requesting that the deadline for her country to leave the European Union be extended until June 30.

In a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk Friday, May said that “the United Kingdom proposes that this period should end on 30 June, 2019.”

EU leaders agreed late last month to prolong the Brexit date from March 29 until April 12, unless May could push their mutually agreed divorce deal through Parliament.

The Europeans would prefer that Britain don’t take part in the May 23-26 EU elections if it is going to leave. April 12 is the last day for Britain to signal whether it will field candidates.

The Associated Press

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CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand — A New Zealand judge on Friday ordered that the man accused of killing 50 people at two Christchurch mosques undergo two mental health assessments to determine if he’s fit to stand trial.

High Court judge Cameron Mander made the order during a hearing in which 28-year-old Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant appeared via video link from a small room at the maximum security Paremoremo prison in Auckland.

Tarrant was wearing handcuffs and a grey-coloured sweater when he appeared on a large screen inside the Christchurch courtroom, which was packed with family members and victims of the shooting, some in wheelchairs and hospital gowns and still recovering from gunshot wounds.

Tarrant had stubble and close-cropped hair. He showed no emotion during the hearing. At times he looked around the room or cocked his head, seemingly to better hear what was being said. The judge explained that from his end, Tarrant could see the judge and lawyers but not those in the public gallery.

Tarrant spoke only once to confirm to the judge he was seated, although his voice didn’t come through because the sound was muted. It wasn’t immediately clear if his link had been deliberately or inadvertently muted.

Mander said nothing should be read into his order for the mental health assessments, as it was a normal step in such a case. Lawyers said it could take two or three months to complete.

The courtroom was filled with more than two dozen reporters and about 60 members of the public. A court registrar greeted people in Arabic and English as the hearing got underway. Some of those watching got emotional and wept.

Brenton Tarrant’s lawyer Shane Tait walks outside the High Court in Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday.

The judge said Tarrant was charged with 50 counts of murder and 39 counts of attempted murder. Police initially filed a single, representative murder charge before filing the additional charges this week.

In the March 15 attacks, 42 people were killed at the Al Noor mosque, seven were killed at the Linwood mosque and one more person died later.

The day after the attacks, Tarrant dismissed an appointed lawyer, saying he wanted to represent himself. But he has now hired two Auckland lawyers to represent him, Shane Tait and Jonathan Hudson. The next court hearing was scheduled for June 14, and the mental health findings would determine whether he is required to enter a plea then.

Outside the courtroom, Yama Nabi, whose father died in the attacks, said he felt helpless watching.

“We just have to sit in the court and listen,” Nabi said. “What can we do? We can’t do nothing. Just leave it to the justice of New Zealand and the prime minister.”

Yama Nabi, whose father Haji Daoud Nabi was killed in a shooting at Al Noor Mosque, speaks to the media outside the High Court in Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday.

Tofazzal Alam, 25, said he was worshipping at the Linwood mosque when the gunman attacked. He felt it was important to attend the hearing because so many of his friends were killed.

Alam said he felt upset seeing Tarrant.

“It seems he don’t care what has been done. He has no emotion. He looks all right,” Alam said. “I feel sorry. Sorry for myself. Sorry for my friends who have been killed. And for him.”

Tofazzal Alam, a survivor of the Linwood Mosque shootings, speaks to the media outside the High Court in Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday.

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Man gets five years for accessory after the fact to murder

One of two men who was charged with second-degree murder in the death of Nolan Panchyshyn has pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to murder.

Dwayne Hammond, 47, of Chatsworth Township, entered his plea in the Superior Court of Justice in Owen Sound Thursday. The courtroom contained many family and other supporters of Panchyshyn, the 20-year-old Southampton man last seen on Dec. 13, 2017. His body was found three months later at Hammond’s property.

Hammond was sentenced to five years in jail. After enhanced credit for presentence custody of about 18 months, he has 42 months left to serve. The sentence was jointly recommended by Crown and defence and was imposed by Justice John Sproat.

Panchyshyn’s family and supporters sat a few rows behind the prisoner’s box containing Hammond, who was unshaven, in a red, hooded sweater and jeans. He’s been in jail for more than a year.

Tim Panchyshyn, Nolan’s father, read his victim impact statement from the front of the courtroom, with his wife by his side and others supporting them nearby. He said pictures of his son’s celebration of life are on their living room walls.

“Dwayne, your part in the death of Nolan you now have to live with every day of the rest of your life, but we are the ones who must serve the life sentence,” he said directly to Hammond.

Nolan’s mother, Carla Klie, said that when she looks at pictures of Nolan and realizes what’s happened “my heart sinks and stomach flips and I realize this is my reality.” The loss of her son is like a “nightmare that you can’t wake up from.”

Defence lawyer Jill Gamble said her client’s heavy addiction to methamphetamine was not an excuse and that he hopes to live a changed life upon his release. The gravity of what he did weighs heavily on him, she said. He attends the jail chapel frequently.

Crown attorney Michael Carnegie applied for a time-limited publication ban, which was granted. It allows publication of a heavily edited agreed statement of facts, but the submissions on the ban itself may not be reported yet.

The ban went on to cover any reference to factually specific submissions made in court, including certain remarks in three of four victim impact statements, which were edited by the Crown to conform with the judge’s publication ban order.

Hammond consented in the Ontario Court of Justice on March 4 to the accessory after the fact count, then the Crown withdrew the original charges of second-degree murder, offering an indignity to a body and possession of ammunition while prohibited.

He was committed to trial on the new charge and on March 18 the charge was set for Thursday, when Hammond pleaded guilty to it.

That charge, not covered by the publication ban, said that between Dec. 13, 2017 and Aug. 26, 2018 in Chatsworth Township, “knowing that David Beattie had murdered Nolan Panchyshyn,” Hammond “did assist David Beattie for the purpose of enabling David Beattie to escape” liability.

Beattie remains in custody, charged with second-degree murder in the death of Panchyshyn, having originally been charged with indignity to a dead body and failing to comply with probation. He is to appear by video in bail court next Friday. His charges have not been tested before the court.

Bruce County Crown attorney Melody Martin read the full agreed statement of facts into the record. All material covered by the publication ban will remain covered until the completion of criminal proceedings against David Beattie, the order said.

The agreed facts include admissions by Hammond: That he misled police initially, he was present when Panchyshyn was shot and he assisted with moving his body, cleaning of the crime scene, and destruction and disposal of the long gun.

The 13-page agreed statement said that about Dec. 13, 2017, Panchyshyn was killed in Hammond’s home at 395195 Conc. 2 in Chatsworth, referred to subsequently as the Dornoch residence. Police found his remains there on March 15, 2018. Hammond was arrested two days later.

Panchyshyn was living a “high risk lifestyle fuelled by an addition to methamphetamine” but his family and friends said he was trying to get clean. He’d had minor police involvement.

Hammond, who had one prior criminal conviction and was bound by a weapons and ammunition prohibition, owns a rural property with about 10 acres of treed land, a residence and several outbuildings. In fall/winter 2017, Hammond used drugs, predominately intravenous methamphetamine.

On Dec. 12, 2017, Panchyshyn was picked up by Hammond and a mutual friend at Panchyshyn’s home.

They drove to Tiverton, bought and used meth, then dropped the mutual friend off and returned to Panchyshyn’s Southampton home, where he left with his laptop and a floral print blanket.
Police believe inside the blanket was a trigger-locked .22 cal. bolt action rifle which was reported missing. It was Panchyshyn’s grandfather’s and the young man knew where it was kept.

The agreed facts said they returned to Dornoch, then headed for London in a snowstorm. The vehicle got stuck in a ditch near Clandeboye but they were assisted by a relative of Hammond. They warmed up at that person’s residence near St. Marys, then continued on to London.

The agreed facts said they bought about 10 grams of meth in London, returned to St. Marys and then went home to Dornoch. Panchyshyn was not seen or heard from after that point.

Police contacted Hammond using a cell number provided by a witness. Hammond told them he’d received threatening text messages directed at Panchyshyn. He gave interviews to police on Dec. 24 and Dec. 29 and he let them go to his residence to confirm Panchyshyn wasn’t there.
While there, Panchyshyn’s computer was turned over to police.

On Feb. 19, 2018, police got a tip about Hammond’s involvement with the parties on Dec. 12, 2017 and confirmed the males had a gun with them. When that person on Dec. 15, 2017 went to Hammond’s house he asked where was Panchyshyn.

He asked again when he started seeing posters about Panchyshyn being missing. He admitted to police he had told Hammond he was going to tell police what he knew.

On March 13, 2018, Hammond gave a third statement to police. That day police found what was believed to be Panchyshyn’s boots on the main floor wood stove of Hammond’s home. Police began a full search of the property on March 15, 2018.

They found “an abundance of drugs and paraphernalia” and during their search of the property, they found Panchyshyn’s remains.

“From what they discovered at the scene, police formed reasonable grounds to believe that . . . Hammond . . . responsible for the offence of ‘indignity to a dead body.’” He was arrested March 17, 2018 and was held for bail.

Hammond told police “a different story about what happened when they got back to their home in Dornoch in December 2017. He showed them to where a gun had been discarded at Bell’s Lake, not far from the residence.

Police viewed security camera video of Hammond’s property. He was charged with second-degree murder, indignity to a dead body and possession of ammunition contrary to a prohibition order.

On Aug. 27, 2018 Panchyshyn provided another police statement in which he described what happened upon returning home from St. Marys.

Justice Sproat also imposed a DNA order, a lifetime firearms and weapons ban and ordered Hammond not to communicate with people named in the order.
Sproat in his sentencing reasons said no sentence he imposes would be proportionate to the grief and loss suffered by Panchyshyn’s family.

He agreed with defence submissions that meth addiction is no excuse but drugs “lead people like Mr. Hammond to lead a depraved lifestyle and they commit depraved acts.”

He told Hammond that his future and the safety of society “will be best served if you remain sober, attend chapel, and become a productive member of society. That is probably the most important thing you can offer in memory of Nolan Panchyshyn.”

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The main suspect in the death of rapper Nipsey Hussle is facing life in prison after he was officially charged with murder on Thursday.

Eric Holder was taken into custody by authorities in Los Angeles on Tuesday, and his bail was set at just over $7 million.

He appeared in court on Thursday for the first time since his arrest, during which the Los Angeles County District Attorney revealed he had been slapped with one count of murder, two of attempted murder, and one of possession of a firearm by a felon.

Holder faces life behind bars if convicted, reports TMZ.

He stands accused of gunning down Nipsey, 33, outside his Marathon Clothing store in Crenshaw, Los Angeles on Sunday.

The hip-hop star and activist, real name Ermias Davidson Asghedom, was pronounced dead after being admitted to a local hospital, while two other people were also injured during the incident.

Holder has been held in solitary confinement since his arrest, amid concerns he would be a target if placed in the jail’s general population.

The news emerges hours after Hussle’s brother, Samiel Asghedom, paid an emotional tribute to his late sibling in an interview with ABC News.

“He was a brother, a musician, an entrepreneur, a people’s champ,” he said. “He was somebody that believed in the process of hard work, determination and just the positivity of somebody staying in the area that he grew up in and making something out of nothing.”

Samiel added, “He was a role model to the community, to the kids, and to the mothers and the grandmothers and the community that watched him grow up and seen him as a youngster, a family man, a father, raising his kids.”

Hussle had two children – a two-year-old son named Kross with his longtime girlfriend, model Lauren London, and a daughter, called Emani, from a previous relationship.

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CINCINNATI — DNA tests disproved a teenager’s claim that he was an Illinois boy who disappeared eight years ago, the FBI said Thursday, dashing hopes that the baffling case had finally been solved.

For a day and a half, a breakthrough seemed to be at hand when a teenager found wandering the streets of Newport, Kentucky, on Wednesday identified himself as 14-year-old Timmothy Pitzen and claimed he had just escaped from two men in the Cincinnati area who had held him captive for seven years.

Timmothy Pitzen was the name of a boy from Aurora, Illinois, who disappeared in 2011 around the time of his mother’s suicide, and there have been a multitude of false sightings and hoaxes over the years.

“DNA results have been returned indicating the person in question is not Timmothy Pitzen,” FBI spokesman Timothy Beam in Louisville said in a statement. “A local investigation continues into this person’s true identity.”

He added: “Law enforcement has not and will not forget Timmothy, and we hope to one day reunite him with his family. Unfortunately, that day will not be today.”

Timmothy vanished at age 6 after his mother pulled him out of kindergarten early one day, took him on a two-day road trip to the zoo and a water park, and then killed herself at a hotel. She left a note saying that her son was safe but that no one would ever find him.

The case left police, Timmothy’s family and his hometown wondering whether he was dead or alive.

After Wednesday’s developments, Aurora police sent two detectives to check out the teenager’s story, and the FBI was also investigating.

Police and Timmothy’s family had reacted cautiously to the latest turn in the case after a multitude of disappointments.

“There have been so many tips and sightings and whatnot, and you try not to panic or be overly excited,” said Timmothy’s grandmother, Alana Anderson. “Every day you hope, and every day you worry.”

She didn’t answer a phone call immediately after the FBI announcement.

Timmothy’s mother, Amy Fry-Pitzen, was found dead at a hotel in Illinois in what was ruled a suicide, leaving a note that said Timmothy was with others who would love and care for him. People magazine reported that she added a chilling message: “You will never find him.”

Police said she might have dropped Timmothy off with a friend, noting that the boy’s car seat and Spider-Man backpack were gone. Police also found credit card receipts showing she bought children’s clothing and toys in Wisconsin.

Timmothy’s grandmother said Thursday that her daughter had fought depression for years and was having problems in her marriage to Timmothy’s father. Some news reports suggested she was afraid she would lose custody of the boy in a divorce because of her mental instability.

At the time of the boy’s disappearance, police searched for him in Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa.

“We’ve probably had thousands of tips of him popping up in different areas,” Aurora police Sgt. Bill Rowley said Wednesday.

At Greenman Elementary, Timmothy’s schoolmates, teachers and parents tied hundreds of yellow ribbons around trees and signs. A garden was planted in his memory.

The brief but tantalizing possibility that the case had been solved generated excitement in Timmothy’s former neighbourhood.

Pedro Melendez, who lives in Timmothy’s former home, didn’t know the boy but saved the concrete slab with his name, handprint and footprint etched in it when he redid the back patio. It is dated ’09.

A slab of concrete sits in the backyard of the house where Timmothy Pitzen used to live in Aurora, Ill., Thursday, April, 4, 2019.  (AP Photo/Carrie Antlfinger)

“My wife is really excited. She’s been following this story since we moved in the house,” said Melendez, who bought the house from the boy’s father. “Hopefully, it’s him.”

Linda Ramirez, who lives nearby and knew the family, said she was “pretty excited” but didn’t “want to have false hopes.”

On Wednesday, police in the Cincinnati suburb of Sharonville said the teenager calling himself Timmothy reported that he had escaped from two kidnappers he described as men with bodybuilder-type physiques.

They were in a Ford SUV with Wisconsin license plates and had been staying at a Red Roof Inn, according to the police report.

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