As appeal is denied at Lockerbie trial Annan voices hope for closure

“The Lockerbie trial understandably has been followed with great interest, and has caused anguish to many,” a spokesperson for Mr. Annan said in a statement released today at UN Headquarters in New York. “The families of the victims have been suffering ever since this tragic event, and the Secretary-General shares their sorrow.” Earlier today, the appeals court in Camp Zeist dismissed the motion by Abdel Basset Al-Megrahi, convicted last year for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland, which resulted in the death of 270 people. The spokesman noted that as agreed with all the parties concerned, the United Nations Secretariat would now work with the British authorities to monitor the conditions of Mr. Al-Megrahi’s imprisonment in Scotland. read more

With Silicon Valley model UNICEF invests in tech startups working to improve

Along with the UNICEF Innovation Fund’s first portfolio of investments, the agency also opened the next round of applications from start-ups, calling the Fund a “new way of doing business at the UN; combining the approach of Silicon Valley venture funds with the needs of UNICEF programme countries.” “Using UNICEF’s 190 offices and 12,000 staff, the Fund will help us source and support companies that might be overlooked by traditional investment vehicles,” Cynthia McCaffrey, the Director of the UNICEF Office of Innovation said in a news release. According to the release, the Fund allows UNICEF to prototype technology solutions, as well as expand its networks of open source collaborators to improve children’s lives. The start-ups included in the portfolio of investments are: Saycel (Nicaragua): provides affordable mobile connectivity to communities that are not on the traditional information grid in rural areas;mPower (Bangladesh): create a digital registry platform to improve data collection and delivery of maternal and child health care;9Needs (South Africa): uses blockchain – is a distributed database that maintains a continuously-growing list of records called ‘blocks’ – and advances in identity technology to create better management systems for early childhood development services;Innovations for Poverty Alleviation Lab (Pakistan): creates stories and information that can be played over a simple mobile phone to help fathers (who may be semi-literate) support their families for better maternal and newborn health; and Chatterbox (Cambodia): provides a fundamental technology layer to be integrated into UNICEF’s RapidPro platform to extend its reach to communities that are low literacy, particularly in Cambodia, but eventually globally.UNICEF has an eye to investing in 20-40 additional companies in 2017, said the release.It added that the Innovation Fund is inviting technology start-ups to apply for investment and become part of this growing portfolio of open source solutions. Progress made by portfolio projects are monitored in real time and displayed in detail at: www.unicefinnovationfund.org.UNICEF Innovation, which includes the agency’s Office of Innovation, Innovation Unit (UNICEF Supply Division) and a network of Innovation Labs, is an interdisciplinary team of individuals around the world tasked with identifying, prototyping, and scaling technologies and practices that strengthen UNICEF’s work. read more

Samantha Eastwood murder Killer laid midwifes wedding dress on bed to fool

Mrs Justice Carr told him he had engaged in a “sophisticated and mendacious cover-up” and had “weaved an extraordinary web of deception.”She said: “Samantha was alone in her home where she should have been safe and sound, and trusted you in her house.”On any view, she suffered what must have been a terrifying assault resulting in a killing that was not immediate.“In the agonising hours and days following her death you lied and lied, over and over again, in an attempt to cover up what you had done.”Miss Eastwood had been in a relationship since 2010 and had been due to marry in the summer of this year. Michael Stirling Samantha Eastwood A “composed and callous” killer suffocated his midwife lover before laying a false trail for detectives in an act of “breathtaking cruelty,” a court heard.Michael Stirling, 32, flew into such an intense rage during a row with Samantha Eastwood, 28,at her Stoke-on-Trent home that he forced her to her bedroom floor and suffocated her.The pair had been having an “intimate” affair for three years. She had also been in a long-term relationship with his wife’s brother but had called off their engagement months earlier.After murdering her, Stirling carefully laid Miss Eastwood’s unworn wedding dress and engagement ring out on her bed.The following day he sent a series of texts to her sister from her phone, claiming she was having a breakdown and needed some “me time,” Stafford Crown Court heard.One said: “Please leave me alone” while another suggested she had met a “guy off the internet” and was being driven towards the motorway. Michael StirlingCredit:Staffordshire Police/PA Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Police later likened his level of deceit to that of Soham murderer Ian Huntley.Stirling bound Miss Eastwood’s face and eyes with masking tape before wrapping her body inside a single duvet cover.He then bundled her into a van outside her home in Stoke on Trent and drove to his parents’ house for dinner, where he was “fine and cheerful” before returning home for a shower. “I liken his actions to that of Ian Huntley.”  But she called off the engagement in January, to the surprise of friends, and later tried to sell her wedding dress online.She was reported missing by concerned colleagues on Friday July 27 after she failed to show up for a night shift at Royal Stoke University Hospital.At 3pm that afternoon, one of Miss Eastwood’s neighbours heard a woman screaming for “between 15 to 30 seconds”, and then a woman shouting “get off, get off me”.Stirling was arrested two days later but released under investigation.Four days after that, on Thursday, August 2, he inadvertently led police to her body.DI Dan Ison, the officer in charge of the case, told Stoke-on-Trent Live: “His behaviour on August 2 was suspicious to say the least. He was observed on a bicycle which he secreted in a hedge and he ran off.”I knew his phone had been in that area on the night she went missing. We had a 1,000 metre radius as to where she might be.”We started searching on the Saturday and, within an-hour-and-a-half, we found her body.”Stirling was re-arrested on August 4 and pleaded guilty to murder in October.DI Ison said: “To go to that level of deceit, it’s unthinkable really. He then went out in his van on the pretext of searching for Miss Eastwood, disposing of her body “like an animal” in the undergrowth on the edge of the Staffordshire Moorland.Hours later, he returned to her family home where distraught relatives had gathered and hugged her younger sister.Gemma Eastwood told the court: “Forever this will haunt me.”Stirling was caught when he was tailed by police as he returned to check on the body six days later.The married landscape gardener, who has a four-year-old daughter, was on Monday sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 16 years and ten months. Samantha EastwoodCredit:Staffordshire Police read more