Drunken Australian killed by train at German beer festival

22nd September 2009, Comments 0 comments

The unidentified man and a friend from New Zealand, were "in an inebriated condition" and "apparently did not see the S-Bahn train approaching before one of them was hit by the locomotive and fatally injured," a statement said.

Munich -- An Australian man was killed on Monday after he stumbled drunkenly onto train tracks during Munich's annual beer festival and was hit by a train, police said.

The unidentified man and a friend from New Zealand, were "in an inebriated condition" and "apparently did not see the S-Bahn train approaching before one of them was hit by the locomotive and fatally injured," a statement said.

The pair had just met at the beer festival and the New Zealander could not provide police with any information about his companion.

The New Zealander, 25, was unhurt but is suffering from shock, police said.

The Oktoberfest, as the festival is known, attracts some six million visitors a year, who swallow as many litres of beer and bring in 830 million euros (1.2 billion dollars) to the southern German city.

AFP/Expatica

 

Former French PM attacks Sarkozy as smear trial opens

The ex-prime minister and foreign minister faces charges of conspiring to defame Sarkozy in 2004 when the pair were in a fierce battle to win their right-wing party's nomination and succeed President Jacques Chirac.

 

Paris -- France's ex-prime minister Dominique de Villepin assailed Nicolas Sarkozy as he went on trial Monday on charges of plotting to smear his arch-rival and torpedo his bid for the presidency.

"I am here because of one man's will. I am here because of the dogged determination of one man, Nicolas Sarkozy, who is also president of the French republic," he said as he arrived at the Paris court with his wife and children.

"I will come out of this a free man and exonerated," Villepin told reporters before entering the courtroom where in 1793 Marie Antoinette was sentenced to the guillotine. "I know that truth will prevail."

The ex-prime minister and foreign minister faces charges of conspiring to defame Sarkozy in 2004 when the pair were in a fierce battle to win their right-wing party's nomination and succeed President Jacques Chirac.

The case centres on a list -- later found to have been fabricated -- of account holders at the Clearstream financial clearing house in Luxembourg who allegedly took bribes from the sale of French warships to Taiwan.

One name on the bogus list was that of Sarkozy, then France's ambitious finance minister who suspected Villepin, Chirac's chosen heir, of planning to use the fake document to wreck his presidential bid.

The 55-year-old Villepin, who denies any wrongdoing, faces up to five years in jail and a 45,000-euro (66,000-dollar) fine if convicted.

The suave career diplomat whose stirring speech against the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 drew applause at the United Nations is accused of complicity in defamation and using forgeries, dealing in stolen property and breach of trust.

Dubbed France's political trial of the decade, the judicial drama features a Who's Who of big names in French politics, industry and intelligence circles, beginning with Sarkozy, who is a civil plaintiff in the case.

Villepin's lawyers went on the offensive at the outset of the hearings, asking the court to strip Sarkozy of his status as a civil plaintiff to ensure their client gets a fair trial.

"We want to be tried through a fair procedure," said defence lawyer Henri Leclerc.

Sarkozy registered as a plaintiff in 2006 to gain access to the case files and secure his right to seek damages, as have 39 others including Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund.

Representing Sarkozy, who was not present at the trial, lawyer Thierry Herzog argued that the president had a constitutional right to launch legal action and that he had done so openly.

"We'll see in light of the testimony and hearings whether or not Nicolas Sarkozy has hijacked this case," Herzog told reporters.

Villepin's hopes of throwing Sarkozy out of the case were dashed however when the judges ruled that the president's civil complaint would be dealt with at the end of the trial.

The Clearstream trial has become a new clash between Villepin and Sarkozy, whose mutual hatred is legendary in French political circles.

But the month-long hearings before the Paris criminal court could also cast light on the murky dealings of French intelligence and at top aerospace company EADS.

Also on trial was EADS ex-vice president Jean-Louis Gergorin, who has admitted to leaking the bogus list to investigators, and Imad Lahoud, an ex-EADS employee, suspected of falsifying the list.

Management consultant Florian Bourges is accused of stealing Clearstream documents and journalist Denis Robert, who broke the story, is charged with dealing in stolen property.

Among the star witnesses to be heard in the coming weeks are former spymasters including Yves Bertrand and General Philippe Rondot, whose notes -- seized by investigators -- detail his secret meetings with Villepin about the Clearstream affair.

Villepin is scheduled to take the stand next week.

Judges are expected to take several months to reach a verdict after the trial ends on October 23.

AFP/Expatica

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