Posts Tagged ‘Switzerland’

Western envoys seek meeting on Xinjiang human rights concerns

November 15, 2018

A group of 15 Western ambassadors in Beijing, spearheaded by Canada, are seeking a meeting with the top official in China’s restive, heavily Muslim Xinjiang region for an explanation of alleged rights abuses against ethnic Uighurs.

The envoys are making their request in a letter to Chen Quanguo, Xinjiang’s Communist Party boss, according to a copy of a draft letter seen by Reuters.

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FILE PHOTO: Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) Party Secretary Chen Quanguo attends a group discussion session on the second day of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

The move represents unusually broad, coordinated action by a group of countries over a human rights issue in China, and illustrates the mounting backlash Beijing is facing over its crackdown in the western region.

Beijing has faced an outcry from activists, academics, foreign governments and U.N. rights experts over mass detentions and strict surveillance of the mostly Muslim Uighur minority and other Muslim groups who call Xinjiang home.

In August, a United Nations human rights panel said it had received many credible reports that a million or more Uighurs in China are being held in what resembles a “massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy”.

China says it is not enforcing arbitrary detention and political re-education, but rather some citizens guilty of minor offences were being sent to vocational centers to provide employment opportunities.

Beijing bristles at criticism of its human rights situation, espousing a policy of non-interference in the affairs of other countries. China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, said on Tuesday the world should ignore “gossip” about Xinjiang and trust authorities there.

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Wang Yi

It was not clear if the letter had been sent yet or if it contents could be revised. One diplomatic source said it was being passed around for more countries to potentially sign.

Several other diplomats familiar with the letter would only confirm its existence and refused to discuss it further, citing its sensitivity. All of the diplomats declined to be identified.

Many foreign governments have refrained from speaking out over the Xinjiang situation, with diplomats saying countries are fearful of angering China, an increasingly weighty diplomatic player thanks to its economic heft and initiatives such as the Belt and Road infrastructure program.


In the draft letter addressed directly to Chen, who outranks the region’s ethnic Uighur governor Shohrat Zakir, the ambassadors said they were highly concerned by the U.N. findings on Xinjiang.

“We are deeply troubled by reports of the treatment of ethnic minorities, in particular individuals of Uyghur ethnicity, in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region,” the draft reads, using an alternate spelling for Uighur.

“In order to better understand the situation, we request a meeting with you at your earliest convenience to discuss these concerns.”

The letter is copied to China’s Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Public Security and the Communist Party’s international department.

It is not possible to directly contact any senior Chinese leader for comment. The Xinjiang government, ministries of foreign and public security, the party’s international department and party’s spokesman’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

China has said Xinjiang faces a serious threat from Islamist militants and separatists who plot attacks and stir up tensions with the ethnic Han Chinese majority.

The letter carries the names of 15 Western ambassadors, including the Canadian, British, French, Swiss, European Union, German, Dutch and Australian envoys. The other countries’ ambassadors names in the letter are Ireland, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, Estonia, Finland and Denmark.

Four diplomats familiar with the letter and its contents said Canada had taken the lead in its drafting.

Canada’s Foreign Ministry, in a statement sent to Reuters, did not comment directly on the letter but expressed deep concern over the reports of detention and mass surveillance of Uighurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang.

“The Minister of Foreign Affairs raised the situation faced by the Uyghurs directly with China’s Foreign Minister at the UN General Assembly. Canada regularly raises concerns about Xinjiang with Chinese authorities both publicly and privately, bilaterally and multilaterally, and will continue to do so.”

The EU, British, German, Swedish, Swiss, Belgian, Dutch, Finnish and Norwegian embassies declined to comment on the letter.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the government was concerned about the situation in Xinjiang and officials had conveyed these concerns to China on a number of occasions.

The Irish, Danish, French and Estonian embassies did not respond to requests for comment.

The United States is not represented on the letter, although non-U.S. diplomats say the country has been deeply involved in advocacy on the Xinjiang issue.

“We remain alarmed that since April 2017 the Chinese government has detained an estimated 800,000 to possibly more than 2 million Uighurs, Kazaks and other Muslims in internment camps for political re-education,” a U.S. embassy spokesman said, responding to a question regarding the letter.

“The United States will continue to call on China to end these counterproductive policies and free all those arbitrarily detained. We are committed to promoting accountability for those who commit human rights violations and abuses, including by considering targeted measures against Xinjiang officials.”

The United States has said it is considering sanctions against Chen, other officials and Chinese companies linked to allegations of rights abuses in Xinjiang.


Saudi Arabia tells U.N. it will prosecute Khashoggi killers

November 5, 2018

Saudi Arabia told the United Nations on Monday it would prosecute those responsible for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at its Istanbul consulate, as Western states pressed it for a credible investigation.

Bandar Al Aiban, the head of the Saudi government delegation at the first U.N. review of the kingdom’s record in five years, heard calls from more than 40 nations, including the United States, for a thorough inquiry and a string of rights reforms.

He told the hearing that King Salman had instructed the Saudi public prosecutor to “proceed with the investigation into this case according to the applicable laws” with a view to establishing the facts and “bringing all the perpetrators to justice”.

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“As regards the passing of citizen Khashoggi, our country is committed to carrying out a fair investigation and all persons involved with that crime will be prosecuted in the justice system,” Aiban said at the end of the half-day session.

Aiban gave no details on the status or whereabouts of the 18 Saudi nationals detained in connection with the case and repeatedly declined to answer journalists’ questions about them, saying: “The case is still under investigation, as you know…I think my statement was very clear.”

Khashoggi’s sons on Monday demanded the return of the body of the Washington Post columnist and critic of the Saudi government, who disappeared at the consulate on Oct. 2.

Saudi officials initially insisted Khashoggi had left the consulate, then said he died in an unplanned “rogue operation”. The kingdom’s public prosecutor Saud al-Mojeb later said he was killed in a premeditated attack.

“We condemn this premeditated killing,” U.S. charge d’affaires Mark Cassayre told the Geneva talks.

“A thorough, conclusive and transparent investigation carried out in accordance with due process with results made public is essential,” he said.

Many Western delegations called on Riyadh to abolish the death penalty and the system of male guardianship over women, and to narrow the definition of “terrorism” in law so that peaceful critics are not prosecuted.

France’s ambassador Francois Rivasseau called on Saudi Arabia to “immediate halt imprisonment and arbitrary arrests” of journalists and activists, and to guarantee freedom of religion.

The Saudi delegation is due to report back on Friday on which recommendations from states it has accepted.

Aiban, who is president of the official Human Rights Commission of Saudi Arabia, said the kingdom was constantly striving to promote and protect human rights “driven by the honorable principles and provisions of Islamic sharia and the traditional values of our society.”

Freedom of opinion and expression were guaranteed, but was limited by laws that protect the rights of others as well as the “prerequisites of national security and public order”, he said.

Women had seen a series of reforms over the last five years, Aiban added. Women were allowed to vote and stand as candidates in municipal councils and driving licenses have been issued to women since June.

No Arab country raised the Khashoggi case.

Egypt’s ambassador Alaa Youssef praised Saudi Arabia’s efforts to confront terrorism and radicalism, while Kuwait welcomed its creation of training centers for judges.

UN to investigate Saudi Arabia’s human rights record

November 5, 2018

Saudi Arabia faces international condemnation for its apparent murder of Jamal Khashoggi and its ongoing war in Yemen. The UK and the US are reportedly working on a joint resolution to end hostilities.

Members of the Saudi Royal House enter a hall in the Royal Palace in Riyadh

The United Nations Human Rights Council is to debate on Monday the dismal human rights record of Saudi Arabia following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the ongoing assault on Yemen.

The so-called Universal Periodic Review, a compulsory four-yearly process, will also focus on Riyadh’s role in Yemen’s civil war.

Meanwhile, British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt said he will lobby the UN Security Council to try and find a political solution to four years of hostilities in Yemen.

At least 10,000 have been killed in the conflict between a Saudi-backed coalition and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, and half the nation faces imminent starvation.

Hunt’s announcement came after Washington, which has long backed the Saudis, called for Riyadh to end its airstrikes in the country. UN diplomats, speaking anonymously, told Reuters news agency Britain and the US were working on a joint resolution to stop the fighting in Yemen.

Read more: Mass starvation looms quietly as civil war in Yemen rages

Public grilling

The half-day public debate will see a Saudi delegation, headed by the country’s Human Rights Commission chief Bandar Al Aiban, grilled by other nations over its human rights record.

Activists have urged countries to hold Saudi Arabia to account.

“UN member states must end their deafening silence on Saudi Arabia and do their duty of scrutinizing the cruelty in the kingdom in order to prevent further outrageous human rights violations in the country and in Yemen,” Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East director of campaigns, said in a statement.

“The Saudi government’s long-standing repression of critics, exemplified by the extrajudicial execution of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last month, has until recently been willfully ignored by UN member states,” she added.

According to publicly submitted questions, Britain, Austria and Switzerland will directly ask about the Khashoggi case. Sweden will ask how it plans to improve respect for the freedom of expression and the safety of journalists.

The US will ask whether Riyadh plans to modify its counterterrorism law to ensure the definition of “terrorism” does “not include acts of expression, association, or peaceful assembly.”

Ahead of the review, the UN rights office published a list of concerns about human rights in Saudi Arabia, including discrimination against women, continued use of the death penalty, and “extremely broad” definitions of terrorism which enables “the criminalization of some acts of peaceful expression.”



U.S. Is World’s Most Competitive Economy for First Time in a Decade

October 16, 2018

Country regains top spot in World Economic Forum rankings thanks to strong economic growth; report says room for improvement on social issues

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The report’s authors cautioned that the U.S. could still improve on competitiveness. When measured on judicial independence and levels of corruption, the U.S. falls outside the top 10. PHOTO: DAVID STOCKMAN/ZUMA PRESS

The U.S. is back on top as the most competitive country in the world, regaining the No. 1 spot for the first time since 2008 in an index produced by the World Economic Forum, which said the country could still do better on social issues.

America climbed one place in the rankings of 140 countries, with the top five rounded out by Singapore, Germany, Switzerland and Japan. All five countries’ scores rose from 2017, with the U.S. notching the second-biggest gain after Japan’s.

The top spot hasn’t gone to the U.S. since the financial crisis stalled output and triggered a global economic slowdown.

“Economic recovery is well underway, with the global economy projected to grow almost 4% in 2018 and 2019,” said the report, published Tuesday by the organization that produces the Davos conference on global politics and economics.

However, “recovery remains vulnerable to a range of risks and potential shocks,” the authors warned. They cite a brewing trade war between the U.S. and China as a possible hindrance to growth that could potentially derail the recovery and deter investment. The U.S. has levied tariffs on a total of $250 billion of Chinese goods and China has retaliated with tariffs on $110 billion of U.S. exports as the two nations spar over trade imbalances and other issues.

Companies that have repatriated manufacturing to the U.S. say that tariffs are increasing their costs and making them less competitive.

The Global Competitiveness Report this year assessed 140 countries on 98 indicators that measure business investment and productivity. The indicators are organized into 12 main drivers of productivity including the nations’ institutions, tech savvy, infrastructure, education systems, market size and innovation.

The report scores countries on how closely they match up to the competitive ideal. The U.S. scored 85.6 out of a possible 100. America’s vibrant entrepreneurial culture and its dominance in producing a competitive labor market and nimble financial system “are among the several factors that contribute to making the U.S.’ innovation ecosystem one of the best in the world,” the report said.

Still, “There is still room for improvement,” according to the authors. While the country’s institutional framework remains relatively sound, there are indications of a weakening social fabric and worsening security situation, it found. The report notes the U.S. homicide rate is five times the average for advanced economies.

When measured on judicial independence and levels of corruption, the U.S. falls outside the top 10.

The country also lags behind most advanced economies in terms of healthy life expectancy, which measures expected years of life in good health. The U.S. figure is 67.7 years, slightly lower than Sri Lanka’s and China’s and three years below the average for advanced economies.

Technology penetration is also relatively low compared to other developed economies, including mobile-broadband subscriptions and internet use. Only 76% of adult Americans regularly use the internet, below the average for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Overall in the index, Switzerland fell to fourth place this year from first place last year, overtaken by the U.S., Singapore and Germany. The top 10 was completed by Japan, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, the U.K., Sweden and Denmark.

The rankings rely on public data on measures such as inflation and debt levels along with a survey of chief executives.

Write to Joanna Sugden at

Russian cyberattack on international chemical weapons watchdog revealed in Dutch counter-intelligence operation

October 4, 2018

Dutch intelligence thwarted a Russian cyberattack targeting the global chemical weapons watchdog in April and expelled four Russian agents, the government said Thursday.

The Russians set up a car full of electronic equipment in the car park of a hotel next to the Organization for the Prohibition for Chemical Weapons in The Hague in a bid to hack its computer system, it said.

“The Dutch government finds the involvement of these intelligence operatives extremely worrisome,” Dutch Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld told a news conference.

Dutch Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld, left, said that the involvement of Russian intelligence operatives was extremely worrisome. (AFP)

“Normally we don’t reveal this type of counter-intelligence operation.”

The Netherlands publicly identified the alleged Russian agents and said the operation was carried out by Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency, Dutch officials said.

Britain helped the Netherlands with the operation, they added.

A laptop belonging to one of the four was linked to Brazil, Switzerland and Malaysia. The activities in Malaysia were related to the investigation into the 2014 shooting down of flight MH17 over Ukraine, Bijleveld added.



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Time to stamp out currency manipulation for good

September 12, 2018

China can put an end to currency manipulation

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Beijing’s interests are now aligning with those of its American rival

By Robin Harding

Donald Trump has a point when he complains about foreigners who “rip us off on trade”. There are countries that do just that. But while the US president chases phantoms of tariffs and trade deals, the real sharp practice is currency manipulation.

In the 1990s and 2000s, numerous countries — but most notably China — held down their currencies in order to run a large trade surplus. This came at the expense of US (and UK) deficits. The actions of currency manipulators sped the decline of western manufacturers and contributed to the 2008 financial crisis.

Some countries still manipulate their currency today. Stopping them would be an excellent way to tackle global trade imbalances. That Mr Trump has launched a round of pointless tariff wars is doubly unfortunate, because there is a golden opportunity to forge a new alliance against currency manipulation, and end the practice for good.

The opportunity exists because the most important former manipulators, China and Japan, no longer undervalue their currencies. What is more, and whether they realise it or not, the fundamental interests of these East Asian giants have changed: they now have more to lose from the currency manipulation of others than they can gain by intervention of their own. The time is ripe for change.

According to Joseph Gagnon and Tessa Morrison of the Peterson Institute, seven non-resource exporting countries met their criteria for currency intervention between 2015 and 2017: Switzerland, Macau, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Israel and Thailand. Korea and Sweden intervened at levels slightly below their cut-off. Brad Setser of the Council on Foreign Relations suggests that Vietnam now belongs on the list as well. The precise form of intervention varies from country to country, but the outcome is the same.

Some of these countries have truly enormous current account surpluses. According to the IMF, Taiwan had a surplus of 14.5 per cent of gross domestic product in 2017. Singapore’s surplus was 18.8 per cent. In Thailand it was 10.6 per cent. Such figures are completely unjustified and, collectively, these countries matter. Their surpluses are deficits for somebody else.

One country no longer on anybody’s list is China. During the 2000s, Beijing manipulated the renminbi on an epic scale, but by 2015 it was selling foreign reserves to stem capital outflows and prop up its currency. The renminbi has fallen this year as Mr Trump piles on tariffs, but the evidence suggests that is down to market pressures, not intervention.

Might China return to large-scale currency manipulation in the future? It seems unlikely. China is now a mighty economic power, too large to peg its exchange rate easily. Doing so would risk capital flight; halting capital flight would mean imposing tough new capital controls. Devaluation might be a tempting way to retaliate against Mr Trump but it is no longer in China’s long-term best interest.

Currency manipulation is no longer in Japan’s best interest, either. Tokyo sometimes threatens to weaken the yen but it would do better to forswear the tool altogether. As the world’s largest creditor, with its fast-ageing population, Japan has little to gain from making its exports artificially cheap.

Both Japan and China still have current account surpluses. But if they do refrain from currency manipulation, they have little reason to tolerate it in others. Countries such as Vietnam and Thailand compete with China’s existing exports. Taiwan and Korea export products that Japan makes today and China wants to make in the future, such as memory chips and flat-panel displays.

So far, both China and Japan seem blind to this reality. They are still locked in the mindset of their own past interventions, when the currency was a vital economic tool. But just as they are discovering a shared interest in free trade, Tokyo and Beijing should realise that they have more to lose from currency manipulation by their neighbours.

Such are Japan and China’s economic interests, should they but recognise them. Whether they come to the fore will depend on geopolitics and Mr Trump. China and Japan compete for influence throughout Asia: there is no chance of them acting in unison. The position of South Korea and Taiwan, so close to China, means they usually enjoy gentle treatment from Washington on economic policy. Sweden and Switzerland are in the difficult position of competing with Germany, which can thank the euro for its own enormous surplus, no manipulation required.

With Mr Trump so set on tariffs, it may be hard to draw any attention to currency policy, but if the G20 wants to find common ground with the US president then it is one place to look. There are other possible allies. The UK has always been oddly passive about a problem that affects it at least as much as the US. Post-Brexit, London may wake up.

China’s past currency manipulation helped to poison the politics of global trade. Now it is suffering the backlash, in the shape of Mr Trump. One answer is for Beijing to repent, join with its tormentor and stamp out currency manipulation for good.

Iran’s foreign minister: U.S. plan to stop Iran oil exports will fail

August 8, 2018

A U.S. plan to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero will not succeed, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was cited as saying by an Iranian newspaper on Wednesday.

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FILE PHOTO: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks to the media in Tbilisi, Georgia, April 18, 2017. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili

U.S. officials have said in recent weeks that they aim to pressure countries to stop buying oil from Iran in a bid to force Tehran to halt its nuclear and missile programs and involvement in regional conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

“If the Americans want to keep this simplistic and impossible idea in their minds they should also know its consequences,” Zarif told the Iran newspaper.

“They can’t think that Iran won’t export oil and others will export.”

President Hassan Rouhani hinted last month that Iran could block the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil shipping route, if the U.S. attempted to stop the Islamic Republic’s oil exports.

U.S. President Donald Trump responded by noting that Iran could face serious consequences if it threatened the United States.

“The Americans have assembled a war room against Iran,” Zarif said. “We can’t get drawn into a confrontation with America by falling into this war room trap and playing on a battlefield.”

Last month, Trump offered to meet with Iran’s leaders. Zarif said that Oman and Switzerland have acted as mediators in talks with America in the past but that there are currently no direct or indirect talks being held with the United States.

Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky


Germany considers tough response to Spain migration ‘surge’

August 6, 2018

A German official has warned that Berlin may impose fresh controls on the borders with France and Switzerland. With a surge in migrant arrivals to Spain, Germany is hoping to avoid a repeat of the 2015 migration crisis.

Migrants walking to a Red Cross tent in Spain

German authorities are considering stronger controls along the French and Swiss borders, Helmut Teichmann, junior minister for migration at the Interior Ministry, told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

Teichmann said authorities are alarmed by the increased number of migrants arriving to Spain after Rome prevented boats carrying migrants to dock at Italian ports. Italy had become the main entry point to the EU for irregular migrants after the so-called Balkan route was closed in 2016.

“We fear that many migrants could make their way to France, the Benelux countries and Germany,” Teichmann said. He added that German authorities are ready to provide assistance to Spain to better handle a new wave of migration.


Spain has witnessed nearly 21,000 migrants arrive to its shores across the Mediterranean between January and July, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). On Saturday, the Spanish coast guard rescued 395 people from nine boats.

“As remarkable as Spain’s rise in irregular migration activity has been through 2018, even more important is its recent surge,” the IOM stated last week.

Read more: Is Spain facing a new wave of xenophobia?

“Over the year’s first five months, a total of 8,150 men, women and children were rescued in Spanish waters after leaving Africa — an average of 54 per day,” the IOM reported. “In the 55 days since May 31, a total of 12,842 have arrived — or just over 230 migrants per day.”

The increase coincides with warmer weather on the Mediterranean and the Italian government’s new policy targeting irregular migration.

In 2015, Germany allowed nearly 900,000 migrants to enter the country under Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door policy. Many of them were fleeing war and extreme poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

But Berlin is hoping to avoid a repeat. Over the past month, the Interior Ministry has established transfer centers at the Austrian border and “Anker” centers to hold and process asylum-seekers.

ls/jlw (AFP, Reuters)

Switzerland: WWII plane crash kills 20 during Swiss Alps tour

August 5, 2018

A vintage Ju-52 aircraft with 20 people aboard went down during a sightseeing flight in the Alps, Swiss officials said. Hours before the incident, a family of four was killed when their small plane crashed near Lucerne.

JU 52 flying over Oberschleissheim in Switzerland The Ju-52 was manufactured in Germany between 1931 and 1952

All 20 people abroad a German-made Ju-52 plane were killed when the WWII-era aircraft crashed in the Alps, Swiss authorities said on Sunday.

“The police have the sad certainty that the 20 people aboard perished,” police spokeswoman Anita Senti told a news conference.

The plane was built in 1939 and can carry up to 17 passengers and three crew members. It was flying a group of 17 Swiss nationals and a three-member family from Austria on a sightseeing tour for the company JU-AIR.

Police have confirmed the crash, saying in a tweet that it occurred on the western side of the mountain Piz Segna (top picture) at about 2,540 meters (8,333 feet) above sea level on Saturday. No reason for the crash has so far been given.

Five helicopters have been deployed for the rescue.

Read more: Crashed Swiss army jet found in Alps, pilot missing

On Sunday, Swiss officials said they were unaware that any distress call had been sent out from the plane, and said they expected the investigation into the cause to be “relatively complex.”

The plane appears to have hit the ground near-vertically and at “relatively high speed,” according to Daniel Knecht of the Swiss Transportation Safety Investigation Board. Knecht also said the 79-year-old plane was most likely not equipped with crash-resistant data recorders that more modern aircraft have.

The company JU-AIR has three of the vintage Juncker propeller aircraft, which are known affectionately in German as “Auntie Ju” planes. They were produced in Germany between 1932 and 1952, serving both as passenger and military planes.

A JU-AIR representative stated that the destroyed plane was maintained regularly and had no technical issues.

Each of the pilots flying it had over 30 years of experience in both the military and civilian sector. The company “still cannot explain” the incident, they said, pledging to support the official investigation. JU-AIR also suspended flights with the remaining two Ju-52s until further notice.


Ju-Air lost one of its historical planes. A Junkers JU-52 (HB-HOT) crashed when it impacted terrain near Flims, Piz Segnas, Switzerland. It is believed the 19 seater was fully booked on a sightseeing flight. Rescue operations are ongoing at present.

R. Brabi@RBrabi

Last Flight over Locarno, Friday 3. August, 08.16

View image on Twitter

Family killed

Earlier on Saturday, a small plane carrying a family of four, including two young children, crashed near the town of Hergiswil, some 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) south of Lucerne in central Switzerland.

Police said all onboard were killed in the crash. The plane had been headed to France.

Swiss media have been citing plane experts’ speculations that the current heat wave may have contributed to the crashes. The heat makes air thinner, increasing the burden on the aircraft.

tj,dj/jlw (dpa, AFP)

Switzerland investigates six for suspected bribery of foreign officials in 1MDB probe

July 10, 2018

Switzerland is investigating six people on suspicion of bribing foreign officials and other offences, as part of a money laundering investigation into Malaysian state fund 1MDB, the Swiss attorney general’s office said on Tuesday.

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FILE PHOTO – Men walk past a 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) billboard at the fund’s flagship Tun Razak Exchange development in Kuala Lumpur March 1, 2015. REUTERS/Olivia Harris/File Photo

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is not one of the “public officials under accusation”, the statement said.

The six under investigation are two former officials from 1MDB, two former officials from Abu Dhabi sovereign funds and two officials of Saudi energy group Petrosaudi.

The statement was issued after Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber met with his Malaysian counterpart Tommy Thomas in Kuala Lumpur.

Reporting by Rozanna Latiff, A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Neil Fullick