Ex Secretary-General of UN Annan dies
Kofi Annan, a charismatic global diplomat and the first black African to become United Nations secretary-general who led the world body through one of its most turbulent periods, died early Saturday at age 80.
Tributes flowed in from around the world after his foundation announced his death in the Swiss capital, Bern, after a short and unspecified illness. The statement remembered the Nobel Peace Prize winner as “radiating genuine kindness, warmth and brilliance in all he did.”
He died “peacefully in his sleep,” the president of Ghana, where Annan was born, said after speaking to his wife.
At U.N. headquarters in New York, the U.N. flag flew at half-staff and a bouquet of flowers was placed under Annan’s portrait. Reflecting the widespread regard that won him a groundbreaking uncontested election to a second term, leaders from Russia, India, Israel, France and elsewhere expressed condolences for a man Bill Gates called “one of the great peacemakers of our time.”
Annan spent virtually his entire career as an administrator in the United Nations. His aristocratic style, cool-tempered elegance and political savvy helped guide his ascent to become its seventh secretary-general, and the first hired from within. His two terms were from Jan. 1, 1997, to Dec. 31, 2006, capped nearly midway when he and the U.N. were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.
German prosecutors probe Yazidi woman’s claim about IS man
German prosecutors said Saturday they are taking seriously a Yazidi refugee’s claim that she ran into her former Islamic State captor twice in Germany, but say they need more information to identify him.
The case of 19-year-old Ashwaq Haji Hami made headlines this week after she was quoted telling the Iraqi-Kurdish news portal basnews that she returned to her homeland of Iraq for fear that her alleged tormentor could harm her in Germany. Several reports in foreign media suggested that German authorities were unwilling to act on the woman’s claims.
“The young woman was interviewed but the information [she provided] wasn’t precise enough,” Frauke Koehler, a spokeswoman for federal prosecutors, told The Associated Press on Saturday. When authorities tried to follow up, the woman had already left Germany, Koehler said.
The AP, however, spoke to the woman at a camp for displaced people near Shekhan in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.
Hami said she was captured by the Islamic State group in August 2014, and enslaved and abused by an IS member called Abu Humam, whose real name she said was Mohammed Rashid. After managing to escape from IS, she says she allegedly encountered her tormentor in Germany in 2016 and again in February this year in the southwestern German town of Schwaebisch Gmuend.
Italy’s president demands safe roads; bridge toll rises to 43
Italy’s president demanded guarantees Saturday that all the nation’s roads are safe following the Genoa highway bridge collapse, after he hugged and comforted mourners at a state funeral in the grieving port city.
President Sergio Mattarella spoke quietly to victims’ families before the ceremony began on Genoa’s fairgrounds. Usually reserved in demeanor, Mattarella was embraced tightly for a long moment by one distraught woman.
He then took his place with other Italian leaders, including Premier Giuseppe Conte and the transportation minister, in the packed yet cavernous hall.
Afterward, Mattarella called the funeral, which took place on a day of national mourning, “a moment of grief, shared grief, by all of Italy.”
A Romanian truck driver’s death raises to 43 the number of people who died when the Morandi Bridge collapsed Tuesday. The San Martino Hospital said Marian Rosca, 36, died Saturday evening.