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Teen jailed for life after killing sex abuser to go free after celebrity campaign

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A teenage sex trafficking victim jailed for life after shooting dead a man who tried to rape her is to be freed following a celebrity-backed publicity campaign.

Cyntoia Brown was just 16 when in 2004 she killed Nashville real estate agent Johnny Allen after he had taken her to his home for sex.

Brown, who was a runaway and under the influence of a violent pimp, said she shot Allen with one of his own guns after he attacked her.

But she was convicted of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery and sentenced to life with the possibility of parole after serving at least 51 years in prison.

Now Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has said Brown, who is now 30, had been given “too harsh” a sentence for the murder. She will be released on 7 August under the condition of a 10-year parole.

“Cyntoia Brown committed, by her own admission, a horrific crime at the age of 16,” Mr Haslam said in a statement.

“Yet, imposing a life sentence on a juvenile that would require her to serve at least 51 years before even being eligible for parole consideration is too harsh, especially in light of the extraordinary steps Ms Brown has taken to rebuild her life.”

Ms Judd has been vocal in the Time's Up movement

Ashley Judd said Ms Brown deserved ‘our empathy’

Cyntoia Brown’s case came to the attention of the public in a 2011 documentary about her case.

Since then multiple celebrities including Kim Kardashian and Ashley Judd have pleaded for her release, arguing that she she should have been treated as a traumatised child victim of sex trafficking.

In a statement released by her attorneys, Brown thanked her supporters and the governor and promised to “do everything I can to justify your faith in me”.

“My hope is to help other young girls avoid ending up where I have been,” she added.

Kim Kardashian West doesn't like shopping as much as she used to

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Kim Kardashian West campaigned for Cyntoia Brown’s release

Since being jailed Brown has earned a high school diploma and is on track to complete her college education this year.

In a joint statement her lawyers Charles Bone and J Houston Gordon said her “transformation, when given the opportunity, is nothing short of miraculous”.

“She is truly a remarkable young woman with so much to offer this world and will now have that chance.”

Reacting to the granting of clemency, Kim Kardashian, who has previously described Brown as a victim with “the courage to fight back,” tweeted simply: “Thank you Governor Haslam.”

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Government Plans To Issue Birth Certificates For Cattle

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Plans have reached an advanced stage for the issuance of “birth certificates” for the animals as well as registration of all farmers and their cattle by the Ugandan government.

Ugandan Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Vincent Ssempijja, said the move became necessary to enable government trace where the products are coming from.

Ssempijja explained that the international market demanded that all countries producing food for the European market needed to provide proof so that the food could be traced.

“They want to know where the meat and crop products are coming from.

“They have been impounding and banning all consignments from Uganda if they find one box with issues.

“Farmers will be registered and their products given barcodes so that if they find a problem with one box, they look for the source and sort out the problem.

“We cannot enter lucrative markets unless farmers register,” he said at the official opening of the National Agricultural Show in Jinja, southern Uganda.

Ssempijja added that all the cattle must be registered and given “birth certificates”.

“For cattle farmers, it is going to be worse. You will be registered as a farmer, the cow will be registered, numbered and will have a birth certificate because the importers of our products demand meat for cows aged between 15 to 24 months.

“So we are going to sell the meat depending on their age,” he added.

An audit team from the European Union is expected to arrive in Uganda in September to that effect, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.

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Ebola forcing Congolese to change the way they bury the dead

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In Beni, they have changed the way they bury the dead.

There is little ceremony now and there are no public prayers. Instead, traditional rituals have been replaced by an elaborate process designed to halt the spread of infection.

This morning, at the city morgue, there was a little coffin sitting in front of the main door. It was wrapped in decorative plastic and it had been built for a baby or a small child.

Family members are not allowed to get close to the bodies of those they have lost to Ebola

Family members are not allowed to get close to the bodies of those they have lost to Ebola

There was a baby inside who had died during child birth just a few hours earlier. The little girl was suspected of contracting Ebola and the mother was gravely ill.

However, I could see the child’s grandmother looking on from the side. After a few minutes a man in a protective suit told her she could take a look at the body.

She approached slowly as the burial team sprayed the path with disinfectant and she quickly glanced at the child. But she was not allowed to linger and she could not touch the body as Congolese tradition dictates.

An official from the Red Cross told me why.

More from Democratic Republic Of Congo

“We are careful because every dead body [in Beni] is suspected of Ebola,” said Cleophas Vyavuwa.

“The virus is so dangerous that if we touched it without protection we risk losing our lives.”

Burial teams take no risks when it comes to dealing with bodies of those who have died from Ebola

Burial teams take no risks when it comes to dealing with bodies of those who have died from Ebola

The coffin was loaded onto the back of a pick-up truck, then driven through town.

I could see the locals keeping their distance. People on motorcycles passed on the far side of the road as if they risked contamination if they came too close.

Clearly, most residents are afraid and there are some who simply don’t want to know – itself a product of fear.

It is a major reason why the World Health Organisation has re-classified this outbreak as a global emergency with some 1,700 losing their lives.

An ad-hoc burial site for Ebola victims has been set up in a forest

An ad-hoc burial site for Ebola victims has been set up in a forest

The pickup stopped at an ad-hoc burial ground that has been carved from the forest outside Beni. Men with heavy-duty gloves weaved around the freshly dug graves as they carried the coffin to its designated spot.

The relatives of the dead, like Muhindo Mathe, the child’s grandfather, were told to keep their distance and that is extremely difficult for some. Family members are supposed to organise the funeral – it is they who decide where their loved ones are laid to rest.

Mr Mathe said: “We are losing our family members and you know, in our culture, people would come and see you and give messages of compassion but that isn’t possible today.”

The family of the little girl, who was named Masika Mathe, have followed the rules – they have the permitted members of the Red Cross to bury the child.

The grave of young girl Masika Mathe, who is feared to have contracted Ebola

Image:
The grave of young girl Masika Mathe, who is feared to have contracted Ebola

But there are many Congolese who have not and it has fuelled the spread of Ebola.

Susana Rico, who works for the World Food Programme, is one of the most experienced coordinators on the ground and told me that this is a crucial argument that has to be won if they are going to rid this region of Ebola.

She said: “Just allowing someone else to handle that body is a leap culturally, but that has to be overcome – even if it is an enormous change.

“Where we have seen the community taking charge, it begins to change. It is happening in some communities.”

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Deadly Japan fire: Arson suspect said animation studio ‘stole his novel

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A man suspected of killing 33 people in an arson attack at an animation studio in Japan reportedly started the fire because “he had been plagiarised”.

According to local media reports, the 41-year-old told police he planned the deadly blaze after the company stole his novel.

A witness told reporters that he “seemed to be discontented, he seemed to get angry, shouting something about how he had been plagiarised”.

Investigators inspect the scene where 33 people died in a fire at the Kyoto Animation company building

Investigators are scouring the building for clues about what happened

The blaze in Kyoto is the worst mass killing since a suspected arson attack in Tokyo killed 44 people in 2001.

It is believed the suspect shouted “die!” as he poured a liquid, believed to be petrol, around the studio.

The blaze broke out at 10.30am local time on Thursday and was fully extinguished at about 6.20am on Friday.

Officers said the suspect was not a company employee but gave no further details.

More than 70 people were in the three-storey building at the time – and 10 people remain in a critical condition.

Of the 33 who died, 19 were found on a staircase leading up to the roof from the third floor, with authorities telling the Kyodo news agency that their bodies were found piled on top of each other.

Japan fire

The blaze in Kyoto is the worst mass killing since 2001

The victims may have rushed up the stairs to escape the blaze on the lower floors, only to find that they could not open the door.

None of the victims’ identified have been disclosed, but locals suggested many of those who died would have been in their 20s.

Residents place flowers for victims of the fire

Residents place flowers for victims of the fire
A man resembling the suspect reportedly went to a petrol station on Thursday with two 20-litre cans.

Two cans, a rucksack and a trolley were found near the site, and television footage appeared to show five long knives being laid out by police as possible evidence on the ground outside the building.

Little else is known about the suspect, who is under police supervision with serious burns to his face and legs.

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