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Key witness in Floyd murder trial seeks to avoid testifying

AFP/Editor

A key witness in the trial of the police officer accused of murdering George Floyd sought Tuesday to avoid giving evidence as his lawyers said he could incriminate himself on separate charges. Morries Hall, who was with Floyd in his car shortly before his death, is in custody and appeared by video camera at the hearing after he was subpoenaed to testify.

«There’s really a very small narrow topic that might be permissible,» judge Peter Cahill said as Hall’s lawyers argued that it was impossible for him to be cross-examined without incriminating himself.

Hall is seen as a potentially important witness for the defense of police officer Derek Chauvin, who was seen in a phone video kneeling on the neck of Floyd for more than nine minutes.

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The harrowing footage of Floyd’s arrest touched off protests against racial injustice and police brutality in the United States and around the world.

Prosecutors are seeking to prove that Floyd’s death was due to asphyxiation, while Chauvin’s defense claims it was due to illegal drugs in Floyd’s system.

Chauvin’s lawyer Eric Nelson confirmed he wanted to ask if Hall sold or gave Floyd drugs. Meanwhile, Hall’s lawyer said «there’s an allegation here that Mr Floyd ingested a controlled substance as police were removing him from the car… This leaves Mr Hall potentially incriminating himself.»

The judge said he would rule later on Hall’s request not to testify.

Chauvin, who was sacked from the police force after the incident, has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and manslaughter.

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El Salvador: Buscan impedir que pandillas evolucionen antes de ser eliminadas

Funcionarios de gabinete de Seguridad se reunieron esta semana con el presidente de la República, Nayib Bukele para medir los avances en el Régimen de Excepción y continuar con la siguiente etapa de la estrategia de seguridad, a fin de “impedir que los grupos terroristas evolucionen antes de ser eliminados”, constó una publicación de Casa Presidencial.

Fotografías que acompañan la publicación muestran que la reunión contó con la participación del fiscal general de la República, Rodolfo Delgado; el director de la Policía Nacional Civil (PNC), Mauricio Arriaza; el ministro de Justicia y Seguridad Pública, Gustavo Villatoro y el ministro de Defensa, Francis Merino Monroy.

Las autoridades buscaron medir los avances de la implementación de un régimen de excepción que está vigente desde el 27 de marzo pasado y que ha sido prorrogado en dos ocasiones, a fin de continuar con el combate a los grupos delincuenciales en la denominada “Guerra contra las Pandillas”.

Según reportes de Casa Presidencial, los funcionarios sostuvieron encuentros del mismo tipo el 28 y 30 de marzo, también el 6 de abril y el 25 de mayo, pata evaluar y ajustar detalles del plan de seguridad dentro del régimen de excepción.

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Hasta este viernes, el Ministerio de Justicia y Seguridad Pública (MJSP) dio cuenta de 39,415 capturas de presuntos pandilleros, 183 de ellos detenidos en las últimas horas.

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Centroamérica

Nombran nuevo encargado de Negocios de la embajada estadounidense en El Salvador

Patrick Ventrell ha sido nombrado como nuevo Encargado de Negocios de la Embajada de Estados Unidos en El Salvador de forma interina, en sustitución de Brendan O’Brien, anunció este viernes la sede diplomática en un comunicado.

El texto señala que Ventrell ejercerá como Encargado de Negocios «Ad Interim durante las próximas semanas antes de regresar al Departamento de Estado en Washington D.C.».

“En la actualidad, (Ventrell) es el director de la Oficina de Asuntos Centroamericanos en la Oficina de Asuntos del Hemisferio Occidental. Entre sus cargos anteriores se encuentran la de portavoz adjunto de la Misión de Estados Unidos ante las Naciones Unidas en Nueva York, director de la Oficina de Relaciones con la Prensa en la Oficina de Asuntos Públicos, director de comunicaciones y portavoz adjunto en el Consejo de Seguridad Nacional”, detalló la embajada estadounidense.

Así mismo, añadió otros cargos que han sido ejercidos por el nuevo encargado de negocios, tales como: director de la Oficina de Programas para el Hemisferio Occidental en la Oficina de Asuntos Internacionales de Narcóticos y Aplicación de la Ley y varios cargos en las embajadas de Estados Unidos en Bogotá, San Salvador, Bagdad y Santiago.

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La información concluyó en que la embajada seguirá trabajando de manera normal, mientras se continúa el proceso de confirmación del Embajador designado, William Duncan, ante el Senado de los Estados Unidos.

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Ecuadoran toad breaks its silence after 100 years

AFP

Ecuadoran biologist Jorge Brito was trekking through the forest when he heard what he thought was the chirp of a cricket.

What he found changed a century of scientific belief.

«At first I thought it was some sort of cricket out there vocalizing, but then I paid attention,» said Brito, from Ecuador’s national biodiversity institute.

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It was, in fact, a type of brown toad with rough skin called Rhinella festae that has a prominent nose and had been considered mute since it was first discovered 100 year ago.

«While it did not inflate its vocal sack, you could see a small flicker» on its chin, said Brito.

He caught it and took it to a laboratory to study with his colleague Diego Batallas.

«The first time I heard it, I said: Wow, that’s not the sound of a toad, it’s like a little bird,» Batalla told AFP.

The toad, which measures between 45 and 68 millimeters in length, lives in the mountainous Ecuadoran regions of Cutucu and Condor, extending over the border into the Amazonian region of Peru.

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The discovery was first reported in February in Neotropical Biodiversity magazine, where Brito and Batallas described the sound made by the toad.

«It is the first time this unique song of the Rhinella festae has been recorded and it’s surprising because it shouldn’t sing,» Batallas told AFP.

The toad does not have the vocal sack that allows most amphibians to amplify their calls so that they can be heard up to one kilometer away.

«The fact that this species can sing (without the vocal sack) makes it unique,» added Batallas, who used to sing in a choir.

Batallas said that the faint sound emitted by the Rhinella festae demonstrates that some species of amphibians could have evolved in such a way — perhaps as an anti-predator measure — as to «not need their song to be heard very far away.»

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In the case of the Rhinella festae, it emits a sound as a greeting, whereas other species of toad croak as part of a mating ritual or as a warning.

«It’s a very subtle sound and very difficult to hear in nature.»

Ecuador has registered 658 different species of amphibians, of which 623 are toads or frogs and almost 60 percent of those are at risk or in danger of disappearing.

Only Brazil and Colombia have more species of amphibians than Ecuador.

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