Category Archives: Europe News


Vatican envoy Luigi Ventura faces sexual assault claim”:

Archbishop Luigi Ventura is Italian by birth

The Vatican’s ambassador to France is under investigation for sexual assault.

Luigi Ventura, 74, allegedly molested a junior official at a mayoral address to diplomats at Paris town hall on 17 January.

The city mayor’s office filed a complaint on 24 January and a judicial investigation opened the next day.

Archbishop Ventura has served as ambassador for 10 years. The allegations come amid a wave of sexual abuse accusations in the clergy.


Luigi Ventura met President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace earlier in January

It is traditional for ambassadors to attend the Paris mayor’s New Year address to diplomats, religious leaders and civil society figures

A City Hall official told Reuters that Archbishop Ventura “caressed in an insistent and repeated manner” the buttocks of the young man who welcomed him to the event.

Last week, Pope Francis acknowledged sexual abuse of nuns by priests and in December two cardinals were demoted following abuse allegations.

Mr Ventura’s representatives have declined to comment on the allegations.

Spain PM Sánchez sets snap election for April”:

The PM has been governing in a very fragmented political landscape

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has called a snap general election for 28 April, after Catalan nationalist MPs withdrew support for the Socialist government’s budget.

It is just eight months since Mr Sánchez took office, heading a minority government reliant on Catalan support.

Opinion polls suggest that no single party would win a clear majority. But conservatives and the far-right Vox party are expected to do well.

The Catalan crisis is still simmering.

Catalan separatist MPs rejected Mr Sánchez’s budget bill after the government refused to discuss the region’s right to self-determination.

Divisions were highlighted on Tuesday, when 12 Catalan separatist leaders and activists went on trial accused of rebellion and sedition over their unrecognised independence referendum in 2017.

The Socialists (PSOE) have 84 seats in the 350-seat lower house (Congress of Deputies), and their main allies, anti-austerity Podemos, have 67. But the biggest party is the conservative opposition Popular Party (PP), with 134.

In his announcement, Mr Sánchez complained that the right-wing parties – the PP and Ciudadanos – had blocked numerous bills in parliament, including important measures to reduce inequality.

Is this snap election unusual for Spain?

Yes. Since the return of Spanish democracy, with the death of fascist dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, it is only the second time that a government’s budget bill has been defeated in parliament.

The previous occasion was in 1995, when the Socialists under Felipe González were forced to call an election.

Turbulence and shifting alliances

By the BBC’s Guy Hedgecoe in Madrid

While the end of Pedro Sánchez’s tenure looked inevitable, following his parliamentary budget defeat, this adds further uncertainty to a fragmented Spanish political landscape.

His PSOE is leading many polls and could win this election, but might find it hard to form a majority and govern.

The leftist Podemos, the PSOE’s natural ally, is riven by infighting and struggling in polls.

With the Catalonia issue likely to dominate the upcoming campaign, the hardline pro-unity stance of parties on the right – the PP and Ciudadanos – could see them benefit. If the numbers add up, they could try and form a majority, possibly with the support of far-right Vox, which has enjoyed a surge in polls, due mainly to its uncompromising policy on Catalan independence.

French cash delivery man arrested after a van with €3m vanishes”:

File photo: The Loomis security van driver vanished during a delivery, along with the cash

Two cash delivery workers in France got a shock when they found their money-filled van had vanished – along with the third member of their team.

The van was soon found nearby but there was no sign of the 28-year-old driver or €3.4m (£3m) in cash.

He was eventually tracked down to a flat in Amiens, along with some of the missing money.

The suspect, named as Adrien Derbez, was arrested in the city on Tuesday evening.

According to news agency AFP, an estimated €1.5m is still missing.

The sudden vanishing act happened early on Monday morning. At about 06:00 (05:00 GMT), the team of three were making a routine cash delivery in their security van to a Western Union branch in Aubervilliers, on the outskirts of Paris.

Two of them took the ordered amount of cash inside, leaving the third man to watch the vehicle.

“When they came back out, the van and the driver were gone,” a police source told AFP.

A few blocks away, the white van from the Loomis cash transit company was discovered with its doors open and contents emptied – and no sign of the driver.

On Tuesday, police appealed for witnesses and released a photograph and description of Mr Derbez.

A police handout photo of Adrien Derbez

Mr Derbez had vanished, but was found in Amiens late the following day

Following a tip-off, police raided an apartment in Amiens that evening, French media report.

At around 17:00, officers allegedly found Mr Derbez trying to escape through a window carrying several bags filled with banknotes, French broadcaster BFMTV said.

Three other people have been arrested since as part of the investigation. A large sum of money was also recovered – and was being counted to see how much, if any, was missing, the local prosecutor said.

The theft has similarities to the famous case of Toni Musulin, a Frenchman who stole some €11.6m (£10.2m) from the security van he was driving in 2009.

He vanished, along with the cash, in November that year, briefly becoming an internet superstar in France for his meticulously planned and bloodless heist.

However, most of the cash was found in a garage, and Musulin handed himself in to police in Monaco days later.

He spent four years in prison.

Christophe Dettinger: French ‘yellow vest’ boxer convicted:

Dettinger, here portrayed in a mural alongside the word “freedom”, has become known throughout France

A former French boxing champion has been convicted for assaulting two police officers at an anti-government “yellow vest” protest in Paris.

Christophe Dettinger, 37, was filmed on 5 January throwing punches in footage that was widely shared on social media.

He was sentenced to 30 months in jail.

Eighteen months of the sentence are suspended, and he will be able to serve the 12 months in what is termed “semi-liberty”.

The protests began in mid-November over fuel taxes but broadened into a revolt against President Emmanuel Macron.

Dettinger’s case, and the yellow vest movement, have divided France.

In a separate development on Wednesday, the restaurant of a Michelin-starred French chef was targeted in a suspected arson attack – the second time in two weeks.

Prosecutors are now investigating whether Yannick Delpech’s restaurant L’Amphitryon was set ablaze in retaliation for his criticism of the “yellow vest” movement.

What did the court rule?

The verdict was announced by the Paris Criminal Court on Wednesday.

It said that Dettinger would spend one year in prison in the “semi-liberty” regime.

That means he will serve night times in jail, but will be at liberty during the day.

He is also banned from staying in Paris for six months.

A video grab made on 7 January 2019 shows former boxer Christophe Dettinger broadcasting a message of apology for punching police officers during a "yellow vest" protest in Paris
The former champion handed himself into police last month

Reports from the courtroom suggested Dettinger’s supporters were happy with the sentence. He could have been jailed for seven years.

During the trial, he said he had made a “mistake” after seeing police clashing with protesters.

Why is the case so divisive?

Dettinger, who was France’s cruiserweight champion in 2007-08, handed himself into police custody two days after the 5 January protest.

Following his arrest, more than €114,000 (£102,000) was raised in a fundraiser for the former boxer Thousands left comments in support, including some opposition politicians.

The page was then removed after sharp criticism that it condoned violence against the police.

Dettinger, a father of three, had been working as a public servant in the south of the city before the incident.

Before handing himself in to police, Dettinger posted a video of himself on YouTube explaining his actions.

In it, he described himself as an “ordinary citizen” who had “reacted wrongly” in anger after witnessing police using tear-gas and flash-ball (rubber bullet) rounds against protesters.

Another protester, Gwenaelle Antinori Le Joncour, spoke as a witness in Dettinger’s defence in the one-day trial on Wednesday.

“He was seeing a woman of 47 kilos being hit and seeing my oldest son being hit that he couldn’t stand, because there was too much violence,” she said in court.

Gwenaelle Antinori Le Joncour
During the trial, Dettinger’s lawyer argued he was responding to Ms Le Joncour (pictured) being assaulted by police

The number of gilets jaunes (yellow vest) protesters taking to French streets has been gradually falling – but tens of thousands are still turning out weekly to demonstrate across France.

Their protests have often turned violent, causing damage – including to some of Paris’ most famous monuments.

Hundreds of injuries and a number of deaths have also been linked to the demonstrations.

Almost 1,800 people have been sentenced in court so far, mostly with destruction of public property and attacks on the police, AFP reports.

Another 1,400 more protesters are still awaiting trial, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Tuesday.

Eric Drouet, one of the group’s leading figures, is due to appear in court in Paris on Friday on charges of illegally organising a demonstration.

Spain budget failure puts snap election on the cards”:

Prime Minister Sánchez failed to get his budget through, which could prompt early elections

Spain’s Socialist government is widely expected to call a snap general election after failing to get its budget through parliament.

Catalan separatists rejected Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s bill after the government refused to discuss the region’s right to self-determination.

They voted with the conservatives, despite their different agendas.

Mr Sánchez, in power since June, will announce a date for the vote after a cabinet meeting on Friday, reports say.

The government’s budget was rejected by 191 members out of the 350-seat parliament, with votes from the People’s Party (PP) and Ciudadanos as well as Catalan separatists.

What’s the political situation?

Mr Sánchez leads a minority government, with just 84 seats in parliament. He is supported by a confidence-and-supply agreement and the support of a handful of smaller parties with competing interests.

The PP is the largest party with 134 seats.

Mr Sánchez became prime minister after his predecessor, Mariano Rajoy, from the PP was pushed out in a no-confidence vote over a corruption scandal,.

A new general election will be the third in five years in Spain, the eurozone’s fourth-largest economy. Citing unnamed sources, Reuters news agency says 14 or 28 April are the most likely dates.

Why did Catalans pull their support?

Catalan pro-independence parties had insisted on a dialogue over independence for their region as the price for supporting the budget, but talks broke down last week.

The government’s stance remains that, according to the country’s constitution, the nation is “indissoluble”, and no part of it can secede from the whole.

Outside the court, rival groups offered support – or scorn – for the accused

Divisions were highlighted on Tuesday, when 12 Catalan separatist leaders and activists went on trial for rebellion and sedition over their unrecognised independence referendum in 2017.

Mr Sánchez left parliament immediately after his defeat, smiling but silent.

Why did Sánchez refuse Catalan demands?

Mr Sánchez came under political pressure for his attempts to reach out to the Catalan politicians he needed to pass his budget.

On Sunday, thousands of demonstrators marched in Madrid in a pro-unity demonstration called by parties of the right, demanding fresh elections.

Protesters angered by the government’s outreach to Catalan separatists call for new elections in Spain

Long hours of negotiation and parliamentary debate failed to break the deadlock.

Ahead of the vote, Finance Minister María Jesús Montero tried to appeal to economic sensibilities, labelling the budget’s provisions for Catalonia as generous.

But she also called the insistence on independence talks a form of “blackmail”.

Who’s likely to benefit from a snap election?

Mr Sanchez’s party still leads opinion polls but a possible result could be a right-wing majority formed by the PP, Ciudadanos and a newly-emerged far-right party, Vox.

Discontent in Spain over the Catalan issue was one of the key factors behind the Socialists’ defeat in regional elections in Andalusia in December to a right-wing coalition supported by Vox.

French mayor issues ban on ‘excessive dog barking’

Dog owners in Feuquières face a €68 (£60) fine for any barking which “disturbs the rest or relaxation of people.”

The mayor of a town in northern France has issued a ban on excessive dog barking in a bid to curb canine noise pollution.

From Monday, dog owners in Feuquières face a €68 (£60; $77) fine for “prolonged or repeated barking”.

Mayor Jean-Pierre Estienne says the ban is in response to dogs “barking day and night” and creating “an unbearable situation” in the village.

The decree has been criticised by animal rights activists.

“The aim is not to ban dogs and we won’t be fining people for the slightest hint of a yap,” Mr Estienne told French newspaper Le Parisien (in French).

“The town has nothing against dogs but when you decide to have them, you educate them.”

Passed by the local council earlier this month, the decree forbids dogs from being left in enclosed areas without owners being nearby to stop “prolonged or repeated barking”.

Yappy dogs must also be kept inside if their behaviour “disturbs the rest or relaxation” of Feuquières’ 1,400 residents.

Offenders (or more specifically, their owners) will receive a fine for each complaint made against them.

Barking is a common form of communication which dogs use to express their feelings and gain the attention of those nearby.

The decree follows a petition by villagers against one particular resident.

“She has several dogs, some large,” said Mr Estienne. “We have made several attempts to establish a dialogue with her, to no avail.”

“If I took this decision, it is because we found no other way out. I couldn’t sit idly by,” he said.

The move has been condemned as “completely barking” by Stéphane Lamart, president of the Association for the Defence of Animal Rights.

“You may as well stop church bells ringing on Sunday morning,” Mr Lamart told Le Monde newspaper (in French).

“If dogs have mouths, it’s so they can bark.”

Mr Lamart said he intended to launch an appeal with the local court. “I’ve never seen a dog bark from morning to evening,” he said.

This is not the first time French authorities have tried to dampen doggy decibels.

In 2012, Sainte-Foy-la-Grande in southwest France passed a ban on any excessive dog barking that disturbed “public order”.

Can you stop a dog from barking?

Barking is a regular form of communication for most dog breeds, but loud and regular yapping is a common complaint by owners and their neighbours.

Whilst noise levels vary, some barks can bite 100 dB – louder than factory machinery.

An Australian golden retriever named Charlie holds the world record for the loudest bark, measuring 113.1 dB.

Canine companions bark for many reasons: to get attention, to fend off perceived danger or express anxiety, to name a few.

Jenna Kiddie, Canine Behaviour Manager at charity Dogs Trust, warns against using anti-bark collars and other aversive training methods.

“It is vital to investigate why and address the underlying motivation rather than just address the behaviour itself,” says Ms Kiddie.

“Although it can be very frustrating, especially if you have neighbours to consider, telling your dog off might make them more anxious or confused, and could make the situation worse

Madrid mass protest over talks policy, Spain Catalonia:

Supporters of Spanish conservative and centrist parties have held a protest in Madrid against government plans to hold talks with Catalan separatists.

The centre-right Popular Party (PP) and Ciudadanos (Citizens) say Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s plan to appoint an intermediary for the talks amounts to treason.

The separatists have rejected the offer – they want a new independence vote.

Like the right, the ruling Socialists also oppose Catalan independence.

Far-right groups including the Vox party are also present at the protest, held under the slogan “For a united Spain. Elections now!”

Protesters filled the Spanish capital’s Colon Square and nearby streets, many of them chanting “long live Spain”. Police put the total number of demonstrators at 45,000.

What are the protesters saying?

They say the government’s offer to separatists to hold round table talks and appoint a special rapporteur amounts to a capitulation and they want elections scheduled for 2020 brought forward.

Woman at the protest
Vox President Santiago Abascal at the rally
The far-right Vox party is also part of the protest – its president Santiago Abascal seen here

One protester, Mabel Campuzano, told Reuters news agency that Mr Sánchez was “betraying Spain and we think that Spaniards don’t deserve him as the president of the government”.

In a speech, PP leader Pablo Casado denounced Mr Sánchez’s policies as “Socialist surrender” and “deals under the table”, Efe news agency reports.

“Sánchez’s time is over,” Mr Casado said, adding that the protests were a turning point and the beginning of a return to “harmony and legality” in Spain.

What does the government say?

Speaking shortly afterwards at a local election campaign meeting, Mr Sánchez said his Socialist party had always been on the side of dialogue, and was now attempting to resolve a crisis made worse by the PP while it was in power.

On Friday the government said the separatists had rejected its framework for talks.

What happened to Catalonia? One year on

Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo said the situation had “stalled”, as separatist calls for an independence referendum were “not acceptable”.

Meanwhile the separatists accused the government itself of abandoning dialogue.

What’s the background?

Mr Sánchez heads a minority government that relies on the support of other parties including Catalan nationalists.

His government faces a key vote on Wednesday on its proposed 2019 budget – failure to approve it could lead to a snap election.

Catalan nationalist parties have said that their support for the budget depends on whether Mr Sanchez’s proposed talks with separatists include the issue of independence.

Mr Sánchez has, however, ruled out the possibility of a Catalan independence referendum.

Polls show that the PP, Ciudadanos and Vox would together win a majority in a general election. In December the three parties together won power in the southern region of Andalusia ousting the Socialists, who had been in power there for 36 years.

What has been happening in Catalonia?

Catalan nationalists regained power in Barcelona in May, after a seven-month period of direct rule by Madrid.

Mr Sánchez became prime minister the following month, making negotiations with the pro-independence movement his priority.

Tensions remain high, as many Catalans resent Madrid’s show of force last year, when it charged pro-independence leaders with sedition.

Some of them are due to go on trial on Tuesday and face up to 25 years in prison.

In December Catalan premier Quim Torra irritated the Spanish government by praising Slovenia’s successful path to independence. It broke away from Yugoslavia in 1991, after a 10-day war.

Pie chart showing more people didn't vote in the referendum than voted in favour of independence

Catalonia in numbers

  • 16% of Spain’s population live in Catalonia, and it produces:
  • 25.6% of Spain’s exports
  • 19% of Spain’s GDP
  • 20.7% of foreign investment

Source: Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness, Eurostat, Bank of Spain.

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Yellow vest’ protester loses fingers in violent unrest’ in France

A “yellow vest” protester in France had his fingers ripped off during clashes at the parliament building in Paris, as the protests went into their 13th week.

The protester attempted to pick up a rubber pellet grenade and it exploded in his hand, French media reported.

There was also an arson attack on the home of the head of France’s National Assembly, though it was not clear if the attack was linked to the protests.

The “yellow vest” protests began in mid-November over fuel taxes.

They have since broadened into a revolt against the President, Emmanuel Macron, and a political class seen as out of touch with common people.

According to French government figures, 51,400 people joined the protests on Saturday, 4,000 of them in Paris. That was down from the previous week, when official figures put the number at 58,600, 10,500 in Paris.

Representatives for the yellow vests disputed the previous week’s numbers, claiming the turnout was higher.

In Paris on Saturday, the protesters marched from the Champs-Elysees to the city’s parliament buildings, where a violent contingent broke down barriers and threw projectiles at police. Police responded with tear gas and anti-riot munitions.

Yellow vest protester gesturing at a burning car
Cars have been set on fire close to the yellow vests’ protest in Bordeaux

According to an eyewitness, the person who lost their hand was a photographer attempting to take pictures of people breaking down barriers around the National Assembly building.

“When the cops went to disperse people, he got hit by a sting-ball grenade in the calf,” 21-year-old Cyprien Royer told AFP news agency. “He wanted to bat it away so it didn’t explode by his leg and it went off when he touched it.

“We put him to one side and called the street medics. It wasn’t pretty: he was screaming with pain, he had no fingers – he didn’t have much above the wrist.”

Paris police confirmed that a demonstrator was injured in the hand and been treated by paramedics, but did not identify the victim.

France recalls ambassador to Italy as diplomatic row deepens”:

Tens of thousands of protesters turned out in other parts of France, including the port cities of Marseille and Montpellier and also in Bordeaux and Toulouse in the southwest.

Eight police officers were lightly injured during clashes with protesters in Bordeaux, local police said.

Red scarves’ march in Paris against yellow-vest violence

Politicians came together to condemn the arson attack on the home of Richard Ferrand, a close ally of Mr Macron, in Motreff, Brittany.

Mr Ferrand published pictures on Twitter of his scorched living room, writing: “Nothing justifies intimidations and violence towards an elected official of the Republic.”

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Finland basic income trial left people ‘happier but jobless'”:

The experiment saw 2,000 people paid €560 (£490) a month, instead of their unemployment benefit.

Giving jobless people in Finland a basic income for two years did not lead them to find work, researchers said.

From January 2017 until December 2018, 2,000 unemployed Finns got a monthly flat payment of €560 (£490; $685).

The aim was to see if a guaranteed safety net would help people find jobs, and support them if they had to take insecure gig economy work.

While employment levels did not improve, participants said they felt happier and less stressed.

Belgium bank robbery: Thieves use sewers to carry out raid, Europe

When it launched the pilot scheme back in 2017, Finland became the first European country to test out the idea of an unconditional basic income. It was run by the Social Insurance Institution (Kela), a Finnish government agency, and involved 2,000 randomly-selected people on unemployment benefits.

It immediately attracted international interest – but these results have now raised questions about the effectiveness of such schemes.

What is ‘basic income’ and how does it work?

Universal basic income, or UBI, means that everyone gets a set monthly income, regardless of means. The Finnish trial was a bit different, as it focused on people who were unemployed.

Another popular variation is ‘universal basic services’ – where instead of getting an income, things like education, healthcare and transport are free for all.

Although it’s enjoying a resurgence in popularity, the idea isn’t new. In fact, it was first described in Sir Thomas More’s Utopia, published in 1516 – a full 503 years ago.

Such schemes are being trialled all over the world. Adults in a village in western Kenya are being given $22 a month for 12 years, until 2028, while the Italian government is working on introducing a “citizens’ income”. The city of Utrecht, in the Netherlands, is also carrying out a basic income study called Weten Wat Werkt – “Know What Works” – until October.

Some 2,000 unemployed people in Finland were randomly selected

What is the point?

Supporters of basic income often believe an unconditional safety net can help people out of poverty, by giving them the time to apply for jobs or learn essential new skills. This is seen as increasingly important in the age of automation – that is, put very simply, as robots take people’s jobs.

Miska Simanainen, one of the Kela researchers behind the Finnish study, tells BBC News that this was what their government had wanted to test, in order “to see if it would be a way of reforming the social security system”.

So, did it work?

That depends what you mean by ‘work’.

Did it help unemployed people in Finland find jobs, as the centre-right Finnish government had hoped? No, not really.

Mr Simanainen says that while some individuals found work, they were no more likely to do so than a control group of people who weren’t given the money. They are still trying to work out exactly why this is, for the final report that will be published in 2020.

Brexit: European papers lose patience with UK backstop move

But for many people, the original goal of getting people into work was flawed to begin with. If instead the aim were to make people generally happier, the scheme would have been considered a triumph.

One participant, former newspaper editor Tuomas, pretty much summed this up when he told BBC News about how the basic income had affected him.

“I am still without a job,” he explained. “I can’t say that the basic income has changed a lot in my life. OK, psychologically yes, but financially – not so much.”

What are the downsides to basic income?

UBI is one of those rare issues that attracts equally strong support – and criticism – from all parts of the political spectrum.

For a lot of people on the left, UBI focuses too heavily on individuals’ personal wealth and buying power – or rather, their lack of it – without doing anything to stop companies wasting resources by producing far more stuff than people need, and over-working their employees in the process.

Economics writer Grace Blakely makes this point in the New Socialist, adding that “without fundamental structural reforms to our economic system, UBI will only be a sticking plaster papering over the cracks”.

Finland’s basic income trial


Monthly income for two years

  • €20m Cost to government
  • 8.1% Unemployment rate
  • 5,503,347 Finnish population

Kela, Statistics FinlandEPA

Others worry that basic income will be used to cut costs, by setting the rate too low and slashing other, means-tested benefits.

Meanwhile, many on the political right and centre worry about the exact opposite – that UBI would be too expensive to implement, and would encourage a “something for nothing” culture.

Ulrich Spiesshofer, chief executive of ABB engineering company, echoed this sentiment in 2016 when he told the Financial Times that “economic rewards [for people] should be based on actually creating economic value”.

So what next?

Researchers from Kela are now busy analysing all of their results, to figure out what else – if anything – they can tell us about basic income’s uses and shortcomings.

Mr Simanainen says that he doesn’t like to think of the trial as having “failed”.

From his point of view, “this is not a failure or success – it is a fact, and [gives us] new information that we did not have before this experiment”.

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Istanbul rescuers find teenager alive in building collapse,”

Rescuers in the Turkish capital of Istanbul have pulled a teenage boy alive from a residential building almost two days after it collapsed.

An eight-storey apartment block collapsed in the city’s Kartal district on Wednesday afternoon.

Officials say the official death toll has risen to 14. Almost a dozen more people are still thought to be missing.

Russia jails ‘extremist’ Jehovah’s Witness for six years

Rescuers have been searching through the night to find anyone still alive inside the complex’s wreckage.

The 16-year-old boy was found alive on Friday, reportedly after rescuers heard him call for help from inside the rubble.

The rescue comes one day after a five-year-old girl was saved from the collapse.

Istanbul rescuers find teenager alive in building collapse,"
Rescuers search through the rubble in the city’s Kartal district

“So far 14 of our fellow citizens have been lost and another 14 people have been brought out of the rubble alive,” Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told a news conference on Friday.

Pope admits clerical abuse of nuns including sexual slavery”:

Several buildings surrounding site of collapse were evacuated on Thursday for security reasons, as investigations into the collapse continued.

The city’s governor has said that three of the building’s top floors were built illegally. A textile workshop had also been in operation inside the building without a license.

Belgium children face DNA tests amid DR Congo kidnap fears

The incident has led to renewed criticism within Turkey about poorly enforced building regulations.

Following the collapse, opposition newspapers have hit out at recent laws enacted by the Turkish government that granted official status to illegal construction, BBC Monitoring reports.

That law allowed citizens to apply to legalise unlicensed properties under a “Zoning Peace” regulation.

One headline, in the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper, said: “They pardoned, citizens died”.

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