South African Olympian athlete Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison on Tuesday for unintentionally killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in an incident on Valentine's Day 2013. The Paralympic sprinter, who in September was cleared of murder charges, was also handed a three-year suspended sentence for a firearms charge.
"It would be a sad day for this country if an impression were created that there is one law for the poor and disadvantaged, and one law for the rich and famous," Judge Thokozile Masipa said as she read out her decision. She added that it was difficult to arrive to a decision that was "fair and just to society and to the accused."
A U.S. official has said that there are ongoing talks to free the over 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by terror group Boko Haram earlier this year, after a ceasefire was reportedly reached late last week. Fresh attacks from the Islamic militants have made some Nigerian elders question this deal, however.
"We can confirm reports that a ceasefire has been announced (and) appears to have been put into place," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said on Monday.
"We would welcome that ceasefire, call on all parties both to implement and maintain such a ceasefire, and hope that such a ceasefire would herald the return of peace to the northeast," Harf added. "This is a region that has had far too little of that." more >>
Senegal and Nigeria were declared free of the Ebola virus after six weeks with no new cases, heralding some good news in the battle against the outbreak and offering lessons to countries that are still struggling to contain it.
"This is a spectacular success story," World Health Organization Representative Rui Gama Vaz said at a news conference in Nigeria, Reuters reported on Monday.
"It shows that Ebola can be contained, but we must be clear that we have only won a battle, the war will only end when West Africa is also declared free of Ebola." more >>
The World Health Organization has said that mortality rates from the deadly Ebola outbreak spreading throughout West Africa have gone up to 70 percent, and there could be as many as 10,000 new cases recorded per week by the end of the year. President Barack Obama has warned that the world is "not doing enough" in terms of a response.
WHO Assistant Director-General Dr. Bruce Aylward told reporters in Switzerland that although the mortality rate had been at 50 percent, statistics have now bumped it up to 70 percent. There is no cure for the disease, which had killed at least 4,447 people as of Tuesday, but early detection and treatment can prove effective and tackling it.
Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea have suffered the most casualties, though cases have reached western countries including the U.S. as well. Obama, who is set to discuss the crisis in a video conference with British, French, German and Italian leaders, said that "the world as a whole is not doing enough" to contain the Ebola threat, BBC News reported. more >>
A number of nurses and medical professionals in Liberia went on strike on Monday, demanding better pay and safer working conditions in the fight against Ebola. The World Health Organization, meanwhile, called the outbreak "the most severe acute public health emergency in modern times."
Local journalist Terence Sesay told Al Jazeera on Monday that a number of facilities in the country were "virtually abandoned," with "nurses afraid of touching patients."
"They refuse to take blood samples from patients or even take their temperature because these require them to touch patients," Sesay said. more >>
Christian pastor Rotimi Obajimi has escaped from terror group Boko Haram in Nigeria after nearly 10 months in captivity and has been brought back to his church, reports said.
"We were so amazed to see him because we have been praying earnestly for a long time trusting Jesus that He would surely come back, but lo and behold he was brought to our headquarters in Maiduguri by the military," a pastor at Redeem Church in Maiduguri told SaharaReporters.
Obajimi, who led the church in the rural area of Borno/Yobe province, was kidnapped by Islamic militants on Jan. 6. He was then taken to Sambisa Forest, where he was tied down for months, before being moved to an unknown destination and brought back to Sambisa once again. more >>