Founder and chief executive of Aiteo Group, Mr Benedict Peters, has described the court ruling against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as a welcome development.
This week, a Federal High Court held that the EFCC cannot just declare any person as wanted without first obtaining a court order or charging them with an offence.
The court ruled that by declaring Mr Peters ‘wanted’, the anti-graft agency had acted illegally and unconstitutionally, and violated the businessman’s right to personal liberty and the right not to be subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment.
Reacting to this judgement, Mr Peters said, “This ruling is an important next step in the legal process to clear my name.
“I have not committed nor have I been charged with any crime. I am confident that I and the Aiteo Group will be exonerated of any and all wrongdoing by the Courts in the coming weeks and months.”
In a statement issued after the ruling, Mr Peters said further that, “Aiteo is one of the leading indigenous energy companies in Africa and employs more than 300 Nigerians.
“I look forward to once again focussing all my efforts on growing our business and supporting sports development in Nigeria and across Africa, such as the CAF Awards, the Nigerian national football team and the Federation Cup.”
On February 22, 2018, Aiteo Group secured an interlocutory injunction from the Federal High Court restraining the EFCC and the Attorney General of the Federation from interfering or obstructing its business operations.
The interlocutory injunction restrains the EFCC and the Attorney General from embargoing or freezing Aiteo’s accounts or obstructing its activities in any way whatsoever.
It also prevents the EFCC and the Attorney General from enforcing a restraint order awarded by the UK Crown Court on October 19, 2017.
While Kate loves making pizza with her kids, William previously shared that his favorite dish to make for his family is a roast. “I do like cooking, but I’m not very good,” he said back in November. “I like a roast. So a bit of roast chicken or a steak. I like it medium rare. I like it quite alive.” Pizza and a roast? Where do we sign up?
They can take away our unicorn lattes, but the moment they come for our selfies, millennials are not going to be happy. Cannes, the most selfie-friendly red carpet of them all, is stopping the practice on ground of it being, well, annoying, reports Vanity Fair. Thierry Fremaux, who heads up festival, called red carpet selfies “ridiculous and grotesque,” and declared that they degrade the prestige of Cannes.
The 20-year-old Keeping Up With the Kardashians star and cosmetics mogul posted on Snapchat on Friday photos of three luxury cars—two Lamborghinis, one orange and one dark brown, as well as a black SUV—parked inside a massive garage. She captioned the pic, “Mom & Dad.”
In February, Kylie showcased a black Ferrari La Ferrari that she said was a “push present“—a term for gifts given to new moms. The reality star, who earlier that month welcomed daughter Stormi, her and Travis’ first child, did not reveal where the car came from. It is estimated to be worth $1.5 million.
Kylie also posted a photo of the orange Lamborghini with its suicide doors up, with the caption, “That’s a wrappppp.”
“Look, look how she walks down the stairs. It’s moving. Oh, look…” The little girl behind me gave her mother a running commentary on every move of actor or shadow at the Lula Del Ray manual cinema performance.
Staged several times between 10 and 13 March, it is part of the eighth Hakawy International Arts Festival for Children (8-13 March), an annual event that aims to bring theatre and other art forms to children. The event takes place at the Hanager Arts Centre expanding into the neighbouring grounds and venues.
The brainchild of Mohamed El Ghawy, founder of Hakawy and its umbrella AFCA for Arts and Culture – an independent organisation with a mission to work with children and the young in English, Arabic and French, following education through art – the festival has established itself as the most important children’s culture phenomenon taking place in Egypt.
Its importance is all the more obvious once you consider the fact that we do not have any other festivals for children, the only other one, the state-run Cairo International Film Festival for Children, having been halted. Hakawy responds to Egypt’s social and educational reality, and fills gaps.
Mohamed El Ghawy, founder and artistic director of Hakawy surrounded by children at the opening of the festival, Hanager Arts Centre, 8 March 2018. (Photo: Bassam Al Zoghby)
With a total lack of creative activities in the majority of schools, the children are even more in need of artistic events to enrich them outside the framework of formal education.
Sporadic shows at the Metropol, home to the National Children’s Theatre or by the Cairo Puppet Theatre (which by definition offers plays for children), a weekly aragoz show in Old Cairo (thanks to the Cultural Development Fund, this beautiful traditional art form is kept alive) or workshops here and there: none of this is enough to meet the needs of the youngest population of this huge country.
But nor is it simply a question of the number of events or even quality of the art presented; the awareness and values the shows instil in young minds are also paramount.
Even if the scene is enriched by dedicated independent players who at times tailor events for children after carefully examining their longings, as is the case with Awtar Quartet’s occasional concerts for children, the Outa Hamra troupe, chosen events held at Artellewa Arts space or at Darb 1718, among others, the demand is still much higher than what’s on offer.
Kite Without String from the Netherlands (Photo: Bassam Al Zoghby)
And this is where Hakawy comes to the rescue, following the principle that “Children have a right to take part in artistic and cultural events on a regular, not random, basis during their school and pre-school life” — the eighth principle of the Charter of Children’s Rights to Arts and Culture brought to Egypt by AFCA — where “not random” is the key term. Indeed the bottom line in all creative activities for children, to quote the first and core principle of the same Charter, is that children “have a right to access art in all its forms: theatre, music, dance, literature, poetry, cinema, visual and multimedia arts.”
And even if Hakawy is but a few days a year, its impact is very strong. The festival is part of a bigger mission of bringing arts to children, one that is carried on throughout the year by AFCA for Arts and Culture.
While organising many creative journeys, many of them completely new to young Egyptians, Hakawy encapsulates all components that other platforms present separately, topping them with AFCA’s sustainability and awareness of the gaps in the educational system.
In Hakawy, we find an evident professionalism braided with passion; the team’s dedication, the hand-picked artistic selection, the strategic thinking and brilliant execution all fit into one festival to bring about the newest concepts and formats of shows, meetings and workshops.
This year, the festival came with a new assortment of plays, storytelling, fun activities and numerous new components. The international performances included H2ommes from France, Kite Without String from the Netherlands, The Secret Life of Suitcases by Unicorn Theatre from UK and Lula Del Ray from the USA.
The shows introduced a few new performing art formats to Egypt’s children: the US troupe for example presented manual cinema fused with shadow theatre. Taking the procedure a step further, the performance’s creators were present on stage, taking care of the overhead projectors, shadow theatre elements or live music. Becoming an integral part of the enveloping story they allowed the children to grasp all the elements and mechanisms that go into performing arts creation.
Moreover, following one of the shows, the Manual Cinema troupe invited the young audience on stage, explaining the technical aspects of the show and answering their questions.
H2ommes from France (Photo: Bassam Al Zoghby)
Usually the audience enjoys the theatre watching the story taking place on the stage, and is not involved in the hidden components that constitute the performance. In this context the US performance was one of a kind, especially for the Egyptian children who are rarely offered this interesting approach to art. The same can be said about the H2ommes troupe from France.
In their visually captivating production, the creators brought together the projections techniques, shadows, an actor, a musician and a few props. At the same time, this dreamy and in many ways highly comic performance braided the elements of theatre with those of a musical concert, where live music, singing and sound effects are all produced by one man seated on stage. The musician is emotionally involved in the performance, reacts to the events happening two steps from his instruments, pots and pans alongside all possible tools that make sounds.
Equally interesting are Kite Without String from the Netherlands and The Secret Life of Suitcases from the UK. Both touch on many human values. The latter presents a puppeteer on stage who embarks on a wonderful journey. The play aims at pointing up and awakening our awareness of life values which we often tend to overlook, preoccupied as we are by our daily routines and responsibilities, as is the case with the play’s protagonist trapped in his office life.
The Secret Life of Suitcases by Unicorn Theatre, UK (Photo: Ati Metwaly)
Apart from the shows staged at the Hanager Arts Centre, the UK and the US performers visited Cairo’s Children Cancer Hospital 57357 where they presented elements of their work to patients unable to leave their rooms.
This is one of the regular practices of the Hakawy festival: reaching out to all children, including those who cannot, for a variety of reasons, show up at the performance venue. On the other hand, AFCA initiated cooperation with a few NGOs working with differently abled children, bringing them to the shows in buses.
In this way Hakawy follows the 15th principle of the Charter of Children’s Rights to Arts and Culture: “Children have the right to artistic and cultural projects devised in consideration of their different abilities.”
Above the international plays, this year the festival added a lot of new elements to its programming, such as a film screening (Yellowbird/Gus — Petit oiseau, grand voyage, a 2014 animated movie from France), six professional storytellers in addition to the already well known to Hakawy Bibliothequebus) and two seminars for parents, one discussing aspects of positive parenting and how to immerse children in the arts through parenting (led by Sara Seif) and another tackling the issue of “multiple intelligence” and how we can discover and capitalise on our children’s potential (led by Zahraa Rizk).
Both seminars saw a large attendance with mothers from all social strata participating in the discussions while their children enjoyed the plays taking place next door.
Also on the fringe, Hakawy included a second phase of the “Culture is a Field of Work” seminar, an event that brought together several cultural players who spoke to young students about career development possibilities within the arts and culture field. The students were encouraged to apply for internships offered by the speakers’ institutions.
Lula Del Ray from the USA (Photo: Ati Metwaly)
Following the previous year’s practice, the eighth Hakawy festival filled the Hanager and its vicinity with a bubbling commotion, with groups of children surrounding a storyteller, others enjoying a play taking place at one of the theatre spaces. Children kept running around the location, laughing, sharing their impressions with one another and their parents.
After all, the ninth principle of the Charter of Children’s Rights to Arts and Culture states, “Children have the right to share the pleasure of the artistic experience with their families.”
Children enjoyed the events and shared their experiences, but parents, school teachers and other caregivers all benefitted from the activities as well, and not only through the aforementioned seminars. By providing a large assortment of activities, plays, workshops, storytelling, the festival creates the general spirit of art and fun, showcasing to parents and caregivers that art is an extremely important part of the development of young minds.
As Mohamed El Ghawy reveals, the festival’s audience reached 10 thousand attending and participating in activities across all levels. This includes regular families coming to attend Hakawy’s events, children brought by bus from public schools in Cairo and Minya, children from the NGOs, and from the Children Cancer Hospital 57357, not to mention the many beneficiaries of events tailored for parents.
With the closing of the Hakawy International Arts Festival for Children, we are left with many beautiful experiences and a touch of sadness that one more year has to pass before the festival returns with new creative, educational and fulfilling journeys. It seems like a long wait, though in the meantime children can enjoy the many offerings provided by AFCA organisation throughout the year.
El Ghawy says he will do his best to keep the level of quality work, and at the same time he hopes the festival will expand into other governorates and onto new stages, in addition to extending the number of festival days. With AFCA’s dynamism and professionalism, the sky is the limit.
Students attend the ‘March For Our Lives’ in Washington. In the wake of the Florida attack, there has been a widespread effort to ban assault rifles
23 March 2018
Police at the scene of a hostage situation in a supermarket in Trebes. An armed man took hostages in a supermarket in southern France, killing three and injuring about a dozen others, police said. A French minister confirmed the gunman had been shot dead by police.
22 March 2018
A boy rows his boat in the polluted waters of the Brahmaputra river on World Water Day in Guwahati, India.
21 March 2018
Kosovo’s opposition lawmakers release a teargas canister inside the country’s parliament in before a vote for an agreement to ratify or not a border demarcation deal signed in 2015 with Montenegro.
20 March 2018
People carrying luggage leave the Russian Embassy in London and board a van bearing diplomatic plates. Dozens of people including adults with children arrived at the Russian embassy in the morning and then left carrying luggage in vehicles bearing diplomatic registration plates. Britain last week announced the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats over the spy poisoning row, prompting a tit-for-tat response from Moscow.
19 March 2018
The Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft is mounted on the launch pad at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan
18 March 2018
President Vladimir Putin walks out of a voting booth at a polling station during Russia’s presidential election in Moscow.
17 March 2018
People take part in a pensioners protest to demand decent pensions in Barcelona. Thousands of people across the country took part in mass demonstrations called by main Spanish workers unions demanding rises of state pensions in accordance with the consumer price index
16 March 2018
Russian President Vladimir Putin visits the Almazov National Medical Research Centre in Saint Petersburg.
15 March 2018
Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council in Moscow.
14 March 2018
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is sworn in by the President of the German lower house during the government’s swearing-in ceremony at the Bundestag in Berlin. Merkel, head of the Christian Democratic Party CDU, starts her fourth term as German chancellor, capping months of political uncertainty as she bartered with her rivals of the SPD to help govern Europe’s top economy in a “grand coalition”.
13 March 2018
Nepali students of University of Dhaka light candles in memory of the victims of the US-Bangla aircraft crash in Nepal, Bangladesh.
12 March 2018
Rescuers work to save passengers from a plane crash at Kathmandu airport in Nepal.
11 March 2018
French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron pose for photographs as they visit the Taj Mahal.
10 March 2018
France’s far-right party Front National (FN) president Marine Le Pen applauds former US President advisor Steve Bannon after his speech during the Front National party annual congress, in Lille, northern France.
9 March 2018
A television screen showing pictures of US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un at a railway station in Seoul.
8 March 2018
Protesters form triangles with their hands during a demonstration for women’s rights in Bilbao, Spain.
7 March 2018
A labourer works on a salt pan in the outskirts of the Nagaur district in the Indian state of Rajasthan ahead of International Women’s day.
6 March 2018
Sri Lanka’s army soldiers and police personnel stand near a vandalised building in Digana, a suburb of Kandy. Extremists Buddhist mobs swept through the town on Monday, burning at least 11 Muslim owned shops and homes. Sri Lanka’s president declared a state of emergency Tuesday amid fears that anti-Muslim attacks in the central hill town could spread.
5 March 2018
Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives for the opening of the first session of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The NPC has over 3,000 delegates and is the world’s largest parliament or legislative assembly though its function is largely as a formal seal of approval for the policies fixed by the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party. The NPC runs alongside the annual plenary meetings of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), together known as ‘Lianghui’ or ‘Two Meetings’.
4 March 2018
Female protestor stands up with the words ‘Berlusconi Sei Scaduto’ written on her body, translating as ‘Berlusconi, you’ve expired’, as Silvio Berlusconi stands during voting of the political and regional elections in Milan, Italy.
3 March 2018
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a rally to support his bid in the upcoming presidential election at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
2 March 2018
A light turns red outside of Germany’s Krupp Mannesmann steel factory. German officials and industry groups warned U.S. President Donald Trump that he risks sparking a trade war with his closest allies if he goes ahead with plans to impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.
1 March 2018
People dance during Holi festival celebrations in Kathmandu, Nepal.
28 February 2018
Indian fans watch as the funeral procession of the late Bollywood actress Sridevi Kapoor passes through Mumbai.
27 February 2018
Candles are left in tribute to murdered Slovakian investigative reporter Jan Kuciak, 27, and his fiancee Martina, 27, at Slovak National Uprising Square in Bratislava. A leading Slovak newspaper says organised crime may have been involved in the shooting death that shocked Slovakia. The bodies of Kuciak and Kusnirova were found Sunday evening in their house in the town of Velka Maca, east of the capital.
26 February 2018
Colosseum during a heavy snowfall in Rome, Italy.
25 February 2018
Family members of victims of the sunken South Korean naval ship Cheonan by a North Korean attack hold up defaced portraits of Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee, during a rally against his visit near the Unification bridge in Paju, South Korea. A North Korean high-level delegation led by Kim arrived to attend the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. The signs read: ” Let’s punish Kim Young Chol.”
24 February 2018
Ivanka Trump (C) cheers while sat between former Olympic US bobsledders Shauna Rohbock (L) and Valerie Fleming (R) as the United States beat Sweden in their Men’s Gold Medal Curling match at the Gangneung Curling Centre in Gangneung, South Korea. Ivanka Trump is on a four-day visit to South Korea to attend the closing ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
23 February 2018
David Allen Turpin (C), who along with Louise Anna Turpin is accused of abusing and holding 13 of their children captive, appears in court with attorneys David Macher (L) and Alison Lowe in court in Riverside, California. According to Riverside County Sheriffs, David Allen Turpin and Louise Anna Turpin held 13 malnourished children ranging in age from 2 to 29 captive in their Perris, California home. Deputies were alerted after a 17-year-old daughter escaped by jumping through a window shortly before dawn, carrying a de-activated mobile phone from which she was able to call 911 for help. Responding deputies described conditions in the home as foul-smelling with some kids chained to a bed and suffering injuries as a result. Adult children appeared at first to be minors because of their malnourished state. The Turpins were arrested on charges of torture and child endangerment.
22 February 2018
The Elephanta Island, home to the famous Elephanta Caves, finally gets electricity after a wait of 70 years. Seventy years after Independence, a 7.5-km long undersea cable has finally brought electricity to the world-famous Gharapuri Isle, which houses the UNESCO World Heritage site Elephanta Caves, about 10-km from Mumbai, India.
21 February 2018
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pays his respects at the Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar. Trudeau and his family are on a week-long official trip to India.
20 February 2018
Members of the Syrian civil defence evacuate an injured civilian on a stretcher from an area hit by a reported regime air strike in the rebel-held town of Saqba, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus.
19 February 2018
A Thai Navy instructor demonstrates how to catch a snake during a jungle survival exercise as part of the “Cobra Gold 2018” (CG18) joint military exercise with US soldiers, at a military base in Chonburi province, Thailand.
18 February 2018
Children play outside their destroyed school in the Frikeh village, in Idlib, north-western Syria
17 February 2018
A pro-Kurd demonstrator attends a protest demanding the release of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan in Strasbourg, France
16 February 2018
Joe Zevuloni mourns in front of a cross placed in a park to commemorate the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida
15 February 2018
South Africa’s new president Cyril Ramaphosa holds up his right hand as he is sworn into office
14 February 2018
The African National Congress’s (ANC) treasurer general Paul Mashatile (left) and parliamentary chief whip Jackson Mthembu address a media briefing, after an emergency ANC caucus meeting on 14 February in Cape Town. South Africa’s parliament will hold a vote of no-confidence in President Jacob Zuma on 15 February, the ruling ANC party said, signalling its determination to eject him from office after days of stalemate
13 February 2018
North Korean cheerleaders are surrounded by media as they attempt to walk on Gyeongpo beach in Gangneung, South Korea
12 February 2018
Former US President Barack Obama unveils his portrait at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC
9 February 2018
US Vice President Mike Pence and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s sister Kim Yo-Jong attend the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games
8 February 2018
Bangladesh police charge towards activists of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party protesting following a verdict against opposition leader Khaleda Zia in Dhaka. The ex-Prime Minister of Bangladesh was jailed for five years on corruption charges.
7 February 2018
Rescue services search for people in a damaged building in eastern Taiwan after a magnitude 6.4 earthquake hit Hualien on the night of 6 February, 2018. Media reports said several buildings were damaged and at least four people were killed and some 100 were injured during the quake. Teams are trying to rescue people inside the buildings. Some bridges and roads are damaged and the main road to Hualien is closed. More than 100 earthquakes have hit off Taiwan’s east coast in the past three days. The Seismological Observation Center said they are cuased by the friction between the Philipine Plate and Eurasian Plate.
6 February 2018
Anti-North Korean protesters push against police as a ferry carrying a North Korean art troupe for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games approaches the port of Mukho in Donghae. Around 120 North Korean art performers in matching red coats and fur hats left for the South, its state media said on February 6, the latest in the flurry of cross-border exchanges in the run-up to the Pyeongchang Olympics.
5 February 2018
Philadelphia Eagles’ Nick Foles celebrates with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after winning Super Bowl LII.
4 February 2018
Authorities investigate the scene of a fatal Amtrak train crash in Cayce, South Carolina. At least two were killed and dozens injured.
The State via AP
3 February 2018
Members of security services react as a man in the crowd tries to shake hands with French President Emmanuel Macron, who walks next to Senegalese President Macky Sall in a street of Saint-Louis, Senegal.
2 February 2018
County Sheriffs restrain Randall Margraves, the father of three daughters who were abused by Larry Nassar, after he tried to attack the former team USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, during victim statements of his sentencing in the Eaton County Circuit Court in Charlotte, Michigan.
1 February 2018
Abu Rabih, 65, walks through the rubble with his eight-year-old grandson Yahya following air strikes by regime forces which hit the building where they live in Arbin, in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus.
Arbin is in the Eastern Ghouta region which has been under government siege since 2013.
31 January 2018
A ‘Supermoon’ shines its blood red colors during a full eclipse above the Big A Sign of Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California. A ‘Supermoon’ commonly is described as a full moon at its closest distance to the earth with the moon appearing larger and brighter than usual.
Mere mention of infertility naturally sends cold shivers down the spines of many people. This is not unconnected with the fact that infertility threatens the love and harmony of a home.
It is estimated that 40 to 45 per cent of all consultations in gynaecological clinics are infertility–related.
Now, all these challenges of testing are over. The SwimCount Sperm Quality Test is here to the rescue. The SwimCount Sperm Quality Test is a revolution and a pre-screening device for the early diagnosis of male infertility. It is the first test that takes into account not only the concentration but also the Progressive Motility of the Sperm Cells (PMSCs) which is the only sperm that can fertilize an egg.
In a chat, spokesperson for the Golden Gazelle, promoters of the product, said, “Until now, the male fertility tests only took into account the quantity of sperm and not the quality, although other factors, such as Progressive Motility – their ability to move forward in a straight line -are more important for fertilization, for which only a single sperm of optimal quality is necessary. In other words, a Progressive Motile Sperm Cell is the only sperm cell that can fertilize the egg.”
She explained that SwinCount is a medical breakthrough with a test that allows men to obtain an early diagnosis with a high degree of reliability in the comfort of their own home.
In obtaining the sperm sample, she explained that individual must never use the normal condom as it is laced with chemicals that prevent pregnancy. “SwimCount therefore comes with a non-spermicide condom. The advantage of this is that the sperm specimen is collected after the sex act (saving the African man the embarrassment of obtaining the specimen through masturbation).”
On how it works, she explained that the technology behind SwimCount is based on the same principle as the well-known Swim-Up Technology and thereby measuring the number of PMSCs.
“After depositing a small amount of liquefied semen sample into the device and the semen compartment, the semen cells that are able to move progressively and swim up into the Swim Up compartment are then stained blue and drawn into the Result Window. In this way, the darker the colour, the more PMSCs is present in the sample, which is seen after 30 minutes”, she said.
“The threshold of male fertility by SwimCount is set at a count of more than 5 million PMSCs per mL (following the WHO criteria, 5th ed., 2010).
“A lower number than 5 million PMSCs/mL implies greater difficulties to obtain a natural pregnancy within a period of one year, so it is advisable to consult a reproductive specialist”.
The Nottingham Forest owner, Evangelos Marinakis, has been charged with drug trafficking in a heroin smuggling case that has shocked Greece.
Late on Friday the Greek public prosecutor, Eirini Tziva, accused the shipowner businessman of what were described as “very serious charges” following a three-year investigation into the Noor 1, a tanker intercepted in the port of Piraeus carrying 2.1 tonnes of heroin in 2014.
Marinakis, 50, was also charged with financing an illegal operation. Three of his close associates were named with him on the charge sheet.
The judicial inquiry had followed the money, focusing on bank transfers that had raised suspicion. Court sources were quoted as saying that several money transfers had been linked to the impounded vessel and probably used to finance it.
Marinakis, in a midnight statement carried in Ta Nea, the daily newspaper he owns, furiously denied the accusations, saying: “The recent judicial action is a deliberate attempt at character assassination. The allegations are fabricated and without any foundation in law or fact. It is a deliberate plot that has long been in the making and as such it is not only offensive, but quite simply criminal … I have never had anything whatsoever to do with the acts for which an investigative inquiry is apparently set to be restarted. It is clear to me that the results of any new investigation will confirm my innocence.” He ended the robust defence declaring: “I will not compromise, I will not capitulate, nor will I succumb to their dirty plan.”
The statement was also carried on the website of Olympiakos, the Greek champions, whom Marinakis also owns. Ta Nea itself has been fiercely critical of Alexis Tsipras’s leftist-led government.
The severity of the charges are such that Tziva ordered an investigating magistrate, specialised in cases of corruption, to also handle the affair. The prosecutor said the inquiry should be expanded to include other possible criminal acts including fuel smuggling and money laundering. Greek media said a travel ban had also been levelled against the accused. Marinakis was not believed to be in Greece but abroad when the charges were formally announced.
This is not the businessman’s first brush with the law. In 2015 he was acquitted of complicity in a match-fixing network whose web extended across seven countries. In that case charges were brought after Uefa detected a pattern of irregular betting in the countries. The magnate, who bought Nottingham Forest 10 months ago in a £50m takeover, attributed those charges to “jealous” critics bent on blighting his Greek team’s winning streak. “Of course I cannot stop our opponents talking or bad-mouthing,” he said.
• This article was amended on 24 March 2018 to take in Evangelos Marinakis’s statement
John Boyega is the centre of attention. No wonder. He both produces and stars in Pacific Rim: Uprising. The folk behind the sequel to Guillermo Del Toro’s Robots v Giant Lizards epic have brought us to a grand hotel at the Whitehall end of Westminster. People with earpieces talk to other people with earpieces in adjacent corridors. Everyone’s got a list they need to consult.
Here comes John. Dressed entirely in black, he moves with the confidence of a veteran. Or maybe I just think that because he’s surrounded by enough personnel to invade a medium-sized island.
Anyway, he’s arrived. He briefly glances out the window and then sits straight-backed in a generously sized chair. We are in his realm. I tentatively note – by way of a home-team ice-breaker – that he recently worked with Jack Reynor on Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit. His face cracks.
“Yaaaaay! I love Jack,” he nearly yells. “He’s a cool guy. One of the coolest guys I’ve met. Something about the Irish. Right?”
We gab a little about how Reynor doesn’t seem to have changed much since he moved from small Irish films to behemoths such as Transformers. On the evidence of these first few seconds, John Boyega hasn’t been much corrupted either. His role in the rough-hewn London comedy Attack the Block at the start of the decade made him “one to watch”. J J Abrams duly watched and cast him as Finn, the charismatic, deserting stormtrooper, in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Now, he’s an industry. Yet, once the ice is broken, he reverts straight to everyday south London vernacular.
The wiser movie stars always say that, when fame arrives, the problem is not that you change. It’s that people around you change. They impose difference upon you.
“Yes, that really is true,” he says. “The theory was that you change. When the money came and the fame came I was looking at myself like this. Come on. Here it comes.”
John mimes the act of looking at his own image in a hand-held device. Where’s the corruption? Is it that shadow over his shoulder?
“But I don’t think that happened. It’s the people around you who change.”
John Boyega was born in 1992 to parents of Nigerian origin. He speaks warmly of his father, a Pentecostal minister who has long worked in and about Peckham, but denies the story, now common in many profiles, that dad wanted him to follow in his footsteps.
“No. There were reports that my dad wanted me to be a minister. I think that was a journalist trying to write his own version of Star Wars,” he says.
John is calmly dismissive of the myth that he fought his way out of the ghetto to become a movie star. That part of London is endlessly diverse and resistant to easy caricature. There are middle-class parts of Peckham. There are deprived areas. It is true that Boyega’s sister was a contemporary and friend of Damilola Taylor, the young black boy murdered in the locale 17 years ago, but John is exhausted by the efforts to reduce his old manor to a clutch of sensationalist headlines.
He wouldn’t describe his upbringing as tough?
“No, I wouldn’t,” he says. “Look, your own circumstances are major. My dad taught me just because you’re in an environment where some people – not all people – are a problem that doesn’t mean you have to do the same things. I get mind-boggled when people try to do a ‘rags to riches’ story. Man, I was in Peckham the other day. What do you mean ‘from Peckham to Hollywood’? I don’t like when they do that.”
I won’t do that.
“Nah, nah. You’re all right. But it’s a strange simplification. I still live about 20 minutes away from where I grew up.”
School for me was an absolute joke. I was always laughing. Especially with my boys, one of who I am still great friends with today.
I get the sense that he had an up-and-down time with education. After leaving school, he retook GCSEs in English and maths with a mind to attending university. Earlier, he seems to have been distracted by his growing interest in acting and by the everyday pressures of being a teenager. He was a funny kid.
“Yeah, yeah. School for me was an absolute joke,” he says. “I was always laughing. Especially with my boys, one of who I am still great friends with today. Funny, funny times. Hanging out with the fellas. Those were great days.”
He studied dance. He pondered more sober options. But the interest in film and theatre stuck with him. As with so many budding actors, he felt swept in one direction by an uncontrollable force outside himself.
“I considered a few things,” he says. “But nothing ever became a passion enough for me to invest all my time. Nothing else was that appealing.”
In 2011, Joe Cornish’s Attack the Block changed everything. Following a group of south London geezers as they protect their area from invading aliens – good training for future Dr Who Jodie Whittaker – the film was not a smash at the box office, but, after developing a genuine cult following, it found its way towards the casting directors that mattered. Most of the reviews singled out John. Those plans for university were put on hold.
“That was my first feature film,” he says. “I had just done a few plays. I had done a few short films. Attack the Block was so much fun. Seventeen going on 18. On a film set. That was such good fun.”
Still, the doors didn’t swing open immediately. And he didn’t lose the run of himself.
“I didn’t really understand it,” he says. “When Attack the Block got American distribution I was already in LA. I was looking for opportunities. I was just staying in a motel and all of a sudden I got word that Attack the Block had US distribution. I was moved from this motel into a nice hotel. ‘John is in LA. He can do publicity for us.’ I thought: why do they want me? They probably want Nick Frost. Or at least me with the other guys.”
That’s interesting. So, when Attack the Block became a “real movie”, he suddenly found himself kicked a few rungs up the ladder?
“Yeah. ‘Come over to the Ritz Carlton. ’ I was staying at the Coral Sands Motel. Now, that’s a strange place. Book a night. Ha ha! I was suddenly in the Ritz Carlton. I thought: this is what it’s like being in a real film.”
Hustle and intrigue
John got some decent work before Star Wars came calling. You can see him opposite Chiwetel Ejiofor in the film version of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun. He turned up in 24: Live Another Day. But there were challenges in these years. Aside from anything else, he had, as a young guy to get to grips with the hustle and intrigue of Los Angeles. It’s a long way from south London.
.I like the culture in LA, but I like London so much. I like the fact that it’s a multicultural city.
“I miss the food, man.”
Ah, right? Nigerian food? I read he brought Harrison Ford out for a Nigerian meal.
“Yeah, I took him for Nigerian food. He liked it. So, yeah, I miss the food. But I also miss the culture. I like the culture in LA, but I like London so much. I like the fact that it’s a multicultural city. So culture doesn’t mean just one thing. Sometimes I miss that. And also just the all-round dryness of British comedy. I love that.”
The average Angelino will be rocking back on his or her heels at the implication that London is more multicultural than their home city. The good people of LA are always droning on about “melting pots” and “cross fertilisation”.
“Oh, sure, Los Angeles is a melting point,” he says. “But, yeah, of course, there’s more integration here. LA is a melting plot that’s always a good 30 minutes ride away. You know what I mean? ‘Come meet me in Venice. Come meet me in Malibu.’ It’s so spread out. Here in London the culture is fused. You feel you have more access to all that culture here.”
His argument is sound. There is a sense of cultures being jammed together in London. That city’s citizens are less likely to circle the wagons. At the same time, many black British actors have said that there are many more opportunities in America. Just look at how the likes of Daniel Kaluuya, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton and Carmen Ejogo have prospered in recent years.
“There are more opportunities for black actors in the States,” he agrees. “I wouldn’t advise any black actor to seek a healthy career in the UK. But, to be honest, I don’t think there’s a stigma here. I think it’s really just because America is a bigger place. The bigger the place, the more the opportunity. The TV and film industries are significantly busier. We are a small little island.”
Remember when the first teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens “dropped”? There was a worldwide inhalation as the footage crashed onto a billion screens. And John Boyega was the first thing we saw. The promo, released a year before the film’s arrival, began with a shot of the desert. We hear some classic Star Wars blather. Then the English man’s head pops up from the bottom of the screen. That’s how you arrive in the mainstream these days. Did J J Abrams ever explain what won him the part?
“He never did, you know,” Boyega says. “He just gave me the part and that was good enough for me. ‘Okay, bye!’ Ha ha! We fine-tuned the part and I was just always concerned about doing it to the best of my abilities.”
The numbers tell their own story. When Star Wars: The Force Awakens opened in late 2015 it quickly became the highest grossing film ever in the US and the third highest grossing ever worldwide. Boyega finds himself on all the usual merchandise. Few sane actors would turn that opportunity down, but he must have been aware that he would be stuck with the Star Wars shadow for the rest of his career.
“For me I never worried,” he says. “I have this opportunity. How do I expand on this? How do I make the best of these moments?”
There are the fans to be dealt with. He has attended events such as Comic-Con in San Diego where everyone comes dressed as their favourite characters. Now, that must be properly tiring.
“I did one thing where I put a stormtrooper helmet on and went out into the crowd and I was doing light-sabre fights with one of the fans. He had no idea who I was until later when I posted the picture. He was like: ‘That was me, that was me!’ That’s cool.”
He laughs merrily at the memory. But he does acknowledge that the attention has stripped away some degree of privacy.
“The downside? You’ll sometimes get it while walking on the street. I don’t see myself as a celebrity. I walk on the street because I have always walked on the street. Sometimes somebody will ask for a selfie and it’s not the right time. I have no problem being polite. But you’re not always going to get the best response. Some people think: that’s your job. That is understandable. But you know . . .”
Then there is the online mania. It’s hard to know how seriously to take racist backlashes against increasing levels of diversity in projects such as Star Wars. Too often, the obnoxious minorities make noise out of all proportion to their numbers. Still, a few nuts have argued that The Force Awakens – and the recent sequel, The Last Jedi – are manifestations of “PC gone mad”.
John somehow manages to avoid casting eyes to heaven.
“I am not one to care. I am going to do what I like – whatever anybody says. It’s just how I am,” he says. “And I feel that more people should be like that. I worked for the part. It was their personal opinion to put me in the movie. Even if it were an agenda I would still have taken the part. Ha ha! I feel sorry for people like that.”
He makes a more-in-sorrow-than-anger face.
“Yeah, fuck ‘em for real. I love people who see others doing well and who are positive. I just feel sorry for those who are negative.”
STAR WARS: THE NEXT GENERATION
The current tranche of Star Wars films have helped a few young actors to build on success and dragged a few more from obscurity. Here are five of the coming generation who matter.
JOHN BOYEGA (Finn)
John was certainly on the fringes of fame before the call came to play the charismatic, smart Finn. He has gone on to excel in a stage production of Georg Büchner’s Woyzeck and to star in and produce the upcoming Pacific Rim: Uprising.
DAISY RIDLEY (Rey)
Great-niece of Arnold Ridley, Godfrey on Dad’s Army, Daisy really was made by Star Wars. Has since starred in Murder on the Orient Express and Ophelia, a retelling of Hamlet from that character’s perspective. Currently to be heard in the surprisingly tolerable Peter Rabbit.
KELLY MARIE TRAN (Rose Tico)
The American actor, of Vietnamese descent, was seen by many as the breakout from Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Kelly has been working hard in fringe and improv for years, but The Last Jedi has really pushed her to the front.
DOMHNALL GLEESON (General Hux)
To be honest, Domhnall, among the busiest actors of his generation, probably didn’t need the leg up from Star Wars. No matter. It does no harm. Currently visible in Peter Rabbit. Will appear in Lenny Abrahamson’s The Little Stranger later in the year.
ADAM DRIVER (Kylo Ren)
J J Abrams sensibly ploughed through all areas of world cinema to find his cast. Driver is among the most unavoidable figures in US independent film. Altogether an unlikely chap to play a successor to Darth Vader.
OSCAR ISAAC (Poe Dameron)
And suddenly the Guatemalan-American was everywhere. The eagle-eyed among us remember him in Madonna’s unfairly maligned W.E. Went above ground in the Coens’ Inside Llewyn Davis. Among the dishiest of the new Star Warriors.
Malian Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga (R) shakes hands with Mahamat Annadif Saleh, the head of the MINUSMA (the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali) during a visit of the Malian delegation in Kidal, northern Mali, on March 23, 2018.<br />Mali’s Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga made a landmark visit to the restive northern town of Kidal on March 23, 2018, the first since 2014 by a head of government to an area still in the hands of former rebels. / AFP PHOTO / MINUSMA / Harandane DICKO
Mali’s Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga announced measures to address an education crisis in the restive north on Saturday on his first visit to the area.
Maiga is charged with improving Mali’s security situation but also raising living standards in the north and centre, where jihadists have gained a foothold in communities for whom state services are near absent.
“I will authorise mayors to take on volunteers where there are no teachers. They will be paid 50,000 FCFA ($94) a month,” he said to applause during a meeting with residents in the troubled city of Gao.
Insecurity driven by warring armed groups and an Al-Qaeda-led insurgency is keeping more than 150,000 children out of school and shut more than 500 establishments in 2017, according to Amnesty International.
Maiga also promised school canteens so that poor children would be able to attend classes, and promised training for 900 young people in Gao and nearby Menaka.
The state would also construct a road between the airport and Gao city centre, he added.
Jihadists mount near-weekly attacks on security forces in Mali, where many wonder how voters’ safety can be guaranteed ahead of the presidential election in July .
Around 4,000 French troops are deployed there as part of Operation Barkhane alongside the UN’s 12,000-strong MINUSMA peacekeeping operation in Mali to tackle the slamists, who piggybacked on the 2012 separatist rebellion by minority Tuaregs.
Maiga on Tuesday said he would visit “without arrogance, in order to listen, and understand the urgent needs of the population” in northern Mali.
He is also due to visit Timbuktu, an ancient city also rocked by periodic unrest.