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Julian Assange: Sweden drops rape investigation

Julian Assange gestures to the media from a police vehicle on his arrival at Westminster Magistrates court on 11 April 2019

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Assange was arrested in London after Ecuador abruptly withdrew its protection

Prosecutors in Sweden have dropped an investigation into a rape allegation made against Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange in 2010.

Assange, who denies the accusation, has avoided extradition to Sweden for seven years after seeking refuge at the Ecuadorean embassy in London in 2012.

The 48-year-old Australian was evicted in April and sentenced to 50 weeks in jail for breaching his bail conditions.

He is currently being held at Belmarsh prison in London.

The Swedish Prosecution Authority said in a statement: “Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Eva-Marie Persson has today decided to discontinue the investigation regarding Julian Assange.

“The reason for this decision is that the evidence has weakened considerably due to the long period of time that has elapsed since the events in question.”

The prosecutors said the decision had been taken after seven witnesses in the case had been interviewed.

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Joseph McCann: Man embarked on ‘series of depraved sex attacks’

Joseph McCann

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Joseph McCann is accused of 37 offences against 11 alleged victims

A man embarked on a series of “depraved” sex attacks on women and children, one as young as 11, a court has heard.

Joseph McCann is accused of 37 offences against 11 alleged victims, including rapes, kidnap and false imprisonment, over two weeks in April and May.

The Old Bailey heard the 34-year-old snatched two women off London streets and told one he would “never release her” as he raped her multiple times.

Mr McCann of Harrow denies the charges.

The jury was told one 25-year-old woman was abducted as she walked home in Walthamstow, east London, just after midnight on 25 April.

Prosecutor John Price QC said the defendant told her “to stop screaming or he would stab her” then dragged her into a car “and drove off”.

The court heard the woman was raped “many times” in various locations over the next 14 hours and subjected to acts of “shocking depravity and violence”.

“He made her call him ‘daddy’ and say that she was a child. At one point the man parked the car near to a school, saying that he wanted to make her rape a child,” Mr Price said.

Later the same day, and while still holding the woman prisoner, the defendant abducted a 21-year-old woman in Edgware, north London, as she walked along the street with her sister, the court heard.

CCTV of the woman being bundled into a silver people carrier just after midday was played to the jury.

Mr Price said she “suffered a similar fate” to the 25-year-old woman before the pair managed to escape while in Watford where Mr McCann had booked a hotel room for two nights.

He told the jury they would have come to “further harm” but one of the women hit their captor over the head with a vodka bottle and some builders “bravely” intervened to prevent them being recaptured.

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Saracens to appeal 35-point deduction and £5.36m fine for breaching salary cap rules

Saracens have won four of the past five Premiership titles

Premiership and European champions Saracens have been deducted 35 points and fined £5.36m for breaching salary cap regulations in three seasons.

The punishment comes after an investigation into business partnerships between chairman Nigel Wray and some of the club’s players.

Saracens will appeal