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Biden decries Raleigh mass shooting

US President Joe Biden decried the mass shooting in Raleigh, North Carolina that left five people dead and two wounded.

“Enough. We’ve grieved and prayed with too many families who have had to bear the terrible burden of these mass shootings,” Biden said in a statement on Friday.

“Too many families have had spouses, parents, and children taken from them forever,” he added.

“There are too many mass shootings across America, including ones that don’t even make the national news.”

Raleigh police have identified five victims of the shooting that occurred in a residential neighbourhood on Thursday evening, including an off-duty police officer. Two other people were wounded, including another officer.

The suspect, described as a 15-year-old White male, was taken into custody on Thursday evening and is said to have been in critical condition, Xinhua news agency reported.

More details about the identity of the shooter have not been released due to his age.

Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin tweeted on Friday afternoon that “there are several families in our community who woke up this morning without their loved ones”.

“We grieve with them today,” Baldwin wrote.

“No family should ever have to feel this pain.”

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has ordered flags flown at half-staff to “mourn the victims killed in a horrific and infuriating act of violence”.

Gun violence has led to nearly 35,000 deaths across the US so far this year, according to the latest data from Gun Violence Archive..

ALSO READ: NYC creates ‘gun free zones’ after court ruling

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Crime India News USA

Texas woman held for hate crime against Indians  

Police said the woman, Esmeralda Upton, was arrested on one charge of “assault bodily injury” and one charge of “terroristic threats.” She was held on a total bond amount of $10,000…reports Asian Lite News

Police in Texas arrested a woman who they said shouted racial abuse at four Indian women in a viral video, telling them to “Go back to India,” in an incident brought to the attention of federal authorities.

“This incident is a hate crime in accordance with Texas laws,” police in Plano, Texas, where the incident occurred, said in a statement on Saturday.

“This incident may also be a hate crime based on federal law, and we are working closely with the FBI and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division on this case.”

In a video of the incident, which was shared on social media and got millions of views, the woman was seen shouting racist comments in a parking lot at a group of four women of Indian origin.

“Go back to India, we don’t want you here,” she said in the video. “I hate you f***ing Indians,” the woman, who identified herself as Mexican-American in the video, added.

The arrest of the woman took place on Thursday. The video of the incident from Wednesday went viral on social media, particularly in India and the United States.

Police said the woman, Esmeralda Upton, was arrested on one charge of “assault bodily injury” and one charge of “terroristic threats.” She was held on a total bond amount of $10,000.

One of the Indian women, Rani Banerjee, said she and three of her friends had just finished dinner at a restaurant when the woman confronted them in the parking lot.

“Suddenly, we heard this woman yelling at us and started coming toward us. We were shocked by the racial slurs that she used and combative attitude,” Banerjee told an ABC News affiliate. Banerjee started recording the incident with her phone.

The video also appears to show Upton hitting the women.

“What was so very scary is she came very close and not only verbally assaulted us but started physically assaulting us. She started hitting me,” Banerjee said.

A representative of Upton could not immediately be reached for comment.

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Crime India News

Forensic probes to be made mandatory for serious offences

The Home Minister said, with these changes and making forensic probe compulsory, it will create huge job opportunities for forensic science passouts…reports Asian Lite News

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday indicated that the government will make forensic probes mandatory for serious offences, where the crime attracts more than six years imprisonment.

In his address as chief guest of the National Forensic Science University’s (NFSU) first convocation, Shah said that the Central government is seriously working on strengthening evidence act, and for this, it is speaking to experts on the Indian Penal Code, and the Criminal Procedure Code, to bring the changes.

The Home Minister said, with these changes and making forensic probe compulsory, it will create huge job opportunities for forensic science passouts.

He also inaugurated three more wings of the NFSU – the Centre of Excellence in DNA forensics, cyber security, and investigative and forensic pathology – that will help in attending new challenges. Shah said he hoped that these wings will play a big role in criminal justice.

Meanwhile, speaking during a seminar on the book Modi@20, home minister Shah asserted that it was for the first time after Independence that the poor have felt their “existence” in the country.

“People have told me that after Narendra Modi became PM, a massive change is seen in the country. There can be many reasons but crores of poor felt this for the first time after independence that they have an existence in this nation,” Amit Shah said in his address in Raipur.

At the launch of the book: ‘Modi@20: Dreams Meet Delivery’ in Odisha’s Bhubaneshwar, Shah on August 8 said, “Modi@20 means whatever Modi Ji did to strengthen the democracy of this country for 20 years, from the time Modi ji became the Chief Minister of Gujarat (to the present).”

“As soon as Modi ji took over as the Prime Minister of the country, he worked to find solutions to country’s problems and successfully established the country’s pride in the whole world, that saga is Modi @ 20,” Shah added.

It may be noted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi completed 20 years in 2021 as the head of government from becoming Chief Minister to Prime Minister of India. First, he became Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2001 and remained in that post till he became the Prime Minister of India in 2014 and was re-elected in 2019.

Published by Rupa Publications India, the book is written by eminent intellectuals and writers like Nandan Nilekani, Sudha Murty, Sadguru, P.V. Sindhu and Amish Tripathi among others, the statement added.

The book is an anthology of chapters written by eminent writers elaborating and depicting the fundamental transformation that the country has gone through under the leadership of Narendra Modi as the head of the government in the last 20 years.

The book also elaborates on Modi’s model of governance which has touched the lives of a cross-section of the people of the society.

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Crime India News

Sharp fall in terrorist attacks from 2018 to 2021: Centre

The minister also said that 244 terrorist incidents happened in Jammu and Kashmir in 2020 while the number decreased to 229 in 2021…reports Asian Lite News

There has been a substantial decline in terrorist attacks in the country from 2018 to 2021, the parliament was told on Tuesday.

Replying no to DMK leader A. Ganeshamurthi’s question whether the incidents of terror attacks are rising in the country, Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai told the Lok Sabha, in a written reply, that “situation has improved significantly in Jammu and Kashmir and that there has been a substantial decline in terrorist attacks from 417 in 2018 to 229 in 2021”.

Noting that combating terrorism is a continuous process, he said that the government has taken various steps in this regard including strengthening of the legal framework, streamlining of intelligence mechanism, setting up of National Investigation Agency (NIA) for investigation and prosecution of terror-related cases, having various hubs of National Security Guard (NSG), stepping up the border and coastal security, and modernisation and capacity building of state police forces.

“Due to concerted and coordinated efforts of all the stakeholders, terrorism-related violence has been contained to a large extent in the country,” he said.

The minister also said that 244 terrorist incidents happened in Jammu and Kashmir in 2020 while the number decreased to 229 in 2021.

Rai said the government has a policy of “zero tolerance against terrorism and the security situation has improved significantly in Jammu and Kashmir”.

Asked when the situation in Jammu and Kashmir would be brought to normal so that democratic process can be started, Rai said the Central government has taken various measures to normalise the situation in the Kashmir Valley.

“These include a robust security and intelligence grid, proactive operations against terrorists, intensified night patrolling and checking at Nakas, security arrangements through appropriate deployment and high level of alertness maintained by the security forces,” he said.

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Crime USA

July 4 parade gunman considered 2nd attack

Police removed a collection of knives from the home but did not make any arrests. The knives were returned later after Crimo’s father said they were his…reports Asian Lite News

The 21-year-old man arrested for a deadly mass shooting at a July 4 parade in an affluent Chicago suburb has confessed and admitted he considered a second attack while on the run, officials said Wednesday.

Illinois State Police also addressed mounting questions about how Robert Crimo, who had a history of mental health issues and threatening behavior, was able to legally purchase at least five firearms.

After fleeing the parade shooting scene in Highland Park, Illinois, Crimo drove to Madison, Wisconsin where he thought about attacking another July 4 event, police said.

“He seriously contemplated using the firearm he had in his vehicle to commit another shooting,” police spokesman Christopher Covelli said.

Prosecutor Ben Dillon said during a bond hearing for Crimo that the suspect had confessed to carrying out the shooting in Highland Park, which left seven people dead and at least three dozen injured.

Among those killed were the parents of a two-year-old boy, Aiden McCarthy. A GoFundMe donation page set up for the child had raised over $2.5 million as of Wednesday.

Judge Theodore Potkonjak ordered Crimo, who has been charged with seven counts of first-degree murder, to be held without bail and to appear on July 28 for a preliminary hearing.

Crimo, dressed in a black shirt, attended by video and listened impassively as prosecutors recounted details of the shooting.

He was asked by the judge if he had a lawyer and responded that he did not. The judge appointed a public defender.

Dillon, the prosecutor, said Crimo had “provided a voluntary statement confessing to his actions.”

Crimo climbed on to a rooftop overlooking the parade route armed with a semi-automatic rifle, he said.

“(He) dressed up as a girl and covered his tattoos with makeup” to conceal his identity, Dillon added.

Crimo has several distinctive facial tattoos including the word “Awake” above his left eyebrow and the number “47” on his temple.

Dillon said Crimo fired three 30-round magazines from his rifle into the parade crowd before fleeing.

He dropped his weapon in an alley and then drove to Madison armed with another gun in his car.

He considered attacking a celebration there but “indications (are) that he didn’t put enough planning forward to commit another attack,” Covelli said.

Crimo returned to the Chicago area and was captured about eight hours after the initial attack following a brief car chase.

According to police, Crimo has a history of mental health problems and threatening behavior, but his firearms were purchased legally.

Police were called to Crimo’s home twice in 2019: once in April to investigate a suicide attempt and again in September because a relative said he had threatened to “kill everyone” in the family.

Police removed a collection of knives from the home but did not make any arrests. The knives were returned later after Crimo’s father said they were his.

In December 2019, Crimo, who was then 19, applied for a firearms permit which was sponsored by his father because he was under 21, police said.

Because no formal complaints had been lodged in connection with the earlier incidents, there were no grounds to deny the permit, police said.

Crimo subsequently purchased several other guns.

Crimo, whose father owns a deli in Highland Park, was an amateur musician billing himself as “Awake the Rapper.”

The authorities are investigating online posts and videos made by Crimo which include violent content alluding to guns and shootings.

One YouTube video featured cartoons of a gunman and people being shot.

“I need to just do it,” a voice-over says. “It is my destiny. Everything has led up to this. Nothing can stop me, not even myself.”

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Crime India News

NIA takes over Udaipur murder case

Following the transfer, the NIA will get custody of the killers, Ghaus Mohammad and Riyaz Jabbar, and then start their interrogation, reports Asian Lite News

A district court in Udaipur has transferred the murder case of tailor Kanhaiya Lal to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) as the latter had applied for it earlier.

Following the transfer, the NIA will get custody of the killers, Ghaus Mohammad and Riyaz Jabbar, and then start their interrogation.

Meanwhile, the accused have been shifted from Udaipur to Ajmer’s High Security Jail.

Meanwhile, an NIA team reached Kanpur on Thursday night to investigate the murder and raided many places.

This action was taken to investigate the Kanpur connection which was revealed in the documents recovered from the killers.

Internet remained suspended in many districts of Rajasthan for the fifth day on Saturday, while Section 144 has also been imposed for a month to prevent violence.

Meanwhile, the ATS and SOG till date have arrested four accused in Udaipur murder case.

While two accused were arrested on the day of the murder itself, two others were nabbed on Thursday night.

ALSO READ: JUH terms Udaipur killing tragic, un-Islamic, inhumane

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Asia News Crime World News

Pak envoys trigger diplomatic faux pas

Illegal business … Murder plot…Pak envoys are embroiled in non-diplomatic issues in South Africa and London. Pretoria has imposed a ban on the sale of used vehicles at the Pakistan Embassy.  The revenue department has accused two top Pakistani diplomats of selling the vehicles by importing them into the country for the diplomatic purpose. In another incident, a London court heard the role of a Pak diplomat in an assassination attempt on a dissident at Rotterdam…. A special report by Kaliph Anaz

The misconduct of some Pakistani diplomats abroad turned into a major embarrassment for the country. A diplomat is considered to be the flag bearer of its image in foreign lands. The conduct of diplomats in alien lands can make or break the perception about it in an increasingly globalised world. Some recent incidents involving top Pakistani diplomats in host countries have not just caused a strain in relations with these countries but dealt a blow to Pakistan’s image makeover efforts.

A recent case involves top officials posted in the Pak embassy in South Africa. According to a report published by Geo News, the South African revenue department has initiated a probe against the Pak embassy in connection with importing and illegally selling vehicles in the market. Diplomatic ties between the two countries have strained after South African authorities decided to impose an unannounced ban on the transfer and registration of vehicles of the Pakistani embassy in the country.

The most appalling aspect of this scandal is the involvement of top layer of embassy officials. However, Islamabad’s response to South African concerns on the issue has been of denial and vengeance. In place of initiating own inquiry into the matter, the government of Pakistan has resorted to imposing a similar ban on the registration and transfer of vehicles of the South African embassy in Islamabad.

The latest case reminds South Africa of an illegal immigration network which was actively aided by a Pak diplomat posted in the neighbouring country, Zimbabwe. In 2020, an official of the Pak embassy in Harare was found helping three Pakistani nationals to illegally enter into South Africa through the border town, Beitbridge. The matter came to light following the arrest of these individuals in Zimbabwe. The Foreign Ministry of Zimbabwe then issued a diplomatic note to the Pak embassy and ordered the immediate deportation of the concerned official. Some media accounts had also indicated the involvement of other diplomats in the human trafficking racket to smuggle individuals into South Africa.

Such corrupt practices appeared to be endemic to Pak missions worldwide. In April 2021, Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia and six other officers working in the embassy in Riyadh had to be recalled over complaints by the Pakistani community in the kingdom alleging harassment. Damage control efforts were apparent in the statement issued by the Pak Prime Minister’s Office and the Foreign Office later, which assured the formation of a committee to probe into the working of Embassy/ Consulates in the Kingdom. Among other things, the committee was to look into extorting and fleecing Pakistani expatriate workers and overseas Pakistanis, causing delays on one pretext or another, resulting in extraction under duress. The then-Pak Prime Minister Imran Khan had to ask the Missions’ officials not to mistreat their own expat community living in Gulf countries.

 Earlier, a London court heard Muhammad Gohir Khan was offered £100,000 to carry out the murder in Rotterdam. However, he failed to track his target down and was arrested on his return to the UK. He was sentenced to 13 years in jail for his crime. During the trial, the court heard the role of a Pakistani diplomat in providing the finance.  The intended victim, Waqass Goraya, has told the BBC he is sure the Pakistani intelligence services were ultimately behind the plot and that it forms part of a wider crackdown on dissenting voices both inside and outside Pakistan.

There are many similar cases too.  Ayesha Siddiqa, a London-based academic who has written extensively about the Pakistani military, received a visit and letter from police in Britain warning of “credible information” that her life was in danger if she travelled back to Pakistan.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan (Image: Twitter@ShkhRasheed)

Dr Siddiqa shared the letter with the BBC, and said her own inquiries had led her to find out, “there was a contract on my head given to some Afghan warlords to be eliminated on return to Pakistan… if the temperature was raised I could be targeted in the UK as well.”

Like Mr Goraya, Dr Siddiqa told the BBC she believed the Pakistani intelligence services were behind the threat. “I have no one else to suspect.” Three other Pakistanis living in the UK confirmed to the BBC they had contact with the police over the possibility of them being targeted in Britain.

While Pakistanis living abroad are feeling hopeless in face of the highhandedness and corrupt ways of Pak diplomats, the institutions and citizens of host countries can hardly expect an honest approach from them. If Islamabad genuinely wants to portray a positive image in other countries, it needs to begin with addressing the ethical issues surrounding its overseas staff.

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Biden signs landmark gun reforms law

The bill, called “The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act”, follows national outrage and frustration felt after killings of 10 African Americans in Buffalo, New York and 19 children at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas just 10 days apart in recent weeks, reports Yashwant Raj

US President Joe Biden on Saturday signed into law a legislation that makes modest changes in the gun laws of the country but marks a significant step on reforms in decades.

“Nothing is going to fill that void in their hearts,” Biden said of survivors and relatives of gun violence victims. “But they lead the way so other families will not have the experience with pain and trauma that they have to live through.”

“Their message to us was to do something. How many times have you heard that? Just do something? For God’s sake, just do something. Well, today, we did,” he added.

The bill, called “The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act”, follows national outrage and frustration felt after killings of 10 African Americans in Buffalo, New York and 19 children at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas just 10 days apart in recent weeks.

Passed by the US Senate on Thursday and the House of Representatives on Friday, it expands background checks for prospective buyers between 18 and 21 � both the Buffalo and Uvalde shooters were 18, includes abusive dating partners in the list of those who could be prevented from buying guns, and, finally, it seeks to incentivise states to introduce red-flag laws that would allows law enforcement or relatives to prevent guns from falling in the hands of people who could harm either themselves or others.

The bill also seeks to pump in $15 billion into school safety and mental health care.

The bill was negotiated by 10 Republican and 10 Democratic Senators and passed both chambers of Congress with bipartisan voting, as many Republicans � but not all � joined their Democratic colleagues to beak a decades-long logjam that prevented reforms; the last successful effort was in 1994 when assault weapons were banned.

College student Jennifer Estrada takes part in a rally for gun control and anti-racism, in El Paso of Texas, the United States. (Xinhua_Wang Ying_IANS)

“This vote shows that Senators can and will come together to find common ground on lifesaving issues,” Sandy Hook Promise, an advocacy formed by the parents of the children killed in the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre of 2013, said in a statement after the Senate vote on Thursday. “It is not a choice between protecting our children and communities and preserving the Second Amendment. We can do both.”

“With this bipartisan package, we take the first steps to fight back on behalf of the American people, who desperately want new measures to keep communities safe in the high numbers in the polling,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on the floor of the House on Friday. “To those who lacked the courage to join in this work, I say your political survival is insignificant compared to the survival of our children.”

Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the US Senate, had said: “This is the sweet spot… making America safer, especially for kids in school, without making our country one bit less free.”

He added: “I thought it was time to act, and if (Democrats) were willing to join with us and pass legislation that actually targeted the problem, which is school safety and mental health, why would we not want to do that?”

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Trump: ‘Prioritise school security funding over Ukraine aid’

Trump also rejected calls for tightened gun controls, saying decent Americans should be allowed firearms to defend themselves against “evil”, reports Asian Lite News

Former US President Donald Trump said that the Washington government should prioritise funding for school security in the country rather than sending aid to the war-torn Ukraine.

Trump made the remarks on Friday at the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) ongoing three-day annual convention in Houston, which comes just three days after the deadly shooting at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, which claimed the lives of 19 children and two teachers.

Addressing thousands of supporters, the former President said: “We spent trillions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and got nothing for it. Before we nation-build the rest of the world, we should be building safe schools for our own children in our own nation.”

Trump also rejected calls for tightened gun controls, saying decent Americans should be allowed firearms to defend themselves against “evil”, the BBC reported.

He instead proposed a “top-to-bottom overhaul” of school safety, with fortified single points of entry including metal detectors and at least one armed police officer on every campus, and also accused Democrats of stonewalling such security measures.

The former President also read out the names of the Uvalde shooting victims, with each marked by a bell toll.

In his speech, Trump also called to “drastically change our approach to mental health”.

The annual convention of the NRA, the country’s most powerful gun lobby group, is taking place after a two-year Covid-induced hiatus.

In the wake of the Uvalde massacre, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, both Republicans, have cancelled their in-person appearance at the convention, reports Xinhua news agency.

People mourn for victims of a school mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, the United States, May 26, 2022. At least 19 children and two adults were killed in a shooting at Robb Elementary School in the town of Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday. (Xinhua/Wu Xiaoling/IANS)

The Governor is expected to address the convention “through pre-recorded video”.

“While a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and an NRA member, I would not want my appearance today to bring any additional pain or grief to the families and all those suffering in Uvalde,” Patrick said on Friday.

Meanwhile, protests have been planned against the event. Friday witnessed hundreds of protesters outside the convention venue holding signs saying “NRA kill kids”, “protect children not guns” and held crosses and photos of shooting victims.

In a statement, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner urged participants to “remain peaceful out of respect to the families of the 19 children and two teachers killed in their classroom at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde”.

The City of Houston is aware that several organisations have planned demonstrations near the convention centre, and the Houston Police Department and the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management have a public safety plan, Turner was quoted as saying in the statement.

Texas school shooting (Xinhua/IANS)

The NRA convention is expected to draw 55,000 attendees, who are prohibited from bringing “firearms, firearm accessories, knives, and other items”, including backpacks and selfie sticks.

The gun lobby group, currently has over 5 million members.

The US has witnessed at least 212 mass shootings so far this year, according to the nonprofit research group Gun Violence Archive.

As of Tuesday when the Uvalde school shooting occurred, over 31,300 people have died or been injured due to gun-related incidents in the US this year.

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Crime Hollywood

Amber Heard breaks down in tears during testimony

Heard is defending herself in a $50 million defamation trial. Depp has accused her of fabricating her domestic violence allegations to advance her career….reports Asian Lite News

Hollywood actress Amber Heard broke down as she told a jury that her former husband and actor Johnny Depp had sexually assaulted her with a bottle during a fight in Australia.

According to ‘Variety’, Heard took the stand for the second day on Thursday, as she continued to recount a series of violent incidents that marked their relationship.

She said the fight in Australia during filming of the fifth ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ film in March 2015 was prompted by Depp’s jealousy and her concern about his drug use.

She said Depp had repeatedly hit her, threw bottles at her and choked her against a refrigerator, before finally getting her on top of a countertop and penetrating her with a bottle.

“I remember just not wanting to move,” ‘Variety’ quoted the actress as saying.

She said she remembered thinking: “Please, God, I hope it’s not broken.”

She said Depp repeatedly said: “I’ll f***ing kill you.”

Heard is defending herself in a $50 million defamation trial. Depp has accused her of fabricating her domestic violence allegations to advance her career.

His lawsuit alleges that he lost out on the sixth ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ film and other movie roles after Heard referred to herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse” in a December 2018 op-ed.

Heard began her testimony on Wednesday afternoon, recounting how she first met Depp and fell in love with him.

But she said she also discovered that Depp could become extremely jealous, especially when drunk or high, and fly into rages.

On Thursday, she told the jury about a flight on a private jet in May 2014, when she claimed that Depp slapped her and then kicked her to the floor.

She also told the jury of other violent episodes, in Tokyo, and on Depp’s private island in the Bahamas. She said Depp could be verbally cruel, calling her a “wh***”, a “s**t” and a “fat a**”.

Depp has denied ever assaulting Heard. He already told the jury his own version of events surrounding the Australia fight, alleging that she severed his fingertip when she threw a bottle at him.

Heard has previously testified about these incidents during a trial in the UK, but the details of the alleged sexual assault were kept confidential in that proceeding.

In her testimony on Thursday, Heard also said she ended up with cuts on her arms and feet from the broken glass.

She said, at one point, Depp had held a broken bottle to her jaw, and threatened to “carve up my face”.

She said the next morning she found a series of messages that Depp had written on the walls in his own blood and in paint.

Heard also told the jury about a fight in December 2015, when she said that Depp dragged her by the hair up the stairs. He said the two got into a shoving match, and that Depp head-butted her squarely in the nose.

She said she instantly felt searing pain in her nose.

Depp previously testified that he was trying to restrain Heard from hitting him by putting her in a bear hug, and the contact was incidental.

Later that night, Heard said that she told Depp that she was going to leave him.

She said that Depp dragged her into another room, threw her on a bed, and kneeled on her back.

She said he repeatedly punched her, and screamed in her ear: “I fucking hate you!a She said she could not breathe.

“I thought, ‘This is how I die’,” she said.

“He’s going to kill me now. He’s going to kill me, and he won’t even have realised it.”

The trial will take a one-week break before testimony resumes on May 16, when Heard will return to the stand. She is yet to complete her direct testimony, and Depp’s lawyers will then have the opportunity to cross-examine her.

Judge Penney Azcarate told the jury that closing arguments are set for May 27.

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