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Prince Andrew ‘unequivocally’ denies Giuffre’s sexual abuse claims, seeks to end lawsuit

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October 29, 2021

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Britain’s Prince Andrew on Friday rejected Virginia Giuffre’s accusations that he sexually abused her more than two decades ago when she was 17, and urged a U.S. judge to dismiss her civil lawsuit.

In filings with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the Duke of York called Giuffre’s “baseless” lawsuit an effort to “achieve another payday” from her accusations against the late financier Jeffrey Epstein and his associates.

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Andrew, 61, who is Queen Elizabeth’s second son, also said he was released from liability under a 2009 settlement agreement between Giuffre and Epstein, a registered sex offender.

He said that agreement covered “royalty,” among others, and that Epstein had insisted it cover “any and all persons” who Giuffre might sue.

“Virginia Giuffre may well be a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of Jeffrey Epstein, and nothing can excuse, nor fully capture, the abhorrence and gravity of Epstein’s monstrous behavior against Giuffre, if so,” Andrew’s lawyers wrote.

“However, and without diminishing the harm suffered as a result of Epstein’s alleged misconduct, Prince Andrew never sexually abused or assaulted Giuffre,” they added. “He unequivocally denies Giuffre’s false allegations against him.”

David Boies, a lawyer for Giuffre, said in a statement that Andrew’s bid to dismiss the lawsuit “fails to confront the serious allegations” it contained.

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He also said the settlement agreement “on its face” applies “at most” to people involved in underlying litigation in Florida, thereby excluding the prince.

“Prince Andrew’s attempt now to use the 2009 release as a get out of jail free card shows how desperate he is to dodge and duck the facts of what he did,” Boies said.

Epstein killed himself at age 66 in a Manhattan jail in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

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Giuffre, 38, sued https://www.reuters.com/legal/government/prince-andrew-is-sued-by-jeffrey-epstein-accuser-over-alleged-sexual-abuse-2021-08-09 Andrew for unspecified damages in August, accusing him of forcing her to have sex at the London home of Ghislaine Maxwell, a longtime Epstein associate.

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She also accused Andrew of abusing her at Epstein’s mansion in Manhattan, and on one of Epstein’s private islands in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In Friday’s filings, Andrew’s lawyers said Giuffre had already “purportedly received millions of dollars” from settling a 2015 defamation lawsuit against Maxwell, where according to court papers she had sought $50 million https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/prince-andrew-has-been-served-with-sex-abuse-accuser-giuffres-lawsuit-court-2021-09-10.

The lawyers said they would also challenge a 2019 New York law that gave survivors of childhood sexual abuse a now-closed two-year window to sue their alleged abusers over conduct occurring many years or decades earlier.

That law allowed Giuffre to pursue her case, but according to the lawyers deprived the prince of his due process rights under New York’s state constitution.

The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James, the state’s top law enforcer, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Andrew has not been charged with crimes.

He gave up many royal duties and lost support from charities and organizations after a disastrous November 2019 BBC interview in which he did not appear sympathetic toward Epstein’s victims.

The next hearing in Giuffre’s lawsuit is set for Nov. 3.

Giuffre was sued separately for $20 million on Thursday for allegedly defaming on Twitter an artist who has said she brought women to Epstein but denied being a recruiter.

The artist, Rina Oh Amen, sued over tweets including that she “procured & partook in the abuse of minors.” Amen called the tweets “maliciously false,” and said Epstein also abused her.

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Maxwell, 59, has pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking and other charges for allegedly helping recruit and groom underage girls for Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 2004. Her trial in Manhattan begins on Nov. 29.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler and Daniel Wallis)

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Pope says willing to go to Moscow to meet Orthodox Patriarch

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December 6, 2021

By Philip Pullella

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Monday he was willing to go to Moscow for to meet Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill “brother to brother” in what would be the first trip by a pope to Russia.

The pair’s meeting in Cuba in 2016 was the first by a pope and a leader of the Russian Orthodox Church since the great schism that split Christianity into Eastern and Western branches in 1054.

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Both sides have declared a willingness to work towards unity but they are still far apart theologically and over what role the pope would play in an eventually reunited Church.

“We are brothers and we talk straight to each other. We do not dance the minuet,” Francis told reporters aboard his plane returning from a trip to Cyprus and Greece.

“We have to move forward, walking and working towards unity.”

He said he was willing to go Moscow and that a top Russian Orthodox official was expected in Rome next week to decide the time and location of the meeting.

Francis said working out the protocols would be less important than meeting “brother to brother” with Kirill.

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The Pope normally travels to countries with a joint invitation from its religious authorities as well as one from the government, meaning that Francis would most likely need an invitation from President Vladimir Putin to visit Russia.

The Russian Orthodox Church, the largest in Christian Orthodoxy, with about 100 million members, is closely aligned with the Kremlin.

Francis said the meeting with Kirill was “on the not too distant horizon”.

He said Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev, who is responsible for the Russian Orthodox Church’s external relations, would be coming to the Vatican to meet him to discuss where and when the next meeting can take place.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Alison Williams)

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Yemen Houthis bury their dead as Marib fighting rages

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December 6, 2021

By Adel Al-Khader

SANAA (Reuters) – Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis held military funerals on Monday for 25 fighters killed in battles with a Saudi-led coalition, as fighting shows no sign of abating despite intense international diplomacy to end the seven-year-old conflict.

The funerals took place as fighting has raged in the gas-rich Marib region, while warplanes from the coalition have intensified their bombing of Sanaa, Marib and other areas.

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The Houthis have also stepped up cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia using armed drones and missiles.

An honour guard carried the coffins – draped with flags, flowers and photographs of the dead – with military music through the capital Sanaa. Relatives gathered to mourn their loved ones.

“We are in these days inspired by these martyrs’ pride and dignity and say to them: ‘congratulations! You have preceded us to a paradise as wide as the heavens and earth’,” said Ali Muhyaddin, a relative of one of the dead.

The war in Yemen has killed tens of thousands and caused what the United Nations describes as the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.

U.N.-led efforts to agree a ceasefire have stalled in the conflict, which is seen largely as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Houthis say they are fighting a corrupt system and foreign invasion.

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Houthi media showed fighters exchanging heavy artillery fire with coalition forces in Marib on Sunday as warplanes flew overhead. All the 25 fighters buried in Sanaa were killed in Marib, Houthi officials said.

The Houthis have launched a year-long offensive to take Marib, which hosts Yemen’s biggest gas fields. The city is the last stronghold of the internationally recognised government.

Marib is home to 3 million people, including nearly 1 million who fled other parts of Yemen after the Houthis ousted the government from the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014, prompting the Saudi-led coalition to intervene.

The number of displaced people in camps in the province has risen nearly 10-fold since September, with more than 45,000 people fleeing their homes as Houthi forces press the offensive, the U.N. migration agency IOM said last month.

(Writing by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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Putin and Modi discuss trade, humanitarian situation in Afghanistan

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December 6, 2021

By Alasdair Pal and Neha Arora

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Russian President Vladimir Putin in New Delhi on Monday, with trade and the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan both on the agenda.

Afghanistan’s takeover by the Taliban earlier this year has led to a humanitarian crisis in the country, which New Delhi and Moscow have both previously said risks destabilising the region.

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“The fight against terrorism is also a fight against drug trafficking and organised crime,” Putin said in introductory remarks broadcast by Indian media. “In that regard, we are concerned about developments of the situation in Afghanistan.”

The visit by Putin and several top Russian officials comes amid increasingly strained relations between Russia and the United States, also a key Indian ally.

Earlier on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said a deal to supply India with S-400 air defence missile systems was being implemented despite what he said were U.S. efforts to undermine the accord.

India and Russia are expected to cement several trade and defence pacts at the summit.

“The relation between India and Russia is truly a unique and reliable model,” Modi said.

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(Reporting by Alasdair Pal; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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