18.07.09 to 24.07.09 Police raid the clinic of Michael Jackson's doctors, a Pakistani national admits his part in the Mumbai attacks and Hilliary Clinton pledges a 'defence umbrella' for the Gulf.
Trials, retribution and closure
Police in Abu Dhabi revealed that they had foiled an alleged attempt to swindle Dh153.9 billion (US$42bn) from the UAE Central Bank. According to Brig Maktoum al Sharifi, the director of the Criminal Investigation Department, the gang made two attempts to withdraw huge sums of money using forged documents. The three suspects claimed that the bank owed the money to their "leader", who they said lived in a neighbouring country but were arrested at the third attempt.
A motorway crash in Germany involved 259 vehicles and left 65 people injured, 10 of whom were in critical condition. The accident, which stretched over 20 miles, came as families headed for the roads at the start of the school holidays. It happened after heavy rain flooded the A2 motorway from Berlin near the Dutch border. More than 350 emergency workers were involved, as well as three helicopters and 40 ambulances.
Mohammad Khatami, the former president of Iran, called for a referendum on the legitimacy of President Ahmadinejad's government following disputed elections last month. Mr Khatami said the elections had caused millions of Iranians to lose faith in the electoral process after the defeated opposition candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, claimed the poll had been rigged. A referendum can only be approved by the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a supporter of Mr Ahmadinejad.
A film festival in Saudi Arabia was abruptly cancelled hours before it was due to open. Hundreds of directors, writers and fans had already arrived in Jeddah when organisers were told by the municipality to call it off. The festival began in 2006 and was due to show films made in Saudi and around the region. The official explanation was because the festival was insufficiently prepared but many believed it was the result of pressure from religious conservatives, who believe that cinema can result in moral corruption.
Commuters who hoped to find free parking at Dubai's malls to use the new metro will instead be expected to pay for the privilege. The Mall of the Emirates and Deira City Centre say they will introduce charges after the first three hours in an attempt to keep spaces free for shoppers. Cinemagoers will get an additional free hour. The system will begin a trial run next month ahead of the metro's launch on September 9.
The president of Turkmenistan officially opened a new cancer hospital by performing an operation himself. Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, a trained dentist, was said to have removed a benign tumour from behind a patient's ear. President Berdymukhamedov is a former health minister who decided in 2005 to close all of Turkmenistan's hospitals except in the capital, Ashgabat. He was guided by a team of local and German doctors during the operation.
The creator of a garden gnome giving a Nazi salute was told he would not face charges in Germany. The gold-plated gnome was part of an art exhibition in Nuremberg, but prosecutors said they accepted a claim by the artist that his intent was to mock the Nazis. Nazi symbols and Hitler salutes are illegal in Germany. The artist, Ottmar Hoerl, 59, became embroiled in the row when one of his "Nazi" gnomes was put on display at a Nuremburg art gallery earlier this month.
Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, pledged to provide additional defence to America's allies in the Gulf if Iran develops nuclear weapons. Mrs Clinton said the "defence umbrella" would mean Iran would not be able to claim it had improved its security by developing a nuclear capability. Speaking at regional summit in Thailand, she said Iran risked "crippling action" by sparking an arms race in the Gulf.
She said: "If the US extends a defence umbrella over the region, if we do even more to support the military capacity of those in the Gulf, it's unlikely that Iran will be any stronger or safer because they won't be able to intimidate and dominate as they apparently believe they can once they have a nuclear weapon."
Fears of swine flu caused the Egyptian authorities to cancel a popular Islamic religious festival. Authorities in Cairo were concerned that the moulid, or birthday, celebrations for Sufi saints could spread the disease. They ordered a halt to a street festival to honour Sayyida Zeinab, the Prophet Mohammed's granddaughter, widely considered the patron saint of Cairo and the Egyptian people. Swine flu could also reduce numbers at the Haj later this year. Last week a number of countries including the UAE and Britain, advised Muslim citizens not to travel to Saudi Arabia if they were elderly, very young, pregnant or suffering from any medical condition that might make the disease's impact more severe.
Britain is also recommended that all pilgrims receive a flu vaccine at least two weeks before attending the Haj. Church of England officials have also revived a dispensation last used during the Black Plague that allowed bread to be dipped in communion wine rather than sharing the cup. The 1547 Sacrament Act had remained dormant on the Church statute book for more than 450 years.
Police raided the clinic of one of Michael Jackson's doctors as part of their investigation into the pop star's death. More than 20 officers in a convoy of 15 cars arrived at the office of Dr Conrad Murray in Houston. They were enforcing a search warrant reported to be linked to autopsy findings on Jackson's body that included traces of Propofol, a powerful anaesthetic. Dr Murray, a cardiologist, had been hired to monitor the singer's health during preparations for a tour in London due to start this month. He attempted to revive Jackson when he collapsed at his rented mansion in Los Angeles on June 25.
A gunman on trial for his part in the Mumbai terrorist attacks last year told a court that he was ready for the hangman's noose. Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab, 21, had previously pleaded not guilty to 86 charges including murder, possessing explosives and waging war on India. He has now admitted his role in the attacks, which killed at least 173 people. Qasab was the only survivor of the gang responsible for the murders, and prosecutors had claimed the Pakistani citizen had changed his plea to secure leniency. Responding, Qasab told the judge, "Go ahead and hang me. "Since I have committed the crime in this world, I should be punished in this world. I do not want to be punished by Allah."
United Airlines saw its shares crash 10 per cent after an angry customer complained in song that clumsy baggage handlers had broken his guitar. A video of the song United Breaks Guitars by Dave Carroll received 3.5 million hits in 10 days after it was posted on YouTube and created a public relations disaster for the airline, who had initially refused to pay compensation. United has now apologised and asked to buy the rights to the video as a training tool.
Two men were charged with the killing of a former Chechen warlord in Dubai. Prosecutors said the men had been charged with being accessories to the murder of Sulim Yamadayev, who was shot dead in the basement car park of his Jumeirah Beach Residence apartment in March. The accused are said to be an Iranian and a Tajik national, with reports that others involved had fled the country.
* The National