Daily News Roundup

July 17, 2018

Tuesday July 17

The woman who endured rape and assault by disgraced One Nation adviser Sean Black has gone public with her gruelling experience of trying to seek justice.

Waiving her legal right to anonymity, Tanya has spoken out to reveal the stress from three days of cross-examination which triggered panic attacks and forced her to rush from the witness stand to vomit.

Speaking with the ABC the day after Black was found guilty of raping and repeatedly assaulting her, Tanya said the verdict left her in disbelief.

“I still kind of expect someone to take it away from me,” she said.

“He told me no-one would ever believe me”.

Tanya was married to Black and had two young children when he assaulted her, shoving her down stairs and crushing her hand in a door.

Black also raped her in a shower after she said he should stop hitting her.

Her vindication by a jury followed years of threats from a man who claimed he was protected by powerful connections from a career that took him from the state Labor party to Logan City Council, the LNP, and Canberra in One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts’s office.

However, Tanya said the trial was in some ways as traumatic as the crimes, and the justice system was in “desperate need” of sweeping reforms to better protect rape survivors.

“I would not put myself through that again. I was the one that was put on trial. That’s not right,” she said.

Black did not take the stand, but Tanya faced more than 12 hours of questioning.

She testified by video link to a closed court from a separate room, with a family friend by her side.

But she said the prolonged and vigorous questioning by the defence barrister was an unexpected trigger for her trauma.

Tanya said she finished her second day in court thinking she did okay.

“I really maintained my composure — I was calm and I was proud of myself,” she said.

“But that night I went to sleep and at 11:00pm I woke up and I couldn’t breathe and I knew I was having what’s called a panic attack.

“I’ve put my head down and I’ve calmed myself down but then my whole body just started shaking uncontrollably.

“And then I had the vomiting and diarrhoea, which pretty much went all night.

“[The next day] I actually had to vomit during the questioning.”

Prosecutors repeatedly told Tanya she was an “articulate witness” but warned her to mentally prepare for an acquittal.

She said her supporters were jubilant at the outcome but “I can’t say it’s joy that I feel — because I still feel sad about it all, that it has to come to these sorts of things”.

Tanya first revealed details of the rape to a friend years after it happened, when “we were in her pool and we were talking about domestic violence”.

“It had just been playing over in my head, and I just said to her, is it rape if it happens when you’re married? And she’s going, ‘yeah, it is’.”

But Tanya did not go to police until nine years after the attacks, which she said was a last resort at the urging of a social worker.

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The United States says it will engage in direct talks with the Taliban in an effort to bring the war towards an end, upturning its previous stance that any peace negotiations would be “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned”, the ABC reports.

The Taliban has long demanded direct talks with the US; it regards the Afghan Government as illegitimate.

The US-led invasion in 2001 removed the Taliban from power, but 17 years on, about 45 per cent of the country’s districts are once again either Taliban-controlled or contested.

The US decision to negotiate directly with the Taliban comes nearly a year after President Donald Trump announced his revised South Asia policy, which centred on boosting combat power and pressuring Pakistan in an effort to bring the Afghan war to an end, the report said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Kabul briefly last week, and it is believed diplomats have been laying the groundwork for talks between the two sides.

The commander of US forces in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, said there is hope direct talks can move the peace process forward.

“And our Secretary of State, Mr Pompeo, has said that we, the United States, are ready to talk with the Taliban and discuss the role of international forces,” General Nicholson said.

“Since 2014, the narrative in Afghanistan has centred around the idea of an ‘Afghan solution’, and coalition efforts have gone into upskilling and enabling the Afghan military to run the war with reduced foreign assistance.”

But fractures and infighting, as well as corruption within the Government and security forces, have made it easier for the Taliban to either gain territory or to surreptitiously gain influence over parts of the country through providing services like justice, communications, education and taxation.

Struggling to reverse Taliban gains, the Afghan army has also had to deal with the emergence of a lobal branch of Islamic State militants.

A recent three-day ceasefire between the Afghan Government and Taliban after Ramadan created momentum for continued negotiations towards an eventual political settlement.

No dates have been set for any US-Taliban talks.

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World Cup: Four Pussy Riot members sentenced to 15 days’ jail over pitch invasion

Four members of the Pussy Riot protest group, who interrupted the World Cup final between France and Croatia when they ran onto the pitch wearing fake police uniforms, have been sentenced to 15 days in jail in Moscow.

The pitch invasion by members of the punk band early in the second half of the final was a brazen act in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium in front of Russian President Vladimir Putin and other high-ranking officials from around the world.

The judge also banned the four members — Veronika Nikulshina, Olga Pakhtusova, Olga Kurachyova and Pyotr Verzilov, the only male — from attending sports events for three years.

Kurachyova said their stunt, which held up the game only briefly, was meant to promote freedom of speech and condemn policies of FIFA, football’s global governing body.

“It is a pity that we disrupted the sportsmen,” Kurachyova said.

“FIFA is involved in unfair games unfortunately. FIFA is a friend of heads of states who carry out repression, who violate human rights.”

This daily news roundup is curated with stories from ABC News.

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