Grandmother’s hope for answers: Inquest set to start into one of WA’s most baffling cases

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 Phil Hickey

Answers. All Cathy McDougall and her family want are answers. For 10 years, they’ve had very little.

It was over a decade ago that Ms McDougall’s grand-daughter Leela vanished without a trace, along with her mother Chantelle and two other men.

Leela was just five-and-a-half years-old when she and her mother, Tony Popic and Simon Kadwell, disappeared from the picturesque WA town of Nannup in July 2007.

They left behind wallets, credit cards and dirty plates on the table at their Roberts Road property, about 11 kilometres south of the Nannup town-site.

A note reportedly left at the home said they were moving to Brazil. They have never been seen or heard from since.

Ten years on, a coronial inquest into their baffling disappearance will begin in Busselton next Wednesday.
The three day inquest is expected to focus heavily on Kadwell’s links to a bizarre and disturbing underground cult.

Kadwell – who was was also Leela’s father and Chantelle’s partner – was reportedly linked to a cult based on a doomsday book called Servers of the Divine Plan, which called on “servers” to take up their positions on Earth before the world’s imminent end and rebirth.

It has also emerged in recent years Kadwell’s real name was in fact Gary Felton.

He, Chantelle and Leela lived in a small weatherboard house, while Popic lived in his own caravan parked adjacent to the house.

Ms McDougall, who lives in Victoria, told WAtoday she hoped the three day inquest would finally give her and her family some answers as to what happened.

She will fly into WA next week with her husband Jim to listen in on the hearing.

The last time Ms McDougall saw her daughter and grand-daughter was in May 2007 at their Nannup home, shortly before they disappeared.

Ms McDougall recalled how several visitors came to the home during her stay and how a package arrived at the house, which she thought might have been Leela’s passport.

“When I was there in May they had visitors and they did not have visitors very often, so I reckon someone must know something,” she said.

“While I was there a package came and that was apparently Leela’s passport.

“I could not quite hear, but Gary came in and Chantelle asked ‘what was the package’ and he said ‘oh its Leela’s passport.’

“That’s what it sounded like to me…he took it and he put it away.

“I started to think that was a bit strange.

“I was very worried because everything seemed a bit out of the ordinary.”

Earlier this year an age enhanced photograph of Leela – who would be 16 now – was one of six images put together by forensic artists from the United States National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children.

The image was released as part of International Missing Children’s Day.

“She (Leela) loved to dance around and play jokes and do all sorts of funny things,” Ms McDougall said.

“Her mother was like that when she was little.”

A fresh appeal on the case was made by police in 2013 through a Channel 10 television program.

In the program, detectives revealed how a man calling himself Tony Popic checked into the Underground Backpackers in Northbridge on July 15, 2007.

The next day, the same man is believed to have caught a train from Perth to Kalgoorlie.

Its understood the Missing Persons Unit within WA Police has been handling the case file recently.

Ms McDougall said although she had not been subpoenaed at this stage to give evidence at the inquest, she hoped to read a statement which she had written.

“There’s got to be someone who knows something,” she said.

“We are just hoping someone knows some clue, that can perhaps lead to another clue.”

Source  :  WA Today

Senator Katy Gallagher’s 2015 citizenship declaration to face ACT Assembly inquiry

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An ACT Legislative Assembly committee will investigate Labor Senator Katy Gallagher’s 2015 declaration stating that she was not a foreign citizen.

The inquiry is expected to investigate the Assembly’s two past nominations for Senate casual vacancies, including Senator Gallagher’s nomination, as part of a territory response to the widening citizenship crisis engulfing the federal parliament.

It follows an Opposition push for twin inquiries – one into the administrative process and a second “privileges” probe into Senator Gallagher’s nomination.

Greens leader Shane Rattenbury, who holds the balance of power in the Assembly, would not back a specific probe into Senator Gallagher’s nomination.

But he is expected to table an amendment on Thursday, to be backed by the Labor government and Liberal opposition, for a wider inquiry into the nominations process, the scope of which would take in Senator Gallagher’s nomination.

The Assembly has only filled two such casual vacancies since self-government, Senator Gallagher’s nomination in 2015 and former Liberal Senator Gary Humphries’ in 2003.

A copy of the amendment shows the inquiry would be largely administrative in nature, focussing on the Assembly’s process for nominations, given the constitutional crisis facing the federal parliament.

It will also consider such processes in other jurisdictions, whether the two nominations may be considered “in hindsight to be unsound” and what improvements could be made to the Assembly’s process.

Senator Gallagher, a former ACT chief minister, renounced any entitlement to British citizenship just before the 2016 election, acting on advice from Labor officials as she nominated for re-election.

But it is unclear whether she was eligible to fill a casual vacancy from March 2015 until she was elected in her own right in 2016, as her father was a British citizen.

Earlier this month, former Home Office lawyer Phillip Gamble said she likely would have acquired British nationality by operation of law at her birth.

Senator Gallagher has refused to say when moves to renounce entitlement to UK dual citizenship were officially confirmed by British authorities.

But she has said she was advised that submitting a renunciation ahead of the 2016 election, on April 20 last year, meant she had taken “all reasonable steps to renounce any entitlement to British citizenship”.

The inquiry will report back to the Assembly in March next year.


Source  :  The Canberra Times

Brindabella Christian College board sacks principal, warns of devil’s actions

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The board of Brindabella Christian College has suddenly sacked the school’s principal and warned parents “the devil has his sights on Christian education” as the federal government prepares to legislate for same-sex marriage.

Ousted principal Bruce Handley has taken the school’s board to the Fair Work Commission after being booted early this month.

His firing came after a four-page statement was sent to Brindabella parents in September urging a “no” vote in the same-sex marriage survey.

Although Mr Handley’s name appeared at the end of the letter, his wife later distanced the family from the document, writing on social media it did not represent her or her husband’s views as “we believe Christians can vote ‘yes'”.

Many parents later contacted The Canberra Times to say they believed Mr Handley did not write the letter.

“The decision came without warning and while I was waiting for the Fair Work Commission to deal with an application for an order to stop bullying that I had filed,” Mr Handley said this week.

Board chairman Greg Zwajgenberg, who was in America when the letter was sent, said its contents were written by Christian Education Australia but endorsed and distributed by Mr Handley.

He would not be drawn on why Mr Handley had lost his job but said it was unrelated to same-sex marriage legislation.

Former Brindabella Christian College principal Bruce Handley.

Former Brindabella Christian College principal Bruce Handley. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

To parents, Mr Zwajgenberg wrote: ” … the board of the college has now terminated Mr Bruce Handley’s three-year contract one year early, as a component of Bruce’s second yearly review.

“Bruce will not be returning to the college in 2018.

“This week we will be advertising nationally for a new dynamic, solid Christian principal to lead the college for the foreseeable future and we will keep everyone informed of our progress.”

Mr Handley, an experienced teacher who has held leadership roles in schools throughout Australia and overseas, said it was “obviously a very upsetting time for me and my family”.

“There are new proceedings that have now been commenced against the college and that’s probably as much as I’d like to say at this time,” he said.

A number of parents have pulled their children from Brindabella Christian School since the “no” letter was sent. Two families Fairfax Media spoke with said their children had been subjected to lectures on the same-sex marriage survey and felt alienated after expressing dissenting views.

A letter sent by Mr Zwajgenberg this week confirmed one family’s decision to remove their children from the school. The memo asked the school community to keep Brindabella Christian College in its prayers as the devil circled on Christian schools.

“There is a perfect storm coming for Christian education in Australia by way of differing views on clarifications with respect to religious freedoms and the devil has his sights set on Christian education through changing legislation and secular attitudes,” Mr Zwajgenberg’s letter said.

One parent removing their children from the school said: “We had hoped that a Christian education would involve actively demonstrating love and support for all members of the community.

“The letter sent yesterday showed that the chairman of the board feels Christian education is more about alienating outsiders who are viewed as a threat.”

Speaking on Wednesday after the Senate passed a bill in favour of same-sex marriage, Mr Zwajgenberg said Brindabella’s position on religious freedoms and same-sex marriage was well-known.

“Our position has always been very clear on Christian teaching and freedoms of religion, so from our particular perspective there’s nothing more to add other than Merry Christmas.”


Source  :  The Canberra Times

94.4% Saudis satisfied with Crown Prince

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Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH — An overwhelming 94.4 percent of Saudis are satisfied with the performance of Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, according to a poll conducted by the SMT Studies Center, an independent center for the study of new developments and events in the Middle East region and Arab countries.

Some 92 percent of people surveyed approve the decision of his appointment as the Crown Prince, thinking it will further empower the youth.

Some 88 percent view him as someone with great leadership capabilities.

The poll was conducted through face-to-face interviews with participants, who included an equal number of men and women aged 18 years and above from various regions of the Kingdom.

The poll, which has an error margin of only 3 percent, was conducted between Nov. 18 and 22. Most of the participants — 91.75 percent —are supportive of the decisions taken to empower women and the rights given to them.

In September hundreds of women were allowed to enter a sports stadium in Riyadh in a one-off event to celebrate Saudi Arabia’s National Day.

The authorities also announced that it will allow women into sports stadiums from next year.

The announcement is in line with Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman’s social and economic reforms, including the historic decision to allow women to drive from next June.

Some 95.25 percent of the participants in the SMT Studies Center poll view the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 as very important and the best way for substantial economic reforms.

The Vision aims to make the Saudi economy one of the most powerful in the world.

Some 97.5 percent of the participants supported the recent anti-corruption decisions.

Earlier this month, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman issued a royal decree forming a supreme committee headed by the Crown Prince to tackle corruption in public finance.

The Committee identifies offenses, crimes, persons and entities involved in cases of public corruption.

An overwhelming 99 percent of the people surveyed by the SMT Studies Center agree that internal stability should take precedence over the education and health sectors.

Some 80.25 percent of the participants support the recent public sector changes, including the formation of the General Entertainment Authority.

A total of 98 percent of the participants support the Crown Prince’s decision to expose and fight potential threats such as Iran and terrorist organizations.


Source  :  Saudi Gazette

Saudi Arabia name Juan Antonio Pizzi as coach

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Riyadh: Former Chile boss Juan Antonio Pizzi was named as Saudi Arabia’s head coach on Tuesday, after Edgardo Bauza’s removal last week.

Pizzi will lead Saudi Arabia at the FIFA World Cup 2018, having resigned as Chile coach after failing to take the two-time defending Copa America champions to Russia.

Pizzi, an  Argentinian, takes over a Saudi team that Dutchman Bert van Marwijk led to  World Cup qualification before leaving in September. Bauza, another Argentinian, took over but his short stay was ended last week.

Former Barcelona striker Pizzi, 49, coached Chile to the 2016 Copa America title and also coached Valencia between 2013-14.

“We wanted Pizzi because of his achievements in the past and his ambitions for the future,” Saudi Arabian Football Federation President Abdel bin Mohammed Ezzat said in a statement.

“We will do all we can to support him during preparations for the World Cup.”

Pizzi will represent Saudi Arabia at the World Cup draw in Moscow on Friday, as the West Asian nation prepare for a first Finals appearance since 2006.

Saudi Arabia, whose best World Cup effort came with a run to the last 16 on their tournament debut in 1994, booked their ticket for Russia by finishing second to Japan in Group B of the Asian Qualifiers.

Source: AFP

Bauza removed as Saudi Arabia coach

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Riyadh: After just five matches in charge of the Saudi Arabia national team, the Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF) has announced that head coach Edgardo Bauza has been sacked.

The Argentinian replaced Bert van Marwijk just over two months ago, but the SAFF has decided to go in a different direction, having undergone a period of evaluation on Bauza’s time with the team.

Bauza’s short stint in charge of the Saudis included a 2-0 victory over Latvia and a 5-2 win over Jamaica, but also defeats to Ghana (3-0), Portugal (3-0) and Bulgaria (1-0); the last two during FIFA’s latest international fixtures window.

The decision comes a few days before the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Final Draw takes place in Moscow on December 1, where Saudi Arabia will be in Pot 4.

Van Marwijk helped the Green Falcons qualify for Russia 2018, which will be their fifth FIFA World Cup and first since Germany 2006.

Saudi Arabia will be attempting to surpass their greatest performance at the world finals, which came at USA 1994 when they reached the Round of 16, only to lose to Sweden 3-1.

The federation have not announced Bauza’s replacement.

Also seeking a replacement ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2018 for a head coach are Australia, after Ange Postecoglou announced his resignation on Wednesday.