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US drops charges against guards on duty when Epstein committed suicide

US prosecutors on Thursday dismissed charges against two New York prison guards who admitted to falsifying records on the night the US financier Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide in his cell in 2019.

The decision came a day after Epstein’s long-time associate British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty of recruiting young girls to be sexually abused by him.

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Federal prosecutors signed a “nolle prosequi” to drop charges against former guards Tova Noel and Michael Thomas after the two completed community service work as part of an earlier legal agreement.

The New York prison warders had been indicted in November 2019, three months after Epstein’s death by hanging in his cell in August as he was awaiting trial for sex crimes.

They were accused of not having made their rounds on the night of August 9 to 10, 2019, and of having remained in their office, surfing the Internet.

Noel and Thomas admitted to forging documents to make it appear that they had made their rounds that night.

Epstein, a multimillionaire financier and member of the US and international jet set, was found dead at dawn on August 10. The autopsy concluded suicide by hanging, although his sudden death in custody fueled widespread controversy and conspiracy theories.

Then-US attorney general William Barr denounced “serious” lapses in the allegedly secure prison where Epstein had been held since his arrest in July 2019 and prosecuted for sex crimes, in particular against young girls.

On Wednesday, Epstein’s companion and accomplice Maxwell was found guilty by a Manhattan federal court of a series of crimes including trafficking in young girls between 1994 and 2004 for the benefit of Epstein.

Maxwell, 60, faces decades in prison although a sentencing date has not yet been set.

Her brother Kevin Maxwell told ABC News Thursday that he was convinced of his sister’s innocence and that her appeal would prove successful, even though he believed Epstein was guilty of the crimes he was charged with.

“The reality is that there are myriad jury cases, miscarriages of justice involving juries, where the verdicts have been overturned on appeal. This will just be yet another one,” Maxwell said.

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Ghislaine Maxwell convicted in Epstein sex abuse case

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US: Bodies of two of three missing kids found in Minnesota lake

The bodies of two young children have been recovered from a Minnesota lake, and searchers are still looking for a third they fear may have been intentionally drowned.

Meanwhile, the father of the children died at a different location hours earlier, and their mother is missing. Names have not been released.

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The chain of events began Friday morning when the father was found dead at a mobile home park in the town of Maplewood, near Minneapolis. Police determined that the woman had left with the children, and a search began.

Maplewood Police Lt. Joe Steiner said the woman’s car was found near Vadnais Lake around 4 p.m. Friday. The shoes of the children were found on the shore.

A search of the lake found one child’s body Friday evening. A second body was found overnight. Searchers from several organizations were busy Saturday looking for the third, as well as the mother.

Authorities believe all three children were under the age of 5.

“There’s nothing more tragic than the loss of young children,” Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said at a news conference on Friday. He called the deaths a “likely triple homicide.”

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Foreign firefighters arrive in Greece for summer wildfire season

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Foreign firefighters arrive in Greece for summer wildfire season

Several dozen Romanian and Bulgarian firefighters took up their posts in Greece on Saturday, the first members of a European force being deployed to the country to provide backup in case of major wildfires during the summer.

More than 200 firefighters and equipment from Bulgaria, France, Germany, Romania, Norway and Finland will be on standby during the hottest months of July and August in Greece, where a spate of wildfires caused devastation last summer.

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A group of 28 Romanian firefighters with eight vehicles, and 16 firefighters from Bulgaria with four vehicles, were the first to arrive for the two-month mission, financed and coordinated under the European Union’s civil protection mechanism.

“We thank you very much for coming to help us during a difficult summer for our country, and for proving that European solidarity is not just theoretical, it’s real,” Greek Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides said on Saturday as he welcomed the members of the Romanian mission in Athens.

“When things get tough, you will be side by side with our Greek firefighters so we can save lives and property.”

The Bulgarian firefighters have been stationed in Larissa, in central Greece.

Last summer’s wildfires ravaged about 300,000 acres (121,000 hectares) of forest and bushland in different parts of Greece as the country experienced its worst heatwave in 30 years.

Following sharp criticism of its response to the fires, the Greek government set up a new civil protection ministry and promised to boost firefighting capacities.

In Greece’s worst wildfire disaster, 102 people were killed when a blaze tore through the seaside town of Mati and nearby areas close to Athens during the summer of 2018.

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One killed, six injured in shootout between migrant groups in Serbia

One migrant was killed and at least six others, including a teenage girl, were injured Saturday in a shootout between migrant groups in Serbia near the Hungarian border, the state-run RTS television reported.

The 16-year-old girl sustained life threatening injuries in the incident that occurred in a forest in the outskirts of Subotica, some 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Belgrade, where the injured were hospitalized, RTS reported.

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Police, who made no immediate comment, blocked access to the forest where the incident took place, only around a kilometer from the Hungarian border.

Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin rushed to the scene.

The injured, aged between 20 and 30, have no documents, Subotica mayor Stevan Bakic told local media.

It is not known what triggered the incident, he added.

Local media reported that the shootout occurred between Afghan and Pakistani migrants most likely over human trafficking from the area to European Union member Hungary.

Serbia lies on the so-called Balkans route used by migrants heading towards Western Europe as they flee war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Although the route is nowhere as busy as it was during Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, tens of thousands of illegal migrants still cross the region annually.

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