Tuesday, 31 May 2011



9 January 2000
The Mail on Sunday

Revealed: The photo which once could have hanged the former SS murderer who Jack Straw allowed to escape from Britain THIS damning photograph, uncovered by The Mail on Sunday this week, proves that Konrad Kalejs was a menacing member of Hilter's elite killing machine and that he is now a liar.

Taken in 1942, it shows a steely-eyed 29-year-old wearing the dreaded uniform of Hitler's SS, complete with distinctive collar flashes.

The photograph, discovered in a wartime Nazi propaganda sheet held in an archive in the Baltic state of Latvia, destroys Kalejs's claim that he was too sick to fight for Hitler in the Second World War. We also found firsthand testimonies

from Kalejs's comrades in the Latvian SS, which could have been used by Mr Straw to bring a war crimes prosecution in this country for Kalejs's alleged part in the murder of thousands of his Jewish countrymen on behalf of the Nazis.

In particular, there is evidence of his role as commander of guards at a Nazi slave labour camp where many Russian Jews and Soviet soldiers died. If he had gone on trial for these crimes soon after the War he could have been sent to the gallows. Despite this evidence, Kalejs, who slipped into Britain using an assumed name three months ago, was allowed to leave for Australia on Thursday a free man.

The photograph of the handsome young man with stern face and angular jaw was published in the Nazi newsletter Laikmets in June 1942 and is clearly identified as Virsleitnants (First Lieutenant) Konrad Kalejs of the SS.

It accompanied an article, in Kalejs's own words, entitled 'Latvian SS troops attack'. In it, Kalejs gives a firsthand account of a bloody raid on a Russian partisan village on the Eastern Front which he boasts was left with 'smoking ruins and many dead enemy soldiers'.

It proves Kalejs was lying last week when, in an exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday at a rest home for Latvian nationals in Leicestershire, he claimed that in 1942 he was farming or studying at Riga University.

Instead, he was bragging in the Nazi newsletter: 'SS troops attack this is the thought that Latvian troops always keep in our minds.

'Maybe that is the thought that helps us to victory in battle. Of course, we paid for that with our comrades' blood, but that is what war is like. But we have

paid that back 100 times over.' Kalejs has spent 50 years lying to the authorities about his Nazi past.

He was kicked out of the US, where he made a multimillion-dollar fortune as a property developer in the Chicago area, when his real past was revealed.

He was exposed as a fraud and a Nazi collaborator by Australian investigators, but was allowed to retain citizenship because his lies on immigration forms were perpetrated too long ago.

He was investigated by Canadian officials when he arrived to meet his common-law wife, Austra Kalnins, the widow of another Latvian SS officer and alleged war criminal, Albert Kalnins.

The Mail on Sunday went to the Latvian capital, Riga, to do what Jack Straw decided it was not worth doing search for Kalejs's war record and to try to uncover evidence that he is a murderer and war criminal.

Deep in the Riga archives, now being re-examined by Latvian prosecutors, are the testimonies of Latvian soldiers who served alongside Kalejs in the infamous Arajs Kommandos, volunteer members of the Latvian Auxiliary Security Force the Latvian SS.

The unit was responsible for the rounding up of thousands of Latvian Jews who were systematically tortured and murdered by men who had once been their neighbours.

At the beginning of the war, there were about 43,000 Jews in Riga. In October 1941, shortly after the Germans drove the Russians out of Latvia, they were forced from their homes to live in the Riga ghetto. A year later, that after firing on the village from an armoured train, Kalejs's unit went into the village. Soms said: 'The inhabitants of the village were exterminated and the village burned.' In another battle at a village called Sanniki, Kalejs's commander was mortally wounded. In revenge, said Soms, 'Kalejs's company broke into the village, burned it down and annihilated the inhabitants'.

Another witness, Karlis Rozkalns, who gave a statement in 1987 and died in 1995, said Kalejs used the armoured train he commanded to fire on a church.

He said 'all the inhabitants [of Sanniki] had been driven into one building and the building had been burned down'.

But perhaps the most damning testimony concerns Kalejs's role as commander of the guards at the Nazi slave-labour camp at Salaspils, south-east of Riga.

Russian Jews and Soviet soldiers held there were starved and beaten, and died of disease due to the terrible conditions.

Today, all trace of the camp has gone. In its place is a bleak memorial whose 'eternal' flame has gone out.

Kalejs says he was never at Salaspils after it became a concentration camp. But The Mail on Sunday has found the testimonies of at least three former comrades who claim he had a key role there.

In 1987, Karlis Strazds, who died in 1998, said he was a guard at Salaspils from 1942 to 1943, 'with the guard company commanded by Senior Lieutenant Kalejs'. Later, he

said, he served under Kalejs in the Latvia Legion also the Latvian SS on the Eastern Front.

A second guard, Viktors Ennitis, who has since died, also said Kalejs was commander of the Salaspils guard company.

Another Latvian SS man, Georgijs Pimanis, testified three times that Kalejs was at Salaspils in 1942. He also knew him as a commander of a combat company.

But at his Riga apartment last week, Pimanis, 83, told a different story.

He said he never met Kalejs.

Reminded of his three statements, he agreed he had made them and had been at Salaspils for two weeks.

But he added: 'The statements are lies. They made them up or mistranslated.

. . I never, never met Kalejs.' However, Pimanis recalled every other detail of his testimonies and as I left, he said: 'Kalejs is a good man.' It was a strange thing to say about someone he never met.

The only other man alive in Riga who has testified that Kalejs was at Salaspils is his former brother-in-law, Alfreds Putnins. He said his wife told him her brother worked there. Yesterday, at his flat in Riga, he said: 'I will not talk about Kalejs. . . He was always good to me.

What I have said in the past, it is all there and I will say no more.' In a summary of the case two years ago when Kalejs was deported from Canada, the immigration department adjudicator wrote: 'Kalejs. . . was assisting in the operation of a slave labour camp, where brutality was intrinsic to its purpose.

Konrad Kalejs is accountable for what happened at Salaspils.' But by letting Kalejs slip out of Britain without any real investigation, perhaps this weekend Home Secretary Jack Straw will reflect that this country has ensured that Kalejs is unlikely ever be held to account for his crimes.

Machine guns roar and our comrades die in the snow ...

EVEN the Nazi propaganda machine offers evidence to counter Kalejs's claim that he never fought for Hitler.

In June 1942, a Latvian Nazi newsletter, Laikmets, ran an article, entitled 'Latvian SS troops attack', based on an interview with 'Virsleitnants Konrad Kalejs' about a battle behind Soviet lines. These are some of Kalejs's comments used in the article: 'SS troops attack this is the thought Latvian troops always keep in mind. Maybe it is that thought that helped us to victory.

Of course, we paid for that with our comrades' blood. . . But we have paid that back 100 times over. It was a cold, cruel, late evening. But we were not afraid.

It is warm sitting in a hut, but the troops know that tonight they will not be there. It is written on their faces as they prepare their equipment, arms and skis.

'Soon it will be midnight. On the road there is a long queue of sledges and troops. The General ['SS Brigadefuhrer Dr Stahlecker'] arrives. He gives the order to move out. It is a long way, and all the time it snows. We have to move with care. . . we are far behind Communist lines. We move to the edge of the forest. In a glade is our objective a group of Russian villages.

'As the sun rises...we can see three villages. Yes, the battle will be difficult. But "Go ahead" orders the General, and we all follow him gladly, happy to fight.

'From three sides, skiers attack with only one thought: the Communist positions.

Machineguns spit fire and grenades roar. Men dive for cover. But our General stands tall, he continues to shout orders. Suddenly, he collapses...

he has been hit. For a moment, we are confused as more of our men are cut down. Should we retreat? No, not that. We must force the Communists out...

'The troops take the nearest enemy positions and keep advancing. The fastest skiers are already close to the huts. We can see people with their hands up.

Grenades fly into the huts on the left and the right. We advance because we know what we have to do. We are the first to get through the village and we can see the Communists running, crawling through the snow, and now our job is very easy. In the next village the story is the same.

'Slowly, the shooting dies away.

Some huts where ammunition was hidden explode and burst into flames.

'We can't stay too long . . . it will not be long before Communist reinforcements arrive. We head back to the forest. Behind us lie smoking ruins and many dead enemy soldiers.' Lt Kalejs, June 5, 1942 END

How the BBC spends Britain's international aid

A little-known charity run by the BBC is spending more than £15 million from the UK taxpayer on “international aid” projects including “educating” Africa on climate change and a “romantic” soap opera for Indian radio. 


The charity, the BBC World Service Trust, employs nearly 600 staff based in London and around the world. It gets a further £800,000 a year in financial backing from the BBC, as well as funding from other sources.
Last year it spent more than £28 million on “changing lives through media and communication”. It also produces foreign sex education films, including one staring an Asian beauty queen emerging from a bath and seductively encouraging men to use a condom.
The revelation comes in the wake of the row over the Government’s decision to protect Britain’s overseas aid budget while imposing huge cuts on defence and other public spending.
On Saturday the disclosure was condemned by MPs who questioned why taxpayers’ money was being spent in this way and whether the Trust’s relationship with Whitehall departments, business donors and foreign governments damaged the BBC’s independence.
“You imagine that our foreign aid budget is being spent to save lives by pumping fresh water to a drought-ridden village, not to make soap operas,” said Philip Davies, a Tory member of the Commons culture committee.
In recent years the Trust has spent millions of pounds from the taxpayer including:
  • £2.6 million on “Sanglap” a satellite television and radio programme in Bangladesh which is described as “Question Time-style ... enabling audiences to hold politicians to account”.
  • £2 million on a radio soap opera, “Mandalay Road”, about health care and Aids in Burma
  • Daily reports from the war crimes trial of Charles Taylor, the former Liberian leader, with the BBC sending experienced correspondents to mentor African reporters covering the case
  • £2.5 million on a project highlighting “the importance of Information and Communications for Development”.
The BBC Trust gets additional public money from the Foreign Office-funded British Council, the European Union and the United Nations, as well as cash from Microsoft founder Bill Gates’s charitable foundation.
The charity is separate from the Foreign Office-funded BBC World Service, which runs the Corporation’s long-established foreign language stations around the world, and which broadcasts some of the Trust’s programmes.
Whilst the World Service is facing massive budget cuts, the Trust appears to have been unaffected so far by the economy drive. It has seen its budget grow tenfold since it was set up in 1999, including spending more than £5 million a year on salaries.
Caroline Nursey, its executive director and a former senior official at Oxfam, earns between £90,000 and £99,000 a year. At least three other executives are paid more than £80,000.
Its board of trustees is headed by Peter Horrocks, the director of the BBC World Service, and includes George Alagiah, the presenter of the Six O’clock News on BBC One.
Despite its rapid growth, the Trust is currently carrying out a “rebranding” exercise to raise awareness of its work within the BBC. Last year the charity sent a “sensory tent” with “a soundscape featuring ... voices by Sir David Attenbourgh (sic)” on a tour of the Corporation’s regional offices.
Formerly known as the BBC World Service Training Trust, the charity started out funding journalist training in the Third World. It has now grown to be one of Britain’s largest international aid charities, although it is still dwarfed by more established organisations like Oxfam which spends ten times the Trust’s budget.
The revelations about the BBC Trust come after Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary, challenged David Cameron’s plan to enshrine the government’s overseas aid spending targets in law.
In a leaked letter last week he said: “I cannot support the proposal in its current form.”
He said putting the commitment on the statute books “could limit HM government’s ability to change its mind about the pace at which it reaches the target in order to direct more resources toward other activities or programmes rather than aid”.
Last night critics of the Government’s aid spending policy said the new disclosures added weight to the Defence Secretary’s warning. Mr Davies said: “I’m genuinely concerned that lots of the overseas aid budget is wasted and before the Government starts spraying even more money around you would think they would check that the money already allocated was being wisely spent – this would indicate that it probably isn’t.”
In a letter to the all-party international development committee, Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, indicated that his department would be keeping a closer watch on the Trust’s work.
The letter, released last week, said he intended to place DfID’s relationship with the Trust “on a longer term and more strategic basis” and would be prepared to offer it “an accountable grant”.
He added: “All initiatives funded under such a strategic relationship would be focused on the international development priorities the Coalition Government has set out, and be subject to the same value for money, impact and results tests that apply across the whole of the DfID programme.”
On Saturday Mr Mitchell told The Sunday Telegraph: “The BBC World Service Trust uses media to help people in poor countries, hold their leaders to account and live safer, healthier lives.
“Media is a powerful and cost effective way of reaching large numbers of people. From using radio soaps to combat HIV to hosting TV and radio debates promoting democracy – the BBC World Service Trust helps some of the very poorest people in the world.”
Peter Horrocks, the Trust’s chairman and the director of BBC Global News, said: “The BBC is proud of the work of the Trust that reached 250 million people last year around the world. Funded mainly by grants and donations from a range of donors including Gates Foundation and DfID, the Trust ascribes to the BBC’s editorial values and works to inform and educate people in the developing world.”
Caroline Nursey, the Trust’s director, added that, as a charity, “the Trust is able to go one step further than the journalists of the BBC and provide people in developing and transitional countries with timely, useful information and opportunities for discussion”.
She said that how and where it got its funding had “no bearing on the news output on the BBC whatsoever”.
Some of the Trust’s high-profile projects like Hindi soap Life Gulmohar Style and the Condom Condom project were not funded by the BBC or the UK taxpayer but from other sources, she said. She added that the sex education films had been funded by the Gates Foundation, Bill Gates’s charity, as part of its remit to combat Aids, while Bollywood stars, including Ekta Choudhry, gave their time for free.
Explaining the BBC’s funding of the charity, she added: “The Trust shares accommodation with the World Service in its historic home, Bush House, to facilitate partnership between the two organisations. This accommodation is a gift in kind valued at £594,000. While this is valued for accounting purposes, this has no real cost to the BBC because it is unlikely that the space could be used for any other purpose.
“In addition, the World Service makes a financial contribution of £150,000 per year and benefits from programming made by Trust which it broadcasts. The World Service is not licence fee-funded.”
Asked about the Trust’s staff costs and her own salary, she added: “The emoluments of nine members of staff are greater than £60,000. These costs are in line with those of other similar charities.”
The Trust’s annual report features a list of its “achievements” during the last financial year and highlights some of the projects it funded with the help of the British taxpayer. These include:
Safe Sex in India
In India it is running the “Condom Condom” safe sex campaign, including setting up a website and making a series of advertisements encouraging men to wear a condom.
Hindi Soap Opera
Also in India, where DFID’s role has been questioned because the nation is now the world’s tenth-largest economy, the BBC Trust has funded a 156-part Hindi-language radio drama called Life Gulmohar Style.
Broadcast on Indian FM Rainbow stations, owned by the Indian government, it features five young people “in search of their destiny”.
Described as “funny, romantic, and serious” its characters include: Revant Capoor (“a handsome and attractive DJ”) and Chanchal (“one naughty parrot who’s never short of wit and quotes … maybe this is due to her degree in English literature”).
The plot for one recent episode was described by the BBC blurb as: “Revant is in a romantic mood but Chanchal is quite clear ... nothing doing without protection. After the pregnancy scare, she doesn’t want to take any chances and isn’t protection the responsibility of both the partners?”
Climate Change In Africa
It runs an educational programme on climate change across Africa, including “Africa Talks Climate Change”. It says: “Climate change is one of the most important issues on the global political and economic agenda ... African citizens’ response to climate change is hampered by a fundamental shortage of relevant useful information ...”
A document prepared by the BBC Trust and the British Council adds: “African citizens are the least responsible for generating the greenhouse gases that are contributing to global climate change ... For many, understanding of human-induced global climate change is limited.”
It spent more than £500,000 on the climate change project last year.
Iraq and Afghanistan
The Trust has spent millions of pound on starting up the “Al Mirbad” radio station in Iraq. The station has, according to the Trust, “become one of the most recognised and listened-to radio stations across the south of the country”. The station is now being handed over to Iraqi control.
In Afghanistan it makes a radio soap opera, “New Home, New Life”, which, it says, has 14 million listeners. Characters address problems on the ground in the war-torn country. For example, one leading figure, Jandad, loses a leg in a landmine explosion and his family are forced to work together to buy him an artificial limb.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Playboy Saif Gaddafi, the Tory donor and girls in bikinis – how the Libyan dictator's son does business

Playboy Saif Gaddafi, the Tory donor and girls in bikinis – how the Libyan dictator's son does business

Saif Gaddafi lounges on a yacht off the Brazilian coast enjoying the hospitality of a controversial Tory Party donor.

Saif Gadaffi relaxes with his minders and a key business associate. 
7:45AM BST 15 May 2011
Smiling, in his swimming trunks, the sea calm and sparkling, the heir-apparent to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi relaxes with his minders and a key business associate whose firm gave more than £125,000 to the Conservatives in the last 18 months.
These extraordinary pictures, some taken by an unknown bikini-clad young woman – one of several scantily-dressed girls who joined the party – are a unique glimpse of the playboy lifestyle of the Western-educated son of the Libyan dictator.

In the eyes of the beholder. The girls on the yacht.

Bikini clad girls joined Gaddafi and his friends.

Now, 12 months on, Saif and his father are in hiding, targeted by allied air strikes backing the popular uprising against their regime.
Befriended by the Duke of York and once a guest at Buckingham Palace, Saif shocked those who feted him in the West by claiming the civil war now raging across Libya was caused by Islamists and the "drunken and drugged" and echoing his father in promising tens of thousands dead and "a river of blood".
The London School of Economics graduate was in South America in March 2010 for a guided tour around the Brazilian aircraft manufacture Embraer's factory and then enjoyed several days' holiday with his close friend and business associate Marwan Salloum.
Mr Salloum is a London-based lawyer and vice president of Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC), a multinational which, before the recent uprising, was part of a major consortium revamping Tripoli airport and upgrading the terminal at Misurata, scene of some of the most intense fighting in recent days.
The international construction company, which also runs property and travel firms in Britain, was labelled a "complete disgrace" by a High Court judge for failing to comply with court orders freezing its assets.
Earlier this month it was found guilty of contempt of court and is facing massive fines unless it pays around £30 million owed to former business partners and in legal costs.
Since October 2009 CCC has been making substantial donations to the Tory Party, with £123,000 paid to Conservative Central Office and another £2,535 to Andrew Rosindell, a former vice chairman of the Party and a member of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee.
The firm, owned by two Palestinian businessmen, also paid Stephen Byers, the disgraced former Cabinet Minister, as a consultant. Mr Byers, a close friend of Tony Blair, was secretly filmed admitting he was "a cab for hire" for lobbyists, offering to use his contacts to help their businesses in return for large fees.
The pictures of the Brazil trip show the Gaddafis' private jet, the same Airbus A340 used by the dictator to fly the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi home to Libya after he was released from prison in Scotland in 2009.
The aircraft arrived in London, waiting to pick up Mr Gaddafi and his entourage, on Mar 6 last year. He was whisked through security by Harrods Aviation, which runs the VIP ground services at Luton and Stansted airports.
Mr Gadaffi's "holiday snaps" begin by showing him and half-a-dozen overweight minders smiling for the camera, sipping from coconut shells, and then being taken around an aircraft factory in São José dos Campos, where he apparently finalised several deals with the firm.
Carlos Camargo, a spokesman for Embraer, said: "I remember that visit very well because I received them together with Embraer's commercial team. Today we have three aircraft from the E-Jet family flying in Libya, and at the time of the visit the company (also) had other business interests in the country."
After the tour Mr Gaddafi and his minders clambered into a helicopter taxi and were flown to the coast where they were met by Mr Salloum and several unidentified young women aboard a luxury yacht.
The pictures portray a smiling Mr Salloum in black T-shirt and floppy hat as the motor yacht sails off. His mirrored sunglasses show the reflection of the photographer, apparently Mr Gaddafi himself, and a young woman in a revealing bikini and sun hat perched on the vessel's hand rail.
Another image shows a bare-chested Mr Gaddafi lounging on a white cushioned seat in the wheel house of the vessel. He is wearing tight-fitting brown and blue swimming shorts and designer sunglasses, while he gives a thumbs-up sign to the photographer.
Next to him sits an unknown, overweight man, wearing a T-shirt and Ferrari baseball cap. His sunglasses again reflect the photographer and at least two, possibly three, more young women. One of the women, apparently naked, lies on her front on the deck, propping herself up on one elbow, her long, dark hair spilling down her back.
Others pictures show Mr Gaddafi standing on the bow of the ship as it approaches a deserted coastline of golden sands, palm trees and jungle, before the party disembarks from the yacht to watch torchlit samba dancers in the grounds of a colonial villa.
Later in the trip Mr Gaddafi and his minders, together with Mr Salloum, also visited an isolated, luxury retreat in the north of the country where guests are offered the chance to explore the surrounding wilderness and go diving through a huge underwater cave system.
The pictures show Mr Gaddafi and his friends traversing a river swinging from a "zip line" rope slide and then clambering down to look at the entrance to the underwater cave system, the dictator's son wearing an LSE-branded baseball cap.
Last week Mr Salloum and other senior figures in CCC, including Said Khoury, the firm's president, failed to answer questions about the trip or CCC and Mr Salloum's relationship with Mr Gaddafi.
CCC is one of the world's biggest contractors. It helped to build the Abu Ghraib prison and is the largest engineering firm in the Middle East. Last year its revenues reached $4.2 billion (£2.6 billion). In partnership with British Gas, CCC has negotiated a 20-year deal to exploit the natural gas fields off the coast of Gaza.
Last week it also failed to respond to questions about the High Court's contempt of court ruling against the firm and inquiries about why it had decided to fund the Conservative Party and if that relationship would continue.
 Marwan Salloum whose firm CCC donated £125,000 to the Tories.
 Marwan Salloum whose firm CCC donated £125,000 to the Tories.

The High Court found the firm guilty of nine counts of contempt of court and a further count was also partially proven. In a 113-page judgement Mr Justice Christopher Clarke said: "They have deliberately refused to honour judgments of this court ..."
Mr Salloum, one of the firm's UK directors and a close relative of the owners, was named in the judgement as having signed a set of accounts whose validity was questioned by the court.
At a previous hearing earlier this year Mrs Justice Gloster said: "I think that it is a complete disgrace that a large and solvent operation, such as the defendants and their holding company involved in this case, should flout in this way the orders of this court.
"I think it is a complete disgrace and it is very, very rarely found in this court."
The Conservative party has defended its decision to accept money from the company, saying: “We are satisfied that all donations to the Conservative Party from CC Property Company are permissible.”