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Taffy Hotene – Rape Accused Dies – Masterton Death – Middle East Peace – Lebanon Tensions – Floods – Milford Avalanche – Skiing Everest

TAFFY HOTENE: Murderer Taffy Hotene receives a minimum non-parole period of 18 years for the stabbing and rape of Auckland Journalist Kylie Jones. Hotene also received preventative detention on a rape charge which could mean he remains in prison for the rest of his life. Jones’ Father says the family can get on with life now. Jones’ partner was disappointed at the length of the sentence. The policeman in charge of the case says the case was the worst he has ever worked on. The sentence is the longest ever non-parole period handed down equaling that given to the killer of constable Murray Stretch.

RAPE ACCUSED DIES: A man arrested in connection with a Wellington taxi rape has been found dead by police. Police are not treating the death as suspicious.

MASTERTON DEATH: Police investigating the death of Masterton woman Maureen Hammond have not yet announced when the investigation will be finished. Mrs Hammond was found dead – drowned – in her own bath. Police have been examining the house for two weeks. The post-mortem found bruises on Mrs Hammond’s body. Police have also searched the Hammond family business. Police say they are keeping an open mind on the case.

MIDDLE EAST PEACE: Middle East peace efforts are intensifying as an Israeli deadline for the end of fighting ends. Sporadic gun battles continued last night. Tanks moved into position near Palestinian cities as the time to the deadline closed. In one Israeli city two mosques were destroyed by Israeli demonstrators. Israeli PM Ehud Barak says Israel knows what it will do when the deadline ends. Palestinians have responded saying that if the threats are carried out the situation will be very messy. With tanks parked on the edge of Jerusalem many are comparing this Yom Kippur with a Yom Kippur 27 years ago when a war broke out.

LEBANON: Guerillas from the Hezbollah are holding onto three captured Israeli soldiers who they want to exchange for Islamic Jihad prisoners in Israeli jails. Israel has been massing a large force on the Lebanon border. The kidnapping followed a demonstration on the border that ended with two Palestinians being shot. Demonstrations continued elsewhere in the Arab world today in support of the Palestinians, notably in Baghdad and Morocco.

FLOODS: River levels are being closely watched in the Wairarapa as rain brings rivers over their flood banks again.

MILFORD AVALANCHE: The road between Milford Sound and Te Anau is being cleared following a huge – Class Five – avalanche. Heavy rain triggered the latest avalanches. The big mess will be cleared up by Thursday.

SKING EVEREST: A 38-year-old ski instructor from Slovenia has become the first person to ski all the way down Mt Everest. It took five hours to ski down 4kmh.

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