TIME Yemen

Yemen Rebels Capture City, Iran Condemns Saudi Air Campaign

Smoke billows from a Saudi-led airstrike on Sanaa, Yemen, April 8, 2015
Hani Mohammed—AP Smoke billows from a Saudi-led air strike on Sanaa, Yemen, on April 8, 2015

Shi‘ite rebels made significant territorial gains by capturing a city despite a third week of Saudi-led air strikes

(SANAA, Yemen) — Shiite rebels and allied troops overran the capital of an oil-rich Yemeni province in a heavily Sunni area on Thursday, making significant territorial gains despite Saudi-led airstrikes, now entering their third week.

Iran, which is trying to garner international support to stop the bombing, stepped up its condemnation, with the supreme leader calling the air campaign “genocide.”

The rebel fighters, known as Houthis, along with military units loyal to former autocrat Ali Abdullah Saleh, overran Ataq, the capital of oil-rich Shabwa province, after days of airstrikes and clashes with local Sunni tribes.

The Saudi-led coalition has imposed an air and sea blockade on Yemen and targeted the rebels and their allies to try to create a safe corridor that would allow the return of Yemen’s internationally recognized president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who fled the country last month.

The conflict pits the Saudi-led Sunni Gulf Arab coalition against Shiite rival Iran, which supports the Houthis and has provided humanitarian aid, though both Iran and the rebels deny it has armed them.

The growing regional involvement risks transforming what until now has been a complex power struggle into a full-blown sectarian conflict like those raging in Syria and Iraq.

On Thursday, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, compared the Saudi-led strikes to Israel’s bombing in the Gaza Strip. “This is a crime, genocide and legally pursuable,” he said, according to his website. “It is necessary for the Saudis to withdraw from disastrous crimes. … Yemenis will resist and will win.”

He also lashed out at what he called “a few inexperienced young men” controlling affairs in Saudi Arabia — a veiled reference to the Saudi king’s son, Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman, who is leading the air campaign. “They prefer barbaric behavior over dignity,” Khamenei said.

In a speech in Tehran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urged a cease-fire in Yemen to allow for broad-based talks on resolving the crisis.

“To the countries in the region, I say, let’s adopt the spirit of brotherhood. Let’s respect each other and other nations,” Rouhani said. “Do not kill innocent children. Let’s think about an end to the war, about cease-fire and humanitarian assistance to the suffering people of Yemen.”

Comparing the Saudi-led campaign to Syria and Iraq, where a U.S.-led coalition is targeting Islamic State militants, he added: “You will learn … that you are making a mistake in Yemen, too.”

Saudi Arabia and its allies maintain their involvement is not sectarian but rather an attempt to curtail an increasingly expansionist Iran they accuse of exerting influence in a growing number of Arab countries, including Yemen. Iran denies it is meddling, and accuses the Sunni Gulf countries of inciting sectarianism in the region.

Speaking on PBS News Hour late Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington has information that Iran is providing military assistance to the rebels.

“There are a number of flights every single week that have been flying in. We trace those flights and we know this. We are well aware of the support Iran has been giving Yemen,” Kerry said. “Iran needs to recognize that the U.S. is not going to stand by while the region is destabilized or while people engage in overt warfare across lines — international boundaries — in other countries.”

Meanwhile, there was little sign the airstrikes have curtailed the rebels’ advance.

The capture of Ataq came after days of clashes as well as negotiations with local tribes. When the Houthis and Saleh loyalists entered the city they encountered little resistance, raising questions about whether Yemen’s fractured tribes — even in Sunni areas — can serve as reliable allies.

Military and tribal officials said leading tribe members facilitated the rebels’ entry after days of fighting, with one official saying the Sunni tribesmen didn’t want to keep on fighting, even though they were assisted by coalition airstrikes. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

Ataq residents said the rebels and allied soldiers installed checkpoints all around the city. “Ataq is like a military barracks. A tank here, an armored vehicle there and non-stop patrols,” said resident Saleh al-Awlaki. “I consider this an occupation by all means. And all occupation must be removed, also by all means.”

Mohamed Abkar, another resident, said residents looted unguarded weapons warehouses in the city on Wednesday, but not a shot was fired as the rebels entered the city.

Letting the rebels and Saleh forces in the city was “treason,” resident Khaled al-Wahabi said, blaming local tribes for facilitating their entry. “Shabwa tribes should bear the blame,” he said.

Soon after the city’s capture, residents reported that coalition jets bombed military camps in the area.

The spokesman for the coalition forces, Ahmed Assiri, confirmed the airstrikes and said the aim at this phase of the campaign was to cut off rebel supply lines and communications between the capital Sanaa, and rebel strongholds in the north.

The Houthis and their allies have seized 10 of Yemen’s 21 provinces but could encounter resistance in Shabwa from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. The Saudi-led bombing — backed by U.S. arms shipments and intelligence sharing — threatens to weaken the rebels and Saleh’s loyalists, who are al-Qaida’s most powerful opponents on the ground.

Karimi reported from Tehran, Iran. Associated Press writers Sarah El Deeb in Cairo and Munir Ahmed in Islamabad, Pakistan, contributed to this report.


How Obama Is Readying the Way to Meet Castro

The U.S. prepares to remove Cuba from the terror list, paving the way for normalized relations

The United States is not hosting the Summit of the Americas; the meeting of Organization of American States members convenes on Friday in Panama City. But the Obama administration has spent the days leading up to it in a flurry of straightening, smoothing and generally endeavoring to assure that things go smoothly—especially for the newest guest: Cuba.

On Wednesday, Obama received a long-awaited report from the State Department on whether Cuba should be removed from the list of states supporting terrorism. Speaking in Jamaica, where he stopped on Thursday en route to Panama, Obama said he cannot act on the report until other executive agencies review it, but he has repeatedly made it clear that he believes Cuba no longer belongs on the terror list with Iran, Sudan and Syria. That in turn should clear the way for Havana and Washington to re-open embassies. A Cuban official last month told TIME the negotiations over exchanging ambassadors and more fully normalizing relations had stalled over Havana’s inclusion on the terror list.

Meanwhile, a senior State Department official made a surprise visit to Venezuela, which has been Cuba’s strongest supporter, and a target of sharp criticism from the U.S., which recently slapped sanctions on seven senior officials for abusing protestors and opposition leaders. And while no explanation was offered for the discreet visit on Tuesday by Thomas A. Shannon Jr., a veteran diplomat who holds the title of State Department counselor, the White House has been making it clear that it is not looking to escalate tensions with Caracas, where President Nicolas Maduro has capitalized on the language contained in the executive order announcing the sanctions (and on Tuesday promoted two of the sanctioned officials).

“The United States does not believe that Venezuela poses some threat to our national security,” Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told reporters in a conference call on Tuesday. The language in the order declaring Venezuela to be even worse—”an unusual and extraordinary threat”—was, Rhodes said, boilerplate legalese not intended to make an enemy state of the fourth-largest foreign supplier of oil to the United States. “Completely pro forma,” Rhodes said.

And so the way is smoothed and the air freshened for the kind of meeting both Washington and Havana had in mind on Dec. 17, when Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro jointly announced they would renew relations after half a century of estrangement. The men shook hands at the December 2013 funeral of Nelson Mandela, and spoke by phone to cement the December announcement. But the Summit in Panama has been held out as the venue that would showcase the countries’ long-awaited rapprochement.

“In general, but particularly at this summit, symbolism matters,” says Shannon O’Neil, senior fellow for Latin American studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. Castro’s presence is news in itself—this is the first time Cuba has attended an OAS summit since it was suspended in 1962, following its embrace of the Soviet Union. Castro stayed away even after the suspension was lifted in 2009, as Latin American countries rallied around the country the United States had tried to isolate for so long, and with steadily diminishing results. By the time of December’s announcement, Rhodes noted, U.S. policy on Cuba was having the perverse effect of isolating Washington, not the other way around.

So removing Cuba as a polarizing issue should help relations across Latin America, O’Neil says. “For so many years, this U.S.-Cuba standoff has been an overriding difficulty with all sorts of countries, not just the ones we have chronic difficulties with like Venezuela,” says O’Neil. And if Venezuela appears poised to replace Cuba as an polarizing topic, the State Department outreach may serve to temper that, taking Maduro almost instantly up on his reported willingness to smooth out relations with Washington rather than escalate. “The worry here is that all the other good change with Cuba might be overshadowed by Venezuela,” says O’Neil.

Not all see the change with Cuba as good, of course. Polls show a majority of Americans and almost every Cuban favors the opening, but much of the Cuban exile community based in south Florida oppose the reconciliation, and the anti-Castro titans of Congress warn that they will try to block any effort to remove it from the terror list. Passions run high—and in Panama City exploded into fisticuffs when pro-Castro and anti-Castro protestors encountered one another Wednesday in front of the Cuban embassy. A video of the brawl, with grown men struggling to both land blows and hold their sports coats, might be the cartoon version Clauswitz’s observation that war is a continuation of politics by other means.

— With reporting from Dolly Mascarenas in Panama City

TIME On Our Radar

Photojournalist Moises Saman Receives Guggenheim Fellowship

Photojournalist wins prestigious fellowship

Magnum photojournalist Moises Saman was about to step out to dinner in Barcelona last night when he heard some very pleasant news: he had just been awarded the prestigious 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship.

Awarded annually since 1925 “to further the development of scholars and artists by assisting them to engage in research in any field of knowledge and creation in any of the arts, under the freest possible conditions” the Guggenheim is one of the most prestigious awards of its kind.

Saman says he had long known of the Fellowship, but assumed it was geared towards topics such as “poetry and science,” he tells TIME. “I knew there’s a photography element but it tends to be fine art.”

Nevertheless, Moises submitted a photojournalism project on the Arab Spring—part of which is shown in this gallery. Shot from 2011 to the present day across Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Kurdistan, Saman says he “felt really strongly about this body of work and felt it was very relevant to the times.”

Saman plans to use the funds to continue the Arab Spring project. Next step? He’s going to Kurdistan in May.

Moises Saman is a Spanish-American member of Magnum Photos and winner of awards from World Press Photo, Pictures of the Year and the Overseas Press Club.

Myles Little is an associate photo editor at TIME.

TIME Ecuador

Ecuador’s President Stood Next to an ‘I’m With Stupid’ Shirt

A classic gag claims another victim

The “I’m With Stupid” shirt is a classic gag. But apparently it can still fool some people, even presidents.

That’s what happened to Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa when he posed for a picture recently with a young boy wearing the shirt—with the arrow pointing directly at Correa.

The hashtag #IAmWithStupidMashi sprang up in the aftermath (Mashi is Correa’s nickname). And yes, Correa speaks fluent English. He has a doctorate in economics from the University of Illinois, NPR reports.


TIME China

China Considers Building Rail Line Underneath Mount Everest, Report Says

Whitworth Images—Getty Images/Moment RF Last light on Mt Everest and Nuptse, Nepal

A Chinese railroad expert said a planned line linking China and Tibet may have to pass through Mount Everest

China is considering a plan to extend a railway line to Nepal that may run through Mount Everest, state media reported on Thursday.

China has begun preparatory work for the project “at Nepal’s request,” China Daily reported. But the plan, which officials say could be finished by 2020, may have to run through Mount Everest along the border between the two countries, according to Wang Mengshu, a rail expert at the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

“The line will probably have to go through Qomolangma so that workers may have to dig some very long tunnels,” Wang said, using the Tibetan name for Mount Everest.


In the Heart Of the Mountain

Matthieu Gafsou for TIME At 57 km, the Gotthard Base Tunnel will be the longest rail tunnel in the world once it opens for use in mid-2016.

A record-breaking train tunnel could provide a badly needed shortcut through the Swiss Alps

The sky is still black over the Swiss Alps as we climb aboard a train one morning in late March and head inside the mountains. In an instant, the sharp alpine air thickens to a torpid heat reaching nearly 40°C. The temperature rise is a function of geology, not meteorology­—we are deep inside solid rock, in the 57-km-long Gotthard Base Tunnel. More than 1,800 m of mountain is piled above our heads. “This is extremely high-­pressure rock and the water pressure is also very high,” says Renzo Simoni, a Swiss civil engineer and CEO of AlpTransit Gotthard AG, the company that is overseeing one of the world’s most ambitious engineering projects, as he guides us along a dark tunnel track. “Working in these conditions is very, very hard.”

Indeed—building the Gotthard Base Tunnel has taken decades of backbreaking toil by more than 2,600 people, at a cost of more than $10 billion. But after 23 years of work, the result is spectacular. When it finally opens in June next year, the tunnel­ will be the longest in the world, longer than the Seikan Tunnel in northern Japan and the Channel Tunnel connecting England and France.

But it’s not just length that sets Gotthard apart. Unlike those two, which partly travel under water, the Swiss tunnel required drilling through exceedingly hard granite and quartz, under the Gotthard massif in the Alps. Thanks to the 800-m-deep shafts needed to pump in air and drop millions of tons of cement for the tunnel walls and floors, the Gotthard Base Tunnel will not only be the world’s longest but will also have what Simoni believes is the world’s most powerful ventilation system. In order to bore a total of 152 km of tunnels, shafts and passages (there are twin, parallel rail tunnels, one for each direction), the workers cut through 13 million cu m of rock, the volume of nearly nine Empire State Buildings.

An Engineering Dream

All this would have been essentially impossible until the recent development of high-precision boring machines capable of digging a tunnel this long. With shafts nearly a kilometer long, engineers needed satellites to map out the entire route; an error of even a few millimeters would mean redoing entire parts of the tunnel. For environmental reasons, the concrete for the tunnel walls came from the rock the workers excavated, rather than from riverbeds, as is often the case with tunnel building. That meant developing entirely new plastic compounds to seal the walls against possible leaks. “This is completely different,” Simoni said. “This had never been done before.”

But while the technology to build an epic Alps tunnel is new, the dream isn’t. In 1947 the Swiss engineer Carl Eduard Gruner fancifully suggested tunneling through the Alps between the northern city of Basel to Chiasso on Switzerland’s southern border with Italy—a distance of some 285 km—because the cars snaking bumper to bumper over the twisting mountain passes were threatening to turn the bucolic slopes into an endless traffic jam.

Nearly seven decades after Gruner first floated his idea, the traffic in the Swiss Alps is as much a problem as ever. The original Gotthard rail tunnel, about an hour’s drive south of Zurich, is still used, but it was built in the horse-and-buggy era in 1882, is only 15 km long and is too steep and twisting for long modern freight trains to use.

As the container ships that carry international cargo have grown bigger, the container-truck traffic that bears that freight from port to final destination has become heavier. About 1.2 million container trucks barrel through the Swiss Alps every year, leaving politicians and regular citizens wondering whether clouds of diesel fumes might one day choke their country’s iconic landscape. “The Alps are extremely important to the image of Switzerland,” says Manuel Herr­mann, head of transport policy at Alpine Initiatives, an organization set up in 1989 to push the government to restrict truck traffic across the mountains. Herrmann claims the air pollution and noise in the Swiss Alps’ five valleys is now comparable to cities like Paris. That’s more than an environmental danger—it’s a cultural threat to a country whose traditions are rooted in the ideal of clean mountain living. The tunnel opening in Erstfeld is close to the mountain village where William Tell shot an apple off his son’s head with a crossbow, or so the famous legend goes. “You think of Switzerland, you think of the mountains,” says Herrmann.

Modern freight trains need flat tracks, which meant tunneling through deep rock at the heart of the mountains in order to avoid the craggy alpine peaks and crevices. So the Gotthard Base Tunnel sits about 600 m below its 19th century predecessor, with just a slight incline. That will allow freight trains to speed along the tracks at 160 km/h, carrying double the load of the freight trains that now use the old tunnel. For every three freight trains, a passenger train will zip through the tunnel at speeds up to 250 km/h.

Little has been left to chance in the design. Giant doors painted bright yellow seal off emergency tunnels into which trains can move along side tracks in the event of engine problems. The morning we went into the tunnel, a few dozen workers crouched on the tracks, checking bolts and wiring electrical connections, finishing some of the last preparations for six months of test runs beginning in October, before its official opening, planned for June 5 next year.

From the start, the sheer technical dangers of the project weighed on engineers. “The nightmare scenario during excavation was a rockfall or water coming in,” says AlpTransit Gotthard CEO Simoni. (Eight construction workers died over two decades, but from being hit by trains or from falling, rather than accidents specifically relating to the building of the tunnel.) Simoni says one complication engineers faced in constructing the new tunnel was the composition of the Gotthard rock itself, which has a tendency to “squeeze together, as if it’s trying to fill empty spaces.” So the builders installed a series of steel arches to keep the tunnel walls stable. To stop water from seeping in—one of the biggest dangers in the construction of any tunnel—engineers developed custom sealing foils, which sit between two concrete linings, with the outer walls up to 80 cm thick in parts.

More Tunnels, More Traffic

Yet while no one would dispute that the Gotthard Base Tunnel is an engineering marvel, one question remains: Will it actually fulfill the reason for its construction and reduce the huge numbers of trucks crossing the Swiss Alps?

After more than 20 years and $10 billion, the answer is still unclear. One glance at the map of Europe shows the reason why. With just 8 million people, tiny Switzerland is wedged between three industrial giants: Italy to the south, France to the west and Germany to the north. Europe’s major ports of Rotterdam, Hamburg and Antwerp, where millions of container ships off-load Asian and U.S. imports and ship out E.U. exports every year, sit at one end of the continent’s North-South axis, with Switzerland at the heart of this economic circulatory system.

Even though the Gotthard tunnel is all but completed, Switzerland—which is not a member of the E.U.—believes that Europe will need a bigger network of freight rails if the traffic jams in the Alps are to be cleared. But that’s a tough sell for a continent digging out from an economic crisis. It’s even possible that the new tunnel network will increase the number of trucks by expanding the regional freight market, while leaving other countries without high-capacity freight rails, according to a 2013 independent study commissioned by the Federal Office of Transport in Bern.

It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s often true—new roads and rails can end up inducing additional traffic, not relieving it. Alpine Initiatives, the organization that works to reduce truck traffic, believes that Europe instead needs to ration the right to cross the mountain, through what it terms the Alpine Crossing Exchange. Trucking companies would buy and sell a limited number of rights to ship their goods across the mountains. “Trucks are driving through all of Europe,” says Herrmann. “You cannot just build tunnels and expect miracles to happen and road traffic to go away.” The tunnel’s contractor AlpTransit disagrees, hailing Gotthard as a major convenience for both goods and people that will shorten journey times and allow more goods to be shipped while consuming less energy—all key factors in a country that prides itself on clockwork efficiency.

When we emerge from the Gotthard tunnel later that March morning, the sun is high in the sky, glistening off the huge snow-capped peaks, while sheep graze lazily on emerald green farmland along the side of the road. At a rest stop across the freeway, truck drivers pausing for coffee park their vehicles, which show license plates from Lithuania, Serbia, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and elsewhere. None of them seem aware that they are a short walk from the world’s longest rail tunnel, nor that it is aimed at stopping them from driving their trucks through this storybook landscape. It could be years before that happens, if it ever does. Whatever its ultimate impact, however, the Gotthard Base Tunnel will stand as a monument to Swiss precision and perfectionism­—on a mountainous scale.


U.S. Cannot Be Trusted, Iran’s Supreme Leader Says

Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran, Iran, April 9, 2015.
AP Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran, Iran, April 9, 2015.

But Ayatullah Khamenei said he would support a nuclear deal that upholds Iranian interests

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatullah Khamenei warned Iranian diplomats on Thursday not to trust the United States as they try to finalize the nuclear agreement that was reached in Lausanne, Switzerland last week.

In his first speech since the agreement, Khamenei said: “I have told the officials to not trust the opposing side, to not be fooled by their smiles, to not trust their promises because when they have achieved their objectives they will laugh at you…. After every round of talks they make public comments that they then tell us in private was meant to save face in their own country and to counter their opponents, but this is their own problem and has nothing to do with us.”

Khamenei said that he would support an agreement that “upholds the interests and honor of the [Iranian] nation,” but would prefer no deal to one that endangers those interests. Stressing his belief that the U.S. cannot be trusted, he said he had serious concerns. “Everything is in the details. It is possible that the deceitful opposing side might try to restrain our nation in the details,” he said.

Iran and the U.S., Russia, China, U.K, France and Germany agreed on a framework deal last Thursday although Khamenei singled out the U.S. in his comments. The deal is supposed to limit Iran’s ability to make a nuclear bomb but allow it to develop nuclear energy. In return, Iran will be allowed to access bank accounts, oil markets and financial assets that have been closed to it by international sanctions.

The deal says that sanctions will be lifted once international monitors have verified that Iran is abiding by its commitments under the deal.

Khamenei’s comments came the same day as President Hassan Rouhani demanded that all sanctions on Iran be lifted immediately when the deal is concluded. “We will not sign any agreement, unless all economic sanctions are totally lifted on the first day of the implementation of the deal,” he said.

The Ayatullah insisted that international inspectors would not be allowed to enter military areas nor would Iran be subject to any regime that was not applicable to other countries. He also warned that the three-month timetable could be extended. “They might say that we only have three months to reach a deal, well if three months becomes four months the sky won’t come falling down,” he said.

Though many Iranian officials, from the President to the head of the Revolution Guard have issued messages in support of the Lausanne agreement, Khamenei insisted no binding agreement has been reached, “What’s been done until now neither guarantees an agreement, nor that talks will even reach a conclusion,” he said.

While some observers had hailed the Lausanne talks as an opening between Iran and the U.S., Khamenei said: “All should know that we have nothing to negotiate with America on regional and international issues. However the nuclear negotiations will be an experience. If the other side refrains from its usual improper actions this will become an experience that we can negotiate on other issues, but if we see that once again they act improperly, our distrust of America will be only strengthened.”

Khamenei also singled out Saudi Arabia for criticism for its attacks in Yemen. “We have always had numerous differences with Saudi Arabia but until recently they always acted with dignity in foreign policy. Now a few inexperienced youth have taken over the affairs of the state and are replacing dignity with barbarity,” he said.

This week Iran sent warships to support Houthi rebels in Yemen who Saudi Arabia has been bombing. “But I warn them that this behavior will not be tolerated in the region and they must cease their crimes in Yemen. The Saudis have created a dangerous precedent in the region, they will be harmed and incur losses in this issue in which they will under no circumstances triumph. The Saudis’ face will be rubbed in the ground in Yemen,” Khamenei said.

TIME Crime

3 Dead After Gunman Opens Fire in Milan Courtroom

Police officers stand guard outside Milan's court during a shooting on April 9,2015.
Olivier Morin—AFP/Getty Images Police officers stand guard outside Milan's court during a shooting on April 9,2015.

The man killed his own lawyer, a judge and a co-defendant

(MILAN) — A man on trial for fraudulent bankruptcy opened fire in Milan’s courthouse Thursday, killing his lawyer, a co-defendant and a judge before being captured nearly 25 kilometers away as he fled on a motorbike, officials said.

As the shots rang out in the fortress-like tribunal, court employees barricaded themselves inside their offices and took cover under their desks while police hunted for the gunman who moved unimpeded from one floor to the next.

“There was a lot of panic at the beginning when people came running toward us saying there was a person with a pistol who had been shooting,” said lawyer Mirko Ricetti, who said he locked himself in a first-floor court room after hearing a shot.

After texting loved ones that they were OK, employees and lawyers were eventually allowed to trickle out of the tribunal, women first, followed by the men who had their court ID cards checked.

Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said the suspect was caught by carabinieri police in Vimercate, near Monza, indicating he had traveled some 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the scene before being captured. An ambulance with escort was seen leaving the Vimercate police station, but it wasn’t immediately clear if the gunman was inside.

Prosecutor Edmondo Bruti Liberati said the gunman first fired on his lawyer and co-defendant, killing both and seriously injuring a second co-defendant.

Afterwards, he “walked through the building, going down a floor, and killed the judge,” Bruti Liberati told The Associated Press.

He said it wasn’t clear whether there was any relationship between the gunman and the judge.

He identified the slain judge as Fernando Ciampi, who worked in the civil section of bankruptcy court. The ANSA news agency identified the gunman as Claudio Giardiello.

Bruti Liberati said the gunman was on trial with two others for fraudulent bankruptcy.

Giardiello’s former attorney, Valerio Maraniello, told RAI state TV the case concerned a failed real estate business and that Giardiello was “very unusual” and “over the top” in his legal dealings.

The shooting immediately raised questions about how the man gained entrance to the Fascist-era courthouse with a weapon, given that visitors must pass through metal detectors.

The courthouse has metal detectors at the four main entrances, but lawyers and courthouse employees with official IDs are regularly waved through without the additional security screen and accredited employees can drive into the internal garage.

Attornies Mirko and Davide Pupo noted that the metal detector from the lawyers’ entrance had been removed several months ago.

Employees who emerged after the shooting suggested that the gunman could easily have gained entrance without passing through the metal detector by entering with his lawyer, though other attorneys said their clients routinely are told to go in via the public entrance.

The deputy interior minister, Filippo Bubbico, said an investigation would determine who was to blame for any security lapse, given also that the gunman wasn’t stopped as he moved from one floor to the next to continue the spree, and then was able to flee unimpeded.

“There’s no doubt that this episode signals a non-functioning of the protection mechanisms, which must be employed daily and which have worked for years at the Milan tribunal,” he told Sky TG24.

Security concerns are particularly high in Milan given the May 1 opening of the Expo world’s fair. In fact, the interior minister, Alfano, was in Milan on Thursday to preside over a public security coordination meeting for Expo when the shooting erupted.

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