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News Wrap: Ariel Castro Faces Life Sentence Plus 1,000 Years for Rape, Murder

August 1, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT
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KWAME HOLMAN: Ariel Castro, who held three women captive and raped them repeatedly over a decade, was sentenced to life without parole today plus 1,000 years. One of his victims, Michelle Knight, addressed the hearing. She told Castro she spent eleven years in hell, but now has her life back.

MICHELLE KNIGHT, kidnapping victim: From this moment on, I won’t let you define me or affect who I am.

You will live — I will live on. You will die a little every day as you think about the 11 years and atrocities you inflicted on us.

KWAME HOLMAN: Castro then delivered a rambling statement. He acknowledged that what he did was wrong, but insisted most of the sex he had with the three women was consensual.

ARIEL CASTRO, defendant: I just wanted to clear the record that I am not a monster. I didn’t prey on these women. I just acted on sexual instincts because of my sexual addiction. As God is my witness, I never beat these women, like they are trying to say that I did. I never tortured them

KWAME HOLMAN: Last week, Castro pleaded guilty to more than 900 counts, including kidnapping, rape and murder, for beating and starving one of his captives until she miscarried.

In Afghanistan, NATO opened an investigation after weapons fire from a U.S. helicopter mistakenly killed five Afghan police officers overnight. Two others were wounded during the operation in Nangarhar province, in the eastern part of the country. Afghan special forces called for air support during a clash with Taliban fighters at a police checkpoint. The U.S. helicopter engaged and apparently fired on the wrong target.

The U.S. may end the use of drone attacks in Pakistan in the near future. Secretary of State John Kerry told Pakistani TV today that he hopes it’s going to be very, very soon. He met with new prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, and announced the U.S. and Pakistan will resume a full partnership, including high-level talks on security.

Kerry acknowledged U.S. drone strikes and other issues have roiled relations with Pakistan since 2011.

SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: I think we came here today, both the prime minister and myself, with a commitment that we cannot allow events that might divide us in a small way to distract from the common values and the common interests that unite us in big ways.

KWAME HOLMAN: Kerry also addressed the political crisis in Egypt. The Obama administration has declined to say the military ouster of President Mohammed Morsi was a coup. Kerry said the military didn’t take over, but in his words is restoring democracy. He said millions of Egyptians asked the armed forces to intervene.

Egypt’s interior minister offered safe passage today to thousands of Morsi supporters if they end two large sit-ins in Cairo. The offer came a day after the interim cabinet ordered police to break up the demonstrations, but gave no timetable. Even so, there was no sign today the protesters plan to move on, despite the risk of new bloodshed. Instead, the Muslim Brotherhood called for a mass march tomorrow.

Charges of election fraud echoed across Zimbabwe today, as votes were counted in yesterday’s presidential contest. The opposition charged the outcome has been fixed by Robert Mugabe, the 89-year-old president who’s led the country for 33 years.

We have a report from Neil Connery of Independent Television News.

NEIL CONNERY: As the results from Zimbabwe’s elections slowly emerged, the anger of what’s been condemned as a monumental fraud soon became clear, the opposition leader attacking what he said was a rigged ballot.

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI, Zimbabwe presidential candidate: This has been a huge fuss. The credibility of this election has been marred by administrative and legal violations which affect the legitimacy of its outcome. It is our view that this election is null and void.

NEIL CONNERY: The suspected Mugabe supporters were bussed in to vote on election day to a constituency where they don’t live to increase the ruling party’s vote. They were challenged by an opposition M.P. who has now lost his seat.

Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party says it’s buried the opposition, but observers estimate as many as one million voters were denied their democratic right.

IRENE PETERSON, Zimbabwe Election Support Network: The credibility of the 2013 harmonized elections were seriously compromised by a systematic effort to disenfranchise urban voters, up to a million voters.

NEIL CONNERY: With the counting here nearly complete, there’s a growing air of resignation that these official results will be anything but a true reflection of the voters’ wishes.

The opposition say they’re incensed by the vote-rigging they claim has taken place. Outside the opposition’s headquarters, we saw a police presence for much of the day. After 33 years in power, Robert Mugabe’s rule goes on, and the hopes of those who dare to dream change was coming to Zimbabwe have been deflated.

KWAME HOLMAN: A number of U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide will be closed Sunday in the face of a possible terror threat. The State Department said today it’s being done out of an abundance of caution, and is based on unspecified information. The embassies may be closed for more than one day, depending on how serious the threat is judged to be.

President Obama has chosen a new leader for the Internal Revenue Service. The nominee announced today is John Koskinen, a retired corporate and government official who’s managed a number of organizations in crisis. The IRS has been under fire for singling out Tea Party groups and others for extra scrutiny when they sought tax-exempt status.

On Wall Street, upbeat reports on manufacturing in China and the U.S. drove stocks to new highs. The S&P 500 closed above 1,700 for the first time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 128 points to close at 15,628. The NASDAQ rose 49 points to close at 3,675.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.