US Ukraine war fighters indicted for murder

This 28 December 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

In the spring of 2015, former U.S. soldier Craig Lang traveled to Ukraine and joined a paramilitary group

Four years later, Lang is under house arrest in Ukraine. … Lang is facing charges in the U.S. for allegedly killing a Florida couple during a stint back home last year. …

But unlike most European nations, Ukraine has no extradition treaty with the U.S. …

U.S. law enforcement officials describe Lang as an “absolutely heartless” criminal who, along with another ex-U.S. soldier, robbed and fatally shot a middle-age couple 18 times in April 2018. He has spent the past five years as a mercenary globetrotting among armed conflicts in Africa, South America and Europe. And in addition to the double murder, he has been charged with passport fraud and named in federal court documents as a mentor to​ an Army soldier​ arrested for allegedly plotting to bomb U.S. news stations. …

An Army soldier turned international fugitive

A native of North Carolina, Lang joined the Army at 18, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army discharged him six and a half years later, after he went AWOL and drove from Texas to North Carolina with his military equipment, telling people he wanted to murder his wife, the Ayden police chief told local news outlets.

“I told my commanders repeatedly that I was going to murder her,” Lang would later tell VICE in Ukraine. “The motherf—— thought I was bluffing.”

The following spring, he flew to Ukraine to join a paramilitary militia called the Right Sector, according to his testimony in Ukrainian court.

He’s not the only U.S. citizen drawn to Ukraine’s war. Ultranationalist battalions like the Right Sector​ have become a destination for other former American soldiers with far-right political leanings​.

In Ukraine, Lang would link up with Alex Zwiefelhofer, then a 19-year-old from Wisconsin who had deserted the U.S. Army to become a foreign fighter, first in France and then in Ukraine. Zwiefelhofer is now implicated in the Florida killings alongside Lang, according to U.S. law enforcement. …

Lang and Zwiefelhofer left the Right Sector together for South Sudan in 2017, in hopes of fighting al-Shabbab, a Qaeda affiliate based in East Africa, court documents say. But Sudanese officials denied them entry and sent them back to Kenya to obtain the proper visas.

They were deported from Kenya shortly afterward. Lang’s passport was canceled, due to unpaid child support, prosecutors say. Zwiefelhofer was booked into jail for sexual exploitation of a minor almost immediately after landing in the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, after airport Customs officers found incriminating videos on his cellphone, according to the complaint. He was released on bond and then left the state.

In February and March 2018, Lang and Zwiefelhofer chatted online about Venezuela — specifically, about their intentions to join military-like raids, fight against the Venezuelan government and “kill people.”

By Jacob Crosse in the USA:

US military veterans who fought as mercenaries for Ukrainian fascists indicted on double murder charges

31 March 2020

After serving US imperialism first in the US military, then as volunteer mercenaries in the Ukrainian neo-fascist paramilitary organization Right Sector, Alex Zwiefelhofer, 22, and Craig Lang, 29, are awaiting trial, and in Lang’s case extradition from Ukraine back to the US, for the 2018 double murder and robbery of Florida couple Deana, 51, and Serafin “Danny” Lorenzo, 53. If found guilty the two could face the death penalty under federal law.

Testimony obtained from Zwiefelhofer during an FBI investigation into the murders reveals that Zwiefelhofer and Lang orchestrated the robbery in order to fund a trip to Venezuela. Upon entering the country, the pair planned to join a right-wing anti-communist death squad with the explicit aim of overthrowing the … government of Nicolás Maduro and to kill “communists”, This is just the latest example of US imperialism fostering fascistic and racist elements in order to carry out its strategic geopolitical aims.

Lang has also been named as a “mentor” in a criminal case involving US Army soldier Jarret William Smith, 24. Smith pleaded guilty this past February to two counts of “distributing information related to explosives, destructive devices and weapons of mass destruction.” Smith, a self-described “anti-kosmick Satanist”, joined the US army as an infantryman in June 2017. After completing basic training, Smith was stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas, where he was arrested in September 2018 after communicating instructions on how to make “improvised explosive devices” to an undercover FBI agent. Smith is currently scheduled to be sentenced on May 18, where he faces the possibility of up to 20 years in federal prison.

According to the plea agreement, Smith had provided a list of potential targets to the agent through the messaging app Telegram. Lang allegedly recommended former Democratic congressman and one-time presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke and a “major American news network”, as well as the address of an alleged member of “antifa” in Michigan, as desirable targets for a right-wing terrorist bombing.

Prior to joining the US military in 2016, Smith had communicated with Lang over Facebook. At the time, Lang was in Ukraine, fighting in the Donbas with Zwiefelhofer. Both had joined the neo-fascist Right Sector, a far-right nationalist paramilitary organization with close ties to the current Ukrainian security state. Right Sector was instrumental in the 2014 right-wing NATO-backed putsch that ousted President Viktor Yanukovych and installed the US-friendly Petro Poroshenko.

Through Poroshenko, US imperialism funneled billions of dollars in military arms to organizations such as Right Sector and the Azov Battalion. Poroshenko was replaced by former comedian Volodymr Zelensky last year, who has continued to appeal to the far-right after failing to reach a cease-fire with Russian-backed separatists in east Ukraine.

Through Facebook, Lang assured Smith that if he wanted to fight in Ukraine, including with the fascist Azov Battalion, he could get him in contact with a screener for the organization. Lang warned Smith, however, “if you come to this unit and the government comes to shut down the unit, you will be asked to fight. You may also be asked to kill certain people who become on the bad graces of certain people.” Lang and Smith continued to communicate over social media up until Smith’s arrest last year.

Zwiefelhofer, a Wisconsin native, is currently awaiting trial in a Fort Myers, Florida, prison while Lang, of Ayden, North Carolina, is currently being held on a US extradition request in the city of Vinnytsya, Ukraine. Lang’s lawyers have argued against his extradition back to the US as he is being charged with double murder which carries the possibility of a death sentence in the US under federal law.

In contrast to award-winning WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, who has been denied bail even as the deadly coronavirus spreads throughout Belmarsh prison, Lang has been granted “house arrest” while he awaits further extradition hearings, which according to his lawyers could take “years” to resolve. In light of this, Lang’s lawyers plan on submitting a request to reduce his current house arrest status to the more lenient “night-time house arrest” later this month.

In contrast to Judge Vanessa Barrister’s courtroom, which is lined with US lawyers and attorneys, keeping an ever-watchful eye over the proceedings, the US embassy in Kiev couldn’t be bothered to write out the extradition request for Lang in Cyrillic, prompting a delay that allowed Lang to be released for more than two weeks before he was rearrested in October of last year. For the US ruling class, the exposure of their war crimes is a much greater evil compared to wanton murder, in which they regularly indulge.

Zwiefelhofer joined the military in 2015 and was discharged in 2018 after going absent without leave from Fort Bragg shortly after completing basic and air assault training. Zwiefelhofer proceeded to fly to Europe where he planned on joining the French Foreign Legion. However, after he was denied entry into the Legion, he ventured to Ukraine where he joined Lang in the Right Sector. Together, the two became comrades in arms where, according to Zwiefelhofer’s Instagram account, they committed “war crimes” resulting in a “price on my head in 7 countries.”

By the time Lang was 22 years old he had already served two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He joined the military in 2008 when he was 17 years old, according to a 2016 interview with Vice magazine, to escape a dysfunctional home. When Lang was 12 years old, his father attempted to murder his stepmother, resulting in his father going to jail and Lang living with his stepmother.

During his last tour in Afghanistan in 2012, Lang’s Humvee was struck with an improvised explosive device. The resulting explosion and traumatic brain injury left Lang deaf in one ear and severed several of the nerves connecting his irises to his brain, leaving him partially blind. Following the explosion, Lang was stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. While there, Lang’s pregnant wife sent him videos of her sleeping with other men. The enraged Lang loaded his vehicle with military equipment including assault rifles, landmines and body armor and proceeded to drive non-stop to North Carolina, where he set up a perimeter of land mines around his wife’s condominium and threatened to murder her.

Lang was eventually detained by SWAT and dishonorably discharged from the military. He spent less than six months in jail, in part because he says of his documented history of post-traumatic stress disorder as well as the fact that he warned his chain-of-command of his impending actions. Lang told Vice, “I told my commanders repeatedly that I was going to murder her. The motherfuckers thought I was bluffing.” Lang lost all disability payments and military benefits as well as his home and vehicle following his incarceration and subsequent divorce, leaving him six figures in debt.

Unable to find and keep steady work, including a short-lived stint in the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota in 2015, Lang returned to the only job he had ever held for more than six months his whole life. After being rejected by Blackwater, Lang found a welcome home with the Right Sector. Writing in a June 2016 Facebook post, Lang looked forward to fighting in Ukraine so that “my children…may they be able to walk in the streets of Kyiv having known what their father defended and the struggle of our second home” and to fight “the communist Putin.”

After a year of fighting together in the Donbas, which Lang described in a British documentary as mundane “trench warfare”, Zwiefelhofer and Lang flew to Kenya, where they planned on sneaking into South Sudan to allegedly fight the al-Shabaab terrorist network. They were both apprehended by Kenyan authorities at the border and deported back to the United States.

On August 1, 2017, upon arriving in Charlotte, North Carolina, after being deported, Zwiefelhofer was interviewed by Customs and Border Protection and an FBI agent. They searched his phone and allegedly found child porn, which resulted in Zwiefelhofer spending three months in jail before he bonded out, returning to Wisconsin to live with his father.

He proceeded to skip out on his bail hearing, which resulted in an arrest warrant being issued in April 2018. A cursory search of Zwiefelhofer’s public Instagram page, which he’s had since at least April 2016, reveals his intimate ties to Right Sector; there are several photos of Zwiefelhofer brandishing machine guns alongside fellow fascists in Right Sector.

Despite being out on bail, Zwiefelhofer was able to board a Greyhound bus from Minneapolis to South Florida, where he reunited with Lang at a La Quinta hotel in Miami on April 5, 2018. It was during this time, according to documents submitted by the government, that the two planned their robbery to fund their paramilitary excursion to Venezuela.

An FBI review of Zwieflhofer’s cell phone revealed “multiple searches of videos to include a particular scene from a movie in which subjects were shown inside a vehicle and then ambushed by multiple shooters,” as well as the query on “how to smuggle yourself into South America.”

On April 7, 2018, Zwiefelhofer listed several pistols and AR-15 components for sale on the website Armslist. The next day, Danny Lorenzo texted Zwiefelhofer in regard to the weapons, and a $3,000 sale price was agreed upon. Lorenzo withdrew $3,000 from his bank account the same day and shortly after 7:00 p.m., the Lorenzos left their home outside of Tampa, Florida, to meet Zwiefelhofer and Lang at the agreed-upon rendezvous point—a church parking lot south of Fort Myers, roughly two hours away.

Cell phone tracking data obtained by the FBI shows Zwiefelhofer’s cell phone messages correspond to “Jeremy” the seller listed on Armslist whom Danny thought he was talking to. At 10:37 p.m., Danny texted “Jeremy” advising that he had arrived at the church; 18 minutes later, emergency services received multiple calls of gunfire in the parking lot.

Sheriff’s deputies located the Lorenzos’ vehicle along with 63 shell casings in the church parking lot. Danny was shot seven times, while his wife Deanna, who had never left the passenger seat, was shot 11 times, a majority in the face, neck and chest. According to ballistic evidence gathered by the state, there were two shooters firing different weapons of different calibers at the same time.

According to the FBI affidavit, Zwiefelfhofer and Lang fled the state after the murder/robbery, but not to Venezuela. Instead, Zwiefelhofer returned to Wisconsin, where he was arrested almost a year later for attempting to purchase a weapon without a license. Eventually, investigators linked his cell phone footage to the murders, and he was formally charged in September 2019 along with Lang with robbery and the double murder of Serafin and Deana Lorenzo.

An April 8, 2019, Instagram photo features Zwiefelhofer with a Adolf Hitler mustache, one year after the alleged shooting took place, along with an April 14, 2019, self-portrait of Zwiefelhofer, pistol in hand, with the caption, “Feeling cute, might join and [sic] ultra nationalist militia or make the army times later, idk.”

Instead of returning to North Carolina or proceeding to Venezuela, Lang was able to travel to the Pacific Northwest where he sold some of his guns at a pawn shop before fleeing the country, first to Colombia and then back to Ukraine to join up with the Right Sector again, demonstrating the ease with which fascists can travel around the world under the watchful eye of the US intelligence agencies. While in the Ukraine, he managed to get married and, according to his lawyer, Lang “has found a new life, a new love, a new family.”

It isn’t surprising that the US and Ukrainian governments have been slow to process Lang’s extradition. The ultra-nationalist government in Kiev, with the full backing of US, German and French imperialism, has welcomed the return of fascism to prepare for war with Russia. The government of President Zelensky has remained silent even as associates of the Right Sector are implicated in political murders across the country, including the gunning down of children and acid attacks on politicians. As long as Lang, and any other fascists are willing to fight for Washington’s imperialist interests, their heinous crimes will be ignored or downplayed to facilitate their quick return to the front lines.

Trump-supporting Florida fundamentalist preacher endangers congregation’s lives

As Brazilian extreme right president Jair Bolsonaro wants churches to stay open, endangering to kill religious people by coronavirus contagion; and Bolsonaro’s United States colleague Donald Trump wanted the churches to be full on Easter Sunday, 12 April; a Trump-supporting megachurch boss in Florida did not wait for Easter. Like the ‘Reverend’ Jerry Falwell Jr. reopened his fundamentalist Liberty University for financial profit. Now, Liberty University students have coronavirus.

This 18 March 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Conservative Pastors Encourage Congregants to Dismiss COVID-19 | NowThis

‘We’re raising up revivalists, not pansies’ — This evangelist pastor slammed social distancing, encouraging his congregants to shake hands during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In US news and current events today, Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne called the coronavirus a ‘phantom plague’ made to scare people into getting vaccines that will kill them. He also encouraged his congregants to shake hands amid the coronavirus pandemic because they’re not ‘pansies’.

An NBC/WSJ poll found Republicans were taking coronavirus less seriously. Only 30% said they were likely to avoid public gatherings compared to 61% of Democrats polled between March 11-13.

Guillermo Maldonado, a megachurch pastor & self-proclaimed apostle, also urged his congregants to attend mass, mocking those who are afraid of getting the coronavirus.

The [Roman Catholic] Archdioceses of New York, Seattle, Chicago cancelled all masses until further notice.

Howard-Browne, who was born in South Africa and built the River into a megachurch with 4,000 members, is a prominent evangelical who prayed in the Oval Office with Trump in 2017. In recent days the Pentecostal preacher has made controversial remarks and floated conspiratorial theories about the coronavirus. … Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne said he wouldn’t close the doors of his Tampa, Florida, megachurch until the End Times begin. The police weren’t willing to wait that long: here.

The ‘Reverend’ was released 40 minutes later.

Japanese militarism abused ´comfort women´, new film

This 6 August 2019 video from South Korea says about itself:

Japanese-American director Miki Dezaki is in Korea with his ‘comfort women‘ documentary film “Shusenjo: The Main Battleground Of The Comfort Women Issue“. For over the span of 3 years, he had been tracking down vivid stories across Korea, the U.S. and Japan to make his film.

His film is distinguished from existing wartime sexual slavery documentaries in that it contains stories about activists who support the victims and interviews of Japan’s so-called ‘far-right revisionists’. The film had immense repercussions in Japan when it was released there last April.

Through the film “Shusenjo: The Main Battleground Of The Comfort Women Issue”, director Miki Dezaki says he wants to approach ‘comfort women‘ as a women’s rights issue rather than an interstate conflict. We meet with director Miki Dezaki on today’s Heart-to-Heart.

By Isabel Roy in Germany:

Shusenjo: The Main Battleground of the Comfort Women Issue: Documentary about war crimes and historical revisionism in Japan

20 March 2020

In late 2019, the documentary Shusenjo: The Main Battleground of the Comfort Women Issue, directed by Japanese-American filmmaker Miki Dezaki, was shown at a well-attended screening at Leipzig University in Germany. The film was shown at several European universities last year, following a US tour in 2018.

The valuable documentary treats the so-called “comfort women”, women who were forced into prostitution in military brothels both in Japan and Japanese-occupied territory during World War II. Most of the women came from Korea or China. The subject has been the source of tensions between South Korea and Japan for decades.

In his movie, Dezaki interviews historical revisionists from far-right circles, politicians and historians who have studied comfort women, as well as activists working for the recognition of the victims.

Following the release of his film, which Dezaki completed as his masters thesis and financed through Kickstarter and with his own money, he was sued by five of the interviewees. In the film, the latter deny both the responsibility of the Japanese government for the comfort women and their circumstances in the brothels. Dezaki also received several written threats and his movie’s distributor was sued by a right-wing extremist organisation that appears in the film.

A film festival in Kawasaki (in the Greater Tokyo Area) first announced it was canceling a showing for security reasons in response to threats from right-wingers. This move was criticized by other artists, including Japanese filmmakers Kazuya Shiraishi and Hirokazu Koreeda, and owing to help from volunteers who provided additional security, the film ended up being presented at the festival in November 2019. Shiraishi described the initial decision by the organisers as “an act to kill freedom of expression.” Shusenjo (which means “main battlefield”) opens with a clip from December 2015 in which one of the surviving women, Lee Yong-Su, confronts a Korean foreign ministry official at a press conference. The press conference followed an “agreement” on the comfort women issue between Japan and South Korea.

This agreement was initiated under pressure from the Obama administration, which viewed the conflict between its two most important allies in northeast Asia (South Korea and Japan) as a threat to its confrontation with North Korea and China.

Comfort women interrogated by the US army 1944

Lee Yong-Su is visibly angry and movingly accuses the official: “Who are you? What are you doing? Why do you have to kill us a second time? Are you living my life? Before reaching any agreements, shouldn’t you have spoken to the victims? You think we are old and know nothing.”

The agreement only entailed a very limited, “moral” apology to the comfort women and a donation of one billion yen [$US 9 million] to a fund to be split amongst survivors. The apology did not acknowledge the full responsibility of the Japanese military, even though historians such as Yoshiaki Yoshimi, a professor of Japanese modern history at Chuo University in Tokyo and a founding member of the Center for Research and Documentation on Japan’s War Responsibility, have been able to prove this responsibility conclusively with the aid of historical documents.

Dezaki’s film then moves on to examine the claims made by Japanese historical revisionists and contrast them with the explanations of serious historians and activists.

To give one example, the nationalist-revisionists argue that the testimonies by survivors are “inconsistent” and therefore unreliable. They also claim that although prostitution took place, the women voluntarily chose to engage in it and were “well-compensated” with “luxury goods and restaurant visits”, among other things. They present the comfort women as a South Korean and Chinese fabrication and dismiss it as “anti-Japanese” propaganda. The attendees of the showing in Leipzig were audibly shocked and disgusted by these statements.

Historians and activists in the movie explain that former comfort women from South Korea, among other countries, were faced with terrible social stigma for what they had endured. This led to many of them only speaking out years after the fact.

One particularly gripping interview features a former soldier in the Imperial Japanese Army. On the subject of women’s rights in Japan before the Second World War, he explains to the director: “Women before the war, before the constitution, weren’t quite seen as human. Nippon Kaigi wants to go back to that.” He also describes war atrocities again Chinese prisoners in which he was forced to participate.

Nippon Kaigi (“Japan Conference”) is a far-right organization that advocates a return to the monarchy of the Meiji Era (1868-1912), the abolition of women’s rights, state Shintoism, the remilitarization of Japan and a “patriotic” education in schools. It includes many members of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet, and Abe himself is a special advisor to the group’s parliamentary wing. Nippon Kaigi and Abe also support state visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, which commemorates Japan’s war dead, including 1,068 convicted war criminals of whom 14 are A-Class (convicted of having been involved in the planning, preparation, initiation or waging of war).

Bodies of victims along Qinhuai River out of Nanjing's west gate during Nanjing Massacre

One of Shusenjo’s strong points is the way it illustrates the intertwining of far-right organizations in Japan and the US, the Japanese state and historical revisionists.

Dezaki explains how after the Kono Statement of August 1993, which acknowledged the responsibility of the Japanese imperial army for the comfort women system, ultra-right groups and the Japanese government launched a targeted campaign to relativise the crimes of the Second World War.

In 2006, Abe championed a reform that promoted patriotism as a basic aim of the education system. Additionally, the government initiated the practice of routinely rejecting Japanese schoolbooks produced by private publishers on the grounds of “grave error”, without offering any further explanation. This, in turn, led the publishers to self-censor “uncomfortable” facts that might cause offense in order to avoid financial problems.

This kind of censorship is also prevalent in the media. A notable case was the editing out of victims’ testimony from a television broadcast of the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery, held in December 2000. This took place under the pressure of Abe himself as well as right-wing groups.

Hideaki Kase is a central figure in the network of pseudo-historians, far-right activists and politicians exposed in Shusenjo. He is a member of or occupies leading positions in the following organizations: Global Alliance for Historical Truth, Society for Dissemination of Historical Fact, Alliance for Truth about Comfort Women and Nippon Kaigi. Kase (born 1936) has written numerous books and produced revisionist films, appeared on talk shows and was a special advisor to former prime ministers Takeo Fukuda and Yasuhiro Nakasone.

Kase, who—among other things—denies the Nanjing Massacre (in which Japanese military forces slaughtered as many as 400,000 Chinese in Nanjing in December 1937-January 1938), when asked by the director if he knew the two most important historians of comfort women, simply responded: “I don’t read books by other people.” … According to him, Japan’s involvement in the Second World War can be described as “a war of national self-defence.”

As is the case in Germany and other countries, historical falsification is resorted to in Japan because its population is deeply opposed to war. When Abe’s grandfather, the war criminal Nobusuke Kishi, was released by the Allies in 1948, massive protests took place.

During the question-and-answer session after the showing in Leipzig, Dezaki, who grew up in the US, remarked “I had this question I wanted to answer from the very beginning—why are these people trying to erase history? This led me to Nippon Kaigi and I found out it is because they want to cultivate or foster this myth that Japan has never done anything wrong and ‘we only fought wars of peace’. If you were to become a soldier in the future you don’t want to believe that your country fights wars for oil, right? Like the U.S., we fight for freedom, right? The history is being erased so that people will become more patriotic.”

British prince Andrew in sexual abuse scandals

This 18 November 2019 British TV video says about itself:

Dr Hilary Jones Assesses Prince Andrew’s Sweating Claims | Good Morning Britain

In an exclusive interview on BBC’s Newsnight, Emily Maitlis interviewed Prince Andrew about his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein and the allegations that he had underage sex with one of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Roberts. The Prince denies such allegations and has no recollection of meeting Ms Roberts. GMB speaks to women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing five of Epstein’s accusers, and she says the royal should volunteer himself to be interviewed by the FBI and US lawyers. In the studio, Lady Colin Campbell, journalist Angela Levin and Dr Hilary Jones discuss the case. Dr Hilary also assesses the claim that the Prince made in the interview that he is unable to sweat.

By Peter Frost in Britain

Friday, March 20, 2020

Has Prince Andrew been rescuing young girls from sex trafficking all along? No.

PETER FROST uncovers yet more of the disgraced duke’s dirty dealings

JUST when we thought Prince Andrew had run out of lies, we hear that despite assurances that he would be happy to give an interview to criminal investigation authorities on his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, the FBI tells us that Andrew has given them “zero co-operation” following requests for an interview about his close friendship with the convicted paedophile.

Prince Andrew has been keeping his head down generally. Just to be clear, that isn’t the same thing as his favourite face-down massage. Some 230 charities and universities of which he was patron or similar have sacked him or hinted they want nothing more to do with him. His mother — the Queen — it seems is pleased about this. She hopes it may protect the monarchy from further embarrassment and humiliation.

Andrew and his ex-wife Sarah “Fergie” Ferguson, with whom he still lives, are a bit disappointed. Many of the charities provided the prince, or both of them, with all-expenses paid visits to many exotic locations at home and abroad. Also each organisation held a formal royal lunch or dinner each year — providing two-thirds of the couple’s annual nosh.

The pair will get no more free tickets to the English National Ballet and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, both of which had him as patron.

Charities involved with young children were quick to realise his connection with a convicted paedophile as well as accusations made about his own behaviour with underage girls could be embarrassing to say the least. Out he went.

It seems even the Queen pulled the plug on a planned 60th birthday party for Andrew in February. Despite Andrew being her favourite child the big palace bash was downsized to a discrete family gathering.

The prince appears to be trying to hang on to his role with what was called “Pitch@Palace” a scheme for young entrepreneurs rather like Dragons Den with Prince Andy as chief dragon.

In the real TV show the dragons use their own money — but Andy is smarter, or greedier than that. He got high-profile business sponsors like Barclays, the accountancy firm KPMG, the Standard Chartered Bank and the telecoms company Inmarsat to put up the cash.

Happily, all of them have now pulled out over the prince’s recent behaviour.

Buckingham Palace issued a statement saying: “The duke will continue to work on what has been renamed ‘Pitch’ and will look at how he takes this forward outside of his public duties and outside of Buckingham Palace. We recognise there will be a period of time while this transition takes place.”

Meanwhile Parliament has launched an investigation into the way the scheme was run as a private company.

Another charity initiative set up by the prince to help young women trafficked for sex in India has been embroiled in allegations of mistreatment.

Andrew started “Key to Freedom” in May 2012, soon after he was pictured walking with Epstein in Central Park, New York, following the paedophile billionaire’s release from prison.

He claimed his new charity would financially empower vulnerable young women in India by selling their handmade fashion items in Britain through retailers including Topshop and the Buckingham Palace website.

However, the initiative soon fell into financial decline and is now largely inactive, despite being highlighted by the prince and his family as a success story throughout the scandal of his association with Epstein.

In fact, exactly when the prince’s team was setting up the Key to Freedom project, its partner charity in India, the Women’s Interlink Foundation (WIF), which manages care homes for vulnerable children and young women, was being investigated by the Indian authorities.

Ten girls aged between 12 and 15 had run away from one of the WIF’s two homes for trafficked and orphaned girls alleging that they were beaten by staff and generally mistreated.

WIF admits it did not tell the prince about the investigation, which it says cleared the care home. But it refused to publish the official police report or its own internal report. WIF’s founder Aloka Mitra dismissed the young women’s complaints, stating: “Some of them said we did not get the correct kind of chapatis.”

Clearly, Prince Andrew and his team failed to conduct due diligence on his partner charity – as indeed they did with Key to Freedom that also faces criticism that it gave false hope of financial security to the women making the hand-printed silk scarves, which were sold online at the Royal Collection shop.

The duke’s website also claims the initiative has “changed the fate of more than 100 vulnerable young women” and is still active. But WIF confirms no scarves have been available to buy through retailers for more than 18 months and only tiny orders for tote bags were placed.

These tote bags were given as gifts to guests at Andrew’s daughter Princess Eugenie’s wedding last year. The young women who made them in India got just £1.50 per bag. One guest at the wedding was Sarajit Mitra, head of the Indian charity — I hope he was served the right kind of chapati.

Mitra, WIF’s chief operating officer and son of the founder, has said that orders from Topshop declined after 2013 and stopped abruptly in June 2018 without any explanation from the prince or his team, which he described as “rude”.

Despite this, in late August a royal source close to the prince said he was particularly dismayed that his efforts to help victims of sex trafficking were being overlooked while his connections with Epstein once again hit headlines.

Mitra also said the women earned on average up to £150 per year — equivalent to 41p a day. WIF took 40 per cent of the price of any scarves they made.

The money from sales is put into accounts for the workers, but it cannot be accessed without permission from Mitra. Reportedly the women cannot leave the barbed wire compound without guards who accompany them to shops to buy essential items that are not covered by the money the state pays to WIF.

Mitra was given copies of letters written by girls who had lived in the home where they expressed their unhappiness. One letter alleges girls in the home are badly treated and “when the children want to complain, then they are told off and are asked to be quiet about it.”

The British High Commission in India was responsible for introducing the duke to WIF. One key member of the Prince’s team Amanda Thirsk, his private secretary, was at the centre of the Key to Freedom project.

Thirsk was the one who advised the prince to take part in his disastrous BBC Newsnight interview. She no longer works for him.

Andy’s ex-wife Ferguson came up with the Key to Freedom name and Andrew’s charitable trust donated £10,000 seed capital. The initiative launched formally in 2013, with an order from Sir Philip Green’s Topshop.

Just like his refusal to talk about his relationship with Epstein, Andy is also saying nothing about these Indian charities and nor is Topshop, which was involved with the Key to Freedom project at the same time that top boss Green was himself facing allegations of sexual and racial harassment of staff.

Andy and Fergie’s latest scam is to get you and I — the taxpayer — to pay for his other daughter Beatrice’s upcoming wedding just as we did for his daughter Eugenie’s three-and-a-half million pound bash.

Most amazing is that Andrew, disgraced cheat and scam artist, remains the eighth in line to the throne.