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Rediff News  All News  » News » In PHOTOS: The world's most SHOCKING moments of 2012

In PHOTOS: The world's most SHOCKING moments of 2012

Last updated on: December 28, 2012 08:42 IST

Image: Lisha Barboza reacts as she stands with her father Ben while he holds a picture of his wife, nurse Jacintha Saldanha, as they leave the Houses of Parliament in London
Photographs: Dylan Martinez/Reuters Rediff Newsdesk

From shootout at an elementary school to a nurse's suicide over a hoax call, from a sex scandal involving the CIA chief to romps of Britain's prince in Las Vegas, 2012 continued to send shockwaves across the globe. Here are some of the moments that stopped us in our tracks.

An Indian-origin nurse, committed suicide on December 7, after being duped by two Australian DJs' prank call to Edward VII Hospital in Marylebone, Central London, which was treating a pregnant Kate Middleton.

Jacintha Saldanha was the senior nurse on duty when she took a call from 2DayFM's DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian, who impersonated the Queen and Prince Charles.

The 46-year-old nurse was found hanging in her room at the staff quarters of the hospital with injuries on one of her wrists and left behind three notes which suggested that she was under pressure after the prank call.

The DJs apologised for the prank in emotional interviews on Australian television, saying they never expected their call would be put through. The show was taken off the air and the DJs have been suspended.

Prosecutors in UK are now weighing whether to press charges against them over the hoax call.


Mass shootouts: Connecticut school, Batman screening, Wisconsin gurdwara

Image: Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim Dylan Hockley is seen in family photos in his obituary during his funeral service in Bethel, Connecticut
Photographs: Joshua Lott/Reuters

Three mass-casualties shootings that shook America

Connecticut school massacre: Twenty children were among 28 people killed when a young man opened fire inside a United States school on December 14, in a tragic shooting that ended with the death of the gunman.

Wearing a military-style vest, Adam Lanza killed his mother after which he stormed into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, carrying a Glock 9 mm handgun and a SIG Sauer handgun, killing 26 people, before turning the gun on himself.

Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting: A gunman went on a rampage at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin killing six people and injuring four others on August 5.

Wade Michael Page, a white supremacist, shot several people of the Sikh faith at the gurdwara, and also a responding police officer.

After being shot in the stomach by another officer, Page fatally shot himself in the head. 

Shootout at 'Batman' screening: A masked gunman killed 12 people and wounded 58 others at the midnight screening of 'The Dark Knight Rises' in Aurora, near Denver, Colorado on July 20.

Police named the attacker as 24-year-old San Diego student James Holmes.

The gunman had his hair "painted red" and announced himself as "the Joker" -- a villain from the Batman series -- said cops.

Psychologists have said that James Holmes could have been delusional.

Holmes is charged with two counts of murder for each of 12 dead shooting victims, two counts of attempted murder for each of the injured, and one count of possession of explosives.

NRI woman dies in Ireland after being refused abortion

Image: Mary Phelan holds a picture of Savita Halappanavar in protest outside University Hospital Galway in Galway, Ireland
Photographs: Cathal McNaughton/Reuters

An Indian-origin woman died after she was refused an abortion at an Irish hospital while undergoing a miscarriage.

Thirty-two-year-old Savita Halappanavar was 17 weeks pregnant when she developed back pain. Tests revealed that she would lose her baby.

But despite her repeated pleas over three days, doctors refused to perform a termination as they could still hear the foetus's heartbeat, reportedly telling her, "This is a Catholic country."

Following a huge public outcry over Savita's death the Irish government took a decision to legalise abortion when a mother's life is at risk.

Taliban shoot teenage Pak activist Malala Yousufzai

Image: Malala is seen in Swat Valley, northwest Pakistan, in this undated file photo
Photographs: Reuters

Fifteen-year-old Pakistani teenage rights activist Malala Yousufzai was shot in the head and neck by a Taliban gunman for championing the education of girls and publicising atrocities committed by the terror outfit.

She was attacked on October 9 outside her school in the town of Mingora in Pakistan's Swat Valley.

She survived the attack and is now recuperating in a hospital in Birmingham, England.

In two months, Malala has become a one of the most famous teens across the world. A number of prominent individuals, including the Canadian minister of citizenship, are supporting a petition to nominate her for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The United Nations has announced that November 10 will be celebrated as Malala Day.

CIA director resigns after extramarital affair

Image: David Petraeus shakes hands with author Paula Broadwell
Photographs: Reuters

The head of the Central Investigation Agency David Petraeus resigned on November 9, saying that he had shown "extremely poor judgment" by having an extramarital affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell.

The alleged affair was uncovered after the Federal Bureau of Investigation launched an investigation into Broadwell for allegedly hacking into the former general's e-mail.

The scandal that felled Petraeus later widened to ensnare top US commander in Afghanistan General John Allen. He allegedly exchanged "flirtatious" e-mails with a woman who was supposedly being threatened by Boardwell.

Allen, is under investigation for alleged "inappropriate communications" with Jill Kelley, who has been described as an unpaid social liaison at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, which is headquarters to the US Central Command.

Kelley is also a close friend of the Petraeus family. She was the woman who originally notified the FBI when she received threatening emails from Petraeus' mistress Broadwell -- and that investigation later uncovered the affair.


The fall of Bo Xilai

Image: China's then Chongqing Municipality Communist Party Secretary Bo Xilai adjusts his glasses during the opening ceremony of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference at the Great Hall of the People
Photographs: Jason Lee/Reuters

China has shaken the scandal world and how! The story of the ousted Chinese leader involves murder, a police chief fleeing to the American embassy, spying of politicos and over a dozen affairs.  

Bo Xilai, the former Communist Party chief in the central mega-city of Chongqing, was expelled from the party and the parliament in October.

He was once seen as a candidate for promotion to the party's top echelons but was brought down by murder allegations against his wife that came to light after Wang Lijun, police chief of Chongqing, sought refuge in a US consulate.

Bo's wife Gu Kalai was later given a suspended death sentence -- a judgment commonly commuted to a life sentence -- for fatally poisoning British businessman Neil Heywood.

In September, Wang Lijun was charged with defection, power abuse and bribe taking. He is convicted and jailed for convicted for 15 years.

Xilai is also accused of wiretapping top Chinese officials including Chinese President Hu Jintao.

He is reported to have had sexual relations with at least 28 women -- actresses, local party cadres and police officers.

After being expelled from the parliament, Bo's immunity from prosecution is removed.

Naked pictures of Prince Harry's Las Vegas romp surface

Image: A copy of The Sun newspaper featuring a picture of a naked Prince Harry is seen in a shop in London
Photographs: Toby Melville/Reuters

In August, tabloid website TMZ published photographs of Britain's Prince Harry cavorting naked with a group of young women during a game of strip billiards in a Las Vegas hotel suite.

One photo showed Harry, stark naked but for a wristwatch and a necklace. His hands cup his genitals. His face is turned toward the television set in the suite. And his body partially shields that of another person, also naked.

 A second picture shows him hugging a woman from behind next to a pool table. Both are naked.

Topless pictures of Kate Middleton published

Image: Copies of French magazine Closer showing pictures of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Britain's Prince William are displayed in a newspaper kiosk in Nice
Photographs: Eric Gaillard/Reuters

French tabloid Closer magazine published a series of photos of Kate Middleton sunbathing topless with Prince William on a balcony at a 19th century hunting lodge in southern France, in early September.

In one photo, Middleton is seen removing her bikini top; in another, she's seen rubbing suntan lotion on William's back. In another, William rubs suntan lotion on her almost-bare bottom.

Buckingham Palace was outraged and took legal action against the publication and won. A French court ordered a magazine publisher to hand over all digital copies of topless photos of Kate.

Two weeks later, Danish magazine Seog Hor published bottomless photos of the Duchess.


Worldwide outrage over anti-Islam film

Image: Protesters shout slogans during a protest on a road leading to the US embassy in Sanaa
Photographs: Eric Gaillard/Reuters

A 14-minute clip of a low budget movie -- Innocence of Muslims -- defaming Islam, which was uploaded on YouTube, resulted in deadly riots across the world that claimed 75 lives and left thousands of others injured.

'Innocence of Muslims', depicts the Prophet Mohammed as a religious fraud and a womaniser.

The film is reported to have been written and produced by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, using the pseudonym of Sam Bacile.

On September 27, US federal authorities stated that Nakoula was arrested in Los Angeles for allegedly violating terms of his probation. Prosecutors stated that some of the violations included making false statements regarding his role in the film and his use of the alias Sam Bacile.

On November 7, he pleaded guilty to four of the charges against him and was sentenced to one year in prison and four years of supervised release

The film is blocked in a number of countries including India after the widespread violence.

US envoy to Libya killed in attack on consulate

Image: The US consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames during a protest by an armed group said to have been protesting a film being produced in the United States. (inset) J Christopher Stevens
Photographs: Esam Al-Fetori/Reuters

Around 125 to 150 Islamist militants armed with weapons and rocket-propelled grenades stormed a United States diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, killing American ambassador J Christopher Stevens and three members of his staff on September 11.

The attack began during the night at a compound that is meant to protect the consulate building. A second assault in the early morning the next day targeted a nearby CIA annex in a different diplomatic compound.

The attackers, recognised as members of a local militant group called Ansar al-Shariah, told bystanders that they were attacking the compound because they were angry about the anti-Islam video, reports The New York Times.

It was the first time since 1979 that an American ambassador had died in a violent assault.

Anti-Putin band arrested, sparks global protests

Image: A supporter of the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot holds an umbrella as she attends a gathering in Vienna
Photographs: Lisi Niesner/Reuters

Protests spread from Moscow to New York in no time after a court sentenced three members of the provocative Russian punk band Pussy Riot to two years in prison each on hooliganism charges on August 17.

The trial drew international outrage over Russia's intolerance of dissent.

Pussy Riot briefly took over a cathedral in a raucous prayer, but they were stopped by church officials. By evening, they had made a music video titled 'Punk Prayer - Mother of God, Chase Putin Away!'

The feminist band said their protest was directed at the Orthodox Church leader's support for Putin during his election campaign. 

Three band members -- Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alekhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, -- were arrested in March and jailed in August, which highlighted the Russian president's intensifying crackdown on dissent.

Putin flatly rejected Western criticism of the imprisonment of the Pussy Riot punk protest band, saying its three female members deserved their fate because they threatened the moral foundations of Russia.

Peace Nobel for European Union

Image: European Parliament President Martin Schulz displays the Nobel medal as he leaves Grand Hotel by car after the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo
Photographs: Vegard Grott/Reuters

The Nobel Prize Committee announced that the European Union has won the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize for "six decades of contributions to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe."

"The stabilising part played by the European Union has helped to transform a once-torn Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace," Nobel committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said.

However, the Committee's decision drew flak because the bloc is mired in economic and financial crisis.

The news that the EU was awarded the Nobel for its efforts to promote peace and democarcy came as a shock to debt-choked Greece.

Three days later thousands protested in Athen against the visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"Nobel prize for the EU. At a time Brussels and all of Europe is collapsing in misery. What next? An Oscar for Van Rompuy," asked Dutch euroskeptic lawmaker Geert Wilders, referring to Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who won the prize in 1984 for his campaign against South African apartheid, said it was wrong to recognise the EU as it was an organisation based on "military force".

Costa Concordia disaster

Image: A boat sails past capsised cruise liner Costa Concordia near the harbour of Giglio Porto
Photographs: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters/Reuters

Thirty-two people died after the Costa Concordia cruise ship ran aground and tipped over with more than 4,000 passengers and crew on January 13, only hours after leaving the Italian port of Civitavecchia.

Two others were still missing and presumed dead; and 64 others were injured in the tragedy, which conjured memories of the ill-fated Titanic.

Some passengers said that the Titanic theme "My Heart Will Go On" performed by Celine Dion, was playing in a restaurant when the ship hit the rock.


Former Italy PM Berlusconi, 76, engaged to 27-year-old

Image: Silvio Berlusconi and Francesca Pascale attend a football match in Milan, Italy
Photographs: Claudio Villa/Getty Image

It seems like Silvio Berlusconi has decided to put a stop to his "bunga bunga parties. The former Italian Prime Minister said he was he was engaged to his girlfriend 49 years his junior, who makes him feel "less lonely".

In an interview aired on the talk show 'Domenica Live' on his Canale 5 TV network on December 17, twice-married Berlusconi, 76, confirmed that his new partner was TV showgirl Francesca Pascale, 27.  

9 children among 16 Afghan civilians killed by 'rogue' US soldier

Photographs: Claudio Villa/Getty Image

Sixteen Afghan civilians, including nine children, were shot dead on March 11 near a United Sates base in southern Afghanistan, and one US soldier was in custody.

US officials said an American staff sergeant from a unit based in Washington was in custody after the attack on villagers in three houses. Multiple civilians were also wounded, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said.

The US soldier suspected of methodically slaughtering 16 Afghan civilians has been identified by senior military officials as Staff Sergeant Robert Bales.

Bales will face a court martial where he could be given the death penalty if found guilty, the army announced on December 19.

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