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Bangladesh Executes Opposition Leader; Ukrainians Still On Streets; South African Sign Language Interpreter Defends Himself

Aired December 12, 2013 - 15:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Well, tonight a possible U-turn in Kiev after four weeks of daily rallies. Ukraine's government says it might sign a deal on closer European ties after all, but can President Viktor Yanukovych balance the demands of the masses on the streets and the wishes of his next door neighbor, Russia.

Also ahead...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've never, ever, ever, ever in my life have anything that (inaudible), but interpreter...


ANDERSON: We hear from the controversy signer at the heart of a growing scandal in South Africa.

And too rich for jail? A Texas teen successfully defends a charge of drunk driving that left four people dead by pleading so-called affluenza. We ask what sort of a defense is that?

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.

ANDERSON: Tonight, will Ukraine pivot east or west? That is the big question this hour. Just a short time ago, the country's deputy prime minister said that Kiev may soon sign a free trade agreement with the EU.


SERHIY ARBUZOV, UKRAINIAN DDEPUTY PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We cannot tell the date, but we have to work on it. We have to explain people what we are doing each step of it and then we can promise something.


ANDERSON: Well, his comments comes just a day after President Yanuckovych held talks with European and American officials in Kiev who said much the same thing. But Russia doesn't look set to give up an economic ally without a fight. President Putin used his annual state of the union speech Thursday to tout the economic benefits of a deal with Eurasia, or the east. And speaking to CNN, one Russian politician upped the ante with a stark warning for the country. Take a listen.


ALEXEI PUSHKOV, HEAD OF RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Look at Serbia, look at Bulgaria which is member of the EU, these countries have lost much more from joining the association or the membership in the European Union, their industries destroyed, their agriculture is almost nonexistent and they are still waiting for investments from the European Union which are never coming.

And I think Ukraine has to compare itself with these countries.


ANDERSON: Well, Moscow doesn't seem to like the idea, does it.

Meanwhile in Ukraine, thousands of people continue to pack Kiev's Independence Square despite the literally freezing conditions. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is with them and he joins us now.

Nick, why this seeming U-turn? And what's the response from protesters to this latest turn of events? Is it -- has it trickled down to them yet?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No. And the response has been minimal, frankly. And I should give a note of caution, we've spoken to an EU diplomat with knowledge of these negotiations. He says, look, there's positive signals being given out, but this text for the deal hasn't been rewritten, there's been no big cash incentives from Brussels offered secretly to get Ukraine to sign up. The meeting today was about both sides trying to understand each other's difficulties, but they have to go back, talk to their bosses. And they have yet a set a date for another meeting.

So talk of signing I think premature in many ways.

But even that positive messaging hasn't changed what we've seen behind me here. A big change from nine years ago with the Orange Revolution, forced barricades overnight, people braving the cold in their thousands, a rock concert in evidence here.

And today amongst the crowd, I saw people from the soviet army who fought in Afghanistan, assisting protection and also children young women too young to even remember the Orange Revolution joining the crowds today, because they simply themselves want a better future.


WALSH: The first glance, Kiev is on repeat, living again the pro- western Orange Revolution I saw here in 2004. But innocence is missing after nine years of lost hope.

But this is the key difference about the protests of 2013, these fortifications they feel the need to hide behind. Barricades put up with the advice of military veterans. And I think it's fair to say amongst the crowd here a sense of nervousness, couple with frustration that have had to come back on the streets.

Oleg leads dozens who fought for the Soviets in Afghanistan but now say they fight for Ukraine again, shielding the protest.

He's going to show us the barricade they've put up, saying the snow works just like sand does in bags when it freezes up like this.

To saying it's mostly men here whereas in 2004, you would really see a lot of it women, children, packing the square tight coming out after work like the bourgeois revolution. This is 80, 70 percent men everywhere.

Oleg has supplies and a goal.

OLEG MIKHNIUK, SOVIET ARMY VETERAN, AFGHAN WAR (through translator): Next year it's 25 years since we left Afghanistan. But now we are in Midan Square (ph). All of our lives we have fought for the rights of citizens. The people here aren't for politicians, but for Ukraine.

WALSH: Are you ready to die for this cause?


WALSH: But ordinary civilians fuel this protest.

The scale and organization here, it's almost industrial, passed them out straight into the cold and also look at the respect for hygiene here too. That just shows how committed the people are here to keeping this going for a long time.

Down the square, a younger generation who never knew the Soviets and learned of the Orange Revolution as children from their parents. This is a new fight about their future.

"If we don't support the idea of the revolution now," she says, "for us, our studies aren't needed because they are for our future. With Russia, our country will have no development."

"Many of our friends study," her friend adds, "and then leave for Europe as there's no life here."

A protest without a leader, with ideas rather than demands even in this cold, digging in for their second revolution in a decade.


ANDERSON: Nick, I think it's important at this stage just to remind our viewers what this European agreement is all about. Stay with me for a moment. This agreement provides a long-term basis for future relations between Ukraine and the EU. It includes binding rules on fundamental freedoms and human rights. Ukraine would play a role in EU foreign policy, for example, with agreements on weapons of mass destruction and conflict prevention, free trade and intellectual property rules and also move closer to EU norms.

And the agreement would also integrate energy markets and ensure increased energy security. And it would increase cooperation in banking transport and environmental issues, or at least that is what the EU is touting the deal would do.

Nick, as you rightly pointed out, we have very few details on this deal. We have no idea whether it was an EU sweetener to a previous deal that may or may not have been the straw that sort of broke the camel's back as it were, or the threat of U.S. sanctions that has pushed the Ukrainian government towards a closer ties with the west.

How -- and I know you've got a guest with you -- how is the opposition reacting to what they're hearing from the Kiev government tonight?

WALSH: Certainly, I think people are still trying to digest really if what we're seeing is, you know, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych again buying for time, perhaps giving the EU positive messages to keep these talks going and mollify the protests behind me, or this really means they are shifting towards the west.

Remember, if they do that they risk severe sanction and issues with Moscow who don't want to see that happen.

Becky, joining me is Natalia Agafonova from -- deputy from the opposition UDAR Party, that's led by heavyweight boxer, former heavyweight boxer Vitali Klitschko. We were both here nine years ago to a degree then the opposition won, but people are back on the streets again. What on Earth went wrong? How is it possible they failed these people?

NATALIA AGAFONOVA, MP, UKRAINIAN DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE FOR REFORM: Firstly, I should say that Ukraine is a new democratic country. It has only 22 years of independence. So in compare with a country which have 200 history of democracy. So it's normal. But not normal the fact that during the last three years actually the rights of people are in process of violating.

And so people as compared to the Orange Revolution are fighting -- are fighting with the regime.

So in Orange Revolution, they were for someone, for Yuschenko. In this revolution they are against -- against Yanukovych who is concentrating in himself the power of violation.

WALSH: There's been widespread condemnation of police tactics, but there's also an issue here. The opposition don't really have a figurehead. Nine years ago they had Viktor Yuschenko. Now their divided in many ways, accusations of nepotism within their ranks. Why isn't there a single figurehead who can lead this protest?

AGAFONOVA: So, the unique situation is that here we have the process of (inaudible) civil society. It's actually the society has come to a position and opposition leaders are just fulfilling their requirements of society.

So now the process of crystallizing, of negotiation with society. And it's process also between opposition and society.

WALSH: You've had months, really, you've had months to get this together. You've had years to get this together. Yushchenko won, then there was nepotism. He lost favor. Yanukovych moved back in. The pendulum swung back and forth...

AGAVONOVA: But it's not the question...

WALSH: ...haven't been united enough.

AGAVONOVA: It's a question of battling for the power here. (inaudible) between need to fulfill the requirements of people who are standing there first for the -- with the mainly three requirements. First of all, we need to factually in prison -- to release prisoners who were not guilty and they were just in prison due to this fact (inaudible) battle two weeks ago.

WALSH: If I've got one basic issue people have here (inaudible) staying out, would you call them to go home to avoid further violence or should people still be standing out on the street to defend their rights?

AGAVONOVA: People want to standing on the streets, because they want the result. And the result also is the punishing of people who are responsible for this baton of peaceful protesters.

WALSH: Natalia, thank you very much indeed.

Becky, as you see, it is going to be weeks of negotiation here. Clearly, the real issue, though, is will the people on the street go home peacefully. What will it take to actually unite them in decision to go home -- Becky.

ANDERSON: And let me just put that to you very, very briefly, Nick, it seems to be in listening to the conversation you were just having there with the opposition member of parliament, that it's not about this deal, is it? You know, protesters aren't going to be satisfied whether this deal is signed or not. There's a much wider, much deeper story here which is about the Ukrainian people wanting a democracy, which they don't believe they have at present.

WALSH: Certainly, it's about really a change of the political climate, a failure of the political elite to address what they want. Yes, the opposition do stand by them in situations like this, but as we've just been discussing they aren't united behind a particular figure.

I think that's what people are really worried about in the forthcoming weeks, it's about whether or not there can be adequate unity to stop this from getting out of hand. We've seen erratic acts by the Ukrainian president just in the past 72 hours talking nice to western diplomats, then sending in the riot police. That confused many people. But it left many in this capital concerned about what lies ahead.

His back certainly is against the wall both with his Russian partners and those he'd like to perhaps get close to in the European Union. But people I think very concerned about how this ends peacefully and quietly, Becky.

ANDERSON: Fascinating stuff. All right, Nick Paton Walsh for you tonight in Kiev. Nick, thank you.

Well, still to come this evening, a convicted war criminal put to death in Bangladesh just hours ago. We're going to get you a live report from the capital where the case has prompted an intense reaction.

Also ahead, just days after saying I do, some same-sex couples have their marriages annulled. A report from Australia this evening.

Plus, they queued for hours just to say goodbye, an update from South Africa, that's ahead. You're watching Connect the World. 14 minutes past 8:00 in London. I'm Becky Anderson.


ANDERSON: Welcome back.

It is -- this is Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson. And you are watching CNN.

Bangladesh has executed senior Islamist leader Abdul Quader Mollah for war crimes. The hanging comes a day after the country's supreme court upheld his death sentence for crimes against humanity in the country's war for independence in 1971.

Now the UN had voiced concerns that he had not received a fair trial.

Let me give you just a little background on this man. He was a senior leader for the Jamaat Islamic Party, a key opposition group in Bangladesh.

Mollah was convicted of war crimes committed during the country's '71 war of independence from Pakistan. Prosecutors call him the Butcher of Mirpur after a Dakkah suburb where it is believed he committed atrocities, including the killing of more than 350 unarmed civilians.

Authorities say the 65-year-old led a pro-Pakistan militia, which killed some of Bangladesh's top professors, doctors, writers and journalists.

Well, today's execution comes just weeks before elections and there are fears that it could spark protests.

Let's go to Daka where Tania Rashid joins us now. Fear of protests. Can you see that happening?

TANIA RASHID: The protests have already been happening throughout the country. I mean, even moments before the execution took place, the Jamaat e-Islami Party have taken to the streets and have thrown crude bombs throughout the countryside, but nothing severe has happened in Daka City center.

There is speculation that tomorrow at Jumay prayer, which is mass prayer held on Friday, there could be some more violence throughout the country.

ANDERSON: Why is this case taken so long? We're talking 40 years here.

RASHID: Yes, yes, 42 years after the war ended. This man is accused of mass murder, rape and arson. And now the execution, it represents -- there's something interesting about it, it represents the voice of the secular youth. Just about 11 months ago, I was covering the protest when Quader Mollah received a life sentence in jail. Now hundreds of thousands of youth took to the streets demanding he receive the death penalty. And on September 17, the supreme court changed the law retroactively and he was then given a hanging sentence.

ANDERSON: Fascinating stuff. Watch this space, a story that we'll continue.

Thank you for that.

The United States is blacklisting several companies and individuals which it says have been evading sanctions against Iran. Those named won't be able to do business with any U.S. citizens.

One official said those efforts go on despite the recent deal reached in Geneva. Last month, Tehran agreed to curb some of its nuclear activities in return for some relief from international sanctions.

A humanitarian crisis is brewing at the airport in the Central African Republic's capital Bangui. It's as many as 30,000 people taking refuge there from the fighting between Christians and Muslims. One aid worker described the scene as a, quote, mess.

Meanwhile, U.S. military aircraft flew the first planeload of Burundi troops into the country today. The U.S. providing logistical support to soldiers that are joining the African Union and French forces who are already on the ground there.

Well, police in Kenya say a grenade was thrown at a group of British tourists, but it failed to go off. According to AFP, reports the attack on the tourist van took place in the port city of Mumbasa. Now police say the grenade was later detonated safely and that they are looking for the man who threw it.

Meanwhile, the country is celebrating 50 years since its independence from British rule. And a photograph competition was held highlighting Kenya's heritage past and present. You can flip through some of the best on our website, There's some fabulous shots three.

Well, the United Nations has strongly condemned the ruling by India's supreme court which recriminalized sex between consenting homosexual partners.

Now gay rights activists in India have vowed to fight on after the supreme court ruled on Wednesday. The UN's human rights chief called the reversal illegal and a significant step backwards for the country. A high court had legalized homosexual sex four years ago.

In Australia, more than two dozen same-sex marriages are set to be annulled. The country's high court overturned a short-lived local law, which allowed the ceremonies in one Australian territory. The law was ruled invalid just five days after the first gay marriages in Australia.

Live from London, this is Connect the World. Thanks for being with us. Coming up, the U.S. and Britain are so worried about this rebel group in Syria that they have suspended all non-lethal aid to the opposition. We'll take an in depth look at the Islamic Front there.

And hear what South Africa's now famous signer told CNN. That is after this short break. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: Thousands upon thousands of people queued on Thursday to pay their respects to the father of their nation Nelson Mandela. Witness here the seemingly never ending lines of people as they patiently waited to bid him farewell.

Well, the 95-year-old's body is lying in state at the Union Building in the capital Pretoria. And mourners are being bused in from various locations around the country to personally say goodbye.

And in an exclusive interview with Britain's ITV news, Nelson Mandela's ex-wife Winnie reveals she was with the former president when he died. Here's how she described the moment.


WINNIE MADIKIZELA-MANDELA, EX-WIFE OF NELSON MANDELA: (inaudible) I watched -- there was (inaudible) going down and down so slowly and then he -- he drew his last breath and just rested.


ANERSON: Winnie Mandela.

Let's cross now to David McKenzie in Johannesburg.

Another emotional day for many, David, in South Africa. This as the government continues to court controversy over the deaf signer at the Mandela memorial service. How would you describe the mood in Pretoria today?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the mood in Pretoria was a somber one as you saw those incredible photographs of people lining up to pay their last respects to Nelson Mandela, very reminiscent in a way of the same images from -- similar images from '94, the first free elections. So it's almost a full circle here with people paying their respects before Mandela's body will be flown to Qunu in the Eastern Cape for the final burial which will be a much more private affair to the last few days commemorations, Becky.

But one thing that a lot of people are talking about here in South Africa and around the world today is the case of this interpreter at Mandela's memorial service in front of crowds of thousands at the stadium and millions around the world. He looked pretty confidence there signing the deaf sign language here in South Africa next to those esteemed speakers, including President Barack Obama.

But pretty early on, people said that what he was signing made no sense. So I finally managed to catch up with the controversial interpreter and here is what he had to say.


MCKENZIE: Are you embarrassed by this scandal?

THAMSANQA JANTJIE, SIGN LANGUAGE INTERPRETER: Not embarrassed. It's a, it's a -- this is a wake-up call. This is the wake-up call. At hospitals, at police station, at the Department of Education, which interpreter you call a fake? Which teacher qualified to teach a sign language? Is it a fake? And how many originals do you have? I understand if someone from U.K. or another country said, I didn't understand that interpreter.

Then I would say maybe I don't do the right one, but I was interpreting in my country, interpreting -- and if (inaudible), there was no any mistake, but (inaudible). If I have to be charged by doing anything wrong, of doing what I believe it was right, then it's OK.

MCKENZIE: So, you think you were doing South African sign language? JANTJIE: That's what I think I was doing and then if I was doing something wrong, there must be something that it could have been long time ago because it's not the first time I've been interpreter. I've been interpreting for many years.

MCKENZIE: Where did you learn sign?

JANTJIE: It's a question of my CV. My CV, you'll find in, it's interpreter.

MCKENZIE: On your CV, what does it say?

JANTJIE: I don't want to discuss it, you know?


MCKENZIE: Well, Thamsanqa Jantjie said to me that he has extensive experience, but wouldn't elaborate further, Becky. And so I did put one question to him, which could he show me any signs. Take a look.


MCKENZIE: Can you show me some of the signs?

JANTJIE: What do you want me to -- you...

MCKENZIE: Well, because I don't know how to sign.

JANTJIE: You say that to yourself that people that I was interpreted for them through all these years. They said I'm not -- I'm like speaking rubbish, but if I was speaking rubbish and then there was nothing that would have been done and then it's only now when something has been done and then I must again make another sign.

So you want to me what? Do you want me -- media called me a security threat. You want me to call me what?

MCKENZIE: No, I'm just asking if you can show me some of the signs.

JANTJIE: No, no. You're (inaudible).


MCKENZIE: Well, Becky, he did call himself a champion of sign language, that's why I pushed him quite so hard.

He's also saying that he's on medication for schizophrenia, but he didn't indicate to me, at least, that that's why he's being questioned for his performance. He says, that he did just fine. But it appears there's maybe more to the story, Becky.

ANDERSON: Fascinating.

All right, David, thank you for that.

And for more on all of the Mandela content that we have here at CNN, the tributes pouring in, of course, head to the website

And want to know why the great man had six names? It's all there.

Well, the latest world news headlines just ahead at the bottom of the hour here on CNN.

Plus, their lives were difficult even before a winter storm. How Syrian refugees are now trying to cope with biting winds and a blanket of snow.

It's no prison cell, this luxurious rehab clinic awaits a teenager convicted of killing four. The full story is ahead.


ANDERSON: The headlines this hour. Ukraine's deputy prime minister has said Kiev may soon sign a free-trade agreement with the European Union. His comments come a day after President Yanukovych held talks with European and US officials. Now, despite the positive words, thousands of protesters continue to pack Kiev Independence Square.

An Islamist leader becomes the first person to be executed for war crimes in Bangladesh. Abdul Kader Mullah was hanged today in Dhaka. He was convicted for crimes against humanity dating back to 1971 committed during the country's war for independence.

Democratic Republic of Congo's government and M23 rebels have signed a peace deal. The agreement pledges to end the bitter conflict that has raged in the east of the country and will see the M23 become a political party.

The interpreter at Mandela's memorial is defending his work amidst growing skepticism over his credentials. He says he has, quote, "been a champion of interpreting for the deaf," but the national director of the Deaf Federation of South Africa says the signer made a total mockery of the language. The government is now investigating how he got hired.

Many Syria refugees living in flimsy tents thought things couldn't get much worse. That was before the winter storm. A blanket of snow and bitterly cold winds are now adding to their misery. Syria's civil war has forced millions out of the country and into camps across the region.

Lebanon alone has taken in more than 800,000 Syrians, many living in unused buildings or makeshift tents that provide poor shelter from the cold.


UNIDENTIFED MALE (through translator): We were not prepared for such a storm. It surprised us. The tents blew about, letting the rain and snow come in on the little children. We would have preferred to stay in Syria with the shelling. It would have been easier than this storm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It is cold in the rain, and there is nothing else. Hunger and cold weather, and there is nothing, as you can see. I've been here for a week, now living in the rain and snow with no one helping us in anything. No one at all.


ANDERSON: Well, the US says its decision to halt non-lethal aid to Syria's opposition will not affect humanitarian relief. The US and Britain both took that step after Islamist rebels overran a weapons depot belonging to the Western-backed Free Syrian Army.

The Islamic Front formed just last month, but as Atika Shubert reports, it's now the most powerful rebel force in Syria.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Syria's Islamic Front, a group of six Islamist rebel units. And in this recruitment video slickly produced, it shows disciplined units doing military drills, all fighting to place Syria under Islamic rule. All reject the authority of the Free Syrian Army, which has dominated the fight against the Syrian government until now.

According to The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the Islamic Front has used its troops to seize the headquarters of the rebel Syrian Military Council near the Turkish border. According to that report, they took a significant number of weapons, including anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, as well as laptops, radios, and medical equipment.

Rebel general Salim Idriss was reported to have fled the fighting, but he told CNN that was not the case, and he had a very different view of events.

SALIM IDRISS, CHIEF OF STAFF, FREE SYRIAN ARMY: The news which said that I went to Doha or to Gulf region to stay there, all this news are not true. I am back. I am with my officers. I had a meeting today with the commander of the front. We are doing our job, and we are trying to stop the fight between the revolutionary forces and to go back to fight against the regime.

SHUBERT: Now, Turkey has sealed its border, effectively halting the critical truckloads of aid that rolled into Syria every day. The US and Britain have suspended non-lethal military aid to Syrian rebels, fearing it will only fall into Islamist hands.

JOSH EARNEST, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We have seen the reports that Islamic Front forces have seized the headquarters in question and warehouses belonging to the Supreme Military Council, and we're obviously concerned by those reports.

As a result of this situation, as you pointed out, the United States has suspended all further deliveries of non-lethal assistance into Northern Syria.

SHUBERT: It is the clearest sign yet that Islamist militants are now the strongest force dominating Syria's fractured rebel alliance, forcing out the secular opposition. And many fear that it will lead to a stark choice for Syria: Islamist militants or the regime forces of Bashar al- Assad.

Atika Shubert, CNN, London.


ANDERSON: Adding to all of these concerns, we've just gotten word of a deadly new attack by Islamist fighters in Syria. An opposition group says at least 15 people were killed in the city of Adra. Syria's state news agency called it a massacre against unarmed civilians. A US official tells CNN that the al-Nusra Front is apparently behind the killings.

Given all of this, should the West be arming or even assisting the Syrian opposition? We're joined now by two guests. George Jabboure Netto is a member of the opposition Syrian National Council, and Halla Diyab is a Syrian filmmaker and spokeswoman for the Organization for Freedom and Democracy in Syria.

Welcome to you both this evening. George, let me start with you. Help me out here. I am confused by the notion of non-lethal aid, so before we move on, let me just -- just flush this out for the viewers. What exactly is non-lethal aid? And the US and the UK, I know, are suspending it. What I understand we're talking about is weapons and ammunition. That sounds very lethal to me. Is it?

GEORGE JABBOURE NETTO, MEMBER, SYRIAN NATIONAL COUNCIL: Well, it's exactly non-lethal, like -- first, thank you for having me again. And it's non-lethal in terms of food rationing, equipment, satellite equipment and communication, and training.

But I want to highlight this is a trickle. I'm very surprised by the noise this decision made. This is a non-factor. If it was a factor, we would have not seen the situation on the ground --


ANDERSON: So it doesn't bother you?

NETTO: So, it's not going to make --

ANDERSON: Doesn't bother you? Wasn't worth the --

NETTO: -- it's not going to make a difference --

ANDERSON: -- boxes it came in, are you saying that?

NETTO: Well, one can argue it's even -- it was providing the face- saving device for the Obama administration and the UK that they're doing something to support the moderates. This trickle of support came too late.

We've been talking for two years, support the moderate fighters. Nobody wanted fighters on the ground, but when we got to that situation, moderates needed to defend the demonstrators who are being killed. Well, support the moderates, don't create a vacuum. Nobody listens. Two years later, look at the disaster, as your report summarized it all.

ANDERSON: George, Halla, is, it appears to me, at least, blaming the West for its delay in getting involved and now look at the situation. Your thoughts?

HALLA DIYAB, ORGANIZATION FOR FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY IN SYRIA: Of course, in the eyes of the Islamists in the Middle East and especially in Syria was not actually the fault of the West not supporting the moderate rebels, because there is a thin line between what is a moderate rebel and between extreme rebels, especially those fighters who are now joining the Islamist groups.

They're joining, it's not because they have -- they don't have weapons in the Free Syrian Army, but because the Islamist fighters are fighting on the Islamic estate ideology, which sounds very attractive to many Syrians and to many Arabs.

And also, it is led, actually, by many non-Syrian fighters. We know that the Islamist groups are not Syria oriented groups. They are -- they include the Arab fighters who came from different parts of the Arab countries and also. So, it's not actually the fault of the West. It's the fault of the Arab countries, like Qatar and Saudi Arabia, who supported these Islamic fighters, who supported --


DIYAB: -- Islamic revolution to jihad, that these fall --

ANDERSON: All right, Hall.


DIYAB: -- revolution.

ANDERSON: We hear what you're saying, and I'll let you have another word. Hold on. George, your response?

NETTO: Well, I like how it's so easy to simplify. This was a self- fulfilling prophecy from day one. Came on this program very early on in the revolution. Assad immediately pictured it as these are terrorists, these are -- and then made these terrorists.

People argue, how can as a regime with so much control let thousands of people in? Many of them were in his own prisons. He used them against the US and Iraq.

So, I'm not here to defend al-Nusra and extremists, clearly. I'm against that ideology totally. And this is not why children demonstrated in the street and were shot. This is not why we lost 120,000.

I would like her at least to mention the fact that one family, one person holding on, despite every price, willing to destroy half of the country, bombing cities, bombing civilians, that's not --


ANDERSON: You're talking about Bashar al-Assad's family. Let me get -- let me get Halla to respond to that, because this peace talk --

DIYAB: I think --

ANDERSON: Sorry, Halla, let me just butt in for one moment. The solution, it seems, as far as the international community is concerned is getting this peace conference sorted out in January now.

If the SNC and the opposition parties aren't prepared to pitch up because Bashar al-Assad won't step down before it, what's the point of this peace conference? Because I know that you are looking for a political solution, aren't you?

NETTO: Who are you asking, me?

ANDERSON: I'm asking Halla.

DIYAB: Yes, I think that more arms to the rebels group or even to the regime will escalate the situation in Syria, and that will kill the hopes for the peaceful settlement to happen in January in Geneva II. That's the only hope for Syria, is Geneva II, it's political solution.

The problem with the opposition, with the National Council in Syria and the military council is they are divided. They don't have a strong political opposition that can stand on the ground against Bashar Assad. In 2014, what is -- who can replace him?

The divided opposition and also the military opposition on the ground is divided. And that's why it is losing on the ground, and many fighters are going to the Islamic groups, and the only way, they need to get themselves together, they need to be united. They should have a defined strategy. They should --



DIYAB: -- work on the political settlement in order to bring peace to Syria.

ANDERSON: All right, George, a thousand days and 2 million people in living in refugee camps and elsewhere, millions displaced internally. You're still insisting as an organization that you won't pitch up unless Assad steps down. What is the solution at this point?

NETTO: The solution is a transitional government, transitional body, based on --


ANDERSON: But you're not going to get that, George.

NETTO: -- Geneva I, based on London --

ANDERSON: It's not going to happen at this point. So what is the solution?

NETTO: Don't try to convince me, try to convince those kids that are left in the cold.


NETTO: By the way, thank you for opening with the misery, with the saga part --

ANDERSON: That's the story, George.

NETTO: -- because I've been on four interviews. That's the -- exactly. That's the only -- you're the first one to highlight this. Try to convince the millions of Syrians. Let Halla convince them that they would like to live under the dictator that bombed their own cities, and even they're willing to live under shelling than being now outside.

ANDERSON: All right.

NETTO: A billion dollars a month is in need for relief. And try to convince those people that --

ANDERSON: All right, listen --

NETTO: -- yes, go back and sit with Assad.

ANDERSON: I've got to take an advertising break. It's been an absolutely pleasure to have you both on. Let's do this again, because this story isn't going away, and it's very, very cold where most of these people are, and they are suffering. So let's talk again. Thank you.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD live from London. Up next, how a teen successfully used his wealth as a defense for killing four people. That is next.


ANDERSON: A Texas teen has been let off serving any jail time despite killing four people while driving drunk. His defense team argued that he is a victim of his overly-privileged life, or a case of what psychologists have labeled "affluenza."

"Affluenza" a combination of the words "affluent" and "influenza," is defined as this: a psychological malaise supposedly affecting young wealthy people. Symptoms include a lack of motivation, feelings of guilt and a sense of isolation. Affluenza defined for you.

CNN's legal analyst, Paul Callan, joins us from New York with more this evening. Sir, firstly, had you heard "affluenza" being used as a defense in a case like this before?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, that's a new one on me. American lawyers are remarkably creative in coming up with excuses for their clients who have committed crimes. But affluenza seems to raise the bar. We've had the Twinkie Defense in the United States, but affluenza's, I have to tell you --


ANDERSON: Right --

CALLAN: -- a brand-new one, and a rather shocking one --

ANDERSON: -- and what -- yes, I was going to say --


ANDERSON: What sort of defense is this?

CALLAN: Well, this is a juvenile case that was brought against this young 16-year-old who, he ran down a group of pedestrians while he had consumed so much alcohol he was three times over the legal limit. He was doing 70 miles an hour. There was carnage after the accident, it was a horrible tragedy.

And the defense attorney said to the judge that he was raised in an atmosphere of great privilege and that his parents spoiled him and didn't teach him the difference between right and wrong --

ANDERSON: Are we looking --

CALLAN: -- so he should get probation --

ANDERSON: Sorry, yes.

CALLAN: And the judge went along with this.

ANDERSON: It does seem absolutely --

CALLAN: Judge went along.

ANDERSON: -- but I'm sure people around the world will be absolutely shocked by this. Are we looking a two-tier legal system at this point in the US?

CALLAN: Well, the -- this is a juvenile case, and normally these cases are done behind closed doors and the American public never hears about them. Of course, the American system is usually a very public trial system.

Usually, in juvenile proceedings, you don't even hear what goes on behind closed doors. This one was publicized, and people are shocked at the slap on the wrist that is given to this young man in such a serious criminal case.

ANDERSON: There has been outrage over this ruling across the social media sphere, as it were. Twitter user Jarrod says, and I quote, "Just proves that if you have the money, you can get away with anything."

Catherine criticizing, and I quote, "I think this judge may have missed the point about consequences." And Gowtown (ph) said simply, "This is beyond ridiculous." Sir, is there a case whereby this might be overturned?

CALLAN: It's highly unlikely. Texas is a state which does not permit an appeal by the prosecution of a sentence. In other parts of the world, of course, you can appeal verdicts in criminal cases, but in the United States, it's very hard for the prosecution to do that.

So, I think under existing law, this very lenient sentence is going to stand, then I think a lot of Americans are going to be very upset about the conduct of the judge in this case.

ANDERSON: And because we haven't heard from the victims, and lest we forget, there are four victims in this case, let's just hear from the father of one of them.


ERIC BOYLES, WIFE AND DAUGHTER KILLED: For 25 weeks -- I think I went through a healing process.


BOYLES: And so, when the verdict came out -- my immediate reaction is, I'm back to week one. OK? We have accomplished nothing here. This -- my healing process is out the window.


ANDERSON: I guess my final question is simply this: will this set precedent going forward? Are we likely to see this being used as a defense in the future?

CALLAN: I don't think so because I think, frankly, it's such a ridiculous defense and such a deeply offensive defense. Americans pride themselves on a system that we believe is fair to both rich and poor people, and this seems to carve out a defense that if you're rich and affluent parents, that's a defense in a criminal case.

So, I don't think you're going to see a lot of American judges buying into this. I think it's going to be an anomaly, a very, very strange situation that won't be repeated.

ANDERSON: Yes. All right, thank you, sir. The team at CONNECT THE WORLD know what you think about this and anything else that we've been covering tonight, but it is -- you've got to talk about this, don't you? Is "affluenza" -- "affluenza" -- a legitimate excuse for crimes committed?

Let us know what you think,, and you can tweet me, as ever, @BeckyCNN, that's @BeckyCNN. We are on Instagram as well, that's -- search for BeckyCNN, you can watch my daily preview of the show. Apologies, there wasn't one there today, a little bit busy.

Coming up after this short break on CONNECT THE WORLD, our fashion forecast for 2014 continues. We've got a week of forecasts for you, why industry insiders say the new year is looking good for consumers.


ANDERSON: The fashion landscape is changing. Traditional design houses are being challenged by younger talent using the internet to boost their brand, and in this environment, forecasting next year's trends is no easy task, I'm told. Have a listen to this.


EVA HERZIGOVA, MODEL: My name is Eva Herzigova, and I am a model.


BARNEY CHENG, HONG KONG COUTURIER: So, I'm Barney Cheng, and I am a Hong Kong couturier, which means I'm a glorified tailor.

HERZIGOVA: Fashion is changing every six months, and now with the pre-collections, it's changing quarterly. And each season introduces new trends.

CHENG: It's like a free-for-all. But then, a lot of it is inspired by adventure and global travel. Very colorful, very fun. And it's time to put fun back into the fashion map, because it -- we've been serious for so long.

It's not about form-fitting anymore. It's about big billowy skirts, boxy jackets, and it's the new volume, so big tops, skinny bottoms, or else it would be like skin-tight tops and then really voluminous shorts or skirts or even like a PJ pants.

HERZIGOVA: You have the florescent colors, crazy prints. Now it's going little bit into the grunge again. It doesn't have to be eccentric, but just different.


CHENG: I think personalization is the way forward. People don't want to look like everyone else. People want to be able to buy off the rack for the ease of it, but then still have the option to have some sort of differentiation from the others.

HERZIGOVA: I don't think fashion today is ruling what has to be worn, like in the 50s, when Mr. Dior said this skirt has to be the length of 58, and everybody had to wear that length. I think fashion today is more about individuality anyway and how you translate the trend into your own style.

CHENG: It really isn't like before, where there's a specific trend where you have to do something that everyone else is doing. Now, it's all about being individualistic, about having your personality stamp on whatever you wear. So, it's no longer about the designers, but it's all -- it's more about you.


ANDERSON: All right. In tonight's Parting Shots, if you've got a bit of extra cash to spend this Christmas, here's an idea for you. This festive wreath is selling for $4.6 million. And it's not just a bit of holly and ivy, though. Understandably. Dozens of diamonds and rubies are tucked in between the leaves.


MARCEL KUOBIL, FOUNDER, VERYFIRSTTO: There have been quite a number of individuals who've been looking at it from an investment perspective, and they've been owners of companies. But there've also been individuals who just want to make a remarkable statement for their Christmas.


ANDERSON: It's expected the eventual buyer will use the wreath as a Christmas centerpiece. Good for them, if you do.

That's it from us. We -- well, is that it from us, or do we have a little more time? I -- no. There, I've got the music, that must be it. Good evening from us in London.