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Indian Gang-Rape Convict To Be Released; Kerry Hosting International Talks on Syria; Displaced Syrians Living Near Russian Airbase; Number of Refugees Worldwide Breaks Record; Republican Rivals Butt Heads over Immigration; Pope Attributes Second Miracle to Mother Teresa; Obama's Year- End News Conference; Indian Government Opposes Release of Rapist; Actor Will Smith on "Concussion". Aired 10-11a ET

Aired December 18, 2015 - 10:00:00   ET




ZAIN ASHER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, everyone. Welcome to the INTERNATIONAL DESK. So glad to be with you. I'm Zain Asher. Let's get

you straight to your top stories.

An Indian man convicted of brutally raping and murdering a woman when he was a teenager is now about to be released from a juvenile detention

center. The victim's mother is now saying that crime has won.

The man was 17 when he participated in the gang rape of a 23-year-old woman on a bus in New Delhi. An Indian court rejected an effort to keep

him in custody longer than his original three-year sentence. Our New Delhi bureau chief Ravi Agrawal joins me live now from the Indian capital.

So, Ravi, this is a case that really stunned the world. It was in international headlines everywhere. The young man has been released rather


What's been the reaction there in India?

RAVI AGRAWAL, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: The reaction has really been one of surprise, shock also. A number of the Indian TV channels,

which I should remind you, where the ones that first brought this to light, ran the story for months and months, really bringing attention to this very

important story here.

Well, they're the ones who are now saying, well, what happened?

How did he get released so quickly?

They're running interviews with the victim's parents, with commentators, with legal analysts. This is big news in India. You said

it's big news around the world but it's much bigger news here in India. It was back then and it is right now and it will be over the weekend,

especially leading up to Sunday, when this juvenile rapist will be released.

So it's a shock here and I should add, though, that the reason why he is being released is that he has served his three years and, according to

Indian law, a juvenile, for almost any crime that one could commit, the maximum amount of time that you can be held is three years.

He served those three years and today what we saw at the high court in Delhi is the judge is essentially saying that government may want to keep

him in, the police may want to keep him in but we can't change the law so we have got to let him go.

ASHER: Right, and Ravi, what do we know about this convicted rapist?

Because we still don't know his name.

But what happens to him now?

Does he go into hiding?

AGRAWAL: We actually know very, very little about this particular rapist. So there were six rapists involved in this absolutely heinous and

disgusting crime. Of those six, five were adults. After they were named guilty, we learned their names. They were outed, their pictures were all

over the Indian media and on CNN because we did a documentary on this very story.

But the sixth rapist, because he was a juvenile, and only by a few months; he turned 18 just a few months after the events of December of

2012, simply because of that, he has enjoyed the protections of Indian law, which means that his name is not allowed to be disclosed. We don't even

know what the name is.

So very little is known about this person. And on Sunday, he will be free even then; as of now we know very little about where he's going to go,

what he's going to do. It may be that the police could say that they need to keep an eye on him.

There is a -- what is known as a management committee here for juveniles. They will be monitoring this person. But we don't know if

we're doing to see this person, if we'll ever even learn his name.

ASHER: And the fact that we don't know his name is a topic we're going to explore a little bit later on in the show with an Indian legal


But it's interesting because we don't know the identity of the attacker but we do, however, Ravi, know the identity of the victim.

How common is it in India to have a rape victim named publicly?

AGRAWAL: It's rare. There are instances when there are rape victims who are alive and come out openly and talk about their experiences. They

write about it, they come on Indian TV and talk about it.

And those are the instances where you learn of the names. But if the victim does not want to disclose her name -- or even his name I should say

-- then that's the way it is. The media cannot do so. The police cannot do so.

And so it's all kept a secret. In the case of Nirbhaya or Braveheart as she came to be known, her own mother outed her name on Wednesday.

Wednesday was the -- it marked three years since the events of that horrific day in 2012.

And her mother came out and said, quite publicly, that it is not our family that should be ashamed. It is not I who should be ashamed but it is

the rapist should be ashamed.

Their names should be named and for what it's worth, she went out named her daughter's name. Indian media has been also running with that

name. So it is now well in the public domain across Indian media, on TV, on newspapers and --


AGRAWAL: -- also the international media. We can now name her as well. Her name is Jyoti Singh.

ASHER: Right, a courageous act for the mother to name her own daughter in all of this.

But I do want to ask you, after the victim died, India actually passed the 2013 anti-rape bill, basically to change the way sex crimes are


So that aside, how much have things on the ground there actually changed in India?

Is that enough of a deterrent?

AGRAWAL: Well, you know, we see rapes here all the time. So clearly, it is not enough of a deterrent. There are -- you know, the sheer number

of rapes that you see here, living here, it's in the newspapers every single day.

A few measures have been taken by the government, as you say. It has sort of increased the scope of the definition of rape. It has made the

punishments tougher. The government says that it is making it easier to process these crimes to make the police more aware of how to treat victims

with a bit more kindness and compassion.

There are GPS monitoring services on buses, on auto rickshaws but you have got to ask the question, is it enough?

Rapes still continue to take place here at great rates. And that continues to be a reason of great shame for New Delhi, the city that I live

in, and for India at large.

ASHER: And, Ravi, the anti-rape bill is just one step in the right direction. As I mentioned, we will have a lot more on the legal aspects

later a little bit later on in the show with a lawyer there in India.

Ravi Agrawal, thank you so much. Appreciate that.

The U.S. and Russia -- the U.S. and Russia in New York are in talks to try and end the war in Syria. Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and

several foreign ministers are joining U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in New York.

Today's meeting comes a few days after Kerry's trip to Moscow, where he offered hints of compromise from the U.S. on the future on Syrian

president Bashar al-Assad. CNN global affairs correspondent Elise Labott, joins me live now from New York, where the talks are taking place.

So Elise, one of the big sticking points in all of this, as you know, has been what is going to happen to president Bashar al-Assad. Even though

Washington has been very clear in the past they want Assad to go, they have toned down their rhetoric in recent weeks.

Does that mean that U.S. and Russia are now more aligned in their objectives, do you think?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, Zain, a couple of things going on. First of all, you have to consider where

Secretary Kerry was, he was in Moscow and I think a lot of that rhetoric to placate a little bit his Russian host.

But the U.S. position on Assad has been evolving. I mean, the U.S. ultimately feels he has to go. But realistically, they know that that's

not going to happen any time soon. And that's why there's this real urgency to try and get this political process going between negotiations

between the regime and the opposition groups on a political transition.

And the hope is that Bashar al-Assad will be gone at the end of that transition. Certainly that's not a guarantee. You know, the Russians are

making a little bit of signals that they may be open to that towards the end.

But certainly that's the elephant in the room. But today, there certainly is some momentum on this political process. You saw in Vienna

last month this 17-nation international Syrian support group endorsing this plan. A six-month negotiations on cease-fire, that would lead to more

talks led by the U.N. on negotiations for drafting a new constitution and also towards electing a new government.

They hope later to enshrine all of these talks, all of these plans into a U.N. Security Council resolution later today, which would also be

very significant because you know U.N. Security Council has taken action on chemical weapons, on ISIS, on other things but has never been able to agree

on a political process.

So if they were to agree on a resolution today, certainly it's not going to end the bloodshed any time soon but it definitely would be a

significant step in the right direction.

ASHER: Yes, the goal as you mentioned in all of this is a cease-fire, certainly very ambitious when you consider that you can't exactly bring

ISIS and Al-Nusra Front to the table.

Elise Labott, thank you so much, live for us in New York. We appreciate it.

Russia has granted CNN extraordinary access to its military operations in Syria. Today our Matthew Chance toured a camp near Russia's air base in

Latakia, where thousands of displaced Syrians are now living. He tells us how they ended up there and why they don't want to leave. Take a listen.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the game for Syria, Russia's Putin and Bashar al-Assad are on the same


"This is thanks to Russia," the poster reads.

We were brought to this, the "Sport City" camp in Latakia to see how the Syrian --


CHANCE (voice-over): -- government and Kremlin backers say they give refuge. One government sanctioned aid worker told me how and why these

people are here.

CHANCE: What have these people been through, to drive them to become refugees?

ZEN HASAN (PH), AID WORKER: These people just don't have any homes. They don't have any families. So horrible stuff. Kids here, I hear stuff

from kids about killing, about death about -- you know? It's really hard on them. They live horrible, you know. They're just pretty safe here.

They don't want to leave the land. And they don't have the money to pay for the trip to Europe, which anybody can do. It's not the other side.

CHANCE: Is that why these refugees are here, being protected essentially by the -- by President Assad?

Because they couldn't afford to go to Europe?

HASAN (PH): No, no; I'm not saying they want to stay here -- there with President Assad, you know, but they just didn't want to leave.

CHANCE: Well, the authorities tell us that housing at least 5,000 or 6,000 people in this one camp, just a fraction, of course, of the millions

made refugees by Syria's brutal civil war.

One of the reasons we have been brought here is to illustrate that not every Syrian wants to escape the clutches of the Syrian government and its

president, Bashar al-Assad. Some feel much safer under his control.

CHANCE (voice-over): Some like Aisha Adbulraheem and her family, who fled Aleppo earlier this year.

Her husband is in the Syrian army, she told me. Rebels behead family members of Syrian soldiers, she says.

For some, the choice between the evils of Bashar al-Assad and the rebels who oppose him is simple to make -- Matthew Chance, CNN, in Latakia,



ASHER: Russian Investigators are analyzing the flight recorder from the warplane shot down in Turkey last month. The Russian defense ministry

says the memory card is damaged but experts are still able to retrieve information from it.

Turkish officials say the plane was warned repeatedly over airspace violations. Moscow denied it crossed into Turkish territory and Russian

president Vladimir Putin has lashed out at Ankara over the incident.

The number of people forced from their homes by violence is now reaching record numbers. We'll tell you about a new report from the U.N.

Refugee Agency and why the agency's leader says now is a time for compassion, tolerance and solidarity.

Also ahead, what's described as miraculous news from the Vatican about Mother Teresa. We'll explain coming up.





ASHER: Welcome back, everybody.

Immigration has been a hot button issue in the U.S. presidential race and now two Republican candidates are going head to head over it. But this

time front-runner Donald Trump isn't in the middle of the clash. Here's our Sunlen Serfaty with more.


SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The battle between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio intensifying into an all-out war.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: They're trying to blur the record.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLA.: Ted's the one that chose to attack me personally and in a very strong way.

SERFATY (voice-over): The two first-term senators bringing new heat to old fights, sparring over their roles in the 2013 debate over

comprehensive immigration reform.

Rubio, a cosponsor of the failed bill, trying to turn his biggest vulnerability with Republican voters into a liability for Cruz.

RUBIO: He's going to have a hard time because he's not told the truth about his position in the past on legalization. And even there at the

debate, he said he didn't intend to legalize people in the future. Again, I think it's very crafty language.

SERFATY (voice-over): Cruz rejecting Rubio's charge that he supported granting legal status to undocumented immigrants.

CRUZ: I oppose amnesty, I oppose citizenship, I opposed legalization for illegal aliens. I always have and I always will. And I challenge

every other Republican candidate to say the same thing or, if not, then to stop making silly assertions that their records and my records on

immigration are the same. It is demonstrably false.

SERFATY (voice-over): Cruz did offer an amendment to the bill that would grant legal status but he claims that it was designed to be a poison

pill to kill the legislation.

CRUZ: By calling their bluff, we want -- we defeated amnesty. We beat it.

SERFATY (voice-over): But that quite different from the senator's own stated intention in an interview in 2013.

CRUZ: It's still immigration reform but it was to amend the Gang of Eight bill so that it actually solves the problem rather than making the

problem worse.

SERFATY (voice-over): The Cruz-Rubio duel allowing the front-runner, Donald Trump, to coast along, largely unchallenged, appearing for laughs on

"Late Night," showing a rare moment of self-reflection.

DONALD TRUMP, ENTREPRENEUR: I would like to see the Republican Party come together and I have been a little bit divisive in the sense that I

have been hitting people pretty --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A little bit, yes.


SERFATY (voice-over): But in almost the next breath, taking a shot at rival Jeb Bush.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, you think that Jeb Bush is scared of you or just scared in general?

TRUMP: I think he's scared.

SERFATY (voice-over): Bush keeping up the attack on Trump following Tuesday night's debate.

JEB BUSH, FORMER GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: Look the guy's a gifted politician but he's not a serious candidate. Donald Trump doesn't talk

about anything serious.

SERFATY (voice-over): Sunlen Serfaty, CNN, Las Vegas, Nevada.


ASHER: All right. I want to get you caught up on the migrant crisis here. War and conflict have driven one in every 122 people from their

homes. It's an alarming new statistic from the U.N. Refugee Agency. They just released a report around the same time as International Migrants Day.

The U.N. said the number of people forced to flee their homes will far surpass 60 million this year. That's, by the way, a record number.

Speaking of which, the number of refugees and migrants entering Europe will top 1 million in the coming few days. Nearly 991,000 have entered

Europe by land and sea so far this year. That's according to the International Organization for Migration and that is, by the way,

quadruple, more than four times the number last year.

The vast majority, more than 800,000 refugees and migrants, have landed in Greece witnessing nearly 3,700 dead or missing trying to cross

the Mediterranean.

All right. Time for a quick break. You're at the INTERNATIONAL DESK. The pope paves the way to sainthood for Mother Teresa. We'll have a live

report from Rome coming up.

And the U.S. president holds his year-end news conference today. Find out what sort of questions he's likely to field. We'll have a live report

with Joe Johns coming up after the break.





ASHER: Welcome back, everybody.

Pope Francis has recognized a second miracle attributed to Mother Teresa which means she's now on track to be claimed a saint next year. The

Albanian nun was renowned for her efforts to care for the poor in the slums of Calcutta, India. She died back in 1997 at the age of 87 and was

beatified by the Catholic Church six years later.

Our Vatican correspondent, Delia Gallagher, joins me live now from Rome.

So, Delia, this is interesting timing that Pope Francis has chosen to recognize her as a saint now. But explain to our viewers how the process

of naming someone a saint actually works.

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the process for sainthood at the Vatican involves two miracles, one of which was already

declared by John Paul II in the case of Mother Teresa, an Indian woman who was cured of abdominal tumors. And the investigation of miracles begins

normally five years after the person's death.

John Paul II fast-tracked Mother Teresa, so they started the process earlier, which is why we're seeing her made a saint earlier than normally


But the Vatican has a whole office dedicated to the saint-making process. And they actually send officials to the countries, where people

claim to have received miracles, in order to investigate. And they talk to the local doctors, they look at the X-rays, they gather the documentation.

They bring it back here to their offices in Rome, where they have another medical board examine the evidence.

And they declare whether or not the healing was spontaneous, whether it is long-lasting and whether the person can prove that they prayed

directly to the saint involved. It's no good if you prayed to 100 people. You have to have chosen one person and have some kind of proof or evidence

that your family members say, yes, we prayed to this person.

In addition, the Vatican --


GALLAGHER: -- looks at the whole lifetime of the saint, what they call the heroic virtues.

Was this a holy person, did they do something extraordinary in their life?

So it's the miracles together with what the person did during their lifetime. The Vatican office puts a stamp on it and sends it to the pope,

which is what happened yesterday. Pope Francis said, yes, I approve this second miracle. The Vatican hasn't confirmed the details of that but the

Italian bishops' newspaper says it has to do with a Brazilian man who was cured of brain tumors in 2008 -- Zain.

ASHER: So Delia, for those people who might be skeptical about this Brazilian man who may have been cured from a brain tumor, what does the

Catholic Church say to them?

GALLAGHER: Well, again, they will look at the whole life. The miracles are certainly a part of it and obviously the Catholic Church

believes in miracles. And they have their process for investigating them.

I remember with John Paul II, I was able to meet with the doctor of a woman, a Costa Rican woman, who claim was one of the miracles that John

Paul II claims she was cured of a brain aneurysm. And I saw the X-rays of the before and after. So I've seen a little bit of what they actually look

at at the Vatican in terms of the medical evidence.

But clearly there are miracle skeptics and the Catholic Church general says we're also looking at the life of this person and certainly in the

case of Mother Teresa, John Paul II and every pope since has said, this is a woman who has dedicated her life to the poor.

Pope Francis, more than anybody, that's his message for the church, so it makes sense that she would be somebody he'd want to make a saint --


ASHER: Delia Gallagher, thank you so much.

You're at the INTERNATIONAL DESK. Still to come, the U.S. president is set to hold his year-end news conference. We have a live report from

Washington coming up.





ASHER: Welcome to the INTERNATIONAL DESK. I'm Zain Asher. Let's get you caught up on your headlines.


ASHER: Many people are angry that the juvenile convict is still not being named even though he's now technically in his 20s. I want to bring

in Kirsty Singh (ph), a lawyer with the Indian Supreme Court. She joins me live now on the phone from the Indian capital.

So Kirsty (ph), thank you so much for being with us.

Just explain to our viewers around the world the legal reasons as to why this young man who committed this heinous act cannot be named publicly?

KIRSTY SINGH (PH), INDIAN LAWYER: Well, that's because in the juvenile (INAUDIBLE) crime when he was juvenile. He cannot be named or his

name can be published anywhere in a magazine or in a newspaper or anything.

And (INAUDIBLE) when he was a juvenile. He's not being named.

ASHER: And that's despite the public interest and just how heinous the crime is, he still will be not be named?

SINGH: Yes. That's (INAUDIBLE) taking a narrow view of it. And I don't think they're examining whether he can be named after he's

(INAUDIBLE) 18. But that's how it is. I mean, the letter of the law means that he can't be named, when -- if he committed a crime when he was a


ASHER: Just in terms of the amount of time he spent in jail, it's just three years.

Would there have been any sort of legal way -- I mean, I know that he's a juvenile, I know that his sentence was three years and that is it.

But just given how awful this crime was, the public interest, the fact that it made headlines around the world, was there any sort of legal way

to keep him in jail for longer?

SINGH: Well, not at that age. And you know, religious groups and others, even those who are in -- not in favor of juveniles being treated

like adults, even between 16 and 18 years old, even though some of those groups are saying that, no, three years is too little. The person needs to

be kept in for as long as it takes him to be reformed.

But somebody has to certify that he is not going to commit this crime again because we have had cases in the past where a juvenile has come out,

he's threatened the family after he's become an adult. And you know, so on.

So it's an -- it's a -- there's a loophole in the law. And I think the law needs to be remedied. We don't want to juveniles to be in with

adult criminals and to get hardened and (INAUDIBLE) that we have.

But at the same time, we do not want them to be let loose in society. And, of course, there is outrage. Three years is just too small a period,

I think.

ASHER: And I know that there is this anti-rape bill, this 2013 anti- rape bill that came out amidst all this.

Do you think that the law in the future could be changed so that people might spend longer in jail, even if they are a juvenile, longer than

three years?

SINGH: Well, you know, the anti-rape law (INAUDIBLE) talk about this. The anti-rape law (INAUDIBLE) with the older criminals and, of course,

there are (INAUDIBLE) for rape and gang rape particularly is (INAUDIBLE).

So that law is fine. But when it's a juvenile, then the juvenile (INAUDIBLE) come into play. And that's where you can only keep them in a

safe house (ph) for three years and so on. And that law does need to be changed.

ASHER: Right. And our hearts do go out to the victim's family members, who are going through all this right now and reliving the pain of

that experience.

Kirsty Singh (ph) --


ASHER: -- appreciate your perspective. Thank you so much.

U.S. President Barack Obama is about to take a long vacation in Hawaii but first he'll hold his end-of-year news conference. It comes during an

election campaign, of course, and heightened concerns over terrorism. I want to get a preview now from our senior Washington correspondent, Joe


So Joe, Thursday the president sort of talked about the terror threat in the U.S. and the threat of lone wolf attacks, reassuring Americans that

they are safe in their own country.

What do we expect from him today?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, he can get questions in his news conference about just about anything, Zain.

But we do know over the last 24 hours some of the hot topics have been things like social media, encryption, the ways terrorist organizations can

communicate and get around surveillance.

We also know that the president talked just yesterday at the National Counterterrorism Center right outside of Washington, D.C., about the fact

that he has ordered a review of the controversial K-1 fiancee visa, that of course is the program through which one of the suspects in the attacks in

San Bernardino, California, actually got into the country.

So we expect he might take some questions on that. The president did say as recently as yesterday that there's no specific and credible threat

to the homeland but that his monitor -- his experts continue to monitor that. And he warned Americans to be vigilant.

So a lot to talk about. The president's last news conference here at the White House. And many people here certainly looking forward to it --


ASHER: Right. So terrorism clearly likely to take center stage, nothing off the table in terms of asking questions as you mentioned.

But next year is going to be his final year in office. He's worked very hard to sort of fight that lame duck label. But, Joe, give our

international viewers some perspective on what his biggest priorities are going into 2016.

JOHNS: Well, I can tell you what the priorities right now are at the moment. And making its way through Capitol Hill is a huge spending bill to

keep the government operating. That's certainly the most immediate priority expecting the White House to sign that, once it gets to the

president's desk.

But the bigger picture, the president very likely to have a priority of continuing to push his signature domestic achievement, which is

ObamaCare, the Affordable Care Act.

We do know that the president will -- would like to laud his achievements in re-establishing relations with Cuba. But also very likely

to get some questions about Guantanamo Bay, the prison there and the so-far unsuccessful attempts to close it -- Zain.

ASHER: And that news conference will be taking place in about 3.5 hours from now. We will, of course, be taking it live -- Joe Johns, thank

you so much. Appreciate it.

Will Smith's new film takes on a hidden cost of playing American football. Up next we'll hear how the star's new role changed his own views

on the sport. That's coming up.






UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I was a boy, heaven was here. And America was here. You could be anything, you could do anything.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you don't speak for him, who will?

ASHER (voice-over): Will Smith has now been nominated for a Golden Globe for his latest film, "Concussion." The actor plays Dr. Bennet Omalu,

who researched the long-term effects of head injuries in American football.


ASHER: Now according to NFL's 2015 health and safety report, the number of reported concussions has actually fallen by 35 percent over the

past three seasons but in the past the league has actually been accused of trying to suppress concussion research.

CNN's Rachel Nichols sat down with Will Smith to discuss what it was like taking on the NFL.


WILL SMITH, ACTOR: I grew up in Philly and loved football. I did not want to be the guy who said to the world that, oh, guys, there might be a

hidden danger that we're not seeing.

But after I met Doctor Omalu and he told me his story and I sort of understood the science of it, as a parent, I started to feel impelled to

tell the story because I didn't know, while my son was playing, I didn't know.

And I knew that if I didn't know, other parents didn't know. So it became important to me to be a part of the delivery of the information.

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now for the million dollar question is, now that you know what you know, you said educating parents,

would you let Trey play football now?

If he came to you now and said, "Hey, Dad, I want to play high school football," what would you say?

SMITH: I think I would say, "Son, listen, I love you and, you know, if it were up to me, you could play, but your mother said no."


NICHOLS: That is very good strategy. I love it.

The NFL in this movie is not exactly looking good; they're portrayed as willfully obscuring the truth about something that is causing physical

long-term harm to their players.

Do you think that's an accurate portrayal?

SMITH: That's something that we debated very heavily during this film. And I like to chalk things up to a lack of knowledge and a lack of

clarity about what's real and what's true.

NICHOLS: How do you think the people in the NFL office feel about you these days?

SMITH: You know, I probably won't be getting my free Super Bowl tickets this year.

NICHOLS: Well, don't worry, I don't think Roger Goodell sent me a Christmas card this year either. We're in good company.


ASHER: All right. That does it for me and my team here at the INTERNATIONAL DESK. But stick around, "WORLD SPORT" with Christina

Macfarlane is up next.