International brief ~ Four charged in Nigerian president assassination plot

Four men - three military officials and one civilian businessman - were charged Thursday with the attempted assassination of Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo. The charges allege that the four, led by Major Hamza al-Mustapha, attempted to purchase a Stinger ground-to-air missile to shoot down Obasanjo's helicopter in April. Mustapha was the head of security under former Nigerian military dictator Sani Abacha (profile here) and has been in government custody since the restoration of the civilian government in 1999. The prosecution claims that even though in custody, Mustapha held meetings in prison to facilitate the coup attempt. All four pleaded not guilty to charges of treason, attempted murder and overthrow of the legitimate government. The East African Standard has more.... Efforts are underway in Russia Friday to determine the makeup of a court that will retry four military officer charged with war crimes in Chechnya. The four were acquitted in an earlier trial, but the prosecution appealed the ruling on the grounds that it was legally inconsistent with current legislation. The Military Collegium of the Russian Supreme Court ordered a retrial. The defendants are charged with murder, abuse of power and war crimes for killing innocent civilians in Chechnya. The defendants are arguing for a jury trial, which counsel for the victims opposes. The prosecution wants the trial to be held in Chechnya, while the defence claims that would create an unfair trial. Itar-Tass has more.... UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland addressed the Security Council Thursday about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Uganda. Egeland called the continued violence between the government and the rebel group Lord's Resistance Army (LRA profile here) a "moral outrage," citing the 90 percent displacement rate of local villagers and the 20,000 kidnappings of children in the area to be used either as hostages or as conscripted soldiers. Egeland also raised concerns over the security of the few humanitarian workers in the area currently, calling for peacekeepers in the region to ensure the safety of the UN's humanitarian efforts. Egeland said the current progression of peace talks in Sudan will help calm the strife in Uganda, as there was spillover from that conflict into Uganda. The Ugandan government has claimed that it has the situation under control and that the UN should not send peacekeepers. JURIST's Paper Chase has background on the violence in Uganda here and Sudan here. Voice of America has more.... The UN Cameroon-Nigerian Mixed Commission finishes two-day talks Friday on how to peacefully enforce an International Court of Justice ruling (text here)that required Nigeria to hand over control of the oil-rich Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon. The Nigerian government had agreed to hand over the region on September 15 of this year, but refused to do so for 'unspecified technical reasons.' The UN Commission is aimed at facilitating the transfer of control over the region to Cameroon without causing regional violence. JURIST's Paper Chase reported on the original refusal here. South Africa's Independent Online has more.

 

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