[JURIST] A US District Court judge refused Sunday to issue a temporary restraining order barring the hand-counting of ballots in the recount of Washington's governor's race. The lawsuit, filed Saturday by the Washington State Republican Party, asked the court to bar hand-counting of ballots that are rejected by voting machines. State rules require a machine recount when the margin of victory is less than 2,000 votes, however, due to technical difficulties many ballots cannot be recounted by machine. The latest official count has Democrat Christine Gregoire leading Republican Dino Rossi by only 261 votes. AP has more.
[JURIST] Members of the Paris Club agreed Sunday to write-off $31 billion in Iraqi debt. All 19 members of the multinational group of creditor countries, which include France, Germany and the US, agreed to eliminate 80% of Iraq's $39 billion debt over the course of 3 years. 30% of the debt will be eliminated immediately, and the remaining 70% will cancelled by 2008, after Iraq's completion of an special program. Paris Club President Jean-Pierre Jouyet stated, [the] deal is vital in ensuring Iraqi officials are able to meet the financial demands of reconstruction. BBC News has more. Read the White House press release on the agreement here.
[JURIST] Expressing frustration over slow extradition processes, Peruvian state attorney Nelly Calderon said Sunday that the International Court of Justice should be called upon to take the case against former President Alberto Fujimori. Fujimori fled Peru for Japan in 2000 and various requests for extradition have failed. Fujimori is accused of corruption and of responsibility in the deaths of 25 people during his presidency. JURIST'S Paper Chase has background on Peru's previous extradition attempts. Reuters has more.
[JURIST] Following up on a story reported earlier today in JURIST's Paper Chase, King Hamad of Bahrain commuted the year-long jail term of human rights activist Abdul Hadi al-Kharwaja shortly after his sentencing on Sunday. Although he did not pardon al-Kharwaja of the charges laid against him, he stressed the need to preserve democratic reforms made under his leadership. BBC News has more.
[JURIST] The defense team for more than 100 Mauritanian soldiers and civilians accused of a coup attempt said Sunday they will boycott a trial they view as unfair. The lawyers cite the appointment of 2 military officers as judges and removal of the trial to a distant military base. The lawyers put a halt to the opening session of the trial and vowed not to return until the military officers were taken off of the judicial panel. The defendants are charged with attempting to topple President Mowaiya Wald al-Tayei in June 2003 and August 2004 and could face the death penalty if convicted. UPI has more. AP has background.
[JURIST] Peru says it will ignore any ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights advocating the release of American Lori Berenson. Berenson has been jailed in Peru since her 1995 arrest and 2001 conviction for terrorist collaboration with Marxist guerrillas, the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement. She was originally sentenced to life in prison, but was retried and is currently serving a 20 year sentence. Peruvian legal experts believe President Alejandro Toledo has not reduced the sentence because of political pressure to appear tough on terrorism. The IACHR is scheduled to consider this week whether she received a fair trial; read a court press release here (No. 6, in Spanish). AP has more.
[JURIST] A Bahraini court Sunday sentenced human rights activist Abdul Hadi al-Khawaja to one year in prison for inciting hatred against the government. Al-Khawaja, the vice president of the now banned Bahrain Center for Human Rights, had accused the government of financial mismanagement and called for the resignation of the Prime Minister Sheik Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa. Amnesty International has expressed concerns regarding the government's actions against the group and is calling for al-Khawaja's release. BBC News has more.
[JURIST] The Iraqi Electoral Commission announced Sunday that it has set January 30, 2005 as the date for national elections. Iraqis will vote for 275 members of a transitional parliament that will pick a new government and draft a permanent constitution to replace the interim document now in force. Once a constitution is enacted, the transitional parliament will be dissolved and new elections held near the end of 2005. Insurgent violence, particularly in Sunni areas of Iraq, has threatened to derail the elections and despite today's announcement is still a potential problem for both the holding and the legitimacy of the vote. The US military has promised to increase troop levels to help secure the January poll. BBC News has more.
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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible, ad-free format.