[JURIST] Israel's cabinet voted Sunday to release 500 Palestinian prisoners in what is being termed a "goodwill gesture" to help build relations with new Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. The cabinet also agreed to allow over 200 Palestinian laborers to enter from the Gaza Strip for the first time in months. The 500 prisoners are expected to be released later this week. Israel expects to free 400 more prisoners in the coming weeks. Still, some Palestinians are disappointed by the numbers, demanding the release of all prisoners. Almost 8,000 are held [Palestinian prisoners advocacy website]. None of the prisoners scheduled to be released [AFP report] have been convicted of roles in deadly attacks. The list of those to be released will be made public in order to allow appeal of the releases. Reuters has more. The Jerusalem Post provides local coverage.
[JURIST] Taha al-Amiri, formerly a chief judge at Basra's highest criminal court under Saddam Hussein, was assassinated by two gunmen on his way to work Saturday. Al-Amiri is one of several former Baath party [Wikipedia article] figures to be killed in the last 18 months. Shiite extremists seeking revenge are suspected in the attack; Hussein's regime oppressed Iraq's Shiite majority. AP has more.
[JURIST] Reuters is reporting that the Iraqi election commission has just issued final results from the January 30 vote and that the Shiite Alliance, a grouping of Islamic parties, has come out on top, garnering 47.5% of the vote. Meanwhile, AP has calculated that only 3,775 valid votes were cast in the violence-wracked Sunni province of Anbar, which includes the city of Fallujah. The total number of votes cast was approximately 8.5 million, representing a 60% turnout of eligible voters. Review the final results [Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq release in Arabic; PDF].
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