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International brief ~ South African prosecutors seek new trial for 'Dr. Death'

[JURIST] In Tuesday's international brief, state prosecutors for South Africa [government website] have appealed to the Constitutional Court [official website] for permission to retry Dr. Wouter Basson, a scientist allegedly employed by the apartheid government to create a "smart virus" that would only target black South Africans. Basson was acquitted in 2002 on charges of conspiracy, drug trafficking, and murder. Prosecutors are arguing that the white judge who presided over the original trial was biased. Previous appeals to retry the case were rejected by lower courts. The Constitutional Court of South Africa is the nation's final court of appeal. South Africa's News 24 has local coverage.

In other international legal news ...

  • The Nepalese Supreme Court [official website] ordered Tuesday the Nepalese government [official website] to produce human rights activist Gauri Pradhan before the court on Feb. 28. Pradhan, president of the human rights group Child Workers in Nepal [advocacy website], was arrested Feb. 17 upon landing at Tribhuwan International Airport in Kathmandu after a trip to Europe. The order was issued following the filing of a writ of habeas corpus by Sumnima Pradhan, Gauri Pradhan's wife, and it requires the government to state a reason for Pradhan's arrest. CWIN has started an appeal [open letter] to pressure the government to release Pradhan. Kantipur Online has local coverage

  • The ruling political party of Sudan [government website] and 23 other political parties signed a charter Monday that outlines goals for the political reform of the nation. The charter purports to spell out the vision of Sudan for the next several years, especially as reforms provided for by the cease-fire agreement [text, PDF] between South Sudan and the Khartoum government take effect. The charter stated the intent to maintain Sudan's predominantly Muslim cultural and social heritage while accomplishing political, economic and social reform. Several key opposition parties refused to sign the charter, most notably South Sudan ruling party Sudan People's Liberation Movement [official website]. The southern regions of Sudan have a mix of Christian and Animist belief structures and have repeatedly protested against the attempted homogenization of Sudan as a Muslim nation. Opposition groups have accused the government of trying to make a power grab in light of the SPLM's recent increase in popularity. Polls show the South Sudan ruling party would win 30 percent of parliament seats in the next election. The Sudan Tribune has local coverage

  • The Pakistan Supreme Court [official website] refused to withdraw a corruption charge against an incumbent government minister in a surprise ruling Tuesday. Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat was charged with an $11 million bank default before he left the Pakistan's Peoples Party [official website] for President Pervez Musharraf's party. After defecting, Hayat was named Minister of Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas [official website]. Pakistan's National Accountability Bureau [official website] had already initiated an investigation of Hayat, however, and was put in the awkward position of opposing a ruling party minister. The NAB had already presented the case to an anti-corruption tribunal, and thus was barred from removing the case voluntarily. Lower courts denied the right to return the case to NAB internal bodies for private settlement. The Supreme Court's refusal to allow the dismissal of the case means that Hayat will face charges while sitting as a federal minister, an unusual sitauation in Pakistan. The Supreme Court also ordered regular hearing in the case to begin the first week of March. Keralanext.com has local coverage.

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