Legal news from Thursday, April 7, 2005|
Canadian judge lifts publication ban on sponsorship scandal testimony
Jeannie Shawl on April 7, 2005 3:00 PM ET
[JURIST] Justice John Gomery Thursday ordered a partial lifting of a publication ban [Gomery Commission ruling] prohibiting the dissemination of testimony provided on a sponsorship scandal that has created significant political problems for Canada's governing Liberal Party. Canadians had previously been barred from reporting any testimony to Gomery's judicial commission of inquiry by Quebec advertising executive Jean Brault so as not to prejudice Brault's upcoming criminal fraud trial. The Gomery Commission is charged with investigating a national unity program that during the prime ministership of Jeam Chretien had resulted in $100 million in contracts being awarded to advertising firms like Brault's with close ties to the Liberal Party, with little return.
Soon after Brault began testifying about his role in the sponsorship program last week a Minnesota-based US conservative blogger defied the publication ban [Gazette report] by posting details on his Captain's Quarters weblog, asserting that "If you have government corruption, it shouldn't be hidden behind a publication ban. It should be out there for Canadians to see." In partially lifting the publication ban [Globe and Mail report] today, Justice Gomery said "It is in the public interest that this evidence with few exceptions be made available to the public remembering that publication bans are a violation of constitutional rights and are to be imposed rarely, particularly in the context of a public inquiry." Before Thursday's reversal, Canada's Public Works Minister said that the government would work to ensure that the publication ban was upheld in Canada, but acknowledged "There's very little that can be done when you speak of international media, particularly the Internet." According to the now officially-released testimony, Brault told the commission [CBC report] that he was repeatedly asked to give cash donations to the Liberal party and put election workers on his payroll in exchange for federal sponsorship contracts. CBC has more.
Previously on JURIST's Paper Chase...
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International brief ~ Kyrgyz elections postponed as parliament mulls Akayev trial
D. Wes Rist on April 7, 2005 1:57 PM ET
[JURIST] Leading Thursday's international legal news, the continuing dispute over how to remove former Kyrgyzstan President Askar Akayev [archived profile] has resulted in the postponement of the national elections originally scheduled for June. Akayev signed legal resignation papers Monday [JURIST report] in Moscow, but the Kyrgyz Parliament has not yet accepted his resignation. Kyrgyz [DC Embassy website] legislators are arguing over whether to allow him to resign - which would permit him to keep the internationally accepted immunity granted to former heads of state - or to impeach or even try Akayev for leaving the coutnry in the middle of a crisis. The failure to agree on Akayev's status has resulted in the original June 26 national election date being rejected by the new parliament and the selection of a new date being postponed until after a decision has been reached about Akayev. In related Kyrgyzstan news, oppostion leader Felix Kulov [party profile] appeared before the Kyrgyzstan Supreme Court Thursday to appeal the second of his two former convictions as being politically motivated and therefore invalid. A criminal abuse of power conviction was overturned [JURIST report] Wednesday, and Kulov needs the second charge of criminal corruption to be reversed as well in order to be able to run for the Kyrgyz presidency. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage on Kyrgyzstan [JURIST Country news archive]. BBC News has more. Itar-Tass has local coverage.
In other international legal news ...
- A group of Russian legislators are presenting a draft bill designed to grant a blanket amnesty to all Russian World War II veterans for crimes committed since the end of the war in connection with the upcoming V-E day [Wikipedia entry] commemorations on May 8. The amnesty would apply regardless of the seriousness of the crime or the amount of time already served, but would be denied to WWII veterans that had alrady been granted an amnesty after 1995 but had committed a serious, violent crime since then, or veterans that were found to be recidivists. The draft legislation was submitted to the Duma [government website in Russian] Thursday, and is currently being considered by the Legislation Committee. Itar-Tass has local coverage.
- The Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya [advocacy website] anounced its support Thursday for provisions to be entered into the Sexual Offences Draft Bill currently before the Kenyan Parliament [government website] that would result in chemical castration of convicted rapists. Fida chairperson Jane Onyango called for the inclusion of chemical castration in the draft legislation due to the continued rise in violent rape statistics in Kenya [government website]. Onyango said that reports had been filed of eight month old infants being raped and that severe punishment was the only way to curtail such activity. The East African Standard has local coverage.
- Three international human rights groups issued a joint statement Wednesday warning that recent releases of political detainees in Nepal [government website] should not lull the world into believing that the human rights situation in the county has improved. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the International Commission of Jurists [advocacy websites] included in the joint statement a call for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] to create a satellite office in Nepal, as well as to appoint a Special Rapporteur to monitor the human rights situation in the country. The Commission on Human Rights [official website] is currently holding its 61st annual meeting, and there is a possibility of a Swiss-drafted resolution on the situation in Nepal. JURIST's Paper Chase continuing coverage of Nepal [JURIST news archive]. Read the official text of the press release. Kantipur Online has local coverage.
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Corporations and securities law news ~ Pfizer suspends sales of Bextra after FDA warning
Amit Patel on April 7, 2005 11:04 AM ET
[JURIST] Leading Thursday's corporations and securities law news, Pfizer Inc. [corporate website] announced the suspension of its sales of arthritis drug Bextra [informational website]. The move came after US and European drug regultors told the world's largest drug maker that the drug's risks outweigh its benefits. Pfizer will also add information to the Celebrex [informational website] label about potential cardiovascular risks. The FDA [official website] had said in December that Bextra and Celebrex increases the risks of heart disease and stroke. Pfizer, which says it disagrees with the regulatory decision on Bextra, will attempt to find other options which will permit the resumption of sales of the drug. Read the Pfizer press release. Read the FDA press release. Reuters has more.
In other news...
Click for previous corporations and securities law news.
- Enron Corp. announded it will abandon its plan to sell Portland General Electic (PGE) [corporate website] to a holding company backed by Texas Pacific Group after Oregon regulator Oregon Public Utility Commission [official website] decided to block the sale. Enron indicated it would return PGE to a separate publicly-owned business and will issue a new stock to creditors, who then can decide whether to sell the shares on the open market. Read the Enron press release [PDF]. The Oregon Public Utility Commission has documents related to the rejected sale. AP has more.
- Morgan Stanley [corporate website] announced in its quarterly filing with the SEC that the agency is considering enforcement action against the company for not retaining e-mails. The SEC [corporate website] has made a preliminary determination which recommended punishing the company for alleged violations of securities and violation of a 2002 cease-and-desist order on e-mail retention. AP has more.
- Warner Music Group Corp. [corporate website] said in a SEC filing that it received another subpoena from New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer as part of his industrywide probe of the financial relationship between music companies and radio stations. This is the third subpoena received by Warner Music. The investigation centers on the tradion of music companies paying promoters hundreds of millions of dollars a year to secure radio air time for songs. Reuters has more.
- New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer [official website] pulled a political ad that ran on Google Inc. [corporate website] after it was came up for searchers who typed in the acronym for American International Group Inc. (AIG), the recent target of an investigation by Spitzer's office. The search ad which appeared at the top right of the results page read "Spitzer for NY Governor" which led people to http://www.spitzer2006.com. A spokesman said the ad was pulled because Spitzer thought the ad was inappropriate. Reuters has more.
- Qwest Communications International Inc. [corporate website] directors are considering their next move after MCI Inc. [corporate website] rejected their $8.94 billion takeover offer. The options include making a hostile bid for MCI Inc. and helping disgruntled MCI shareholders form a voting block to replace the MCI directors who voted in favor of the lower offer from Verizon Communications Inc. [corporate website]. Read the Qwest press release. Bloomberg has more.
- Armando Falcon Jr., director of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight [official website], told the House Financial Services subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance and Government Sponsored Enterprises [official website], that Fannie Mae [corporate website] employees falsified signatures on accounting transactions to help the company meet earnings expectations in 1998. The entries relate to the movement of $200 million in expenses from 1998 to later periods, a move which resulted in multimillion dollar bonuses for top executives. Read Falcon's prepared statement. The Washington Post has more.
- Three British bankers, David Bermingham, Gary Mulgrew and Giles Darby, former employees of Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc's Greenwich NatWest unit [corporate website], indicted on seven counts of wire fraud by a Houston court in 2002, won a major battle in their fight against extradition to the US when the High Court in London said the three will be allowed to challenge UK prosecutors for failing to investigate them in their own country. The Court said it was arguable that Britain's Serious Fraud Office [official website] did not fully exercise its discretion when it declined to prosecute the men in the UK. The three men are indicted on charges they used an Enron [corporate website; JURIST Hot Topic news archive] off-the-books partnership to defraud their former employer of $7.3 million. The men maintain they would not receive a fair trial in the US and should be put on trial in the UK, where most of the alleged criminal activity occurred. Read the indictment [PDF] against the three men. Bloomberg has more.
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Pope's will leaves no property but reveals resignation reflections
Brandon Smith on April 7, 2005 10:14 AM ET
[JURIST] The Vatican Thursday released the will and spiritual testament of Pope John Paul II [official website; BBC profile]. In the 15 page document [full text in Italian translation from Rome's Corriere della Sera newspaper] the Pope left no material property and asked that all his personal notes be burned. The will, translated from the Pope's native Polish and written over the course of his 26-year pontificate, also shows that John Paul II considered but rejected resigning from his post in 2000, the time when Parkinson's disease started to have a significant impact on his physical health. BBC News has more.
2:40 PM ET - Here is a full English translation of the Pope's will and spirtitual testament as provided to JURIST by the Vatican Press Office:
The testament of 6.3.1979
(and successive additions)
"Totus Tuus ego sum"
In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity. Amen.
"Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming" (cf. Mt 24, 42) - these words remind me of the last call, which will happen at the moment the Lord wishes. I desire to follow Him, and I desire that everything making up part of my earthly life should prepare me for this moment. I do not know when the moment will come, but like everything else, I place it too in the hands of the Mother of my Master: Totus Tuus. In the same maternal Hands I leave everything and everyone with whom my life and vocation have linked me. In these Hands I leave, above all, the Church, as well as my Nation and all humanity. I thank everyone. Of everyone I ask forgiveness. I also ask for prayer, that the Mercy of God may appear greater than my weakness and unworthiness.
During the spiritual exercises I re-read the testament of the Holy Father Paul VI. That reading prompted me to write this testament.
I leave no property behind me of which it is necessary to dispose. As for the everyday objects that were of use to me, I ask they be distributed as seems appropriate. My personal notes are to be burned. I ask that this be attended to by Fr. Stanislaw, whom I thank for his collaboration and help, so prolonged over the years and so understanding. As for all other thanks, I leave them in my heart before God Himself, because it is difficult to express them.
As for the funeral, I repeat the same dispositions as were given by the Holy Father Paul VI. (Here is a note in the margin: burial in the bare earth, not in a sarcophagus, 13.3.92).
"apud Dominum misericordia
et copiosa apud Eum redemptio"
John Paul pp. II
After my death I ask for Masses and prayers.
Undated sheet of paper
I express my profound trust that, despite all my weakness, the Lord will grant me all the grace necessary to face according to His will any task, trial or suffering that He will ask of His servant, in the course of his life. I also trust that He will never allow me - through some attitude of mine: words, deeds or omissions - to betray my obligations in this holy Petrine See.
24.II - 1.III.1980
Also during these spiritual exercises, I have reflected on the truth of the Priesthood of Christ in the perspective of that Transit that for each of us is the moment of our own death. For us the Resurrection of Christ is an eloquent (added above: decisive) sign of departing from this world - to be born in the next, in the future world.
I have read, then, the copy of my testament from last year, also written during the spiritual exercises - I compared it with the testament of my great predecessor and Father, Paul VI, with that sublime witness to death of a Christian and a Pope - and I have renewed within me an awareness of the questions to which the copy of 6.III.1979 refers, prepared by me (in a somewhat provisional way).
Today I wish to add only this: that each of us must bear in mind the prospect of death. And must be ready to present himself before the Lord and Judge - Who is at the same time Redeemer and Father. I too continually take this into consideration, entrusting that decisive moment to the Mother of Christ and of the Church - to the Mother of my hope.
The times in which we live are unutterably difficult and disturbed. The path of the Church has also become difficult and tense, a characteristic trial of these times - both for the Faithful and for Pastors. In some Countries (as, for example, in those about which I read during the spiritual exercises), the Church is undergoing a period of such persecution as to be in no way lesser than that of early centuries, indeed it surpasses them in its degree of cruelty and hatred. "Sanguis martyrum - semen christianorum.". And apart from this - many people die innocently even in this Country in which we are living.
Once again, I wish to entrust myself totally to the Lord's grace. He Himself will decide when and how I must end my earthly life and pastoral ministry. In life and in death, Totus Tuus in Mary Immaculate. Accepting that death, even now, I hope that Christ will give me the grace for the final passage, in other words (my) Easter. I also hope that He makes (that death) useful for this more important cause that I seek to serve: the salvation of men and women, the safeguarding of the human family and, in that, of all nations and all peoples (among them, I particularly address my earthly Homeland), and useful for the people with whom He particularly entrusted me, for the question of the Church, for the glory of God Himself.
I do not wish to add anything to what I wrote a year ago - only to express this readiness and, at the same time, this trust, to which the current spiritual exercises have again disposed me.
John Paul II
Totus Tuus ego sum
In the course of this year's spiritual exercises I have read (a number of times) the text of the testament of 6.III.1979. Although I still consider it provisional (not definitive), I leave it in the form in which it exists. I change nothing (for now), and neither do I add anything, as concerns the dispositions contained therein.
The attempt upon my life on 13.V.1981 in some way confirmed the accuracy of the words written during the period of the spiritual exercises of 1980 (24.II - 1.III).
All the more deeply I now feel that I am totally in the Hands of God - and I remain continually at the disposal of my Lord, entrusting myself to Him in His Immaculate Mother (Totus Tuus)
John Paul pp.II
In connection with the last sentence in my testament of 6.III.1979 ("concerning the site / that is, the site of the funeral / let the College of Cardinals and Compatriots decide") - I will make it clear that I have in mind: the metropolitan of Krakow or the General Council of the Episcopate of Poland - In the meantime I ask the College of Cardinals to satisfy, as far as possible, any demands of the above-mentioned.
1.III.1985 (during the spiritual exercises)
Again - as regards the expression "College of Cardinals and Compatriots": the "College of Cardinals" has no obligation to consult "Compatriots" on this subject, however it can do so, if for some reason it feels it is right to do so.
Spiritual exercise of the Jubilee Year 2000 (12-18.III)
(for my testament)
1. When, on October 16, 1978 the conclave of cardinals chose John Paul II, the primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski told me: "The duty of the new Pope will be to introduce the Church into the Third Millennium." I don't know if I am repeating this sentence exactly, but at least this was the sense of what I heard at the time. This was said by the Man who entered history as the primate of the Millennium. A great primate. I was a witness to his mission, to his total entrustment. To his battles. To his victory. "Victory, when it comes, will be a victory through Mary" - The primate of the Millennium used to repeat these words of his predecessor, Cardinal August Hlond.
In this way I was prepared in some manner for the duty that presented itself to me on October 16, 1978. As I write these words, the Jubilee Year 2000 is already a reality. The night of December 24, 1999 the symbolic Door of the Great Jubilee in the Basilica of St. Peter's was opened, then that of St. John Lateran, then St. Mary Major - on New Year's, and on January 19 the Door of the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls. This last event, given its ecumenical character, has remained impressed in my memory in a special way.
2. As the Jubilee Year progressed, day by day the 20th century closes behind us and the 21st century opens. According to the plans of Divine Providence I was allowed to live in the difficult century that is retreating into the past, and now, in the year in which my life reaches 80 years ('octogesima adveniens'), it is time to ask oneself if it is not the time to repeat with the biblical Simeone 'nunc dimittis'.
On May 13, 1981, the day of the attack on the Pope during the general audience in St. Peter's Square, Divine Providence saved me in a miraculous way from death. The One Who is the Only Lord of life and death Himself prolonged my life, in a certain way He gave it to me again. From that moment it belonged to Him even more. I hope He will help me to recognize up to what point I must continue this service to which I was called on October 16, 1978. I ask him to call me back when He Himself wishes. 'In life and in death we belong to the Lord ... we are the Lord's. (cf. Rm 14,8). I also hope that, as long as I am called to fulfil the Petrine service in the Church, the Mercy of God will give me the necessary strength for this service.
3. As I do every year during spiritual exercises I read my testament from 6-III-1979. I continue to maintain the dispositions contained in this text. What then, and even during successive spiritual exercises, has been added constitutes a reflection of the difficult and tense general situation which marked the Eighties. From autumn of the year 1989 this situation changed. The last decade of the century was free of the previous tensions; that does not mean that it did not bring with it new problems and difficulties. In a special way may Divine Providence be praised for this, that the period of the so-called 'cold war' ended without violent nuclear conflict, the danger of which weighed on the world in the preceding period.
4. Being on the threshold of the third millennium "in medio Ecclesiae" I wish once again to express gratitude to the Holy Spirit for the great gift of Vatican Council II, to which, together with the entire Church - and above all the entire episcopacy - I feel indebted. I am convinced that for a long time to come the new generations will draw upon the riches that this Council of the 20th century gave us. As a bishop who participated in this conciliar event from the first to the last day, I wish to entrust this great patrimony to all those who are and who will be called in the future to realize it. For my part I thank the eternal Pastor Who allowed me to serve this very great cause during the course of all the years of my pontificate.
"In medio Ecclesiae".... from the first years of my service as a bishop - precisely thanks to the Council - I was able to experience the fraternal communion of the Episcopacy. As a priest of the archdiocese of Krakow I experienced the fraternal communion among priests - and the Council opened a new dimension to this experience.
5. How many people should I list! Probably the Lord God has called to Himself the majority of them - as to those who are still on this side, may the words of this testament recall them, everyone and everywhere, wherever they are.
During the more than 20 years that I am fulfilling the Petrine service "in medio Ecclesiae" I have experienced the benevolence and even more the fecund collaboration of so many cardinals, archbishops and bishops, so many priests, so many consecrated persons - brothers and sisters - and, lastly, so very, very many lay persons, within the Curia, in the vicariate of the diocese of Rome, as well as outside these milieux.
How can I not embrace with grateful memory all the bishops of the world whom I have met in "ad limina Apostolorum" visits! How can I not recall so many non-Catholic Christian brothers! And the rabbi of Rome and so many representatives of non -Christian religions! And how many representatives of the world of culture, science, politics, and of the means of social communication!
6. As the end of my life approaches I return with my memory to the beginning, to my parents, to my brother, to the sister (I never knew because she died before my birth), to the parish in Wadowice, where I was baptized, to that city I love, to my peers, friends from elementary school, high school and the university, up to the time of the occupation when I was a worker, and then in the parish of Niegowic, then St. Florian's in Krakow, to the pastoral ministry of academics, to the milieu of....to all milieux....to Krakow and to Rome....to the people who were entrusted to me in a special way by the Lord.
To all I want to say just one thing: "May God reward you."
"In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum."
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