[JURIST] One of Saddam Hussein's top aides, Ghazi Hammud al-Obeidi, was released from custody by Iraqi authorities Sunday for health reasons. Al-Obeidi, who has a terminal form of stomach cancer, was included on the US list of the top 55 Baath Party [Aljazeera special report] members wanted in connection to crimes committed by Saddam's party, which the FBI released on a deck of cards [USA Today report]. Al-Obeidi was arrested about a month after the fall of Saddam's government and was number 51 on the US most-wanted list of Iraqis and the two of hearts in the card deck. Iraqi justice ministers have said that al-Obeidi's release is in accordance with the Geneva Convention [text] and that al-Obeidi will be permitted to travel to Germany for treatment. Of the 55 most-wanted Iraqis, only 11 are still at large. AP has more.
[JURIST] Mahmoud Ezzat, secretary-general of outlawed Egyptian opposition group Muslim Brotherhood [official party website, in Arabic], was arrested by Egyptian authorities early Sunday. Egyptian police say that Ezzat, the fourth ranking member of the Brotherhood, is the highest profile member arrested since 1996. Authorities claim that the arrest is a warning to all opposition groups who are opposed to the new rules governing the first multi-candidate election in Egypt [JURIST report]. Opposition parties have announced that they will boycott the upcoming referendum [JURIST report] when the public votes on the proposed constitutional amendment [JURIST report] due to their belief that the amendment only favors President Hosny Mubarak [official profile]. Mubarak has been re-elected for the past 24 years by a referendum on which he was the sole candidate. The amendment proposes rules that would restrict many officials from opposition parties from running in the upcoming election [JURIST report], including jailed militant and Muslim Brotherhood candidate Essam el-Erian [Al Ahram profile/interview]. Over 800 Brotherhood members have been detained for involvement in recent Egyptian protests concerning the referendum. AP has more.
[JURIST] British Colonel Jorge Mendonca, the commander in charge of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment [official website] troops in Iraq, faces the possibility of court martial and jail time for his alleged involvement in the death of a detainee by forces under his command in 2003. Baha Mousa, an Iraqi hotel clerk, was arrested by troops in the regiment and discovered dead two days later with strangulation marks, a broken nose and three broken ribs. The Royal Military Police's Special Investigation Branch [official website] has handed over results of their 10-month investigation into Mousa's death to the Army Prosecuting Authority, which is now considering whether there is enough evidence to bring a court martial against Mendonca. Mendonca, who was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his service in Iraq, could become the first serving British officer court-martialed over claims of prisoner abuse. AFP has more.
[JURIST] A federal jury in Illinois has rejected a Muslim groups claim that city officials violated their civil rights by blocking its 2001 plans to turn a vacant Christian church into a mosque. The Al Salam Mosque Foundation argued that the Chicago suburb of Palos Heights discriminated against the group based on their religion and later breached a contract to give the group $200,000 to drop their purchase plans. The city argued that the property was needed to build recreation space, and the council's plan to pay the foundation to drop its mosque plan was rejected by the city's mayor. AP has more. The Chicago Sun-Times has local coverage.
[JURIST] Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano [official website] Friday vetoed a series of bills that would have prohibited illegal immigrants from receiving child care assistance, instate tuition benefits and given the state police power to enforce federal immigration laws. Supporters of the tuition bill, [HB 2030] including sponsor Tom Boone [official website], contend it is wrong to let immigrant students take advantage of instate tuition when out-of-state students who are legal citizens must pay more to attend college in Arizona. Napolitano noted the bill goes too far by punishing even longtime residents of the state who were brought here as small children by their parents. The legislation appears to be in response to a 2004 voter-approved law that denies some government benefits to illegal immigrants. Also Friday, the governor signed into law a bill that bars local governments from putting taxpayer money into day labor centers that help illegal immigrants find work. AP as more.
[JURIST] The Texas Senate [official website] approved a proposed constitutional amendment Saturday that would ban same-sex marriages [JURIST hot topic]. The measure will be presented to voters in the state's November elections, and, if passed, will amend the state constitution [text] to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Read the Texas Senate press release on the vote. Fourteen states have adopted similar constitutional amendments and Massachusetts is the only state to recognize same-sex marriages. On Friday, Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich vetoed [JURIST report] a bill in that state that would have allowed rights for gay partners who registered with the state, while earlier this month an initiative in Arizona [JURIST report] began to make a similar amendment to that state's constitution. AP has more.
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