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International brief ~ Israel cabinet declares Sharon permanently incapacitated

[JURIST] Leading Tuesday's international brief, Israel's cabinet has declared Prime Minister Ariel Sharon [official profile; BBC profile] to be permanently incapacitated [press release], marking the official end of the Sharon administration and opening the way for acting-PM Ehud Olmert to assume control of the administration as interim prime minister. Sharon was still considered the PM following his January stroke, but Israeli constitutional law [official text] prohibits the use of an acting PM for longer than 100 days without a ruling on the permanent capacity of the elected PM to rule. The Israeli Justice Ministry [official website] last week announced the intention to make the declaration [JURIST report] following required medical exams on Monday. The 100 days expires Friday, but the upcoming Passover celebration in Israel moved the relevant tests up to Monday. Sharon, one of the most popular elected officials in Israeli history, even though he had recently left the conservative Likud party to form his own moderate Kadima party [party website] and promised to withdraw from contested Palestinian territories, has been in a coma since early January and is not expected to regain consciousness. AP has more.

In other international legal news ...

  • Sean McCormack, spokesman for the US Department of State [official website] issued a statement late Monday that criticized the decision by Nepalese King Gyanendra [BBC profile] to seize control of the government and dismiss elected officials [JURIST report] over fourteen months ago. The statement said the decision "failed in every regard" [press release] and called on Gyanendra to restore democracy to the country and open talks immediately with the political parties allied against the monarchy. Nepal [government website] has been in turmoil recently as police and security forces have cracked down on political protests [JURIST report] against Gyanendra's government. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Nepal [JURIST news archive]. eKantipur.com has local coverage.

  • Bernardo Provenzano [Wikipedia profile], the man alleged to be at the head of all organized crime in Italy, has been arrested in a farmhouse in Sicily after eluding police and prosecutors for over 40 years. Provenzano was indicted on minor criminal charges in 1963 and has been a fugitive since then, but has steadily worked his way up the organized crime structure and is alleged to have taken over control of the "families" of crime in 1993 after the arrest and conviction of former mafia boss Salvatore "Toto" Riina. Prosecutors have claimed that the arrest will have a significant impact on future arrests and prosecutions of other organized crime suspects, as well as lowering the ability of the mafia to conduct criminal enterprises. AP 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 format.

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