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Legal news from Tuesday, May 30, 2006
by James M Yoch Jr

A Jordanian court on Tuesday convicted the editors of two national newspapers and sentenced them to two months' imprisonment for publishing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that incited protests and violence across the Muslim world earlier this year after first appearing last September in Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. The editors -- Jihad al-Momani of Shihan …

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by James M Yoch Jr

Lawyers for the US Department of Justice argued in a federal court filing Tuesday that the government has no legal obligation to return documents seized by the FBI from the office of Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA), who is under investigation in connection with a bribery scheme involving a Kentucky telecommunications firm that was …

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by James M Yoch Jr

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki said Tuesday that the Iraqi government will launch its own probe into the allegations that US Marines killed two dozen Iraqi civilians and militants in the city of Haditha in November 2005. Reports that the killings were carried out by the Marines in retribution for a roadside bomb first appeared in TIME …

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by Joe Shaulis

The Georgia Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to fast-track the state's appeal of a lower court ruling striking down a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. Oral arguments are scheduled for June 27. Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) said earlier this month that Georgia Attorney General Thurbert E. …

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by Joe Shaulis

An appeals court in Uzbekistan on Tuesday upheld an eight-year prison term for human rights activist Mutabar Tojiboyeva [RFE/RL report], even though prosecutors had recommended a more lenient sentence. Tojiboyeva, a prominent critic of Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov and head of the group Ardent Hearts, was detained in October as she prepared …

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by Joe Shaulis

Ireland broke European law by asking the United Nations to arbitrate its claim against the United Kingdom in respect of the Sellafield nuclear power plant, an EU court ruled Tuesday. Ireland sought arbitration from a UN tribunal in 2001, claiming that the UK violated the UN Convention on the Law …

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by Joe Shaulis

AP is reporting that a jury in Rockville, Md. has convicted Washington, D.C.-area sniper John Allen Muhammad of six counts of murder. The jurors heard four weeks of testimony in the trial, in which Muhammad represented himself. Muhammad has already been convicted and sentenced to death in Virginia for shootings there. …

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by Jaime Jansen

The criminal justice system in Kosovo is failing, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Tuesday in a report focusing on the criminal justice response to renewed violence between Serbs and ethnic Albanians [BBC Q/A] that broke out in March 2004 in the UN-administered territory still nominally part of Serbia. Despite almost seven …

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by Jaime Jansen

Thailand's Cabinet on Tuesday approved October 15 as the date for new elections just three weeks after the country's Constitutional Court annulled last month's parliamentary elections, finding that the Election Commission unconstitutionally organized the vote too soon after Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra dismissed parliament, leaving new candidates little time to prepare. …

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by Jaime Jansen

The US Supreme Court on Tuesday granted certiorari in Philip Morris USA v. Williams [cert. petition and reply brief, PDF], 05-1256, a case involving the damages awarded in a wrongful death action against Philip Morris brought by the relatives of a longtime smoker. Earlier this year, the Oregon Supreme Court upheld a …

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by Joe Shaulis

A group that opposes South Dakota's abortion ban announced Tuesday that it has gathered more than enough signatures to prevent the July 1 enactment of the law and place it on the ballot in November. The South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families said its volunteers had gathered more than 37,000 signatures and …

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by Jaime Jansen

US Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), chairman of the US House Judiciary Committee, said Tuesday that he intends to draft legislation that would shield congressional documents and materials from being seized in searches similar to the FBI raid on the congressional office of Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) earlier this month. Speaking during …

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by Jaime Jansen

Australian Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said Tuesday that he is willing to revise Australia's new sedition laws, particularly the use of the word "sedition," after the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) released a discussion paper Monday arguing that "sedition" implies a threat to free speech. …

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by Jaime Jansen

East Timor President Xanana Gusmao said Tuesday that he is taking control of national security and defense in response to the increasing and often violent unrest related to the March firing of 600 troops that went on strike. By consolidating power, Gusmao will be able to control both the …

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by Jaime Jansen

Saudi Arabia has freed three former Guantanamo Bay detainees who were repatriated there last year. According to an Interior Ministry source, the three "admitted to have been present in troubled areas without obtaining the consent of their parents or permission from the country's authority in addition to having committed other violations, including using forged documents and putting …

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by Jeannie Shawl

The US Supreme Court on Monday held that First Amendment protections do not extend to government employees for comments made while performing their official duties, even when the employee is acting to expose alleged government wrongdoing. In a 5-4 decision in Garcetti v. Ceballos, the Court overturned a Ninth Circuit …

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by Jaime Jansen

The European Court of Justice ruled Tuesday that an agreement between the European Union and the US that compels European airlines to disclose information about passengers flying from Europe to the US is illegal. The so-called passenger name records deal [BBC Q&A], required European airlines to reveal the …

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by Jaime Jansen

President Bush on Memorial Day signed into law the Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act, legislation barring protests near military funerals originally passed in the US House of Representatives and approved last week by the Senate. The law will prohibit any demonstration within 300 feet of the …

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by Jaime Jansen

Saddam Hussein complained Tuesday that chief judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman of the Iraqi High Criminal Court is not giving the defense in Hussein's trial the same consideration the prosecution was given while presenting its case. Abdel-Rahman has decreased his tolerance for a string of defense witnesses who do not have direct knowledge …

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by Jaime Jansen

A court in South Korea on Tuesday sentenced Kim Woo-choong, founder of collapsed conglomerate Daewoo Group, to ten years in prison and ordered him to pay a fine of over $10,000 while forfeiting $22 billion gained through embezzlement and accounting fraud. Kim was indicted last year on charges of …

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by Jaime Jansen

A Belarus court on Monday sentenced Sergei Lyashkevich, an official who helped run the campaign of opposition presidential candidate Alexander Milinkevich, to five months in jail for training and paying people to riot during the protests that ensued after the March presidential election. Lyashkevich, who headed Milinkevich's campaign office in the western town …

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