[JURIST] Authorities in Nepal Sunday released two powerful former ministers in the royal direct rule cabinet led by King Gyanendra [official profile] following an order from the Nepalese Supreme Court [official website]. The released former ministers were Kamal Thapa and Tanka Dhakal. While passing the order, Justices Sharada Prasad Pandit and Badri Kumar Basnet said the detention of the former ministers was "illegal" and not "based on sufficient evidence".
The new Nepal government had arrested Thapa and Dhakal on May 12, accusing them of conspiring against the popular people's uprising [JURIST news archive] in April this year. They were detained under the Public Security Act. Thapa was home minister during the uprising and ordered the Armed Police Force and the Nepal Police to suppress the uprising. Altogether 21 people were killed and over five thousand people were injured by the police during the 19-day long uprising that forced King Gyanendra to give up executive power [JURIST report]. Three other royal ministers detained in May were released [JURIST report] last week.
Kiran Chapagainis a special correspondent for JURIST writing from Nepal. He is an Assistant Senior Reporter for the Kathmandu Post.
Judge Cutler's remarks come in immediate response to criticism of the judiciary for imposing "lenient" sentences after a man convicted of molesting a three-year-old child received a life sentence, but was given the opportunity for parole after serving 6 years. Last month, however, government leaders also took a British judge to task [JURIST report] for what they called a "bizarre" ruling that Afghan hijackers who landed in the UK could not be deported, and last year tensions between the UK judiciary and the government ran high [JURIST report] in the wake of the July London bombings and government threats to direct judges how to rule [JURIST report] in terrorism deportation cases.
[JURIST] The Boston Globe reported Sunday that the US government has failed to allow Guantanamo Bay detainees [JURIST news archive] access to witnesses even though some of those witnesses were available. The US has told detainees in the past that it was unable to locate witnesses requested by terror suspects, but a Boston Globe reporter was able to locate three of those witnesses within three days. The list of reportedly unavailable witnesses includes well-known Afghan minister of energy, Ismail Khan [BBC profile], and a prisoner currently in US custody.
Defense attorneys claim that the absence of witnesses at hearings has made it more difficult to prove their clients' innocence. Out of the 380 Guantanmo Bay detainees who have had hearings, only 38 managed to be granted release. The Boston Globe has more.
[JURIST] A Serbian government official has told AP that war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic [ICTY case backgrounder; JURIST news archive] was hiding in Serbia until last year, but his current location remains unknown. Rasim Ljajic [official profile], Serbia's Minister of Human and Minority Rights and head of a government committee working with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia [official website] at The Hague said Saturday that Serbian authorities hoped that information concerning Mladic's previous hideouts would lead to the former Bosnian Serb commander himself. Although the Serbian government has hitherto dismissed claims by ICTY war crimes tribunal prosecutors and others that Mladic was in Serbia in the past, Serbian President Boris Tadic said in a Serb daily Saturday that the capture of Mladic is in "the vital interest of this country."
[JURIST] Governor Kathleen Blanco [official website] of Louisiana signed a bill [PDF text; SB 33 summary] Saturday that could ban most abortions in the state. The bill, which would apply to all abortions except when the life of the mother is threatened, will take effect only if the US Supreme Court [official website] overturns the 1973 Roe v. Wade [text] decision or if the US Constitution is amended to allow states to prohibit abortions. The Louisiana Senate [official website] unanimously approved the bill [JURIST report] earlier this month.
Blanco said in a statement [text] that while she had hoped the bill would include additional exceptions for victims of rape and incest which did not pass, "the central provision of the bill supports and reflects my personal beliefs." The law is similar to South Dakota legislation [JURIST report] approved in March. Reuters has more.
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