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Legal news from Friday, July 28, 2006
by Bernard Hibbitts

The US DC Circuit Court of Appeals Friday blocked the US Department of Justice from reviewing the contents of files seized from the congressional office of Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) until Jefferson has an opportunity to review them himself to determine which might fall under the legislative privilege defined in the US Constitution's …

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by Joshua Pantesco

A federal appeals court Friday affirmed the securities fraud conviction and 25-year prison sentence handed down for former WorldCom [MCI/WorldCom website] CEO Bernard Ebbers. Ebbers appealed the 2005 district court determinations, saying the prosecution unfairly blocked three former WorldCom employees from testifying on Ebbers' behalf because, at the time, they were the …

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by Joshua Pantesco

The Spanish government on Friday unveiled the anticipated "Law for the Recovery of the Historical Memory," legislation aimed at healing the wounds of Gen. Francisco Franco's authoritarian regime that ruled Spain from 1939 to 1975 following a bitter three-year civil war. The bill appropriates $25 million to compensate victims of the Franco era …

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by Joshua Pantesco

Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika announced Friday that a criminal investigation has been opened into the June abduction and murder of four Russian embassy employees in Iraq. In a statement, the Prosecutor General's office said the perpetrators will be charged with "murder involving hostage-taking by a group of people acting in concert" and "hostage-taking for …

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by Joshua Pantesco

A Turkish court on Friday dismissed a lawsuit seeking compensation from novelist Orhan Pamuk, who was sued by six nationalists after he made allegedly unfavorable remarks to a Swiss magazine about Turkey's stance on the mass killing of Armenians during World War II. The lawsuit demanded 6,000 Turkish Lira (US $4,500) from Pamuk to …

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by Jaime Jansen

A US Army soldier has said that the deaths of three Iraqi detainees in Samarra on May 9 were deliberate murders covered-up by his squad of the Third Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division, according to Friday's New York Times. The Times obtained a sworn statement by Sgt. Lemuel Lemus given June 15, in which …

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by Joshua Pantesco

Some leftist Italian lawmakers belonging to the Union Coalition of Italian prime minister Romano Prodi have expressed dissatisfaction with a controversial sentence-reduction bill that has been extended to include prisoners convicted of fraud and other white-collar crimes. The measure that would effectively pardon 12,000 prisoners three years before the end of their sentences passed the …

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by Joshua Pantesco

Lawyers for the three men sentenced to death for the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings Friday threatened to sue the Indonesia attorney general's office if their clients' executions, currently scheduled for mid-August, are carried out before they file for judicial review. A lawyer for the men speaking at a news conference moreover said the appeal will …

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by Jaime Jansen

A Belgian ethnic Lebanese couple is preparing a legal complaint against Israel for alleged war crimes during the ongoing Mideast conflict after Ali Abdul-Sater and his wife had to flee Lebanon via Syria with their three children when Israel launched airstrikes against Hezbollah [US State Dept. backgrounder] earlier this month. An apartment where they were staying …

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by Joshua Pantesco

US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales pressed Republican lawmakers last week for a bill that would "shield" US soldiers from potential prosecution in US federal courts over violations of the 1996 War Crimes Act, according to a report in Friday's Washington Post. The War Crimes Act authorizes life sentences for US soldiers who breach the war crimes …

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by Jaime Jansen

A judge in Ontario Thursday upheld a publication ban [State Dept. backgrounder] on the bail hearings for 17 men accused of a terror plot in Canada. The Associated Press, the New York Times, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Toronto Star, and one defense lawyer appealed an earlier ruling barring the media from the …

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by Jaime Jansen

The UN Human Rights Committee slammed current US rights practices in a report released Friday, saying among other things that the US needs to close all alleged secret detention facilities and allow the International Committee of the Red Cross access to all detainees held at the alleged prisons. The committee noted that it …

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by Joshua Pantesco

Legal experts inside and outside government are criticizing provisions of a draft bill circulated by the White House Wednesday that, among other things, would allow US military commissions to proceed against an accused "enemy combatant" without the defendant being present, if necessary to protect national security. In absentia proceedings would only be …

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by Bernard Hibbitts

The UN Security Council adopted a Presidential Statement Thursday saying it was "deeply shocked and distressed" at an Israeli attack on a UNIFIL military observer post in Lebanon Tuesday that killed four observers from Austria, Canada, China and Finland, and stressed that "Israel and all concerned parties must comply fully with their …

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by Jaime Jansen

Haitian authorities freed former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune from prison Thursday on a provisional release, though Neptune still faces charges that he calls "imaginary." Neptune has been detained for two years since former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted in 2004 on accusations that he orchestrated a February 2004 massacre in La Scierie, though …

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by Jaime Jansen

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has released a list of secret government surveillance operations focusing on war protestors and other political activists in northern and central California from September 2001 through July 2006. The ACLU described the surveillance operations as "disturbing trend" fueled by "greater funding of federal, state and …

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by Jaime Jansen

The Washington Supreme Court official website] ruled 7-2 Thursday that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) must release files documenting sexual abuse allegations compiled over decades for use in an upcoming lawsuit brought by three Washington men claiming abuse by their scoutmaster in the 1970s and 1980s. The files include court records, news reports, documentation …

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by Bernard Hibbitts

A new US federal regulation announced by the Department of Homeland Security Thursday and published in the Federal Register would for the first time require biometric fingerprinting and photographing of lawful permanent US residents - so called "green card" holders whose numbers are estimated at between 8 and 12 million - reentering the United States after trips abroad. …

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