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Legal news from Tuesday, November 14, 2006
by Jeannie Shawl

US Marines Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III will face court-martial for his role in the April kidnapping and murder of an Iraqi civilian in Hamdania, the US Marine Corps announced Tuesday. Hutchins faces charges of murder, kidnapping, larceny, assault, housebreaking, conspiracy, making a false official statement in violation of …

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by Robert DeVries

US District Judge Reggie B. Walton denounced the disparity in federal sentencing requirements for possession of crack cocaine and cocaine powder in testimony Tuesday before the US Sentencing Commission. Citing the 100-1 differential (5 grams of crack carry a mandatory 5 year sentence while it takes 500 grams of cocaine to get that …

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by Ned Mulcahy

US Marine Cpl. Trent D. Thomas pleaded not guilty Tuesday at his arraignment hearing to charges of murder, kidnapping, and other offenses related to the death of an Iraqi man in Hamdania. Thomas is among several servicemen accused of kidnapping Hashim Ibrahim Awad and leaving him by the side of …

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by Katerina Ossenova

Incoming US Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) said Tuesday that his committee's priorities will include an investigation into CIA extraordinary rendition flights. In an interview with the Financial Times, Levin said he was uncomfortable with the system and believes "that there's been some significant abuses which have not made …

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by Katerina Ossenova

Bosnia's national war crimes court sentenced a former Bosnian Serb soldier to 16 years in prison Tuesday in the first judgment handed down against a defendant transferred to Bosnia from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. The War Crimes Chamber of the State Court of …

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by Brett Murphy

UK Attorney General Lord Peter Goldsmith said Tuesday in an interview on BBC Radio 4 that he wants to examine whether new religious hate legislation passed in Parliament earlier this year and scheduled to come into force in February could fill a "gap" in existing law supposedly pointed up by Friday's acquittals of …

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by Katerina Ossenova

The UK Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights has said that Britain's Human Rights Act has "been used as a convenient scapegoat for unrelated administrative failings within government," in a new report released Tuesday. Several members of the British government, including Prime Minister Tony Blair, have lately called for possible …

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by Brett Murphy

Recently released Turkish-German Guantanamo Bay detainee Murat Kurnaz has told Turkey's CNN Turk that while he was at the US military prison he was subjected to systematic torture at the hands of US personnel, including electric shocks, having his head submerged in water and being shackled to the ceiling for days at a …

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by Brett Murphy

A federal judge ruled Monday that officials at the Southern Michigan Correctional Facility must stop using non-medical restraints on prisoners because the "practice constitutes torture and violates the Eighth Amendment." Judge Richard Enslen of the US District Court for the Western District of Michigan issued the opinion in the case of Timothy Souders, a mentally …

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by Holly Manges Jones

The US Department of Justice argued Monday that immigrants arrested while in the US and labeled as enemy combatants under an expansive definition in the new Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA) can be indefinitely detained and are prohibited from challenging their detention in civilian courts. In …

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by Jeannie Shawl

The South African National Assembly passed the Civil Unions Bill Tuesday by a 230-41 vote, becoming the first African nation to recognize same-sex unions. The bill, without specific reference to heterosexual or same-sex couples, recognizes the "voluntary union of two persons, which is solemnized and registered by either a marriage or civil …

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by Holly Manges Jones

Eleven former Abu Ghraib detainees and one Guantanamo detainee all claiming to have been victims of US torture initiated a criminal complaint in Germany Tuesday asking that the German Federal Prosecutor investigate and ultimately prosecute former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and …

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by Jeannie Shawl

US District Judge Reggie Walton ruled Monday that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's proposal to limit what classified evidence I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby can present to the jury in the CIA leak trial goes too far. Libby, charged with obstruction of justice and perjury in connection …

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by Jeannie Shawl

Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont said Tuesday that martial law will not be lifted in Thailand, as had been anticipated. Thai Defense Minister Boonrawd Somtas said last week that Surayud was contemplating lifting martial law before leaving for an international summit in Vietnam on November 18, but Surayud said …

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by Holly Manges Jones

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse has agreed to investigate allegations that government forces and the rebel group Karuna has been using children in its fights against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), or the "Tamil Tigers," a UN representative said Monday. Allan Rock, special advisor to …

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by Jeannie Shawl

US Marine Lance Cpl. Jerry E. Shumate Jr. will plead guilty to aggravated assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice in connection to the alleged murder and kidnapping of an unarmed Iraqi civilian in Hamdania, Shumate's lawyer said Monday. In exchange for the guilty plea, expected to be entered next Monday, more serious murder and …

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by Holly Manges Jones

City council members in Farmers Branch, Texas voted Monday to approve several anti-immigration measures including making English the town's official language [Res. No. 2006-130 text], imposing fines for landlords who rent to illegal aliens [Ordinance No. 2892 text], and permitting local police to screen suspects in custody. The unanimous 6-0 vote was taken prior to public comment, …

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by Holly Manges Jones

Prosecutors for the US government Monday denied allegations by Jose Padilla that he was tortured while in US custody at a Navy detention facility in South Carolina. Padilla claims that he was subjected to multiple means of torture and abuse including sleep deprivation, threats of execution, exposure to noxious fumes, and extreme heat and …

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