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Legal news from Friday, December 22, 2006
by Bernard Hibbitts

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Friday reduced by $2 billion a 1994 damages award against ExxonMobil corporation in respect of the sinking of the tanker Exxon Valdez, which caused a major Alaska oil spill when it ran aground in Prince William Sound in 1989. A three-judge panel held …

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by Bernard Hibbitts

A US federal judge ruled Friday that Iran is liable to pay $254 million in damages and compensation to families of American victims of a 1996 terrorist attack it helped finance on Khobar Towers, a US military housing compound in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Nineteen Americans were killed in the truck bomb explosion, undertaken by a …

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by Jaime Jansen

Pope Benedict XVI on Friday condemned proposed Italian legislation that would recognize civil unions for unmarried couples, including same-sex couples. The Pope, speaking in a Christmas address to the Rome clergy, said the legislation threatens traditional marriage by granting legal recognition to "de facto couples," and that the legislation blurs the "masculinity …

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by Jaime Jansen

Italian prosecutors have begun an investigation into the death of Piergiorgio Welby, a man who suffered from muscular dystrophy and sought the right to die by euthanasia. Welby's quest to die became a nation-wide debate after Italy's Radical Party took up Welby's cause. Welby passed away Wednesday, three months after pleading …

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by Jaime Jansen

Human rights abuses have worsened in countries around Asia due to authoritarian developments in "malfunctioning" democracies, according to a report by the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) released Thursday. AHRC attributed failing legal systems to corruption and inadequate criminal justice systems, resulting in discontent among citizens. The report also …

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by Jaime Jansen

Massachusetts Governor-elect Deval Patrick said Thursday he will rescind an agreement with the federal government allowing Massachusetts state troopers to detain illegal immigrants found or located while the troopers are performing their general duties. The agreement, signed earlier this month by outgoing Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and US Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) [official …

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by Brett Murphy

Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng was sentenced Friday to a three-year suspended prison term for following his earlier conviction for inciting subversion of state power. If Gao breaks any laws in the next three years, his prison sentence will be reinstated. The court additionally stripped Gao of his political rights, including the rights to …

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by Brett Murphy

President Bush granted pardons to 16 people on Thursday, including some convicted of drug crimes and others who were involved in fraud and kickback schemes. Bush additionally commuted the sentence of another man who had been convicted of drug offenses. Bush has issued a total of 113 pardons in his six years as president, the fewest issued by any …

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by Brett Murphy

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin was questioned by judges for more than 17 hours Thursday and early Friday in connection with an investigation of an alleged smear campaign conducted against Villepin's political rival, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. It has been alleged that Villepin may have known that …

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by Bernard Hibbitts

A defense lawyer for imprisoned former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky said Friday that he and former business associate Platon Lebedev have been transferred from their Siberian penal colony in Chita Oblast to a local remand prison. The transfer took place on Wednesday. Lawyers for the two men are …

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by Brett Murphy

Two co-defendants charged along with Saddam Hussein testified Thursday that chemical weapons were not used against Kurds during the so-called "Anfal" campaigns as the ousted Iraqi president's genocide trial continued in Baghdad. Former defense minister Sultan al-Tai and former army operations deputy director General Hussein Mohammed claimed that only conventional weaponry …

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