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Legal news from Friday, December 22, 2006

[JURIST] 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 [Anchorage Daily News archive] when it ran aground [BBC file report] … [read more]

[JURIST] A US federal judge ruled [PDF text] 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 [AFA backgrounder], a US military housing compound in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Nineteen Americans … [read more]

[JURIST] Pope Benedict XVI [official profile] on Friday condemned proposed Italian legislation [JURIST report] that would recognize civil unions for unmarried couples, including same-sex couples. The Pope, speaking [VIS press release] in a Christmas address to the Rome clergy, said the legislation threatens traditional marriage by granting legal recognition to … [read more]

[JURIST] Italian prosecutors have begun an investigation into the death of Piergiorgio Welby [profile, in Italian], 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 [party website] took up Welby's cause. Welby … [read more]

[JURIST] Human rights [JURIST news archive] abuses have worsened in countries around Asia due to authoritarian developments in "malfunctioning" democracies, according to a report [PDF; press release] by the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) [advocacy website] released Thursday. AHRC attributed failing legal systems to corruption and inadequate criminal … [read more]

[JURIST] Massachusetts Governor-elect Deval Patrick [campaign website] 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 [JURIST report], signed earlier this month by outgoing Massachusetts Governor Mitt … [read more]

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

[JURIST] 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 … [read more]

[JURIST] French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin [official website, in French; JURIST news archive] 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 [official profile; BBC profile]. … [read more]

[JURIST] A defense lawyer for imprisoned former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky [advocacy website; JURIST news archive] said [press release] Friday that he and former business associate Platon Lebedev have been transferred from their Siberian penal colony in Chita Oblast [Wikipedia backgrounder] to a local remand prison [PV backgrounder]. The transfer … [read more]

[JURIST] Two co-defendants charged along with Saddam Hussein testified Thursday that chemical weapons were not used against Kurds during the so-called "Anfal" campaigns [HRW backgrounder] as the ousted Iraqi president's genocide trial [JURIST news archive; BBC trial timeline] continued in Baghdad. Former defense minister Sultan al-Tai and former army operations … [read more]

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