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Legal news from Wednesday, February 14, 2007
by Jaime Jansen

UK Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer on Wednesday backed a proposal to allow police officers to question terror suspects after they have been formally charged. Following a speech defending the UK Human Rights Act, Falconer implied in response to questions that the post-charge questioning proposal could also extend to serious criminal offenses …

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by Jaime Jansen

The Ecuador Congress voted Tuesday to hold a referendum on whether Ecuador should form a constitutional assembly to rewrite its constitution. The vote is seen as a victory for the reform agenda of President Rafael Correa, who wants to change the constitution to restrain powerful political parties …

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by Leslie Schulman

Switzerland is launching a criminal probe into the alleged unlawful use of Swiss airspace by US agents in anti-terrorist operations after authorization Wednesday by the Swiss Federal Council, which said in a statement that there was evidence that "basic norms of international law were violated." The investigation will center around the abduction of Muslim cleric Osama Moustafa …

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by Jaime Jansen

President Bush on Wednesday issued an executive order establishing military commissions for enemy combatants held by the US. According to White House officials, the order is required under the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA) to proceed with trials for terror suspects detained at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST …

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by Leslie Schulman

Former CIA executive director Kyle "Dusty" Foggo and defense contractor Brent Wilkes both pleaded not guilty Wednesday to corruption charges connected with the case of former Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham. Both Foggo and Wilkes, who were indicted by a grand jury Tuesday, have been under investigation by the FBI since May, …

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by Joshua Pantesco

A UN Human Rights Council investigatory team Wednesday cancelled a scheduled trip to the Darfur region of Sudan after Sudanese officials again refused to grant a visa to a team member. The UN refused to replace Bertrand Ramcharan, a former Acting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights who accused …

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by Joshua Pantesco

The UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) confirmed Tuesday that it had begun an investigation into whether UK firms paid illegal kickbacks to the Saddam Hussein regime in the now-defunct UN Oil-for-Food program, through which Hussein allegedly embezzled as much as $1.8 billion. According to the Guardian newspaper, drug manufacturers GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), AstraZeneca and Eli …

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by Joshua Pantesco

A French magistrate judge has issued a second summons to Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh requesting testimony for an investigation into the May 1995 death of a French judge in Djibouti. Djibouti officials maintain that the death of Bernard Borrel, who advised the Djibouti justice ministry until he was found dead in a …

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by Joshua Pantesco

The US State Department Wednesday announced an expanded program to allow 7,000 Iraqi refugees to resettle in the US. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres to discuss the plan, which will fast-track refugee applications from Iraqis who face retaliation for cooperating with US forces. Since the Iraq …

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by Joshua Pantesco

The trial of Saddam-era Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan was flawed and he should not be executed, a UN Human Rights expert said Wednesday. Phillip Alston, appointed as UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions in 2004, said judicial misconduct, official statements declaring …

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by Joshua Pantesco

A senior Chinese official said Tuesday that the government plans to establish a "National Corruption Prevention Bureau" to ensure China's compliance with the UN Convention Against Corruption, which China signed in 2005. The proposed bureau is another step forward in China's fight against widespread corruption, following a year in which over 97,000 Chinese officials were found guilty …

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by Joshua Pantesco

The Belgian government was complicit in Nazi persecution of the Jewish population during the Holocaust and the country's courts failed to hold Belgian authorities accountable for persecuting and deporting Jews after World War II, according to a government-supported report that was presented to the Belgian parliament on Tuesday. According to the report, titled …

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by Joshua Pantesco

US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy testified before the appropriations subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday on the topic of judicial pay, saying that low pay relative to private-sector jobs threatens the independence and integrity of the federal judiciary. While members of the Supreme Court rarely testify before appropriations committees, Kennedy said the "importance …

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by Joshua Pantesco

A British judge announced Wednesday that he has dropped charges against five British soldiers accused of abusing Iraqi detainees in Basra, while continuing charges against two British co-defendants in their ongoing court-martial. The ruling was issued Tuesday, but was kept secret until Justice Stuart McKinnon read it to the jury of military officers on Wednesday to avoid …

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by Joshua Pantesco

The European Parliament voted 382-256 Wednesday to approve a report condemning member states for cooperating with the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in operating illegal secret prisons and extraordinary rendition flights in Europe. Seventy-four MEPs abstained from the vote. The report condemns the European countries who allowed the CIA to forcibly remove terror suspects …

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by Brett Murphy

US Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) on Tuesday introduced in the Senate the Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007, legislation that would restore habeas corpus rights to all US-held detainees, ban the use of evidence gained by torture or coercion, and redefine "enemy combatant" in a more narrow light. If the bill is passed, it …

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by Brett Murphy

US military branches continue to accept a greater number of recruits with criminal records, granting recruiting waivers [USAREC Regulation 601-56 text, PDF], according to data compiled by the US Defense Department. The Army accepted over twice as many recruits with criminal records in 2006 than it did in 2003, granting 901 felony waivers in 2006 as compared to the …

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by Brett Murphy

Argentina has made a formal request that Spain extradite former Argentine President Isabel Peron, officials from the Argentinean Foreign Ministry said Tuesday. The request was made in connection to Federal Judge Raul Acosta's investigation into Peron's alleged involvement in the disappearance of political opponent Hector Aldo Fagetti Gallego in 1976. Peron was arrested [JURIST …

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