[JURIST] The Australian Federal Police [official website] will determine whether Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] military prison detainee David Hicks [JURIST news archive] will be subject to a control order [JURIST news archive] when released from prison later this year, members of the Australian government said Sunday. On Friday a US military commission [JURIST news archive] recommended sentencing Hicks to seven years in prison; all but nine months of that were effectively suspended by a military judge under the terms of a plea agreement [text] kept secret from the panel of military officers during its deliberations. Hicks is expected to be returned to Australia [JURIST report] to serve his prison term within two months, after having already spent more than five years in US custody since being captured in Afghanistan.
The controversial "control orders" authorized under Australia's 2005 anti-terror legislation [ANS backgrounder] allow "the overt close monitoring of terrorist suspects who pose a risk to the community." The first such order was issued in August 2006 [JURIST report] and is still undergoing an appellate court challenge [JURIST report]. Similar orders have been called unconstitutional [JURIST report] in the European Union. Hicks' lawyer said Sunday that he plans to return to school and will not be a threat, but Australian officials have called him "dangerous" and seek closer surveillance. Australia's ABC News has more.
[JURIST] British resident and Iraqi citizen Bisher al-Rawi [Wikipedia profile] was released this weekend from the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] after nearly five years in custody as an enemy combatant. Officials have not confirmed the exact time of al-Rawi's release, but he issued a statement Sunday from his family's home in London. Al-Rawi expressed his happiness to be free and described his "nightmare" at Guantanamo: "Allegations are made against you that are laughably untrue, but you have no chance to prove them wrong. There is no trial, no fair legal process." Al-Rawi was also regretful that his "best friend" Jamil al-Banna [Wikipedia profile] remains imprisoned at Guantanamo.
Al-Rawi and al-Banna, also a UK resident, were originally suspected of ties to al Qaeda because of their alleged connection with radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada [BBC profile]. The men were arrested returning to the UK from Gambia with a suspicious electronic device, which they claimed was a battery charger, and were taken into US custody. Despite a general refusal to represent resident aliens at Guantanamo, the British government agreed to help secure al Rawi's release [JURIST report] last year after learning that al-Rawi had previously aided British security service MI5 [official website]. UK Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett announced al-Rawi's impending release [JURIST report] last Thursday; no official comments have been made regarding al-Banna's status. BBC News has more. AP has additional coverage.
[JURIST] Israeli Attorney General Meni Mazuz notified lawyers for Israeli President Moshe Katsav [official website; JURIST news archive] that a second rape charge may be added to Katsav's indictment for alleged sex crimes. The additional charges were made by the same woman who originally accused Katsav [JURIST report] of sexual assault, fraud, and rape but it has not been made clear why these allegations have only recently emerged. Katsav, who has been on a leave of absence [JURIST report] from his largely ceremonial post since January, was interrogated by police for more than two hours last week about the most recent charges.
Despite pleas for resignation [JURIST report] from legal commentators and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Katsav has refused to considering resignation. All Israeli senior state officials have the right to a hearing before the attorney general before an indictment is formally filed. Katsav's hearing is tentatively scheduled for May 2. Katsav currently has immunity, but can be impeached or prosecuted after he leaves office at the end of this term this year. AP has more.
Gonzales defended his role [JURIST report] in the firings on Friday, admitting that there has been some confusion but that his involvement in the matter was limited to signing off on recommendations made by his former chief of staff Kyle Sampson [official profile]. Sampson, who resigned last month [DOJ press release], told the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday that the prosecutors were fired for political reasons [JURIST report] rather than for poor performance as the Justice Department has claimed [JURIST report]. Sampson also said Gonzales did more than merely follow his recommendations, and that Gonzales and former White House counsel Harriet Miers [official profile] were deeply involved in the firings. On Saturday Republican Rep. Lee Terry [official website] of Nebraska joined the call for Gonzales' resignation. AP has more.
[JURIST] Arab residents of the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk [JURIST news archive] expressed anger Sunday at the government's plan to encourage relocation of the city's Arab population. Most of the city's current residents were forced to move to the now ethnically diverse, oil-rich city during the "Arabization" phase of Saddam Hussein's Anfal campaign [HRW backgrounder], which drove out Kurds and brought in Shiite Muslims. The Iraqi government hopes to encourage relocation by offering 20 million dinars and a piece of land to each Arab family that voluntarily leaves the city.
Iraqi Kurds have expressed desire to incorporate the city into the nearby Kurdistan region. The compensation scheme has angered both Shiite and Sunni Arab parliament members over the fear that Kurds will attempt to seize control of the city in a move towards declaring independence from Baghdad. Iraqi Justice Minister Hashim Abderrahman al-Shebli [Wikipedia backgrounder] submitted his resignation [JURIST report] to the Cabinet last week in the midst of the debate over the relocation scheme. Under the Iraqi constitution [JURIST news archive], a referendum must be held by the end of the year to determine the future of the city. Reuters has more.
[JURIST] A Russian law banning all foreigners from the country's retail industry took effect Sunday. The new law, passed by the Russian assembly last year, is expected to affect tens of thousands of workers from the former Soviet Republics. The complete ban follows an earlier phase out of foreign workers in the retail industry. Beginning January 15, foreigners could make up no more than 40 percent of a store's staff. Russian police began raiding stores in January and detaining any worker suspected of not being a Russian citizen.
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