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Legal news from Wednesday, April 25, 2007
by Mike Rosen-Molina

An Argentinean federal judge Wednesday declared amnesties granted to two members of Argentina's previous military dictatorship to be unconstitutional, saying the two men must serve out their life sentences in prison. Former military President Jorge Videla and former Navy chief Eduardo Massera were convicted in 1985 of crimes against humanity committed during Argentina's 1976-1983 "Dirty War" [GlobalSecurity …

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by Mike Rosen-Molina

Israel's state comptroller Wednesday recommended holding a criminal investigation into allegations that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert improperly favored his supporters in distributing business grants when he was trade minister in 2001. A number of Israeli politicians, including several from Olmert's own ruling coalition, responded to the recommendation by calling for Olmert to resign as prime …

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by Mike Rosen-Molina

A British court Wednesday ordered that a Moroccan man accused of being a UK contact for the September 11, 2001 hijackers and an associate of a suspected Spanish al Qaeda leader be released. The court said that the detention of Farid Hilali had become "arbitrary and unjustified" after the Spanish Supreme Court last year threw out the …

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by Mike Rosen-Molina

The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in the consolidated case of Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life, 06-969, and McCain v. Wisconsin Right to Life, 06-970, in which the Court must decide whether the restrictions on pre-election issue ads imposed by the McCain-Feingold campaign …

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by Mike Rosen-Molina

Several hundred Thai monks rallied outside the parliament building in Bangkok Wednesday to demand that the new Thai constitution declare Buddhism the national religion. The ruling Council for National Security, headed by the Muslim General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, appears to be open to the suggestion. Although conservative Buddhists have long sought to have their …

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by Jeannie Shawl

The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has opened an investigation into whether executive branch employees have improperly engaged in political activity in violation of the Hatch Act, an OSC spokesperson said Tuesday. The Hatch Act prohibits the use of government resources for political purposes, and the OSC has expanded current investigations into a broader probe …

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by Jeannie Shawl

The US House Judiciary Committee voted 32-6 Wednesday to grant Monica M. Goodling, former special counsel to US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony on the firings of eight US Attorneys. The committee also voted to authorize a subpoena for Goodling's testimony, but committee chairman …

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by Bernard Hibbitts

Judges in Pakistan have postponed two separate proceedings in the case of suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry as criticism of President Pervez Musharraf's effective sacking of the country's chief magistrate continues. On Wednesday the Pakistan Supreme Court announced a week adjournment of its hearing on the alleged manhandling of the Chief Justice …

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by Jeannie Shawl

US Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. said Tuesday that the Defense Department's controversial Threat and Local Observation Notice system, or TALON database would be discontinued. Documents released by the Defense Department showed that the Pentagon labeled anti-war activities as "potential terrorist activity" and monitored students, …

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by Joshua Pantesco

The Italian government adopted a draft law Tuesday that would criminalize a wide range of environmentally-unsound activities, including damage to environmental resources, polluting, illegal dumping, and causing environmental catastrophes. Proposed sentencing guidelines authorize up to 10 years in jail for the most serious crime, causing environmental catastrophes, and authorize fines ranging from 4,000 to 20,000 Euros for polluting to …

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by Jeannie Shawl

The US Supreme Court handed down opinions in two cases Wednesday, including Smith v. Texas, where the Court held that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals incorrectly required Smith to show "egregious harm" before correcting the constitutional violation found by the Supreme Court in an earlier decision in …

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by Joshua Pantesco

Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said during a Tuesday radio interview that he may be able to issue an executive order to close the loophole that allowed Virgina Tech gunman Seung-Hui Cho to purchase a firearm despite having been ordered to receive psychiatric treatment by a Virginia court in 2005. A federal law [18 …

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by Bernard Hibbitts

The constitutional crisis in Ecuador deepened Tuesday as the country's Congress struck back at high court judges who on Monday had ordered the reinstatement of 50 lawmakers opposed to President Rafael Correa and sought to have those legislators arrested, prompting some to flee the country. Earlier Tuesday …

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by Jeannie Shawl

Convicted civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart was disbarred from the New York Bar after her request to voluntarily resign from practicing law was rejected. Stewart was convicted in 2005 of conspiracy and providing material support to terrorists for helping imprisoned Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman communicate with his terrorist …

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by Jeannie Shawl

Authorities in Iraq are failing to guarantee due process and other basic human rights of some 3,000 detainees arrested after a new security plan was instituted in Baghdad in mid-February, according to a new report released Wednesday by the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI). The report, the tenth in a series issued …

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