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Legal news from Wednesday, September 26, 2007
by Mike Rosen-Molina

A US district judge ruled Wednesday that two provisions of the USA Patriot Act that deal with physical search and electronic eavesdropping are unconstitutional. Brandon Mayfield, the Oregon attorney arrested and detained for two weeks in May 2004 after the FBI mistakenly concluded that his fingerprints matched …

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by Mike Rosen-Molina

Somalia and Myanmar rank as the world's most corrupt nations in 2007 according to the latest annual Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index released Wednesday. The index ranked 180 countries based on observations by businesspeople and analysts, giving each a score between 1 and 10. Myanmar and Somalia tied for the lowest score of 1.4 out …

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by Gabriel Haboubi

A Russian court began hearings against a renowned political commentator Tuesday, with prosecutors using expanded anti-extremism laws originally designed to combat racism and xenophobia but broadened in July to include activities taken for "political or ideological hatred." Prosecutors claim that several books by author Andrei Piontkovsky, a visiting fellow at Washington DC's …

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by Caitlin Price

Violence erupted in Myanmar Wednesday as police opened fire on a crowd of 10,000 demonstrators, leaving as many as eight dead. Up to 300 protesters were arrested in the fray, including many Buddhist monks. The violence broke out just one day after the nation's military government banned public gatherings of more than five people …

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by Gabriel Haboubi

The European Union is monitoring possible human rights violations in Bangladesh, the Bangladeshi New Age reported Wednesday. The paper quoted Netherlands EU ambassador Bea Ten Tusscher as saying that the EU is concerned about several particular human rights cases, despite claims by the the interim military government that the rights situation has improved. If the EU …

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by Lisl Brunner

Haitian President Rene Preval Tuesday declared his intent to continue investigating former Haitian president Jean-Claude Duvalier, despite the latter's recent plea for forgiveness from the people of Haiti. Duvalier, who became president in 1971 at the age of 19, is accused of embezzling money from the national treasury and of killing and imprisoning thousands …

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by Gabriel Haboubi

Approximately 2000 lawyers and activists, led by the Malaysian Bar Council, launched a large protest in Malaysia's capital, Wednesday, calling for an investigation into judicial corruption. Unrest has grown in the country following last week's release of a 2002 video showing a prominent lawyer on the phone with someone …

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by Brett Murphy

Egypt Wednesday called US criticism of its alleged rights violations "unacceptable," labeling a Monday White House statement about the closure of the Association for Human Rights Legal Aid as "interference" in Egypt's domestic matters. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said that the statement by the White House reflected its lack of understanding …

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by Brett Murphy

US President George W. Bush Tuesday withdrew John Rizzo as the White House nominee for CIA general counsel in light of concerns from Democrats over Rizzo's support for certain interrogation techniques. During a hearing on his nomination in June, Rizzo, currently serving as acting CIA general counsel, said he did not object to the definition …

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by Brett Murphy

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi urged all nations to institute a moratorium on capital punishment in an address delivered to the UN General Assembly Tuesday. Prodi said that such action would mark great progress in ethics and that:A United Nations resolution against the death penalty will prove that human beings today are better than they …

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by Brett Murphy

US Army Spc. Jorge G. Sandoval pleaded not guilty at his court-martial in Iraq Wednesday to charges that he and two other soldiers killed three unarmed Iraqis and then placed weapons next to the bodies. Sandoval, along with Staff Sgt. Michael A. Hensley and Sgt. Evan Vela, was charged with premeditated murder and wrongfully placing …

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by Brett Murphy

Chinese lawyer and outspoken critic of the Chinese government Gao Zhisheng has been arrested again, this time for writing a letter to the US Congress asking the US to help the human rights situation in his home country, a friend of Gao said Tuesday. According to people close to Gao, he was taken from his home …

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by Brett Murphy

Texas continued with the lethal injection execution of a convicted murderer Tuesday, despite the US Supreme Court's grant of certiorari [cert. petition, PDF] in a case reviewing whether the method is cruel and unusual and therefore unconstitutional. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in Baze v. Rees (07-5439) on whether the use of a three-drug …

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by Brett Murphy

US federal Magistrate Judge Joan M. Azrack has ruled that the government must obtain warrants in order to place taps on phones that would reveal dialed digits. Under the Patriot Act, government agents are permitted to use a wiretap without a warrant so long as it did not include the "contents of any communication." …

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by Lauren Becker

Micronesian Legal Service Corporation (LSC) attorney Omar Calimbas said Tuesday that beginning October 15, 2007, the US will permit Micronesians living on the US mainland to receive free legal aid services. The decision will change a 1983 US Congressional act that prevented the representation of aliens, with the exception of certain documented persons, as a condition of …

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