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Legal news from Tuesday, July 1, 2008
by Devin Montgomery

A Chilean judge Monday sentenced General Manuel Contreras to two consecutive life terms in prison for a 1974 car bombing that killed another general and his wife. At the time of the bombing, Contreras was the head of the country's infamous secret police, the National Intelligence Directive (DINA), under former dictator Augusto Pinochet. The …

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by Mike Rosen-Molina

The Italian Court of Cassation Monday overturned the convictions of six Italians, including Verona Mayor Flavio Tosi, for distributing anti-Roma literature in 2001. The court found that the men were motivated by a belief that all Roma are thieves, but held that this motivation did not amount to "racial hatred" under existing Italian anti-discrimination laws. The decision …

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by Mike Rosen-Molina

A three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit Monday released declassified portions of last month's decision that a US Combatant Status Review Tribunal had improperly designated a Chinese Uighur Muslim detained at Guantanamo Bay as an enemy combatant. In the opinion, Circuit Judge Merrick Garland dismissed government …

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by Mike Rosen-Molina

The Constitutional Court of Hungary Monday ruled that two proposals passed by the country's parliament to criminalize hate speech were unconstitutional infringements on the freedom of expression. The court held that the extremist speech that the amendments sought to prevent was not a danger to society because it was already marginalized. The first bill, passed last year, …

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by Mike Rosen-Molina

Polish President Lech Kaczynski Tuesday refused to sign the EU reform treaty, properly known as the Treaty of Lisbon, saying that to do so would be "pointless" after Irish voters rejected the treaty in a June referendum. The treaty's future has been uncertain since the Irish vote, as the …

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by Andrew Gilmore

Ieng Sary, former Foreign Minister during the Khmer Rouge regime, appeared before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia (ECCC) for the second day Tuesday to appeal his detention on genocide charges. Lawyers for Sary, whose appearance at the ECCC had been set last weekend [scheduling order, PDF; hearing …

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by Devin Montgomery

The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit brought by Canadian citizen Maher Arar, who sought a declaratory judgment against US government officials for deporting him to Syria. The court ruled that Arar had failed to state a claim for which it had jurisdiction to …

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by Deirdre Jurand

The man suspected of killing Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya has fled to Western Europe, an investigator at the Russian Prosecutor General's Office said Tuesday. In May, Russian authorities named Chechen Rustam Makhmudov as the main suspect in the murder, charging him in absentia and issuing an international …

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by Mike Rosen-Molina

A French court Monday ordered Internet auction house eBay to pay $63 million in damages to LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH), finding that the website failed to prevent the sale of counterfeit luxury goods that infringed on registered designs. LVMH praised the holding as a victory for designers seeking to control the distribution of …

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by Andrew Gilmore

A Chinese reporter for US-based Chinese news website Boxun.com received a four-year prison sentence Tuesday in Nanjing on charges of illegal weapons possession and public disorder. Sun Lin, who writes under the pen name Jie Mu, has reported on sensitive topics including crime, police brutality, and corruption in China, and Boxun said Sun was being …

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by Mike Rosen-Molina

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed papers in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida Monday asking the court to force a Swiss bank to hand over the names of American clients suspected of hiding funds from tax collectors. The DOJ is requesting permission for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to …

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by Deirdre Jurand

Nearly $100 million in annual funding is needed to fix California's "dysfunctional" prison system, according to a state commission's report released Monday. The California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice (CCFAJ) was asked to evaluate instances of wrongful convictions and to make informed recommendations for future changes. The CCFAJ report found: The …

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by Devin Montgomery

The US does not appropriately protect its citizens and foreign nationals from executions that are out of line with international law, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Philip Alston said Monday. Alston said state death penalty systems need stronger safeguards against racial bias and wrongful convictions. He added that …

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by Andrew Gilmore

A Polish appeals court has ruled that the trial of former communist military leader General Wojciech Jaruzelski can proceed, overturning a lower court decision that halted the trial while prosecutors gathered more evidence against other communist officials. Jaruzelski was charged in March 2006 with "organizing crimes of a military nature" and carrying out …

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by Deirdre Jurand

Four former Abu Ghraib detainees filed lawsuits Monday against two private US military contractors and three of their employees, alleging torture, war crimes and civil conspiracy. The former detainees said that employees of CACI International and L-3 Communications, which performed interrogation and interpretation work for the US military, violated the Geneva Convention, …

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