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Legal news from Friday, May 20, 2011
by Zach Zagger

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev expressed the need for Russia to improve its legal system and make a better commitment to the rule of law, during a speech at a legal forum in St. Petersburg. Medvedev is trying to separate himself from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin who is running against …

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by Julia Zebley

A Somali man pleaded guilty to charges of piracy and hostage taking on Friday in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia for overtaking a yacht containing four American citizens. The Americans, taken as hostages, were later killed by the pirates, the first US citizens to die in the recent wave …

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by Julia Zebley

A lawsuit by relatives of 9/11 victims has alleged that Iran knowingly aided al Qaeda in carrying out the attacks, according to affidavits filed Thursday. Included in the affidavits, but under seal from the judge, are the testimonies of Iranian defectors who worked for Iran's intelligence service, …

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by Zach Zagger

A judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia on Thursday granted $300 million in punitive damages in each of two cases against Iran for deaths resulting from suicide bombings by Iranian-backed terrorist groups. The two claims against Iran were brought on behalf of Seth Haim and Alan Beer, who were both …

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by Zach Zagger

The French Court of Cassation, the country's highest appeals court, ruled that the corruption trial against former French president Jacques Chirac can continue, rejecting a constitutional challenge brought by one of his co-defendants. Chirac is being tried for allegedly misusing funds during his time as Paris mayor in 1990. Chirac's …

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by Julia Zebley

Belarus' Minsk City Court delivered suspended sentences on Friday to two former presidential candidates, Uladzimer Nyaklyaeu and Vital Rymasheuski, convicted of organizing protests following the re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko in December. The two-year suspended sentences [RFE/RL report] were handed down days after former presidential candidate Andrey Sannikau …

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by Julia Zebley

A military court in Taiwan indicted a one-star general who confessed to spying for China on Friday. General Lo Hsien-che confessed to accepting bribes and divulging state secrets since March 2004. Due to his confession and relinquishment of bribes, the prosecutors plan to seek life in prison rather than the death penaltyTa. Lo was …

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by Zach Zagger

Texas Governor Rick Perry signed into law Thursday a bill that requires women seeking an abortion to first get a sonogram. The law requires doctors to conduct a ultrasound and display the images at least 24 hours prior to an abortion, and would strip them of their medical licenses should …

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by Julia Zebley

Japan announced Friday that they will be signing the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction at next week's G8 summit. Signatories of the Convention are required to return a child who has been "wrongfully removed" from his or her country of habitual residence, typically through international custody disputes. Chief Cabinet Secretary …

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by Zach Zagger

Top US congressional leaders agreed Thursday to put forth a clean extension of controversial provisions of the USA Patriot Act until 2015. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) agreed to extend several key provisions of the Act with …

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by Julia Zebley

Uruguay's House of Representatives failed to partially repeal the 1986 Expiry Law on Thursday in a vote of 49-49. The Senate voted to void the amnesty law last month, and, with the Broad Front party in control …

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by Zach Zagger

The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has asked challengers of the new health care reform law to defend the legality of their participation in the case. The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) is challenging the constitutionality of the individual mandate which requires that all citizens purchase …

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by Zach Zagger

US State Department Legal Adviser Harold Koh on Thursday defended the killing of Osama Bin Laden saying it was "consistent with the laws of armed conflict and US military doctrine" in a brief statement published on OpinioJuris.org. Koh referenced a speech he made in March 2010 defending the use …

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by Julia Zebley

The Rhode Island House of Representatives approved a civil union bill [Bill 2011-H6103aa, PDF] Thursday by a vote of 62 to 11. The bill was voted out of committee earlier this week and is modeled after similar legislation in Illinois, Delaware and Hawaii, granting all rights of marriage to same-sex couples. …

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by Daniel Richey

A coalition of more than 30 rights groups and development organizations in Cambodia issued an open letter Thursday urging the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) to embrace a greater degree of transparency. In the letter, the groups outline "grave concerns" that the highly classified nature of Case 3 and Case 4 …

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