[JURIST] A Brazilian court on Saturday sentenced 25 police officers to lengthy prison terms for their role in the 1992 Carandiru prison massacre. Each defendant was sentenced [BBC report] to 624 years for the use of deadly force during the riot, which was one of the worst of its kind in Latin America, but no convicted person can serve more than 30 years in prison under Brazilian law. The ruling marks the second part of a four-section trial concerning the riot. The defense lawyers commented that they plan to appeal the ruling, arguing that the officers were threatened and fired in self-defense.
Brazil has been working to fight corruption since the 2005 "Mensalao" scandal. In March the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention expressed concern [JURIST report] about excessive detention and lack of legal assistance in Brazil, after a 10-day visit to the country. Last November the Supreme Court of Brazil sentenced a former aide to ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to over 10 years of imprisonment [JURIST report] for his involvement in the vote-buying scheme. Jose Dirceu, Lula's former chief of staff, was convicted of using public funds to pay coalition parties for political support. The trials of those accused of participating in "Mensalao" were hailed as a potential turning point [NYT report] for Brazil in the its fight against corruption. In August 2011 Brazilian Judge Patricia Acioli, known for taking a hard-line against corrupt officials and militia death squads, was shot and killed [JURIST report] outside of her home by two masked men on motorbikes. Acioli was one of three judges assassinated in Brazil in the past eight years for their investigations into organized crime.
[JURIST] A jury for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia [official website] recommended Friday that three Somali pirates convicted [JURIST report] of murdering four Americans receive life in prison sentences. The attack, which took place in 2011 approximately 40 miles off the coast of Somalia, involved 19 Somali pirates who held the Americans captive in hopes of a million dollar ransom. Prosecutors had pushed for the death penalty [WP report]. Judge Rebecca Beach Smith will issue an official sentencing judgement in November.
Various tribunals have attempted to prosecute Somali pirates. In February the Abu Dhabi Federal Appeals Court upheld [JURIST report] the sentences of 10 Somali pirates convicted of highjacking a UAE-owned bulk-carrier ship. Last October the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court of Hamburg issued sentences [JURIST report] for 10 Somalis who were involved in the hijacking the German freighter MS Taipan off the coast of Somalia. Last October an appeals court in Kenya ruled [JURIST report] that Kenyan courts have jurisdiction to try international piracy suspects.
[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] on Friday urged an independent investigation [press release] into whether war crimes were committed when armed opposition groups in Syria allegedly executed dozens of captured government soldiers in Khan Al-Assal, a district in the northern province of Aleppo last month. Between July 22 and July 26, footage taken by opposition forces was posted on the Internet depicting government soldiers being ordered to lie on the ground, while other videos show several bodies scattered along a wall and a number of bodies at an adjacent site. Pillay noted in her statement:
Based on the analysis by my team to date, we believe armed opposition groups in one incidentdocumented by a videoexecuted at least 30 individuals, the majority of whom appeared to be soldiers. ... [T]he events in Khan Al-Assal are further evidence that flagrant violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed by all parties have tragically become the norm in the Syrian conflict.
Pillay has said that allegations that armed opposition groups in Syria executed dozens of government soldiers captured after a battle in Khan Al-Assal in July are "deeply shocking" and highlighted yet again the need to ensure those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law on all sides are made to account for their crimes.
Established by the UN Human Rights Council [official website] in August 2011, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria has been mandated to investigate and record all violations of international human rights law during the Syria conflict. In July the Chair of the commission urged the international community [JURIST report] to bring peace the country. In May Pillay expressed concern [JURIST report] regarding reports that described the slaying of entire Syrian families and shelling of communities, as well as the targeted strikes by Syrian armed forces on hospitals and schools. The Syrian Civil War [JURIST backgrounder] has been ongoing since 2011 when opposition groups first began protesting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [BBC profile]. The increasingly bloody nature of the conflict has put pressure on the international community to intervene. More than 100,000 people have been killed since fighting began between Syrian Government forces and opposition groups seeking to oust President Bashar Al-Assad. Almost two million have fled to neighboring countries and a further 4 million have been internally displaced.
[JURIST] The Obama administration on Saturday overturned [official text, PDF] a US trade panel ban on the sale of older iPads and iPhones. In June the US International Trade Commission (ITC) [official website] banned the import or sale [text, PDF] of AT&T models of the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 3G and iPad 2 3G after finding that the devices violated a patent [JURIST report] held by Samsung Electronics [corporate website]. US Trade Representative Michael Froman said that the decision was in part based on its "effect on competitive conditions in the US economy and the effect on US consumers." The Obama administration has been pressing for most infringements of standard essential patents to be punished by monetary fines instead of sales injunctions. ITC cases can be appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit [official website], and from there to the US Supreme Court [official website]. Froman noted in the statement that the ITC is "looking forward to the development of appellate jurisprudence on this issue."
The ITC panel ruling is the most recent event in a protracted patent litigation battle [JURIST op-ed] between Apple [corporate website] and Samsung that spans over four continents. The two companies have been engaged in patent litigation since 2010, each filing lawsuits against the other over the design and functionality of their devices. In June the Tokyo District Court ruled for Apple [JURIST report] in a patent infringement suit. Similarly in March a UK court also ruled for Apple permitting continued use of technology [JURIST report] that allows transfers of information over the third-generation networks that are used by smartphones. In January a Dutch court ruled that the designs of some Galaxy Tab models produced by Samsung do not infringe designs patented by Apple [JURIST report].
Feedroll provides free Paper Chase news boxes with headlines or digests precisely tailored to your website's look and feel, with content updated every 15 minutes. Customize and get the code.
Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible, ad-free format.