[JURIST] In Friday's international brief, a new poll published Friday by Le Parisien newspaper has the scheduled May 29 national referendum on the European Constitution failing with a 51% "no" vote. Polls taken as recently as February had indicated a strong 2/3 of the French populace in favor of the regional pact. A flurry of anti-government protests and strikes have, however, apparently swayed public opinion. French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin [official profile] told a youth meeting of the European People's Party [official website] Friday that he was "preoccupied" by the figures, but not worried, saying that a 50-50 split in predictions meant that more French people would take it on themselves to go vote. Some analysts have warned that a "no" vote from France could sink the entire EU constitutional proposal, while others argue that it will result in the EU forging ahead, but leaving France behind. The last national referendum in France, on the Maastricht Treaty [Wikipedia backgrounder], which led to the formal creation of the EU in 1993, passed by a mere two percentage points in France. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of the European Constitution [JURIST Hot Topics news archive]. Read the original La Parisien article on the poll [in French].
In other international legal news …
- Harold Keke [BBC profile], leader of the Guadalcanal Liberation Front, an organization designated as a terrorist entity by the Solomon Islands [official website] and New Zealand [official website] governments, was convicted Friday of the murder of Catholic priest and Solomon Island cabinet member Father Augustine Geve in 2002. Ronnie Cawa and Francis Lela were also convicted of the same murder; both men are linked to the GLF as commanders of the local militia. All three have been sentenced to life imprisonment. The murder occurred during a period of civil unrest fostered by pro-independence fighters who attempted to overthrow the Solomon Islands government. Australia finally sent troops in to the area in 2003 after the Solomon Islands admitted that it was incapable of ending the bloodshed. Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer [official profile] hailed the conviction as proof of the restoration of the judicial system in the Solomon Islands. Read the official press release of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade [government website]. The Solomon Star has local coverage.
- Four Pakistani men originally convicted of rape, then acquitted in the Lahore High Court [official website], were rearrested Friday pursuant to a government order. The four men were originally convicted of raping Mukhtar Mai [advocacy website] at the order of the local tribal council to punish a crime committed by her brother. Mai appealed to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf [official profile] Thursday, saying that she felt threatened by the release of the men, who returned to the village where Mai currently lives and teaches a school. Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz [official profile] ordered the rearrest of the men under the Maintenance of Public Order Act. The men will be held until the Pakistan Supreme Court [official profile] issues a final ruling on their status.