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Legal news from Thursday, August 18, 2005




US wants military trial for Australian Gitmo detainee
D. Wes Rist on August 18, 2005 7:50 PM ET

[JURIST] Court documents released Thursday revealed that the US government is arguing that Australian citizen David Hicks [Wikipedia profile; advocacy website] should face a military commission trial following an appellate court ruling from a three judge panel that included US Supreme Court nominee John Roberts [JURIST news archive]. In Hamdan v. Rumsfeld [PDF opinion], the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit held that the military commission system was legally authorized to try individuals captured in the United States' war on terror. The Pentagon has used the ruling to push for a trial for Hicks on charges of conspiracy, attempted murder and aiding the enemy. There is no word on when a ruling about whether Hicks may be tried by the commission system is expected. AP has more.

Previously on JURIST's Paper Chase...






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Federal appeals court rules military can limit medical insurance for abortions
D. Wes Rist on August 18, 2005 7:40 PM ET

[JURIST] A federal appeals court ruled [PDF opinion] Thursday that congressional legislation that permits medical insurance for US military personnel to pay only for abortions needed to save the life of the mother was constitutional. The three judge panel from the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] criticized the legislation however, as "callous and unfeeling." The federal courts have long recognized that federal funds cannot be required to pay for abortions except in special circumstances due to the government's "interest in protecting human life in general and promoting respect for life." Legal representatives for the US Navy sailor's wife who challenged the insurance ruling said that no decision had been reached about whether to appeal the court's ruling. AP has more.






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Final White House documents on Roberts released in California, DC
D. Wes Rist on August 18, 2005 7:21 PM ET

[JURIST] The last of the publicly accessible documents authored by US Supreme Court nominee John Roberts [JURIST news archive] in storage at the Reagan Library [official website] in were released simultaneously Thursday in California and Washington, DC. The thousands of pages of material complete the greater-than 50,000 pages of work product produced by Roberts while he was a junior White House legal counsel under former US President Ronald Reagan [official profile]. Nearly 2,000 documents remain sealed in the Library due to national security and intelligence restrictions. The documents covered issues as diverse as Roberts' views on the proper method for creating gender equality to Senate proposals on crime-fighting. One of Roberts' memos was critical of then junior Senator Arlen Specter [official website], who is now Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and will preside over Roberts' confirmation hearings, scheduled for September 6. AP has more.






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Former Hollinger executives indicted on fraud charges
D. Wes Rist on August 18, 2005 7:10 PM ET

[JURIST] David Radler, former Chicago Sun-Times publisher, Mark S. Kipnis, former lead counsel for Hollinger International [corporate website], and Ravelston Corp, a private company controlled by Conrad Black [CBC profile] were charged with five counts of federal mail fraud and two counts of federal wire fraud on Thursday. The two men and the company are part of an ongoing litigation battle between Hollinger International and its former CEO, Conrad Black. Black was accused of diverting company funds for personal use [JURIST report] to the tune of over $400 million. Black has countersued Hollinger International for defamation and libel [JURIST report] and has continually maintained his innocence. The criminal charges against Radler and Kipnis are part of the US government's attempt to find out if Black was responsible for the misappropriated funds. Radler has been cooperating with federal investigators and is expected to plead guilt as part of a plea agreement. AP has more.






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States brief ~ NJ appeals court says mental competency to be decided by jury
Rachel Felton on August 18, 2005 5:17 PM ET

[JURIST] Leading Thursday's states brief, a New Jersey court of appeals has ruled [PDF opinion] that a jury should decide whether Porfirio Jimenez is mentally competent and able to face the death penalty. A spokesman for the Office of the Public Defender said that, "Most states have gone with the ruling that the judge makes the decision. Now, New Jersey has said, 'No, we're going to say in New Jersey that if you want to execute someone, the burden of proof remains with the government.'" Morris County Prosecutor Michael M. Rubbinaccio criticized the decision, saying "Twenty-six other states have addressed this issue by way of statute or judicial decision; and have all placed the burden on the defendant to prove that he or she was mentally retarded." Rubbinaccio plans to appeal the decision. North Jersey Media Group has local coverage.

In other state legal news ...

  • An Indiana appeals court has upheld [PDF opinion] parents' rights to share their religion with their children by removing part of a divorce decree that directed the plaintiff and his ex-wife to shelter their child from "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals." In making the decision, the court relied on state law, which prohibits courts from limiting parents' authority unless a child is at risk of physical danger or significant emotional impairment. Both of the child's parents are practicing Wiccans [Wikipedia backgrounder]. The Indianapolis Star has local coverage.

  • A New Jersey Appellate Court [official website] has ruled that Newark, Essex and Union counties may pursue their lawsuit against companies that manufactured lead paint, because they and other governmental bodies have "inherent police powers" to sue to stop a public nuisance. The decision overturned a lower court ruling that dismissed the lawsuit after finding municipalities do not have the power to sue manufacturers. 26 local governments will proceed with the lawsuit against Atlantic Richfield Co., NL Industries, Millenium Inorganic Chemicals, Sherwin-Williams, American Cyanamid, Cytec Industries, ConAgra and DuPont. New Jersey's Star-Ledger has local coverage.





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Federal lawsuit challenges data collection under Secure Flight program
David Shucosky on August 18, 2005 4:20 PM ET

[JURIST] Four people filed suit Thursday against the Transportation Security Administration [official website] in an Anchorage federal court alleging that the agency illegally collected information about passengers in testing the Secure Flight Program [official website] last fall. Earlier this month, Department of Homeland Security [official website] Secretary Michael Chertoff said that privacy concerns about the program were being overstated [JURIST report]. However, in July, a Government Accountability Office report [PDF text] concluded that the TSA violated the 1974 Privacy Act [text] by collecting personal information on people without their knowledge [JURIST report] and also collected data to test the Secure Flight program without Congressional approval [JURIST report]. The lawsuit is based on a provision of federal law that allows individuals to know what data was collected and review it; the four plaintiffs want access to the information TSA collected [Wired report] about them. The agency said they have no such information, which led the plaintiffs to argue that the records were not adequately searched. Reuters has more.






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BTK killer sentenced to life in prison
David Shucosky on August 18, 2005 3:57 PM ET

[JURIST] Dennis Rader, the BTK killer, was sentenced to 10 consecutive life terms on Thursday after pleading guilty [JURIST report] in June to 10 murders. Since Kansas did not have the death penalty at the time of the crimes, the life terms handed down were the toughest sentence possible. AP has more.






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Indonesia confirms amnesty for GAM members
D. Wes Rist on August 18, 2005 3:32 PM ET

[JURIST] Indonesian Minister of Justice and Human Rights Hamid Awaluddin has confirmed that the Indonesian government will grant general amnesties to all members of the Free Aceh Movement [Wikipedia profile] (GAM) currently incarcerated by the government. The amnesty is part of the Helsinki peace agreement [PDF text] between the GAM, the largest independence group in the Aceh province, and the central Indonesian government [official website in Bahasa Indonesian], which was formally signed [JURIST report] earlier this week. Awaluddin told reporters at the Sukamiskin penitentiary, where he was overseeing the planning of the GAM members' release, that the amnesties should be ready by the end of August, but that they must first be approved by Indonesia's House of Representatives [government website in Bahasa Indonesian]. Awaluddin was at Sukamiskin penitentiary to determine how the Aceh rebels would be transported back to their homes after their amnesty. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Indonesia [JURIST news archive]. The Jakarta Post has local coverage.






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Nepal ministers arrested on corruption charges
D. Wes Rist on August 18, 2005 3:13 PM ET

[JURIST] The Nepalese Royal Commission for Corruption Control arrested two government officials Thursday and issued an arrest warrant for a third on corruption and tax evasion charges adding up to nearly $400,000 (USD). Director-General of Inland Revenue Department [official website] Abanindra Kumar Shrestha and Ministry of Finance officer Sharada Prasad Dahal were arrested on corruption charges, while an arrest warrant was issued for Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Finance Deep Basnet on charges of corruption and tax evasion. The RCCC was created by royal mandate [JURIST report] and has the power to independently investigate, arrest, and prosecute government officials alleged to have engaged in corruption while in government office. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Nepal [JURIST news archive]. Kantipur Online has local coverage.






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Martinique initiates manslaughter investigation against airline
D. Wes Rist on August 18, 2005 2:53 PM ET

[JURIST] Prosecutors in the French Caribbean island of Martinique [government website] have initiated a manslaughter investigation against West Caribbean Airways [company website in Spanish]. The investigation will target the airline's increasingly controversial safety record to determine if WCA was at fault for the crash on Tuesday which killed 160 people [AP report]. The plane reported engine troubles and then suddenly crashed in Venezuela. Reuters has more.






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Tamil Tigers agree to peace talks with Sri Lanka
D. Wes Rist on August 18, 2005 2:26 PM ET

[JURIST] Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgesen reported Thursday that senior leaders in the Tamil Tigers [faction website; MIPT profile] have agreed to attend peace talks to be held with representatives of the Sri Lankan government [official website]. The date and location of the talks has yet to be decided, but the meeting will be the first between the two sides in the last two years. Military and political personnel from both sides are expected to attend and will discuss issues ranging from government paramilitary groups to a tentative cease-fire agreement. The Tigers have come under immense international pressure to reach an agreement with Sri Lanka following the assassination of Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar [Sri Lankan official press release] last week. Sri Lanka's Colombo Page has local coverage of the official presidential press release. BBC News has more.






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Illinois high court tosses $1 billion verdict against State Farm
David Shucosky on August 18, 2005 2:02 PM ET

[JURIST] The Illinois Supreme Court [official website] reversed a $1 billion judgment against State Farm [corporate website] Thursday, ruling [summary; full text] that a class action should not have been certified in the case. In 1999, State Farm was held liable for using sub-standard parts in repairing policyholders' damaged vehicles. The state Supreme Court held that, due to differences in the plaintiffs' insurance policies, the cases were not similar enough to be part of a class. Additionally, only one named plaintiff was from Illinois and the court found he did not prove actual damages. AP has more.






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Japan to propose new resolution for Security Council bid
Jamie Sterling on August 18, 2005 1:57 PM ET

[JURIST] Japan announced plans Thursday to revise the so-called G-4 plan [JURIST news archive] for expansion of the UN Security Council [official website] after the African Union rejected their previous proposal [JURIST report]. The new plan will be presented to the UN in September and is expected to add another non-permanent seat for an African country. The original plan added six permanent members to the Security Council including Japan, Germany, Brazil, and India along with two African nations, but the G-4 nations and the AU could not agree on the number of non-permanent seats to add. The US and China have vowed to use their veto power to block any Security Council expansion [JURIST report]. In an interview published Thursday in German newsweekly Die Zeit [official website, in German], former President Clinton stated his support for Security Council expansion [AFP report], saying that the body must be more representative of the world to tackle the complicated issues it faces. After a one-day summit in Tokyo, Central American countries vowed to support Japan's bid to become a permanent member [Kyodo News Agency report]. AP has more.






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Kenya court to decide whether to hear cases on constitutional revision
D. Wes Rist on August 18, 2005 1:48 PM ET

[JURIST] Chief Justice Evan Gicheru of the Kenyan Court of Justice is scheduled to decide Thursday whether three separate court cases [JURIST report] filed by three different opposition groups of the Kenyan Parliament [government website] should be consolidated into one case and heard by the nation's highest court. The suits seek to enjoin Kenyan Attorney General Amos Wako [official website] from publishing the controversial Constitutional Bill, the final step in submitting the bill for approval by national referendum. The cases allege that the revision of the previously accepted Bomas draft of the constitution by Wako and Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki [official profile] is unconstitutional and that only parliament may introduce a draft constitution to the Kenyan Electoral Commission [official website]. The Constitution of Kenya Review Act requires that the draft constitution be submitted by August 24 in order allow the KEC time to set up the national referendum. All three submitting parties have requested the court to decide the case quickly to avoid having Wako publish the bill and the KEC set a date for a referendum before the merits of the case are heard. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Kenya [JURIST news report]. Kenya's Daily Nation has local coverage.






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Nigerian Senate asks executive to abolish war crimes pact with US
Jamie Sterling on August 18, 2005 1:32 PM ET

[JURIST] The Nigerian Senate [official website, in French] has passed a resolution calling for the executive to abolish a pact made with the United States that said neither country will turn over suspected war criminals to the Hague's International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website], which Washington opposes. The two countries signed the agreement in June 2003 under Article 98 of the Rome Statute of the ICC [official PDF text]. Although Senate resolutions are not legally binding, the Nigerian Constitution [PDF text] gives the Senate the right to rule on international treaties and the passage of this resolution reveals the Senate's growing confidence in challenging executive powers. Reuters has more.






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Congo court acquits army, police defendants of genocide charges
D. Wes Rist on August 18, 2005 1:29 PM ET

[JURIST] A majority of jurors in a Republic of Congo court have acquitted 15 senior level military and police officials accused of orchestrating the 1999 disappearance of over 300 refugees returning from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the Congolese city Brazzaville. Families of the victims brought civil and criminal charges against the officials, but no criminal charges were upheld by the jury, which found that none of the 15 defendants were "individually responsible for committing war crimes, genocide or crimes against humanity" and dismissed civil claims from the majority of the plaintiffs. The court did hold that the Congolese government [official website in French] must pay $18,500 (USD) to the families of 86 of the victims for the government's failure to "scrupulously organize safety measures" to protect the refugees. Counsel for the victims' families have indicated they plan to appeal the ruling to the Congolese Supreme Court within the statutory three day limit. IRIN has more.






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Legal ethicists claim Roberts White House interview 'illegal'
Tom Henry on August 18, 2005 1:20 PM ET

[JURIST] In a Slate article [text] published Wednesday, legal ethicists Stephen Gillers, David Luban and Steven Lubet claim that the White House violated the law when it interviewed Judge John Roberts [JURIST news archive] this spring for the US Supreme Court while he was considering a challenge to US military tribunals in his capacity as a federal appeals court judge. Roberts, nominated to the highest court by President Bush last month, should not have taken part in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld [PDF opinion] to avoid any "appearance of partiality," the three wrote. Citing US Supreme Court precedent in Liljeberg v. Health Services Acquisition Corp. [PDF opinion], the ethicists argue that the federal requirement that judges recuse themselves when their "impartiality might reasonably be questioned" is meant to "to promote confidence in the judiciary by avoiding even the appearance of impropriety whenever possible." According to the article, if one party in a case "can secretly approach the judge about a dream job while the case is still under active consideration," it undermines trust in the judiciary. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said there was "no conflict whatsoever." The accusation came on the same day the American Bar Association [official website] gave Roberts its highest rating [JURIST report] for the Supreme Court. Newsday has more.






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Zimbabwe introduces constitutional amendments bill
D. Wes Rist on August 18, 2005 1:04 PM ET

[JURIST] Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe [Wikipedia profile] introduced Thursday a highly controversial constitutional reform bill [JURIST report] to the Zimbabwean Parliament [official website]. The constitutional amendment bill contains proposed changes to the Zimbabwean Constitution [text] that leaders in the MDC Opposition Party [party website] have criticized as little more than a naked power grab [JURIST report] by Mugabe. The provisions include the reintroduction of the currently defunct Senate, with members being appointed and approved by the office of the president; the creation of a governmental right to restrict the travel ability of Zimbabwean citizens; and the introduction of controversial new land reform provisions, including the barring of judicial access for white farmers who wish to contest the government appropriation of their farms. The MDC lacks sufficient numbers in Zimbabwe's Parliament to prevent the approval of the legislation. MDC members staged a low-key march [Mail & Guardian report] outside the Zimbabwean Parliament Thursday, in violation of Zimbabwean law, protesting the proposed amendments. Zimbabwean security laws prohibit protests of greater than three people addressing political subjects unless prior police approval is obtained. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Zimbabwe [JURIST news archive]. SABC has local coverage.






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UK subway shooting victim family says top police officer tried to block inquiry
David Shucosky on August 18, 2005 12:50 PM ET

[JURIST] Lawyers representing the family of Brazilian citizen Jean Charles de Menezes, mistakenly killed by police [JURIST report] who thought they were pursuing a suspect in the July 21 London bombing [JURIST report], have accused Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair [official profile] of trying to block an independent inquiry into the shooting. The lawyers said Thursday that Blair wrote to the Home Office and asked for an internal investigation rather than one by the Independent Police Complaints Commission [official website] because of security concerns. His request was overruled, but some irregularities exist regarding IPCC involvement in the case. The family called for Blair's resignation [JURIST report] Wednesday after new, conflicting reports on the circumstances surrounding the shooting emerged. Reuters has more. The Guardian has local coverage.






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National Archives launches formal investigation into missing Roberts file
David Shucosky on August 18, 2005 12:08 PM ET

[JURIST] The National Archives [official website] began an investigation Wednesday into the disappearance of a file containing papers authored by US Supreme Court nominee John Roberts [JURIST news archive] on affirmative action. Officials said the file disappeared [Washington Post report] from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California after two lawyers from the White House and Justice Department reviewed and returned it in July. An official in charge of the presidential libraries said that the file was simply misplaced and has been reconstructed [Scripps Howard report] as best as possible; another official said the disappearance was the archive agency's fault [UPI report]. The National Archives has also announced that more Roberts documentation will be made public [press release] Thursday. The New York Times has more.






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Former Peruvian spy chief faces abuse charges
David Shucosky on August 18, 2005 11:50 AM ET

[JURIST] Vladimiro Montesinos [Wikipedia profile], a close aide of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori [JURIST news archive] and Peru's former intelligence chief, went on trial Wednesday on charges that he ordered the massacres of Maoist rebel supporters by paramilitary death squads in the 1990s. Montesinos' past is full of questionable activities, including allegations of election fraud [BBC News backgrounder] and even forging a Peruvian birth certificate to help Fujimori gain power. Hidden-camera footage of Montesinos bribing an opposition party member to support Fujimori ultimately led to Fujimori's resignation in 2000. Montesinos has been in jail since 2001, when he was sentenced to 15 years for embezzlement, conspiracy, and corruption. He faces almost 100 other charges in his newest trial, but the human rights charges are the first against him. BBC News has more.






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Number-two US diplomat in Iraq allegedly gave classified info to lobby group
David Shucosky on August 18, 2005 11:11 AM ET

[JURIST] David Satterfield, the number-two diplomat at the US Embassy in Baghdad, is allegedly one of the anonymous government officials said to have disclosed classified information to a Department of Defense analyst and two former officials of the pro-Israel lobbying group American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) [advocacy website], who pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] earlier this week to charges [PDF indictment] of conspiring to obtain and disclose classified national defense information. According to sources briefed on the case, Steven Rosen, one of the former AIPAC officials, is said to have met twice with Satterfield to discuss classified information, although the indictment does not detail what was discussed. Satterfield declined comment, but a former colleague said it was "absurd" to think that he would leak information. The New York Times has more.






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BREAKING NEWS ~ Ohio governor to plead no contest to ethics charges
Jeannie Shawl on August 18, 2005 11:05 AM ET

[JURIST] AP is reporting that Ohio Governor Bob Taft [official website] will plead no contest to charges [JURIST report] that he improperly failed to report golf outings and other gifts.

1:22 PM ET - Taft was fined $4,000 but will not serve any jail time as part of a plea agreement. When entering his plea, Taft said that he took full responsibility for his mistakes. Reuters has more.

2:13 PM ET - Taft's statement, in which he accepts responsibility for his failure to provide complete financial disclosure statements to the Ohio Ethics Commission [official website], is now available. Taft said that his office failed to establish an adequate system to monitor the value of golf outings and other social events. Read the full statement [text].






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DOJ report shows decline in federal tort lawsuits
David Shucosky on August 18, 2005 10:50 AM ET

[JURIST] There has been an almost 80 percent decrease [DOJ press release] in the number of federal tort trials from 1985 to 2003, the US Department of Justice [official website] said in a report released Wednesday. According to Federal Tort Trials and Verdicts, 2002-03 [report abstract; PDF full text], the decrease can be attributed to the growing use of alternative dispute resolution and the increased complexity and costs of trial. In addition, DOJ research showed that 98 percent of tort cases were settled without trial. The study contrasts with political complaints about lawsuits. In February, President Bush signed the Class Action Fairness Act [JURIST report], which sends large class action suits to federal courts rather than state courts, saying [White House press release] he wanted to "[end] the lawsuit culture in our country." A bill due for a vote next month in the Senate would end asbestos lawsuits [JURIST report] and would instead create a compensation fund. Bloomberg News has more.






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Bangladeshi police question almost 50 in bombing probe
David Shucosky on August 18, 2005 10:11 AM ET

[JURIST] Police in Bangladesh have detained almost 50 people for questioning after a series of over 100 bombs exploded across the country [AP report] on Wednesday, killing two and injuring over 100. The near-simultaneous bombings took place outside government buildings and court houses in almost every major city in Bangladesh. Police say leaflets from a banned Islamic group, Jumatul Mujahedin, were found at the scene of each bombing. The group advocates an Islamic rule for the largely Muslim nation instead of its current secular government. In a statement [text] Wednesday, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan denounced the attacks and called for calm and restraint. AP has more.






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UN envoy arrives in Myanmar to push for release of opposition leader
David Shucosky on August 18, 2005 9:38 AM ET

[JURIST] Ali Alatas, former Indonesian foreign minister, went to Myanmar Thursday as a special envoy of the UN to help push for the release of jailed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi [advocacy website; Wikipedia profile]. Alatas was appointed to the position in 2003, but this is his first visit to the country. Myanmar's military leaders have not allowed such a visit from any special envoy since March 2004. National League for Democracy leader and Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has been under house arrest since May 2003, despite international pressure for her release. Last month Myanmar turned down the rotating Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) [official website] chairmanship in response to US and EU boycott threats [JURIST report] about its human rights record. AFP has more.






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Milosevic war crimes trial resumes, Kosovo witnesses testify
Tom Henry on August 18, 2005 9:28 AM ET

[JURIST] The trial of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic [JURIST news archive] resumed Wednesday at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia [official website; JURIST news archive] after a summer recess, with Milosevic calling ethnic Albanian witnesses from Kosovo to testify. The prosecution contends that Yugoslav and Serbian forces were ordered by Milosevic to expel tens of thousands of Kosovo Albanians during the 1998-99 conflict there. Milosevic, representing himself at trial, has always said that the refugees leaving Kosovo in 1999 were not chased out by his troops, rather they were fleeing NATO bombings of the province [Washington Post report]. The Milosevic trial began in February 2002 on more than 60 charges [ICTY case backgrounder] of war crimes and crimes against humanity. If convicted he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. AFP has more.






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Sunni political group blasts Iraq constitution negotiations
Tom Henry on August 18, 2005 9:07 AM ET

[JURIST] The Iraqi Islamic Party [Wikipedia backgrounder], Iraq's largest Sunni political group, on Wednesday heavily criticized the committee drafting a new Iraq constitution [JURIST news archive] and said that the same major disputes blocking a draft last week remain to be worked out. The group said the committee was biased and incompetent in its approach to resolve differences over federalism [JURIST report], the role of Islam and the distribution of Iraq's massive oil wealth. Saleh al-Mutlaq, a Sunni member of the constitutional committee, was more optimistic saying "everybody is determined to finish it before the [Monday] deadline." AP has more.






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Israeli troops surround Gaza synagogue in pullout standoff
Tom Henry on August 18, 2005 8:31 AM ET

[JURIST] Israeli security soldiers on Thursday entered the religious settlement of Kfar Darom and surrounded a synagogue filled with hundreds of young pullout opponents as the soldiers removed screaming residents from nearby homes and a religious school. One soldier refused to take part in the operation and had to be dragged away; the first such mutiny since the start of a forced evacuation of Gaza settlements [JURIST report]. The strongest resistance in Kfar Darom is expected at the synagogue, where the roof has been covered in rows of barbed wire and extremist teenagers from the West Bank have joined the settlers. Israeli officials said the Gaza withdrawal would be finished by Tuesday, taking far less time than earlier predicted. Reuters has more. The Israel Defense Forces' official disengagement website has the latest updates on the evacuation process.

9:20 AM ET - Elsewhere in the Gaza strip Thursday, Israeli forces stormed the main synagogue in the Neve Dekalim settlement in order to remove 1,500 protesters. Israeli Defense Forces [official website] soldiers were unable to negotiate with the protesters, who are being carried out of the synagogue to waiting buses. AP has more.

10:18 AM ET - AP is reporting that Israeli riot police have broken open the door of Kfar Darom synagogue and are using water cannons against protesters refusing to leave the synagogue.






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US Army reservist found guilty in Afghan abuse case
Tom Henry on August 18, 2005 8:04 AM ET

[JURIST] A US military jury on Wednesday convicted Pfc. Willie Brand of assault, maltreatment, false official swearing and maiming. Brand faces up to 16 years in military prison for beating one of two Afghan detainees who later died at Bagram Control Point [Global Security profile] near Kabul. The jury acquitted him of related charges involving the second prisoner. Brand was first charged in February 2005 for abuse of a 22-year-old prisoner [JURIST report] known as Dilawar [Wikipedia profile] who was beaten so severely he later died. Homicide charges were dropped earlier this year. Brand's sentencing hearing begins Thursday. AP has more.






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