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Legal news from Sunday, April 25, 2010




Khadr seeking suppression of interrogation statements at military commission trial
Dwyer Arce on April 25, 2010 2:51 PM ET

[JURIST] Lawyers representing Omar Khadr [DOD materials; JURIST news archive], a Canadian currently being detained at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive], say they will seek to suppress statements he made during interrogation at a preliminary hearing to begin Wednesday. The hearing is to be the last before his US military commission [JURIST news archive] trial in July, the first to commence under the Obama administration, which suspended the military commissions [WP report] after his inauguration in January 2009. Khadr's defense team plans to bring forward [Reuters report] as many as thirty guards, interrogators, and witnesses to testify that incriminating statements made by Khadr were the product of torture. Khadr's defense lawyers claim that Khadr was subject to 142 interrogations at both Bagram Air Base [JURIST news archive] and Guantanamo Bay. Prosecutors have described these claims as baseless, and have countered [G&M report] that Khadr's treatment at the hands of interrogators was humane. The Obama administration has also been seeking the extradition of Khadr's brother Abdullah Khadr, currently detained by Canadian authorities in Toronto, for trial in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts [official website]. Abdullah is suspected of supplying weapons to al Qaeda [GlobalSecurity backgrounder].

Khadr's lawyers filed an emergency motion [JURIST report] in February in the Federal Court of Canada [official website] challenging the decision of the Canadian government not to seek his repatriation from the United States [JURIST report]. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled [JURIST report] in January that the government was not obligated to seek Khadr's return to Canada despite having violated his rights under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms [text]. Khadr has allegedly admitted to throwing a hand grenade that killed a US soldier in Afghanistan, and was charged [JURIST reports] in April 2007 with murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, providing material support for terrorism, and spying.






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Senate climate change bill delayed as key lawmaker withdraws support
Dwyer Arce on April 25, 2010 1:06 PM ET

[JURIST] US Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) [official website] withdrew support for a comprehensive climate change bill on Saturday, delaying the unveiling of the legislation and casting its prospects for passage into doubt. The bill represents a major part of President Barack Obama's legislative agenda and had been under negotiation [AP report] between Graham and Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) [official websites] for six months. The proposed legislation was to be unveiled Monday, but was postponed by Kerry after learning of Graham's decision. In a letter [text], Graham, the only Republican Senator that has agreed to work with the Obama administration on the bill, criticized the Democratic leadership for the reported plan to move forward with immigration reform [JURIST news archive] legislation before the climate bill. Graham described the move as motivated by partisan politics, saying:

I was greatly looking forward to the opportunity to address [energy independence] on the floor of the U.S. Senate as we pushed [this] legislation forward into law. But it appears President Obama and the Senate Democratic leadership have other more partisan, political objectives in mind. Moving forward on immigration — in this hurried, panicked manner — is nothing more than a cynical political ploy. I know from my own personal experience the tremendous amounts of time, energy, and effort that must be devoted to this issue to make even limited progress. In 2007, we spent hundreds of hours over many months ... searching for a way to address our nation’s immigration problems. Expecting these major issues to be addressed in three weeks — which appears to be their current plan based upon media reports — is ridiculous. It also demonstrates the raw political calculations at work here.
In responding to Graham's announcement, Kerry said that he would be willing to return [NYT report] to negotiations whenever Graham was, but was unsure of when that would be. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) [official website] stated his commitment to passage of both the climate bill and immigration reform legislation before the November midterm elections and the end of the current session of Congress.

The US House of Representatives [official website] passed [JURIST report] their version of the climate bill [HR 2454 materials] in June on a narrow 219-212 vote. The bill calls for a reduction in greenhouse emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, and by 80 percent by 2050 by establishing a cap-and-trade system. The bill establishes first-time limits on greenhouse gases that will become progressively stricter. Immigration reform constitutes another plank of Obama's legislative agenda. Graham and Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) [official website] unveiled [JURIST report] their proposal for comprehensive immigration reform in March. The plan entails improving border security, creating a system through which temporary workers would be admitted, introducing biometric identification cards, and instituting a process to legalize illegal immigrants [JURIST news archive] currently residing within the US. The proposed bill is also the first attempt at immigration reform since the failed [JURIST report] Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill [S 1639 materials] in 2007. At that time, detractors called the bill too lenient on illegal immigrants and said that by granting legal status to illegal aliens, the US was granting "amnesty."





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Iran leader derides possible UN nuclear sanctions as 'illegal'
Steve Czajkowski on April 25, 2010 10:35 AM ET

[JURIST] Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] on Saturday strongly criticized new attempts to impose UN sanctions on his country's nuclear program. Ahmadinejad was in Uganda meeting with President Yoweri Museveni when he made the comments. The Iranian leader said that actions being taken by the United States and its allies in the UN Security Council [official website] are illegal and that his country will not accept any pressure. He also said [AP report] that any evidence submitted by the United States and Britain for new UN sanctions amounted to "lies" similar to the claims made over nuclear weapons in Iraq which served as an impetus to the 2003 war. The UN Security Council has resumed [Telegraph report] meetings over a fourth round of sanctions against Iran, but the United States has indicated [Reuters report] it will impose unilateral sanctions if UN sanctions are not finalized by May.

In September, Ahmadinejad denied [JURIST report] that Iran had broken nuclear development regulations in respect to a newly-disclosed nuclear facility. The statement followed a press conference [WP report] where US, British, French, and German leaders gathered for the G-20 summit said in a joint statement [press release] that Iran had violated the terms of agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)[official website] by failing to disclose in a timely manner the existence of a nuclear facility. Under the terms [IAEA board report, PDF] of a 2003 protocol [text, PDF] to Iran's original IAEA Safeguards Agreement [text, PDF], Iran was obligated to disclose the existence of the plant prior to construction. In December 2006 the UN Security Council imposed sanctions [JURIST report] on Iran for continuing to enrich uranium and broadened them [JURIST report] three months later. The UN had previously ordered Iran to stop expanding [JURIST report] its nuclear program by August 31, 2006. Iran has said it will completely withdraw [JURIST report] from the IAEA if its "nuclear rights" are taken away.






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Thousands protest trial of Spain judge Garzon
Steve Czajkowski on April 25, 2010 9:25 AM ET

[JURIST] Thousands gathered in cities across Spain Saturday to protest the impending trial of crusading National Court judge Baltasar Garzon [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] on charges [JURIST report] he exceeded his jurisdictional authority with his investigation [JURIST report] into alleged war crimes committed during and after the Spanish Civil War [LOC backgrounder] under the hardline regime of General Francisco Franco [BBC backgrounder]. Protesters rallied [AFP report] in Madrid and many other cities, chanting in support of Garzon and holding up flags of the pre-war Republican government ousted by Franco. Late last week Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] said in a statement [press release] that sanctions against Garzon "risk undermining the EU’s collective credibility and effectiveness in seeking justice for current human rights crimes." Garzon is also facing charges of bribery over money he received for seminars conducted in the United States.

In March, the Spanish Supreme Court [official website, in Spanish] charged [order, PDF; in Spanish] Garzon with abuse of power based on Garzon's 2008 ordered exhumation [JURIST report] of 19 mass graves in Spain. The purpose of the order was to assemble a definitive national registry of Civil War victims, despite a 1977 law granting amnesty for political crimes committed under Franco. Earlier this month, Garzon appealed [JURIST report] the charges, alleging that the indictment issued by Spanish Supreme Court judge Luciano Varela was politically motivated [AFP report], compromised judicial independence and sought to impose a specific interpretation of the 1977 law. Garzon is widely known for using universal jurisdiction extensively in the past to bring several high-profile rights cases, including those against Osama bin Laden and former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet [JURIST news archives].






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