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Legal news from Sunday, September 19, 2010




China PM calls for greater action against corruption
Dwyer Arce on September 19, 2010 12:42 PM ET

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[JURIST] Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao emphasized the importance of upholding the rule of law, combating corruption and improving transparency in a speech [text, in Chinese] published by the government Sunday. During the speech, delivered last month at a national conference on government administration, Wen explained that the proper adherence to the rule of law is an important step in the fight against government corruption. He also called for greater transparency in the preparation of local city and provincial budgets and greater respect for the rule of law by these local governments, due to their continuous influence in the daily lives of individuals. Wen also called for more legislation and institution building to improve government, adherence to "scientific and democratic" decision-making, the promotion of transparency in government affairs and governance strictly by the law. The Chinese government has been taking steps against government corruption in recent months. In July, the Chinese government instituted new regulations [JURIST report] requiring a wide variety of government officials to disclose to the state details about their personal finances and the legal statuses of their family members. The new regulations, which apply to county-level and higher-ranking political officials, party officers and employees of public institutions and state-held business entities, require individuals to disclose their family's investment holdings, property and income, as well as the marital statuses, employment statuses and whereabouts of all family members. The regulations also institute stiffer penalties for failure to comply, with offenders now facing a range of disciplines from public sanction to removal from office.

The expanded regulations are the latest action by the Chinese government in a years-long battle against what is perceived to be pervasive corruption [JURIST news archive] in the state's various business and administrative bodies. Also in July, the Chinese government executed a top judicial official [JURIST report] after a corruption probe in the southwestern city of Chongquing revealed he had taken nearly $2 million in bribes and had been protecting a number of organized crime gangs. In March, the Hebei Province People's High Court upheld a life sentence for the former vice president of China's Supreme People's Court (SPC), Huang Songyou, who had been convicted [JURIST reports] of bribery and embezzlement. Earlier that month, SPC president Wang Shengjun called for increased efforts to fight corruption [JURIST report] in the country's court system. In January, the SPC announced new anti-corruption rules [JURIST report] in an effort to increase public confidence in the rule of law. In October, two Chongqing courts sentenced six individuals to death [JURIST report] for their connections with organized crime gangs.




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Man convicted in Air India bomb plot found guilty of perjury
Erin Bock on September 19, 2010 12:34 PM ET

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[JURIST] A man found guilty of manslaughter in connection with the 1985 Air India bombings [CBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] was found guilty Saturday of perjury. Inderjit Singh Reyat was the only person convicted for his role in the 1985 terrorist attacks where bombs were planted in suitcases aboard airplanes leaving Vancouver. One bomb went off in Japan's Narita airport, killing two baggage handlers, and another bomb went off on Air India Flight 182 as it flew over Ireland, killing all 329 passengers. Reyat admitted to buying the parts to make the bombs and was convicted of manslaughter in 1991 for the incident in Japan and in 2003 for the incident aboard Flight 182. This most recent conviction is related to the 2003 trial in which Reyat lied under oath 19 times [Montreal Gazette report] during his three-day testimony against alleged co-conspirators Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri. Reyat testified that he could not remember details relating to the bomb plot and could not remember the name of the man that received the bomb parts he had purchased. The men were acquitted [JURIST report] in 2005 of conspiracy to commit murder, first-degree murder of the passengers and crew of Flight 182 and attempted murder of the passengers and crew due to lack of evidence. Prosecutors alleged Reyat was protecting other individuals involved, while Reyat's lawyer argued he was confused and had trouble remembering what had taken place after 18 years. Reyat is scheduled for sentencing on November 17 [AFP report] and could face a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.

In June, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper [official website] formally apologized [JURIST report] to the families of the bombing victims for the government's failure to prevent the attack. Harper delivered his apology a week after Canada's Commission of Inquiry [official website] into the bombing released its final report [JURIST report] finding various institutional organizations failed to fulfill their responsibilities before and after the bombing. The report condemned the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) [official websites] for not utilizing available information, failing to enhance security and not cooperating with each other during the bombing investigation. The 1985 bombing was the largest single modern terror attack against a Western target prior to the 9/11 attacks [JURIST news archive] in the US, and it resulted in the longest and most expensive trial in Canadian history.




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Iran court sentences journalist charged with 'warring against God' to 6 years
Dwyer Arce on September 19, 2010 11:54 AM ET

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[JURIST] A judge from Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Iran [GlobaLex backgrounder] on Saturday sentenced Shiva Nazar Ahari, a journalist arrested following the 2009 presidential election [JURIST news archive], to six years in prison. Ahari was sentenced to three-and-half-years [AFP report] for warring against God, known in Islamic law as Moharebeh, two years for conspiracy to commit a crime and six months for propaganda against the government. In addition to the jail sentence, Ahari was also ordered to pay a USD $400 fine [Al Jazeera report] or face 74 lashes. Ahari's conviction on the charge of Moharebeh could have resulted in the death penalty. Her lawyer has stated that he will appeal the sentence. Ahari was released from prison last week [JURIST report] after she posted bail of USD $500,000. Earlier this month, the court concluded [JURIST report] Ahari's one-day trial, conducted by head judge Pyrbasy, during which she faced charges of Moharebeh, conspiring to commit a crime, propaganda against the government and disturbing the public order and having ties to the People's Mujahedeen of Iran [CFR backgrounder], an exiled organization that advocates for the overthrow of the Iranian government. The charges have been criticized by opposition organizations in Iran and rights groups worldwide who have called for Ahari's release.

Ahari was first arrested following the June 2009 presidential elections, which resulted in widespread charges of fraud and nationwide protests. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists [advocacy website], this is the first time that a journalist has been charged with a capital crime in Iran. Pyrabasy previously presided over the trial of Mohammad Nourizad, a prominent Iranian journalist and filmmaker, who was sentenced in April to three-and-a-half years [JURIST report] in prison and 50 lashes for his activities after the 2009 elections. Nourizad was sentenced for "distributing propaganda against the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and desecrating the image of thirty years of the Islamic establishment," and insulting the supreme leader, the president, the head of the judiciary and Ayatollah Elmolhoda of the Assembly of Experts. In December, Iranian economist and journalist Saeed Laylaz was sentenced to a nine-year jail term [JURIST report] for possessing classified information and participating in protests following the 2009 elections. Thousands were arrested during the protests following the contested election.




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