International brief ~ Closing arguments begin in Canadian Air India trial

[JURIST] Closing arguments began Monday in the criminal case against two men accused of planning the 1985 Air India passenger jet bombing. The two men, Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri, are charged with first degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and placing bombs on an aircraft, among other charges. The trial, held in Canada due to the large number of Canadian citizens on the flight that originated in Canada, is the longest and most expensive trial held in Canadian history. The trial was a bench trial, meaning that no jury sat to hear the evidence. Justice Ian Bruce Josephson will sort through the thousands of pages of testimony to decide the case. His judgment is expected sometime next year. Read background of the trial here. CBC News has more.... The first-ever direct criticism of the modern Egyptian government by in-country human and civil rights groups was published Monday. The document contains the signatures of over 700 activists and organizations that are lobbying for sweeping constitutional change to the Egyptian political system. The petition criticized the power of the president under the current constitution, pointing out President Hosni Mubarak's 4 six year terms that have had no serious challenges. The petition also lobbied for the revocation of the emergency laws of the nation, which has been in effect since 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat. BBC News has more.... A Turkish report on in-country human rights standards has sparked controversy among government officials. The report was set up as part of the push to make Turkey more acceptable to the European Union in hopes of beginning membership talks, but has resulted in a division among officials about the status of human rights within Turkey. The report from the Human Rights Advisory Board examined the rights of minority citizens in Turkey and the protection of cultural freedoms. Both were found to be severely lacking by the report, which stated that the country's Turkish-only policy for a national language was unsupportable under the international human rights agreements that Turkey has signed. The report also claimed that Parliament was an ineffective check on the executive, that torture still occurred under the direction of the country's security services, and that a 'paranoia' existed that the protection of cultural rights would mean the break up of the nation. The tension escalated Monday when a government official, set to brief the press on the report, was assaulted by the head of a trades union, who snatched away the report and proceeded to taunt and heckle the board and its recommendations for constitutional amendments. JURIST's Paper Chase has background on Turkey's bid for EU acceptance. The Kurdistan Observer has more.... President-designate of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso requested Latvia to name a new candidate to the proposed list of commissioners for the EC Tuesday. Latvia had selected Ingrida Udre to represent the country in the Commission, but a failure to satisfactorally explain financial irregularities in her past led to EU MEPs deciding not to endorse her. The selection process has already run into problems with the controversy surrounding Italy's Rocco Buttiglione. MEPs cannot reject single candidates off the list, but instead must either accept or reject the entire list as a whole. JURIST's Paper Chase has background on the EC process. BBC News has more.



 

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