[JURIST] After days of deadly anti-US rioting in Afghanistan [JURIST report], protests in other Muslim countries, and condemnations [JURIST report] of American actions by civil and judicial leaders around the Muslim world, Newsweek editors have backtracked on their story of Koran abuse by US personnel at Guantanamo Bay [Newsweek report] that ran in the magazine's May 9 issue. Writing in the issue hitting newsstands Monday, Newsweek writers cited Pentagon denials [VOA report] of any evidence backing up the allegation and explained that the anonymous "senior government official" who had apparently been the source of the original report on the basis of what he claimed to have read in a military document "could no longer be sure that these concerns had surfaced in the SouthCom report" he had seen. Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker said "We regret that we got any part of our story wrong" and went on to "extend our sympathies to victims of the violence and to the US soldiers caught in its midst." Newsweek has more. BBC News has additional coverage.
[JURIST] Three Saudi reformers on trial for sedition and using Western tactics in calling for the institution of a limited constitutional monarchy in Saudi Arabia were sentenced to prison terms of six to nine years Sunday. Human rights observers and family members of the accused were barred from the courtroom when the judgment was rendered; the trial itself had been closed to the general public [JURIST report]. In April, he New York-based monitoring group Human Rights Watch called on President Bush [HRW letter; background press release] to ask visiting Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz to have the three released. Other reformers arrested with the three last year had been released after promising to stop their public lobbying for political change. AFP has more.
[JURIST] The Iranian parliament [official website] Sunday passed a measure encouraging Iran's government to resume the "peaceful use" of nuclear technology consistent with international law and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). In referring to "provision of the fuel cycle for generating 20,000 megawatts of electricity" the measure appears to envisage the resumption of uranium enrichment, a major bone of contention with the EU and the US. BBC News has more. From Tehran, the government-controlled Iranian Republic News Agency provides local coverage. The International Atomic Energy Agency provides background and materials on Iran's nuclear program and weapons proliferation concerns.
[JURIST] A federal appeals court Friday upheld a lower court ruling that the inscription "In God We Trust" above the doorway of a county government building in North Carolina [WEMY-TV photo] is not an unconstitutional infringement of the separation of church and state. A panel of the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the privately-funded inscription served a patriotic rather than a religious purpose. Read the appeal court opinion [PDF]. Later this spring the US Supreme Court is expected to rule on the related question of whether public displays of the Ten Commandments on government property infringe the US Constitution's Establishment Clause. From North Carolina, the Winston-Salem Journal has more.
[JURIST] A US military investigator has cleared a US Marine of murder charges in connection with the deaths of two Iraqi prisoners. 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano [defense website] stood accused of killing the two prisoners [JURIST report] execution-style on April 15, 2004; if convicted he could have faced the death penalty. Lt. Col. Mark Winn, presiding at Pantano's Article 32 hearing under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, accepted evidence that the prisoners did not have their backs turned when Pantano shot them repeatedly in the belief they were going to attack him. He nonetheless wrote that "Shooting 30 extra rounds of ammunition into two bodies to send a message (to the enemy) is not moral and just... Once we allow ourselves to traverse down that slope, we become no better than the insurgents we are fighting." In a report released Friday [PDF] Winn recommended that Pantano receive nonjudicial punishment for conduct unbecoming an officer, which could include house arrest and reduction in pay. The New York Daily News has more.
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