[JURIST] AP is reporting that following a sentencing hearing Tuesday [JURIST report], a military jury at Fort Hood has sentenced Spc. Sabrina Harman to six months in prison in connection with her role in abusing Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib.
9:17 PM ET - With credit for time served before trial, Harman will only have to spend four months in jail. The only other soldier convicted after trial for Abu Ghraib abuses so far, Pvt. Charles Graner, was sentenced to 10 years. AP now has more.
[JURIST] The three main opposition parties [2004 IslamOnline backgrounder] in Egypt, the moderate-left Wafd [Wikipedia entry], Marxist Tagamu [Arab Decision backgrounder], and the Nasserist Party [Arab Decision backgrounder] have joined forces to voice their opposition to a May 25 referendum on an Egyptian constitutional amendment [JURIST report] allowing competitive presidential polls. They charge that the conditions for registration are so stringent that only the ruling National Democratic Party [official website, English version] would be able to field a candidate, undercutting the purpose of the referendum. The opposition parties along with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood [party website in Arabic] have urged Egyptian voters to avoid the polls on May 25 in protest. AFP has more.
[JURIST] The future of a work-in-progress bill to provide $140 billion in asbestos compensation [JURIST report; Asbestos Alliance advocacy website] was threatened Tuesday by a looming battle between Republicans and Democrats over judicial nominations. Senators moved a Wednesday Senate Judiciary Committee business committee meeting [cancellation notice] on the subject to Thurday of this week because of intense debates over the nominees expected to take place then. Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy [official website], a co-sponsor of the bill and the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said that if Republicans resorted to the so-called "nuclear option" and banned filibusters over judicial nominees then the controversial asbestos bill [Asbestos Network anti-bill advocacy website] would likely be doomed. Democrats have threatened to slow or stop any bills moving through the Senate if the "nuclear option" is used. Reuters has more.
[JURIST] Army Spc. Sabrina Harman [Wikipedia profile] apologized for her role in the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison [Wikipedia entry] during the sentencing phase of her court-martial at Fort Hood, Texas, Tuesday. Harman was convicted Monday [JURIST report] of six of the seven charges brought against her, including threatening an inmate with electrocution while he stood hooded on a box with wires attached to his hands. She was seen taunting inmates in several of the notorious pictures that appeared from the prison. Military prosecuters asked the jury to sentence Harman to three years in jail; her defense has requested that she avoid jail time altogether, citing evidence that she was considered kind to Iraqis on other occasions and did not approve of the acts she photographed. AP has more.
[JURIST] Cuban exile Luis Posada Carriles [Wikipedia profile] has been arrested by federal agents in Miami, according to a report from CNN. Posada, a onetime CIA asset [Democracy Now report] who slipped into the US two months ago, is accused of bombing a Cuban airplane almost 30 years ago. The Venezuelan government has asked the Bush administration to deport him to face trial over the deaths of the 73 victims of the airliner bombing. Reuters has more.
[JURIST] China announced Tuesday that it will crack down on Chinese police officials' use of improper interrogation methods on criminal suspects. Chinese police are notorious for using coercion and torture while interrogating suspects [Amnesty International report]. Prosecutors must now review all a criminal's police records as well as explicitly question the suspect to ensure that they were not mistreated while under interrogation. She Xianglin, a man falsely jailed for his wife's murder, was imprisoned for 11 years and recently sparked outrage surrounding Chinese police brutality [Asia News Net report]. She, who claimed he was tortured until he confessed to the crime, was released last month [China Daily report] after his wife turned up alive. Tuesday's announcement is another in a series of steps being taken by Chinese authorities to combat police brutality. Last month a Chinese provincial appeals court ruled that evidence obtained through the use of coercion, torture, or trickery would not be upheld in court [JURIST report]. The Australian has more.
[JURIST] Despite President Bush's veto threat, the Senate Tuesday passed a $295-billion highway bill [full text] to build more roads and create jobs by an 89-11 vote. The White House said $284 billion was the most it would approve; the House bill was for this amount [AP report]. The Senate added $11 billion to the bill but said it had come up with new ways to generate the extra money without adding to the deficit. A highway bill has not been passed since September 2003 [AP report]; that bill has been extended six times as a temporary solution, with the latest extension expiring May 31.
[JURIST] Uzbekistan Prosecutor-General Rashid Kadyrov Tuesday denied reports that Uzbek government forces opened fire on demonstrators [JURIST report] Friday who were protesting government repression in the eastern city of Andijan. Although Kadyrov claimed that no civilians were killed by government fire, hundreds of witnesses reported that the government troops did shoot into a crowd of hundreds of peaceful demonstrators, killing many [JURIST report]. Kadyrov reported 169 dead and said that reports released by foreign governments and human rights groups estimating the number killed at near 500 were an attempt to portray Uzbekistan's government as tyrannical. Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov joined Kadyrov in accusing Western and Russian media of biased reporting. Amnesty International [advocacy website] meanwhile has called "on the authorities of Uzbekistan to allow a prompt and independent investigation into the events with the results made public and those responsible brought to justice". Read the AI press release. The advocacy group is concerned that the violence in Andijan will prompt the government to crack down further on citizens' rights and freedom of expression. The government announced that it will escort 15 ambassadors and numerous members of the media [Aljazeera report] to Andijan Wednesday to relieve foreign governments and rights groups' criticisms of the government in Uzbekistan. Reuters has more.
[JURIST] A court in Paris jailed three men for 2 to 7 years Tuesday for offering logistical support to al Qaeda agents who killed Afghan resistance leader Ahmad Shah Masood [BBC profile] shortly before the attacks on September 11th, 2001. The north African trio - Abderrahmane Ameuroud, Adel Tibourski, and Youssef el Aouni - were convicted of funding two Tunisian militants posing as journalists who exploded suicide bombs killing Masood. An al Qaeda target because of his leadership skills within the Northern Alliance [Wikipedia entry], Masood was a key player in ending the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan [Wikipedia entry]. Two other men were cleared of any wrongdoing by the court. Reuters has more.
[JURIST] Rape defendant and accused killer Brian Nichols [Wikipedia profile] pleaded not guilty in Atlanta's Fulton County Courthouse [backgrounder] Tuesday to multiple counts of murder, kidnapping, escape, and other charges in connection with the March 11 shootings [JURIST report] at the same courthouse when he allegedly overpowered a deputy sheriff, stole her gun, and then shot presiding judge Rowland Barnes [Wikipedia profile] and a court reporter. Nichols is also accused of killing two law enforcement officers during his flight, which prompted the largest manhunt in Georgia state history. Prosecutors want to have the trial held in Fulton County but Nichols' attorney has questioned whether he could receive a fair trial there. Reuters has more.
[JURIST] The trial of Nur-Pashi Kulayev, the sole surviving member of the militant group responsible for Beslan School Crisis [Wikipedia entry; BBC backgrounder] in September 2004, began Tuesday under tight security in Vladikavkaz, the capital of Russia's North Ossetian region. Kulayev has been charged with terrorism, banditry and murder, among other things. While he admits playing a role in the seizure, Kalayev insists he killed no one. The maximum sentence Kalayev could receive is life in prison, as Russia imposed a moratorium on the death penalty in 1996 to join the Council of Europe [official website]. AP has more.
[JURIST] A British judge ruled Tuesday that Babar Ahmad [advocacy website] can be extradited to face charges of supporting terrorism, conspiring to kill Americans and running a Web site that US authorities say was used to fund terrorists. The case has been heard under a "fast track" extradition procedure under the UK Extradition Act 2003 [text] that decreases the burden of proof on certain countries, including the United States. UK Home Secretary Charles Clarke [Wikipedia profile] now has 60 days to decide whether Ahmad will be extradited. The United States has assured presiding Judge Timothy Workman that, if Ahmad is extradited, he will not be sentenced to the death penalty or declared an enemy combatant. Ahamad's counsel, however, representing Ahmad, stated that extradition to the United States would deny Ahmad justice. AP has more; the BBC has local coverage.
[JURIST] Military spokesmen at Fort Bliss, Texas, announced Monday that three more soldiers have been charged in connection with prisoner abuse at an Afghanistan detention facility. The Army has charged Sgt. Selena Salcedo and Sgt. Joshua Claus of Fort Bragg, NC and Sgt. Anthony Morden of the Army Reserve's 377th Military Police Company in Cincinnati with assault, maltreatment and making a false statement as part of an investigation into the deaths of two Afghan detainees [US Army press release] at the Bagram Control Point in Afghanistan. The two deaths occurred on December 4 and 10, 2002, in seperate isolation cells at the detention facility. Two members of the the 337th, Pfc. Willie Brand and Spc. Brian Cammack, have already been charged [AP report] in connection with the deaths. AP has more.
[JURIST] Supporters of an Arizona initiative seeking a ban on same-sex marriages and legal recognition of unmarried couples launched their public campaign Tuesday on the one year anniversary of the Massachusetts Supreme Court's decision [text] legalizing gay marriage. While Arizona law already prohibits same sex unions, supporters of the ban such as the Center for Arizona Policy [advocacy group] claim an amendment is necessary to prohibit judges from overturning the existing law. The Arizona Human Rights Fund [advocacy group] and other groups have criticized the initiative for its overbreadth in impacting straight couples as well as gay couples. The campaign puts Arizona among at least a dozen states with same sex marriage issues on their 2006 ballots. The initiative must receive signatures from 183,917 registered voters to pass. AP has more.
[JURIST] A Florida jury Monday ordered Morgan Stanley [corporate website] to pay $604 million in damages to billionaire investor Ronald Perelman after finding that he relied on the company when it advised him to sell his 82-percent stake in camping goods company Coleman for cash and stock in appliance company Sunbeam. An accounting fraud scandal [CNN report] that led to bankruptcy for the company made the shares worthless. The judge in the case had earlier ruled that Morgan Stanley knew about Sunbeam's weak financial position. Punitive damages may still be awarded, and Morgan Stanley is gearing up for an appeal [Reuters report; Morgan Stanley press release]. Reuters has more.
[JURIST] Russian oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky [Wikipedia profile] was found guilty of all seven charges of tax evasion, fraud and embezzlementafter the Moscow court on Tuesday finished reading the verdict it began announcing on Monday [JURIST report]. The court will rule Wednesday on another charge [MosNews report] relating to alleged theft of a 20-percent stake in a fertilizer plant that the defense team says has expired under the statute of limitations.
[JURIST] The chief federal prosecutor in a terrorism case marred by prosecutorial misconduct resigned on Monday. Richard Convertino won convictions [DOJ statement] against four terrorism suspects in Detroit in 2003, but the government later had them tossed out [JURIST report] because possibly-valuable defense information was not turned over by the prosecutors as required. Convertino later sued then-Attorney General John Ashcroft [JURIST report, PDF complaint], claiming that the Justice Department had "exaggerated its performance in the war on terrorism, interfered with a major terror prosecution and compromised a confidential informant". Convertino will likely avoid sanctions by leaving the DOJ; his first private case will be defending a police officer charged with murder in a controversial shooting [WXYZ report]. AP has more.
[JURIST] At the United Nations, Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan introduced a draft resolution Monday to expand the UN Security Council [official website] from 15 to 25 countries and give themselves permanent seats. Secretary-General Kofi Annan proposed changes to the Council in March [JURIST report] and member nations have different ideas on how the body should be reformed. Italy recently suggested adding members based on regional representation [JURIST report] instead of by country, and some countries such as Pakistan are opposed to expanding the council [JURIST report] outright. Annan has admitted, however, that expanding the veto power [JURIST report] of the five permanent members of the council to other states is unlikely. AP has more.
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