[JURIST] The case against Orhan Pamuk [TIME profile; JURIST news archive], Turkey's most prominent writer, was dropped by an Istanbul court Sunday following a statement from the Turkish Justice Ministry. Pamuk, whose work often examines the clashes between society and the role of Islam, was on trial for "public denigration of the Turkish identity" after he made allegedly unfavorable remarks to a Swiss magazine about Turkey's stance on the mass killing of Armenians during WWII. Once the Justice Ministry declared that it was legally not competent to judge whether the case should proceed under the revised penal code [JURIST report], the court decided to dismiss the charges against Pamuk. The high-profile case has been criticized [JURIST report; EU report] by the European Union [official website] and viewed as a test for Turkey's commitment to become an EU member state. CNN-Turk has local coverage in Turkish. AFP has more.
[JURIST] Former US attorney general Ramsey Clark [JURIST news archive], currently a member of the defense team representing deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive], told Reuters Sunday that Hussein's trial should be suspended. Referring to the Iraqi High Criminal Court (formerly, the Iraqi Special Tribunal [official website]), Clark stated that "it's unthinkable they would press forward" after chief judge Rizgar Amin resigned earlier this month [JURIST report] in protest at criticism surrounding his handling of the trial. Clark also said he expects more intimidation when the trial resumes on Tuesday, and expressed little confidence in the court:
It's a creature of the US military occupation, its statute was drafted by the US and rubber-stamped later by the people in the US and supported all the time. The personnel were chosen and trained by the US and the US military is all over the place. The whole environment in the country is so violent and threatening it's impossible for it to function as a court. The court has to be independent; if the court is not independent, how can we hope to get truth and justice from its efforts?
[JURIST] Delegates from human rights groups sent to attend the African Union summit [official agenda] now underway in Khartoum were detained Sunday by Sudanese authorities. Representatives of Amnesty International [advocacy website], Anti-Slavery International [advocacy website] and the International Bar Association [advocacy website] were among those taken into custody, without explanation, by Sudanese security forces. The delegates are at the summit to discuss cooperation with the African Union [official website] on human rights issues, especially in Sudan's Darfur region [JURIST news archive]. This development may fuel prior objections [JURIST report] against Sudan President Omar al-Bashir's [profile] bid to assume the rotating president of the 53-member AU. Some African countries are urging Sudan to withdraw its candidacy in an effort to improve the continent's image. Reuters has more.
[JURIST] Iraq's Justice Ministry [Global Security backgrounder] said Sunday that it anticipates US authorities will release six detained Iraqi women this week despite US denials [JURIST report]. An anonymous Justice Ministry official said a review board made up of six Iraqi officials and three US officers met on January 17 and agreed to release the prisoners. The official suggested that US hesitancy may be related to the kidnapping of journalist Jill Carroll [CNN profile; CSM update]. Carroll's captors have threatened to kill her unless all female Iraqi detainees are released. It is official US policy not to negotiate with kidnappers. Reuters has more.
[JURIST] A jury of US Army officers late Saturday night found Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer, Jr. guilty of negligent homicide and negligent dereliction of duty in the death of Iraqi Major General Abed Hamed Mowhoush by suffocation in a sleeping bag during an interrogation in 2003, two days after he was allegedly beaten by CIA officers. After a four-day court-martial proceeding [JURIST news archive] and six hours of deliberation, the military jury at Fort Carson [official website] Colorado acquitted Welshofer of assault and declined to convict him of murder. Welshofer, one of four soldiers initially charged [JURIST report] in connection with the death, will be sentenced at a hearing Monday and could be dishonorably discharged and sentenced to a maximum of three years and three months in prison. Welshofer's attorney said he would decide after sentencing whether or not to appeal the conviction. AP has more. The Denver Post has local coverage.
[JURIST] The Egyptian court that in December sentenced [JURIST report] opposition leader Ayman Nour [BBC profile] to five years in prison for forging signatures to register his Al-Ghad party in last year's presidential election said Saturday that it had convicted Nour and his six co-defendants because of the danger posed by the sophistication of their forgery techniques. In a report on the ruling it asserted that Nour's denials of the charges were simply attempts to escape questions about his crimes. Nour, who was a distant runner-up in the election which returned Hosny Mubarak [official website] to power, has denied the charges and his lawyer plans to register an appeal and ask for a suspension of the verdict. The US has denounced Nour's conviction and called for his release. AP has more.
[JURIST] Activists opposed to the controversial June 2005 US Supreme Court eminent domain [JURIST news archive] ruling in Kelo v. New London [opinion] which allowed the city of New London, Connecticut to expropriate private property for private redevelopment conferring economic benefits on the community, are protesting this weekend [advocacy alert] near the Weare, New Hampshire home of Supreme Court Justice David Souter [profile]. The activists, led by former California gubernatorial candidate Logan Darrow Clements [campaign website] and a local group called the Committee for the Preservation of Natural Rights [official website], want Souter evicted and his home seized to build the so-called Lost Liberty Inn [backgrounder]. The group has collected enough signatures for a ballot initiative [petition, PDF] on the issue that will be before Weare voters in March. A Supreme Court spokeswoman said Justice Souter had no comment on the issue. AP has more.
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