[JURIST] A former Iraqi Minister of Electricity was named Saturday as one of a number of former and current officials charged with corruption by Iraq's Commission on Public Integrity [US State Dept. backgrounder; CPA press release] or ordered to appear before Iraqi judges for further investigation. Muhsin Shlash, cited but not yet charged, was an Iraqi exile living in Canada who took over the Ministry of Electricity [official website] in May 2005 as a member of the cabinet of former Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. The Electricity Ministry has faced immense challenges in restoring Iraq's power system in the wake of the US-led invasion, but has made only limited progress [Spectrum report] despite being the beneficiary of millions of dollars in reconstruction assistance. Shlash was replaced in the portfolio by new Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki earlier this year, who said in one of his first official statements that he would make the fight against corruption a top priority of his government [JURIST report].
[JURIST] US Army Sgt. Ricky Clousing, an Iraq war veteran, turned himself in at Fort Lewis [post website] on Friday after absconding from Fort Bragg in June 2005 because he no longer wanted to participate in what he says is a war with "no legal basis to be fought." Clousing's lawyers have said they attempted to contact both Army bases last fall, but neither claimed responsibility for him. If Clousing is found to be a deserter or absent without leave he will be sent back to Fort Bragg for appropriate proceedings. Clousing was deployed to Baghdad in December 2004 after training as an interrogator for the 82nd Airborne, and while there said he witnessed the unprovoked killing of an Iraqi man by US troops at a checkpoint. When he raised the issue with superiors he said he was told he "needed to shut up," according to AP. Clousing has declined to seek conscientious objector status [Selective Service backgrounder] as he says he is not inherently opposed to all wars.
[JURIST] The London Metropolitan Police Service [official website] says it has released without charge one of the 24 people arrested earlier this week over an alleged plan to blow up US airplanes leaving from British airports [JURIST report]. Police have obtained warrants to keep 22 of the suspects in detention without charge until next Wednesday, and a court hearing will be held Monday to rule on the detention of the remaining person arrested in connection to the plot. Police officials said that the release of one of the suspects "is not unusual and is to be expected in large and complex criminal enquiries where a number of arrests have taken place."
British authorities believe that the would-be terrorists planned to detonate chemical explosives smuggled on board passenger aircraft in soft drink bottles. AFP has more. UPI has additional coverage.
[JURIST] Mexico leftist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador [campaign website, in Spanish] said Friday that inconsistencies evident from the partial recount of votes from the July 2 presidential election [JURIST news archive] show enough errors in the tally that the Federal Electoral Tribunal [official website, in Spanish] should declare him president-elect. After rejecting his request for a full ballot-by-ballot recount [JURIST report] last week, the court ordered a partial recount at nine percent of the nation's polling stations. Conservative candidate Felipe Calderon [campaign website, in Spanish] maintains that the recount has only demonstrated a minor change in the results, but Obrador insists that irregularities and miscounts have already been shown to affect some 100,000 votes.
The recount must be completed by Sunday, after which the court will decide whether or not to annul some results or order more recounts. Reuters has more.
[JURIST] A federal judge Friday dismissed [text, PDF] a lawsuit filed [JURIST report] by Public Citizen [advocacy website] arguing that a $39 billion deficit-reduction bill passed by Congress was unconstitutional because the House version [text] and Senate version [PDF text] actually signed by the President were slightly different. The inconsistency was the result of an error made by the Senate clerk, who altered text in the House version of the legislation regarding the duration of Medicare payments for certain types of medical equipment, putting down 36 months instead of 13, the figure that House and Senate negotiators had agreed. The House narrowly approved the bill with the 36-month provision, but the President's signed version contained the Senate number. Public Citizen argued that the different versions violated the Bicameral Clause [text] of the US Constitution. Citing a 1982 Supreme Court ruling in Marshall Field & Co. v. Clark [text via FindLaw], Judge John D. Bates [official profile] stated that "when a violation of the bicameral requirement is alleged, the signatures of the presiding officers of each chamber of Congress and the President on the enrolled bill is a 'complete and unimpeachable' authentication that the bicameral requirement has been satisfied."
Three other cases challenging the validity of the deficit-reduction bill are pending. AP has more.
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