[JURIST] The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles [diocesan website] confirmed Sunday that it has reached a $660 million settlement [press release] with 552 plaintiffs in multiple outstanding clergy sexual abuse lawsuits against its priests. The settlement, which still must be approved by a judge, is the largest so far announced in the US clergy sex abuse scandal [JURIST news archive] in the Roman Catholic Church, greatly exceeding the previous record of $85 million paid out by the Boston Archdiocese in a 2002 settlement. Victims will be paid anywhere between $100,000 and $4 million each. Several Catholic orders did not participate in the settlement and will be exempt.
This latest settlement brings the level of compensation paid to sex abuse claimants by the US Catholic Church to over $2 billion, with the highest payout made by the Los Angeles archdiocese, the largest in the country. Six Los Angeles-area priests have been arrested for sexual abuse in recent years; the trial of the first to go before a court had been set to begin Monday. AP has more. Reuters has additional coverage.
[JURIST] A controversial new anti-terrorism law took effect in the Philippines Sunday despite the objections of local Roman Catholic bishops [JURIST report], opposition politicians, and activists who mounted small protests across the country marking the occasion. The Human Security Act 2007 [PDF text; press release], signed [JURIST report] in March, authorizes the 72-hour detention of suspects without charge and allows for surveillance, wiretapping and seizure of assets. Critics of the legislation say it could be used by the government of President Gloria Arroyo to stifle political dissent under the cover of anti-terror operations. A petition calling for the Philippines Supreme Court to review the law is expected to be presented later this week, and rights groups are urging the government to suspend the new law until the high court rules or amendments are pushed through Congress.
[JURIST] Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh announced Saturday that Ali Hassan al-Majid, often called "Chemical Ali", will be hanged in the Kurdish town of Halabja where a notorious 1988 gas attack [US State Department backgrounder] by Saddam Hussein's forces during the 1988 "Anfal campaign" led to the deaths of over 5000 Kurds, many of them children. In late June, al-Majid received a total of five death sentences [JURIST report] for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in connection with the campaign. He has repeatedly denied the allegations against him [JURIST report], stating that he does not know who used chemical weapons or "if they were ever used." The appeals chamber of the Iraqi High Tribunal [official report] is currently considering al-Majid's appeal; if it is denied, Iraqi law stipulates that he be executed within 30 days.
Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] was also a co-defendant in the Anfal genocide trial [JURIST news archive] before he was executed in December 2006. Iraqi officials had previously suggested that al-Majid would be executed in Kurdistan [JURIST report], but had not indicated precisely where. AFP has more.
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