JURIST Legal News

JURIST's legal news service, powered by a team of over 40 law student reporters and editors led by Professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
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[JURIST] Thailand's anti-graft commission indicted Senate President Nikom Wairatpanij [official profile] for alleged wrongdoing when he ended the debate on a bill to amend the Thai constitution [materials] even though members still wanted to discuss the bill further. Wairatpanij has been accused of malfeasance for not being neutral during the debate. The constitutional amendment was introduced [WP report] by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's [BBC profile] ruling party to convert the Senate into an all-elected body. The bill was passed by...
[JURIST] The Hanoi Supreme People's Court [official website, in Vietnamese] in Vietnam on Wednesday sentenced blogger Oham Viet Dao to 15 months in prison for posting articles criticizing the government. Dao's sentence follows that of popular blogger Truong Duy Nhat, who was sentenced [BBC report] to two years in prison on the same charges a few days earlier. Dao, who represented himself in court, confessed and apologized [AP report] for the "erroneous" details in his articles, but went on to...
[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Minnesota [official website] ruled [text, PDF] Wednesday that part of a Minnesota statute prohibiting the advising or encouraging of suicide is unconstitutional. The court overturned the conviction of William Melchert-Dinkel, who was convicted in 2011 of two counts of aiding suicide, after a judge found he "intentionally advised and encouraged" two individuals, one in Canada and one England, to commit suicide. The court found that the terms "advises" and "encourages" within Minn. Stat. § 609.215...
[JURIST] The High Court of Kenya [official website] ruled on Wednesday that journalist Walter Barasa can be extradited to the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website; JURIST backgrounder]. Barasa is accused of using bribes to disrupt the prosecution in the ongoing crimes against humanity case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto [ICC materials; JURIST news archive]. The ICC reported in October that Barasa made bribes amounting to $16,000 to prosecution witnesses. Barasa denies these claims and has been continually challenging...
[JURIST] Former Guatemalan president Alfonso Portillo [CIDOB profile, in Spanish; JURIST news archive] pleaded guilty before the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] Tuesday to taking $2.5 million in bribes from Taiwan in exchange for continued diplomatic recognition of the nation. Portillo read a statement [Reuters report] before the court admitting to taking the bribes as part of a plea bargain with federal prosecutors. As part of the plea deal Portillo will face 46...
[JURIST] The US District Court for the District of Kansas [official website] on Wednesday ordered [PDF] the US Election Assistance Commission (EAC) [official website] to assist Kansas and Arizona in enforcing their proof of citizenship laws for new voters by adding language requested by both states to the state-specific instructions on the federal mail voter registration form. Judge Eric Melgren stated in the court's ruling that Congress did not preempt state proof of citizenship laws with the National Voter Registration...
[JURIST] The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals [official website] on Tuesday ruled [order, PDF] that two inmate executions scheduled for March 20 and March 27 must be delayed for at least a month so that the state may have additional time to either procure the appropriate execution drugs or to alter the state's execution protocol. The state's assistant attorney general submitted a brief [TIME report] to the court on Monday, which reported that Oklahoma does not currently have the necessary...
[JURIST] The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] on Wednesday announced [press release] a $1.2 billion settlement agreement [text, PDF] with Toyota [corporate website] for misleading customers and US regulators. The criminal complaint [text, PDF] against Toyota alleges that the company intentionally concealed information from the public regarding a design defect whereby drivers attempting to break actually accelerated their vehicles. The settlement will allow Toyota to avoid criminal prosecution after three years and marks the largest penalty of its...
[JURIST] Judge Lucy Koh [official website] of the US District Court for the Northern District of California decided on Tuesday not to combine several lawsuits against Google [corporate website] for violating the privacy rights of its Gmail users into a single class action suit. The plaintiffs allege [Reuters report] that Google violated state and federal privacy and wiretapping laws by reviewing messages in order to conduct target advertising. Koh determined [Reuters report] that the claims were too dissimilar to be...
[JURIST] Italy's Court of Cassation [official website, in Italian] on Tuesday confirmed a two-year ban from public office for the former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] for his conviction for tax fraud. Prior to the high court's confirmation, Berlusconi had hoped to run for European Parliament in May. Berlusconi had fought to overturn the ban handed down by a Milan appeals court last October. Berlusconi was also sentenced to four years in prison, later commuted to...
[JURIST] France's highest appeals court on Wednesday sentenced former trader Jerome Kerviel [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] to three years in prison for fraudulent covert trading while working for French bank Society Generale (SocGen) [corporate website, in French]. The Court of Cassation [official website, in French] upheld two lower court verdicts that determined that Kerviel acted without the bank's knowledge in building up positions of around €50 billion that brought the bank to the brink of collapse in the midst...
[JURIST] UN human rights experts on Tuesday called for [press release] a full investigation into the death of Chinese human rights activist Cao Shunli. Cao was an influential human rights lawyer and activist in China who "tirelessly campaigned since 2008 for transparency and greater participation of civil society" in the second universal periodic review [materials] of China's human rights record. On September 14, Cao was detained by Chinese officials before boarding a flight from Beijing to Geneva where she was...
[JURIST] The UK Court of Appeal [official website] on Wednesday rejected a bid for an inquiry into the shooting of 24 Malaysian rubber plantation workers at Batang Kali [BBC backgrounder] on December 12, 1948. The petition brought by the families of the deceased allege [BBC report] that British troops "massacred" the workers during the campaign against communist rebels known as the Malayan Emergency [RAND backgrounder]. The bid before the Appeals Court follows a High Court [official website] ruling [text, PDF]...
[JURIST] Bahrain's Fourth High Criminal Court on Wednesday convicted 11 defendants of possessing weapons, ammunition and explosives and of manufacturing bombs for terror purposes, meting out 15-year prison sentences and significant fines. The Interior Ministry arrested the men [BNA report] after searching their farmhouse pursuant to a warrant issued by the Public Prosecution office. Authorities uncovered five illegally smuggled AK-47 rifles with silencers, 3500 rounds of ammunition, five silenced handguns and a variety of explosives and bomb-making materials. Several of...
[JURIST] Defense counsel for former Rwandan intelligence chief Pascal Simbikangwa on Wednesday filed a notice of appeal after a Paris court convicted him of genocide and crimes against humanity for his participation in the 1994 Rwandan genocide [BBC backgrounder]. After a six-week trial, in which Simbikangwa maintained his innocence, the court delivered a sentence [JURIST reports] of 25 years in prison last week. Simbikangwa was charged with arming and directing Hutu extremists in the violence that claimed the lives of...
[JURIST] Former Bangladesh prime minister Khaleda Zia [Forbes backgrounder; JURIST news archive] and other members of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) were indicted Wednesday on two corruption charges. Zia and three the other BNP officials have been accused of embezzling funds [BBC report] from a charitable trust named after Zia's deceased husband, former president Ziaur Rahman [NYT obituary]. In a second corruption allegation, Zia, her son Tarique Rahman [official website], the Senior Vice-Chairperson of the BNP, and three others...
[JURIST] The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany [official website, in German] on Tuesday upheld [judgment, in German; press release, in German] the constitutionality of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) [text, PDF]. This affirms the court's 2012 decision [JURIST report], which rejected a preliminary injunction to halt the implementation of the ESM and the fiscal compact, but which imposed a cap on Germany's contribution to the fund. The court stated that safeguards were put in place to ensure the cap remained...
[JURIST] The Cyprus government's practice of detaining migrants seeking asylum in the island nation violates EU law, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported [press release] Tuesday. Individuals who have regularly been detained include Syrian refugees and women who have forcibly been separated from their young children. Research gathered recently during visits to the country show that authorities have been breaching EU and international laws by failing to implement safeguards that allow detention only as a final resort. Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Head...
[JURIST] The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] on Tuesday condemned [judgment, in French; press release] Turkey for violating the rights of Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed founder of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) [party website]. The court found that Ocalan, imprisoned on the Turkish island of Imarli since 1999, had been subjected to "inhuman" conditions from the time of his incarceration until November 2009. The court also ruled that Ocalan's life sentence (commuted from a death sentence in...
[JURIST] A court in Cairo on Tusday sentenced four police officers convicted of negligence and manslaughter for their roles in connection with the deaths of 37 Islamist detainees who reportedly died of asphyxiation when a tear gas grenade was fired into the truck they were being transported in. At the time, the Interior Ministry had claimed [Reuters report] that the men were killed during an unsuccessful attempt to escape from prison. Three of the men were given one-year suspended sentences,...

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