Archive for the ‘court’ Category

Thai Government Brought Down!

December 2, 2008

After months of drama, standoff, protests and violence, a court dissolved Thailand‘s top three ruling parties for electoral fraud Tuesday and temporarily banned the prime minister from politics….

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The Constitutional Court ruling set the stage for thousands of protesters to end their weeklong siege of the country’s two main airports, but also raised fears of retaliatory violence by a pro-government group that could sink the country deeper into crisis and cripple its economy.

By AMBIKA AHUJA, Associated Press Writer

In this Dec. 1, 2008 file photo, Thai Prime Minister Somchai ...
Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, left, is seen at a Buddhist temple in Chiang Mai province, northern Thailand. Somchai says Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008 he has accepted a court ruling to step down because of electoral fraud committed by his political party. Somchai told reporters in the northern city of Chiang Mai the court’s verdict was ‘not a problem. I was not working for myself. Now I will be a full-time citizen.’ (AP Photo/Wichai Taprieu, File)

Members of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, occupying Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi international airport, cheered and hugged after they heard news of the verdict.

“My heart is happy. My friends are very happy,” said Pailin Jampapong, a 41-year-old Bangkok housekeeper choking back tears as she jumped up and down.

Government spokesman Nattawut Sai-kau said Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat and his six-party ruling coalition would step down.

“We will abide by the law. The coalition parties will meet together to plan for its next move soon,” he told The Associated Press.

He also said the government was postponing a regional summit in Thailand of Southeast Asian countries, from December to March.

Somchai had become increasingly isolated in recent weeks. Neither the army, a key player in Thai politics, nor the country’s much revered king had offered him firm backing. Since Wednesday, he and his Cabinet had been working out of the northern city of Chiang Mai, a government stronghold.

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Thai Court Disbands Ruling Party
 

BBC

A Thai court has ruled that PM Somchai Wongsawat must step down over election fraud, a ruling he has accepted.

His governing People Power Party and two of its coalition partners have been ordered to disband and the parties’ leaders have been barred from politics.

But it is unclear if the ruling ends a months-long political crisis, since other coalition MPs have vowed to form another government under a new name.

Earlier, an anti-government protester was killed at a Bangkok airport.

Local television reported that a grenade had been fired at Don Mueang airport, the capital’s domestic hub, which has been occupied by the anti-government People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) since last week.

Government supporters later surround the constitutional court complex (2 December 2008)

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Myanmar: Long sentences for democracy advocates

November 11, 2008

Courts in military-ruled Myanmar delivered a devastating blow Tuesday to the nation’s pro-democracy movement, sentencing two dozen activists to harsh prison terms that will keep them behind bars long past a 2010 election.

Associated Press

Fourteen members of the Generation 88 Students group were sentenced to prison terms of 65 years each, and a labor activist, Su Su Nway, was sentenced to 12 1/2 years. Ten people allied with Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy got jail terms of eight to 24 years.

Many of the activists were involved in protests last year that led to huge pro-democracy demonstrations that the army put down by force. According to U.N. estimates, at least 31 people were killed and thousands of demonstrators were detained. Many fled the country or went underground.

Most of the sentences were handed down in closed-court sessions. The lengths of the terms suggest the junta will pay little heed to calls from the U.N. and many Western nations to make its self-styled transition to democracy more fair and inclusive.

Amnesty International said the court actions were “a powerful reminder that Myanmar’s military government is ignoring calls by the international community to clean up its human rights record.”

“This sentencing sends a clear signal that it will not tolerate views contrary to its own,” the group said in a statement.

Amnesty and other international human rights groups say the junta holds more than 2,100 political prisoners, up sharply from nearly 1,200 in June 2007 — before the pro-democracy demonstrations.

The prisoners include Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest — as she has been on and off since 1989.

The European Union said Monday that the multiparty elections scheduled for 2010 will be seen as illegitimate unless the junta frees all political prisoners. Suu Kyi’s party won the most seats in a 1990 election, but the military refused to let it take power.

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Obama planning US trials for Guantanamo detainees

November 10, 2008

President-elect Obama‘s advisers are quietly crafting a proposal to ship dozens, if not hundreds, of imprisoned terrorism suspects to the United States to face criminal trials, a plan that would make good on his promise to close the Guantanamo Bay prison but could require creation of a controversial new system of justice.

During his campaign, Obama described Guantanamo as a “sad chapter in American history” and has said generally that the U.S. legal system is equipped to handle the detainees. But he has offered few details on what he planned to do once the facility is closed.

In this June 4, 2008 file photo, the sun sets over Camp Justice ... 
In this June 4, 2008 file photo, the sun sets over Camp Justice and its adjacent tent city, the legal complex of the U.S. Military Commissions, at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, in Cuba.(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

Under plans being put together in Obama’s camp, some detainees would be released and many others would be prosecuted in U.S. criminal courts.

By MATT APUZZO and LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press Writers

A third group of detainees — the ones whose cases are most entangled in highly classified information — might have to go before a new court designed especially to handle sensitive national security cases, according to advisers and Democrats involved in the talks. Advisers participating directly in the planning spoke on condition of anonymity because the plans aren’t final.

The move would be a sharp deviation from the Bush administration, which established military tribunals to prosecute detainees at the Navy base in Cuba and strongly opposes bringing prisoners to the United States. Obama’s Republican challenger, John McCain, had also pledged to close Guantanamo. But McCain opposed criminal trials, saying the Bush administration’s tribunals should continue on U.S. soil.

The plan being developed by Obama’s team has been championed by legal scholars from both political parties. But it is almost certain to face opposition from Republicans who oppose bringing terrorism suspects to the U.S. and from Democrats who oppose creating a new court system with fewer rights for detainees.

Laurence Tribe, a Harvard law professor and Obama legal adviser, said discussions about plans for Guantanamo had been “theoretical” before the election but would quickly become very focused because closing the prison is a top priority. Bringing the detainees to the United States will be controversial, he said, but could be accomplished.

“I think the answer is going to be, they can be as securely guarded on U.S. soil as anywhere else,” Tribe said. “We can’t put people in a dungeon forever without processing whether they deserve to be there.”

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Vietnam Convicts, Imprisons “Whisle Blowing” Reporter Who Found Government Corruption

October 15, 2008

by Frank Zeller

HANOI (AFP) – Vietnam jailed a reporter for two years Wednesday for his coverage of state corruption in a court case that has sent a chill through the communist country‘s media industry.

Reporter Nguyen Viet Chien from the Thanh Nien newspaper at ... 
Reporter Nguyen Viet Chien from the Thanh Nien newspaper at Hanoi’s people court. Chien was sentenced to two years in prison for his coverage of a major state corruption scandal and also jailed his police source for one year.(AFP)

The Hanoi court also imprisoned for one year a senior police officer who had provided information on the graft scandal to the media, but it allowed a police general and a second journalist to walk free.

The jailed reporter, Nguyen Viet Chien, almost three years ago helped pry open the graft case, which centred on a transport ministry unit whose officials had squandered foreign aid on gambling and high living.

The revelations led to a series of arrests and moved anti-corruption to the centre of government policy, while Vietnam earned international plaudits for allowing its state-controlled media unprecedented freedoms.

Then, in May of this year, police arrested two of the journalists who led the coverage on the explosive case — Chien of the Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper, and Nguyen Van Hai of the Tuoi Tre (Youth) daily.

The deputy editors of the two popular papers were replaced and the Communist Party‘s ideology committee has since revoked the press credentials of several more journalists who had jumped to their colleagues’ defence.

On Wednesday, the Hanoi People’s Court found both journalists guilty of “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state.”

Chien, a 56-year-old award winning journalist who maintained his innocence throughout the two-day trial, was sentenced to two years in prison, a term that was backdated to the day of his arrest.

Hai, 33, who admitted to some unintended errors in his reporting and at one stage during the hearings broke down in tears, received a more lenient two-year non-custodial term and was allowed to walk free.

The court also convicted the two senior police officers who had given information to the press during the 2005-2006 investigation into the emerging graft scandal in the so-called Project Management Unit (PMU) 18.

Retired police General Pham Xuan Quac, 62, who headed the investigation, received only an official warning, but Lieutenant Colonel Dinh Van Huynh, 50, was sentenced to one year’s jail, also including time served.

Prosecutors argued that the journalists’ reports contained errors and bias and had tarnished the image of officials, party cadres, Vietnam and its leadership, ahead of a five-yearly party congress in early 2006.

The judge, in sentencing, reiterated the prosecution case that “hostile forces, reactionaries and political opportunists” had taken advantage of the scandal to attack Vietnam’s state and party leadership while “stirring up activities to disturb security and order” ahead of the party meeting.

Chien said that until his arrest he had never received a reprimand, defamation suit or complaint from a reader.

“When PMU 18 was discovered, the whole political system of this country was focused on the issue,” he added.

The scandal led to the 2006 resignation of then transport minister Dao Dinh Binh and the arrest of his deputy, Nguyen Viet Tien, while eight PMU 18 officials were later jailed for illegal gambling and corruption.

The deputy minister has since been freed and cleared of all charges.

Foreign diplomats and correspondents were allowed to follow the two-day court proceedings via closed-circuit television, while many more Vietnamese journalists waited on the street outside the court house.

Media freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has labelled the trial the state’s “revenge” against two “daring journalists who revealed embarrassing cases and brought greater freedom to the Vietnamese press.”

“It is an insult to justice,” RSF said. “The trial is at the epicentre of an earthquake that has destroyed the still fragile basis of a more independent press wanting to play its role of challenging established authority.”

Thaksin pleads not guilty in Thai court

March 12, 2008
By AMBIKA AHUJA, Associated Press Writer 

BANGKOK, Thailand – Ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra pleaded not guilty Wednesday before the Supreme Court in one of two criminal corruption cases against him.

More than 200 policemen with bomb detectors and five sniffer dogs were deployed around the court where some 400 of Thaksin’s supporters waited, many holding portraits of the former leader over their heads.

“The defendant pleaded not guilty….

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Court: Spears’ dad has temporary control

February 2, 2008
By SOLVEJ SCHOU, Associated Press Writer  

LOS ANGELES – The father of Britney Spears was named her temporary conservator Friday, putting him in control of her welfare a day after she was whisked to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.

In a file photo Britney Spears arrives for a post Grammy Awards ... 

Britney. Feb. 8, 2006, in Beverly Hills, Calif. .
(AP Photo/Danny Moloshok/file)

While James Spears was named conservator of the troubled pop star herself, he and an attorney, Andrew Wallete, were name conservators of her estate. The singer’s mother, Lynne Spears, also showed up for the unannounced hearing in Superior Court.

The court also issued a restraining order against Britney Spears’ sometimes manager and friend, Sam Lutfi, and gave permission to change the locks on her estate and remove anyone who is there.

A court creates conservatorships when a person cannot care for themselves or handle their affairs. Commissioner Reva Goetz said Spears would be under conservatorship until Feb. 4, at which time another hearing will be held.

“It is in the best interests of the conservatee to have conservatorship over her person,” Goetz told a packed courtroom.

The conservator will have the power to “restrict visitors,” have around-the-clock security for Spears, and have access to all medical records, Goetz said.

Goetz said conservatorship over the estate was “necessary and appropriate.” She gave approval for the conservator to “take all actions to secure all liquid assets including credit cards.”

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22 killed in Pakistan suicide blast

January 10, 2008

By  K.M. CHAUDHRY, Associated Press Writer
0520 Eastern in the USA

LAHORE, Pakistan – A suicide bomber blew himself up among police officers outside a court in eastern Pakistan Thursday, killing at least 22 people and wounding dozens of others minutes before a planned anti-government protest, officials and witnesses said.

Pakistani Police officers tend to their wounded colleagues in ...
Pakistani Police officers tend to their wounded colleagues in the aftermath of a suicide bomb explosion Thursday, Jan. 10, 2008 in Lahore, Pakistan. A suicide bomber blew himself up among police guards deployed in front of a court in eastern Pakistan ahead of a planned protest by lawyers Thursday, killing at least 22 people and wounding dozens more, officials and witnesses said.
(AP Photo/K.M. Choudary)
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The blast in front of Lahore High Court was the latest in a wave of attacks targeting politicians and security forces ahead of Feb. 18 parliamentary elections. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but suspicion will likely fall on militants linked to Taliban and al-Qaida.

It came as Scotland Yard investigators visited forensic laboratories elsewhere in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province, to examine….

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0520 Eastern in the USA

China Gets Tough On Sex Crimes

December 19, 2007

BBC

Two school teachers have been sentenced to death in China for forcing more than 20 young girls – including some of their own pupils – into prostitution.Zhao Qingmei and her husband, Chi Yao, were convicted of running a child-sex ring in the southern Guizhou province.

The girls, aged between 11 and 17, were taken to local hostels and reportedly told that their families would be poisoned if they refused to have sex.

At least 12 other people convicted of involvement received jail sentences.

They included two other teachers and the owners of hostels where the girls were taken.

The official Xinhua news agency described Zhao and Chi, from the town of Xinfa, as China’s most-wanted couple.

After the sex ring was uncovered, they fled to neighbouring Sichuan province, but were arrested in August after the authorities offered a 100,000 yuan (£6,700; $13,500) reward.

Bijie Intermediate Court handed down the death sentences last Friday after hearing how the couple forced 23 girls into prostitution between March and June 2006.

Six of the victims were under the age of 14.

The court was told that the child-sex ring made 32,350 yuan.

Chi’s sentence was suspended for two years, and is likely to be commuted to life imprisonment.

The couple have until 24 December to appeal against the sentences.

Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge court opens first public hearing

November 20, 2007

By Suy Se

PHNOM PENH (AFP) – Cambodia‘s Khmer Rouge court opened its first public hearing Tuesday, in what many see as a landmark moment for a country trying to come to terms with the brutal 1970s regime.

Judges heard day-long arguments by lawyers for jailed regime prison chief Duch, who is appealing against his detention by the UN-backed tribunal pending a trial expected to take place next year.

Duch, whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav, allegedly oversaw the torture and extermination of 16,000 men, women and children at the Khmer Rouge’s ….

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Vick Dog In Slammer; Wants a Mike Tyson Free Ride

November 19, 2007


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
November 19, 2007

Suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick has begun serving his prison sentence so he can get out of custody as soon as possible.
The length of Vick’s sentence won’t be determined until next month.
Steve Blando, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshal’s Service headquarters in Washington, confirmed that Vick turned himself into custody but would not provide additional details. The Associated Press reported that Vick is being held at Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Va.“From the beginning, Mr. Vick has accepted responsibility for his actions and his self surrender further demonstrates that acceptance,” Billy Martin, one of Vick’s lawyers, said in a statement.

“Michael wants to again apologize to everyone [who] has been hurt in this matter and he thanks all of the people who have offered him and his family prayers and support during this time.”

U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson of Richmond, who will sentence Vick on Dec. 10, signed an order Monday to allow the U.S. Marshal’s Service to take Vick into custody.

Vick, who surrendered to authorities in Richmond, was put in custody “based solely on his desire to begin his period of incarceration prior to his sentencing hearing and not because of a violation of any condition of his bond,” Hudson wrote.

In August, Vick pleaded guilty for his role in a dogfighting operation known as Bad Newz Kennels at his former property in Surry County, Va. Vick acknowledged financing the operation beginning in 2001 through this past spring. In a plea agreement, Vick admitted the operation involved the “victimization and killing of pit bull dogs.”

Under federal sentencing guidelines, Vick faces between 12 and 18 months in prison, although Hudson could impose a sentence below or above that range if he sees fit.

“The sooner he gets in, the better it is for him if he wants to play football again,” said Atlanta criminal defense attorney Jerry Froelich, who has followed Vick’s case. “He should have gone into custody right away.”

Staff writers Jeremy Redmon and D. Orlando Ledbetter contributed to this article.

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