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Kyrgyzstan sends case of jailed journalist back to court
Class Action News | 2016/07/12 17:24
The Supreme Court in the Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan on Tuesday refused to release an ethnic Uzbek journalist and activist serving a life sentence after being convicted of stirring up ethnic hatred, but instead sent his case to a regional court for review. International rights groups consider Azimzhan Askarov a prisoner of conscience.
 
The U.N. Human Rights Committee in April urged Kyrgyzstan to release Askarov, recognizing that he had been arbitrarily detained, tortured and denied his right to a fair trial. This opened the way for a reconsideration of his case, and Kyrgyzstan's Supreme Court began hearings on Monday.

The charges against Askarov relate to ethnic unrest in the south of Kyrgyzstan in 2010 when more than 450 people, mostly ethnic Uzbeks, were killed and tens or even hundreds of thousands were displaced. He is accused of inciting the mob killing of a police officer.

Amnesty International sharply criticized the court's decision on Tuesday to keep 65-year-old Askarov in prison while a lower court reviews his case.

"It's a missed opportunity for Kyrgyzstan to do the right thing by finally releasing a man who should never have been jailed in the first place. Today's decision by the Supreme Court ignores Kyrgyzstan's obligations under international human rights law," Amnesty International senior research director Anna Neistat said in a statement.


British court gives 22 life sentences to pedophile
Class Action News | 2016/06/07 15:49
A court in Britain has sentenced a former schoolteacher to 22 life sentences for child abuse after using his position teaching English in Malaysia to gain access to victims.

Judge Peter Rook sentenced 30-year-old freelance photographer Richard Huckle on Monday to serve a minimum of 25 years for 71 offenses against children aged between six months and 12 years from 2006 to 2014.

The National Crime Agency arrested Huckle in 2014 and found 20,000 indecent images on his computer, 1,117 of which showed him raping and abusing children in his care. Huckle also created a 60-page "how to" guide for other pedophiles seeking to evade getting caught. He also kept a scorecard tallying the number of children abused.

Huckle groomed children while posing as a Christian English teacher and philanthropist.



US appeals court revisits Texas voter ID law
Class Action News | 2016/05/30 22:28
A federal appeals court is set to take a second look at a strict Texas voter ID law that was found to be unconstitutional last year.

Texas' law requires residents to show one of seven forms of approved identification. The state and other supporters say it prevents fraud. Opponents, including the U.S. Justice Department, say it discriminates by requiring forms of ID that are more difficult to obtain for low-income, African-American and Latino voters.

Arguments before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals are set for Tuesday morning. The full court agreed to rehear the issue after a three-judge panel ruled last year that the law violates the Voting Rights Act.

Lawyers for Texas argue that the state makes free IDs easy to obtain, that any inconveniences or costs involved in getting one do not substantially burden the right to vote, and that the Justice Department and other plaintiffs have failed to prove that the law has resulted in denying anyone the right to vote.

Opponents counter in briefs that trial testimony indicated various bureaucratic and economic burdens associated with the law ? for instance, the difficulty in finding and purchasing a proper birth certificate to obtain an ID. A brief filed by the American Civil Liberties Union cites testimony in other voter ID states indicating numerous difficulties faced by people, including burdensome travel and expenses to get required documentation to obtain IDs.



Swedish court upholds arrest warrant for Julian Assange
Class Action News | 2016/05/26 06:10
A Swedish court on Wednesday rejected a request to overturn the arrest warrant of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange because there were no new circumstances to consider.

The Stockholm District Court said it made the decision because Assange is still wanted for questioning in a case of suspected rape and that "there is still a risk that he will depart or in some other way evade prosecution or penalty."

The court said it saw no reason to hold another detention hearing saying he would remain "detained in absentia."

Thomas Olsson, Assange's lawyer in Sweden, says he would appeal the decision because "the passivity of the prosecutor had delayed the investigation in an unacceptable" way.

"The prosecutor ought to have arranged for an interview with Mr. Assange at a far earlier stage and she hasn't presented any reasons for not arranging an interview," he told The Associated Press.

Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012, is wanted for questioning by Swedish police over rape allegations stemming from his visit to the country in 2010. He denies all the accusations against him made by two women.

He has refused to go back to Sweden for fear of being extradited to the United States because of an investigation into WikiLeaks' dissemination of hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. documents. Last year, a U.S. federal court confirmed there are "active and ongoing" attempts to prosecute him and WikiLeaks in an investigation involving espionage, conspiracy, and computer fraud.



Court: Slipknot bassist's child born after he died can sue
Class Action News | 2016/05/09 05:21
Idaho's state Supreme Court candidates went after each other's political independence Friday evening during their only scheduled major debate.

"When you stand on the courthouse steps with the Legislature, I'm not sure if you're sending the right messages to the people of Idaho that there's a clear division of judiciary and legislative branch," said candidate Robyn Brody, an attorney from Rupert.

Brody was calling out fellow candidates Clive Strong, a longtime deputy attorney general, and Curt McKenzie, a seven-term Republican state senator ? who have both held press conferences at courthouses announcing endorsements from partisan lawmakers.

Idaho Court of Appeals Judge Sergio Gutierrez also echoed Brody's concerns of seeking high-profile endorsements, adding that he's not running to be a politician but a justice.

However, Strong countered that his 33-year career inside the attorney general's office has often required him to stand up to the Idaho Legislature and McKenzie argued that he strayed from his fellow GOP members during the Legislature by voting no on the so-called ag-gag bill, which was later ruled illegal in federal court.

The first round of campaign contribution reports aren't due until May 10, making endorsements that much more open to scrutiny for signs of possible bias.

Furthermore, Supreme Court candidates are banned from talking about their past of current political party affiliations even though political party registrations are public records as well as giving their opinions on how they would vote on previous or pending state supreme court decisions.


Pound: Sharapova guilty of 'willful negligence' in drug test
Class Action News | 2016/03/15 05:14
Maria Sharapova was guilty of "willful negligence" for using meldonium, and international tennis officials were aware that many players were taking the drug before it was banned this year, former World Anti-Doping Agency president Dick Pound said Wednesday.

Pound told The Associated Press that Sharapova could face a ban of up to four years unless she can prove mitigating circumstances to explain her positive test for meldonium at the Australian Open in January.

Meldonium, a Latvian-manufactured drug designed to treat heart conditions, was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned list on Jan. 1 after authorities noticed widespread use of the substance among athletes.

In announcing her positive test at a news conference in Los Angeles on Monday, Sharapova said she had been using the drug for 10 years for various medical issues. The five-time Grand Slam champion and world's highest-earning female athlete said she hadn't realized meldonium had been prohibited this year, taking full responsibility for her mistake.

"An athlete at that level has to know that there will be tests, has to know that whatever she or he is taking is not on the list, and it was willful negligence to miss that," Pound said. "She was warned in advance I gather. The WADA publication is out there. She didn't pay any attention to it. The tennis association issued several warnings, none of which she apparently read."



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