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French court restores far-right candidate's ties to father
Headline News | 2016/11/16 18:20
French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen thought she had cut the political cord with her controversial father by expelling him from the far-right party he founded, but a court ruled Thursday Jean-Marie Le Pen still is the National Front's honorary president.

While campaigning in next spring's presidential election, Marine Le Pen has worked to smooth her image and distance herself from her father's extremist views and anti-Semitic comments. Kicking him out of the party was part of her strategy.

The civil court outside that heard Jean-Marie Le Pen's reinstatement claim upheld the National Front's decision last year to expel him as a rank-and-file member. But the court also ruled that the 88-year-old firebrand can remain the party's honorary president.

As a result, the court ordered the National Front to summon the elder Le Pen to any high-level party meetings and to give him voting rights as an ex-officio member of all the party's governing bodies.

"No statutory provisions specify that the honorary president must be a member of the National Front," the judges said.

The court sentenced the party to pay Jean-Marie Le Pen 23,000 euros ($24,500) in damages and lawyers' fee.

"This can be called a success," his lawyer, Frederic Joachim, told reporters after the ruling was returned.

Joachim had asked the court for 2 million euros ($2.1 million) in damages because "it's a political life they tried to destroy at home and to cast scorn on abroad."

The party's lawyers didn't immediately comment on the ruling, which both sides can appeal.

The National Front ousted the party patriarch for a series of comments, including referring to Nazi gas chambers as a "detail" of World War II history.

Le Pen contends his comments were protected by freedom of expression, though he has been sentenced repeatedly in France for inciting racial hatred and denying crimes against humanity.


2 teens killed in Atlanta suburb: Man accused due in court
Headline News | 2016/08/19 17:57
A man accused of killing two teenagers near Atlanta is set to appear in court for a preliminary hearing.

Jeffrey Hazelwood is scheduled to appear Friday morning in Fulton County Magistrate Court.

The 20-year-old is charged with murder and theft in the killings of Carter Davis and Natalie Henderson in Roswell. The 17-year-olds were shot in the head. An autopsy report says their bodies were found behind a grocery store and had been placed in distinct poses.

Police have declined to discuss a possible motive for the slayings, or whether Hazelwood knew the teens.

Hazelwood's attorney, Lawrence Zimmerman, has said he'll provide a vigorous defense.

Henderson and Davis, who used to live in Rapid City, South Dakota, would have been seniors this year at their Georgia high schools.


Obama rebukes Poland over paralysis of constitutional court
Headline News | 2016/07/04 17:25
U.S. President Barack Obama expressed concern Friday about the state of democracy in Poland, publicly rebuking a right-wing government that has paralyzed the constitutional court and taken steps to control state run media.

Obama said he shared his worries with Polish President Andrzej Duda in a one-on-one meeting before the opening of a NATO summit in Warsaw.

"I expressed to President Duda our concerns about certain actions and the impasse around Poland's constitutional tribunal," Obama told reporters. "I insisted that we are very respectful of Poland's sovereignty and I recognized that parliament is working on legislation to take important steps but more needs to be done."

Poland has been stuck for months in controversy over the 15-member Constitutional Tribunal, a body that rules on the constitutionality of legislation, playing a role similar to that of the U.S. Supreme Court. The dispute concerns both appointments to the court and the rules that govern how it functions.

Opponents say the government's actions undermine democracy and have held several large street protests in recent months. The government's leaders say it is only trying to correct an imbalance, with appointments by the previous centrist government dominating the court.



Police union defends ex-officer in black musician's death
Headline News | 2016/06/01 15:50
The police union defended a former officer charged in the fatal shooting of a legally armed black man, saying they believe the officer identified himself before the confrontation.
 
Former Palm Beach Gardens officer Nouman Raja has been charged with manslaughter and attempted murder in the Oct. 18 death of Corey Jones. Raja's bail was set at $250,000 during his first court appearance Thursday.

Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association President John Kazanjian said the union believes Raja, who was fired after the shooting, identified himself before confronting Jones on an Interstate 95 ramp before dawn.

Charging documents said Raja, who was investigating a string of auto burglaries, did not identify himself before opening fire. He was driving an unmarked cargo van with no police lights and was in civilian clothes: a tan T-shirt, jeans, sneakers and a baseball cap, the documents said.



Man admits kidnapping teen girl, raping her during captivity
Headline News | 2016/05/31 22:28
A man who kidnapped a 14-year-old girl when she accepted his offer of a ride home from school because her feet were sore, held her in captivity for nine months and raped her repeatedly at his trailer acknowledged his crimes on Thursday.
 
Nathaniel Kibby pleaded guilty to kidnapping, aggravated felonious sex assault and criminal threatening, and prosecutors asked for a sentence of 45 to 90 years in prison for him.

Kibby, who had pleaded not guilty shortly after his arrest, had been scheduled to go on trial next month on nearly 200 felony charges related to the girl's October 2013 disappearance and the months that followed. But he changed his plea to guilty at a hearing on Thursday.

Before the 35-year-old Kibby could enter his new plea, a prosecutor said Kibby had kidnapped the girl by offering her a ride home from her school and then brandishing a gun when she attempted to get out of his car.

Prosecutor Jane Young said the girl and Kibby didn't know each other and she accepted the ride because she'd worn boots to school and her feet were blistered. Young said when the girl tried to get out of the car in a parking lot Kibby pulled out the gun and threatened to "blow her brains out."

Kibby also pleaded guilty to witness tampering and other offenses. Last week, a judge ruled Kibby's lawyers could not question the girl before his trial about her exposure to media coverage and the amount of freedom she was given to move about his trailer in Gorham, where prosecutors say he used a stun gun, zip ties and a shock collar to control her.

Kibby was charged with kidnapping the girl on Oct. 9, 2013, as she walked home from her high school in Conway. The girl returned to her home in North Conway the night of July 20, 2014, but prosecutors have not elaborated on the circumstances of her return. She waited until a week after she was home to reveal Kibby's identity. She was able to identify Kibby because she spotted his full name inside a cookbook in his home.

Lawyers hired by the girl's family said she had suffered "numerous acts of unspeakable violence" during her months of captivity. Their statement was largely a plea for privacy and did not elaborate on what she endured. The girl, who is now 17 years old, attended Thursday's hearing.



Iran's president slams US court ruling on frozen assets
Headline News | 2016/05/06 05:22
Iran's president said Wednesday that a U.S. court ruling that allows for the seizure of Iranian assets amounts to theft and indicates continued "hostility" toward his country.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that the families of victims of a 1983 bombing in Lebanon and other attacks linked to Iran can collect nearly $2 billion in frozen funds from Iran as compensation.

Rouhani was quoted by state TV as warning that the United States would have to face up to "all the consequences of this illegal action," without elaborating. "The move indicates Washington's continued hostility against the Iranian nation," Rouhani added, speaking during a Cabinet meeting.

On Tuesday, the Cabinet tasked a group of top officials with examining the court decision and defending Iran's "rights."

The U.S. court's ruling directly affects more than 1,300 relatives of victims, some who have been seeking compensation for more than 30 years. They include families of the 241 U.S. service members who died in the Beirut bombing.



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