European court rejects case vs Germany over Afghan airstrike

Court News 2021/02/16 11:06   Bookmark and Share
The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday rejected a complaint against Germany’s refusal to prosecute an officer who ordered the deadly bombing in 2009 of two fuel tankers in northern Afghanistan.

Scores of people died when U.S. Air Force jets bombed the tankers hijacked by the Taliban near Kunduz. The strike was ordered by the commander of the German base in Kunduz, Col. Georg Klein, who feared insurgents could use the trucks to carry out attacks.

Contrary to the intelligence Klein based his decision on, most of those swarming the trucks were local civilians invited by the Taliban to siphon fuel from the vehicles after they had become stuck in a riverbed.

An Afghan man who lost two sons aged 8 and 12 in the airstrike, Abdul Hanan, took the case to the European Court of Human Rights after German authorities declined to prosecute Klein. He alleged that Germany failed to conduct an effective investigation and that no “effective domestic remedy” to that had been available in Germany.

The Strasbourg, France-based court rejected the complaints. It found that German federal prosecutors were “able to rely on a considerable amount of material concerning the circumstances and the impact of the airstrike.”

It also noted that courts including Germany’s highest, the Federal Constitutional Court, rejected cases by Hanan. And it added that a parliamentary commission of inquiry “had ensured a high level of public scrutiny of the case.”

Wolfgang Kaleck, the head of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights who provided legal support to Hanan, said the verdict was a disappointment for the plaintiff and his fellow villagers, but noted that judges had made clear that governments have a duty to at least investigate such cases.

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More protests called in Moscow to demand Navalny’s release

Court News 2021/02/02 14:56   Bookmark and Share
Moscow braced for more protests seeking the release of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who faces a court hearing Tuesday after two weekends of nationwide rallies and thousands of arrests in the largest outpouring of discontent in Russia in years.

Tens of thousands filled the streets across the vast country Sunday, chanting slogans against President Vladimir Putin and demanding freedom for Navalny, who was jailed last month and faces years in prison. Over 5,400 protesters were detained by authorities, according to a human rights group.

One of those taken into custody for several hours was Navalny’s wife, Yulia, who was ordered Monday to pay a fine of about $265 for participating in an unauthorized rally.

While state-run media dismissed the demonstrations as small and claimed that they showed the failure of the opposition, Navalny’s team said the turnout demonstrated “overwhelming nationwide support” for the Kremlin’s fiercest critic. His allies called for protesters to come to the Moscow courthouse on Tuesday.

“Without your help, we won’t be able to resist the lawlessness of the authorities,” his politician’s team said in a social media post.

Mass protests engulfed dozens of Russian cities for the second weekend in a row despite efforts by authorities to stifle the unrest triggered by the jailing of 44-year-old Navalny.

He was arrested Jan. 17 upon returning from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. Russian authorities reject the accusation. He faces a prison term for alleged probation violations from a 2014 money-laundering conviction that is widely seen as politically motivated.

Last month, Russia’s prison service filed a motion to replace his 3 1/2-year suspended sentence from the conviction with one he must serve. The Prosecutor General’s office backed the motion Monday, alleging Navalny engaged in “unlawful conduct” during the probation period.
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US Supreme Court won’t take up Sheldon Silver’s case

Court News 2021/01/26 13:14   Bookmark and Share
The Supreme Court declined Monday to take up the case of former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who is serving a 6 1/2-year prison sentence after being convicted in a corruption case.

The high court’s decision not to hear Silver’s appeal is another sharp blow to the Manhattan Democrat, who was once one of the three most powerful state officials.

Silver was ousted as speaker in 2015 and was convicted later that year. His original conviction was overturned on appeal, but he was convicted again in 2018. Part of that conviction was then tossed out on another appeal, leading to yet another sentencing in July. Silver, 76, began serving his sentence in August.

In the part of the case that survived the appeal process, Silver was convicted in a scheme that involved favors and business traded between two real estate developers and a law firm. Silver supported legislation that benefited the developers. The developers then referred certain tax business to a law firm that paid Silver fees.

Two justices, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas, said they would have heard Silver’s case.

Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that President Donald Trump was considering clemency for Silver, but ultimately no pardon or sentence reduction was granted.

Silver has been serving time at the federal prison in Otisville, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) from New York City.

Before his conviction, Silver was a giant in New York politics.

First elected to the Assembly in 1977, he became speaker in 1994, holding that position for more than two decades. For nearly half that time, during the administration of Republican Gov. George Pataki, he was the most powerful Democrat in the state.

Silver’s lawyers had asked the court to consider allowing him to serve his sentence at home because of the risk of contracting COVID-19 and dying in prison. But District Judge Valerie Caproni said issuing a sentence without prison time was inappropriate because Silver was guilty of “corruption, pure and simple.”
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Justice: Technology helped Nebraska courts face pandemic

Court News 2021/01/21 12:35   Bookmark and Share
Nebraska’s courts have faced a big challenge due to the coronavirus pandemic but continue to serve the public with the use of technology, the state’s chief justice said Thursday.

Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Heavican said the pandemic forced the courts to turn to livestreaming and video chatting services to ensure that proceedings were accessible to the public and people involved in the system.

“We would not have had the ability to rapidly respond to the pandemic if the courts had not built a strong technological foundation over the past decade,” Heavican said in his annual State of the Judiciary address to lawmakers. “As we entered 2020, we were well positioned to transition to distance operations because we had already begun to implement new courtroom technology and programming.”

Heavican said the court’s online payment systems allowed residents to pay traffic tickets and court fines without leaving their homes, and the judiciary also offered an online education system to help judges, lawyers, guardians and others meet continuous education requirements.

New attorneys were sworn into office via online ceremonies across the state, Heavican said. In Dawson County, one judge is broadcasting court proceedings on YouTube.

Heavican said schools and private organizations have hosted trials in counties whose courthouses are too small for adequate social distancing to prevent transmission of the coronavirus. He said jury trials were held at the University of Nebraska-Kearney, Grand Island Central Community College and local K-12 schools and the Lincoln Masonic Lodge.

Heavican also touted the benefits of probation services and problem-solving courts. He said probation costs nearly $2,000 per person, per year, and problem-solving courts costs about $4,000, compared to $41,000 for a person in prison.

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Sonnet 54 is instant language, which helps you present yourself

Court News 2021/01/01 14:27   Bookmark and Share
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Prosecutors seek 9-year prison term for Samsung chief Lee

Court News 2020/12/30 16:19   Bookmark and Share
South Korean prosecutors on Wednesday requested a nine-year prison term for Samsung’s de facto chief, Lee Jae-yong, during his bribery retrial, where Lee apologized and vowed not to be implicated in similar allegations in an apparent plea for leniency.

The case is a key element in an explosive 2016 scandal that triggered months of public protests and toppled South Korea’s president. A ruling on Lee could send him back to prison on charges that he bribed former President Park Geun-hye and her longtime confidante to get the government’s backing for his push to solidify his control over Samsung.

The retrial comes as Lee faces immense pressure to navigate Samsung’s transition after his father and Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-Hee died in October.

A team of prosecutors led by independent counsel Park Young-soo demanded the Seoul High Court sentence Lee to prison. They said Samsung “more actively sought unjust benefits” than other businesses with regard to the 2016 scandal. The prosecutors said Samsung, which is South Korea’s biggest company, should “set the example” for efforts to root out corruption.

“Samsung is a business group with overwhelming power, and there is even a saying that South Korean companies are divided into Samsung and non-Samsung ones,” the prosecutors said in closing comments. “The rule of law and the egalitarianism principle ... are meant to punish those in power and those with the economic power in line with the equal standard.”

Prosecutors also asked the court to sentence three former Samsung executives to seven years in prison and another former executive to five years.

Lee, 52, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, was sentenced in 2017 to five years in prison for offering 8.6 billion won ($7 million) in bribes to Park and her longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil. But he was freed in early 2018 after the Seoul High Court reduced his term to 2½ years and suspended his sentence, overturning key convictions and reducing the amount of his bribes.

Last year, the Supreme Court returned the case to the high court, ruling that the amount of Lee’s bribes had been undervalued. It said the money that Samsung spent to purchase three racehorses used by Choi’s equestrian daughter and fund a winter sports foundation run by Choi’s niece should also be considered bribes.

During Wednesday’s court session, Lee’s lawyers said the basic nature of the 2016 scandal was about ex-President Park’s abuse of power that infringed upon the freedom and property rights of businesses. The lawyers said Lee and the other ex-Samsung executives embroiled in the scandal weren’t able to resist the pressure by Park and Choi and that they and Samsung didn’t receive any special favors from Park’s government.
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