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May 15, 2012

Bush, aides convicted of Iraq war crimes in absentia by Malaysia

Bush, aides convicted of Iraq war crimes in absentia by Malaysia

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

This photo is believed to show Ali Shalal in Abu Ghrai; he testified before the tribunal.

The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal in Malaysia has found former President of the United States George W. Bush and seven prominent former colleagues guilty of war crimes. Though the tribunal has no authority to detain the convicted or enforce its verdict, it recommended payment of reparations to detainees from Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib who testified before the court, and recommended they take the matter to a suitable court for enforcement.

While largely symbolic, the tribunal plans to submit its findings to the International Criminal Court and the United Nations Security Council. In addition to Bush, the court also found complicit his Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzales, David Addington, William Haynes, Jay Bybee, and John Yoo. Legal advisors for Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld were also convicted.

The court heard Iraqi engineer Abbas Abid testify about removal of his fingernails by pliers. Ali Shalal recalled being made to stand on a box whilst hooded, with wires attached to him, and whilst hanging from a wall. Mozzam Begg explained how he was beaten, and Jameelah Hameedi described being stripped, and being used as a human shield. Witnesses described lasting effects.



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January 24, 2012

Wikinews Shorts: January 24, 2012

Wikinews Shorts: January 24, 2012 – Wikinews, the free news source

Wikinews Shorts: January 24, 2012

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A compilation of brief news reports for Tuesday, January 24, 2012.

If you believe any of these stories deserves more in-depth coverage, feel free to write a full article on the issues raised.

Christine Lagarde: World economy ‘faces a downward spiral’

In a speech yesterday in Berlin, International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director, Christine Lagarde warned that the world was facing “[a] 1930s moment… A moment, ultimately, leading to a downward spiral that could engulf the entire world.” To avoid a repeat of the Great depression she urged leaders of the Eurozone to moderate austerity measures in order to maintain demand and to find further funds to bolster the 500 billion European Stability Mechanism.

In order to mitigate the Eurozone crisis the IMF is also seeking to raise 500 billion US dollars to support developing economies that would be caught up in the fallout of a Eurozone collapse.


International Criminal Court calls for four Kenyans to face trial for communal violence

The International Criminal Court has presented formal charges against three senior Kenyan politicians and a radio executive accused of orchestrating the wave of communal violence that followed the 2007 presidential election in that country. Of the six individuals initially investigated enough evidence to prosecute has been found in only four cases – including 2012/13 presidential hopefuls Uhuru Kenyatta and his rival William Ruto a former education minister. Menyatta is deputy prime-minister and finance minister.

In the past the rich and powerful in Kenya have often escaped justice. Kenyatta is the nation’s richest man.


Syria accuses Arab League of interference as GCC withdraws observers

The Gulf Co-operation Council is to withdraw its observers from the Arab League observer mission in Syria following Syrian dismissal of plans for President Bashar al-Assad to hand power to his deputy and share power in a unity government as “flagrant interference”.

The United Nations estimate that upwards of 5000 people have died in almost a year of anti-government protests and demonstrations.

Salman Rushdie literature festival video-link cancelled over fears of violence

A planned video-link address by Salman Rushdie at the Jaipur Literature Festival has been cancelled admidst fears of violence. Sanjoy Roy, the festival’s organiser, said “Earlier today, a number of organisations came to us and threatened violence.”

Salman Rushdie, whose book The Satanic Verses remains controversial 24 years after its publication, had earlier cancelled attending the festival citing assassination threats, and it is claimed several authors who read excerpts from The Satanic Verses in support can be prosecuted.





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December 5, 2011

Gbagbo appears at international court for alleged crimes against humanity

Gbagbo appears at international court for alleged crimes against humanity

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Côte d’Ivoire
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  • 28 August 2012: 2012 makes five Paralympic Games for Côte d’Ivoire
  • 5 December 2011: Gbagbo appears at international court for alleged crimes against humanity
  • 11 May 2011: Former F.A. chairman alleges FIFA 2018 World Cup vote was riddled with bribes, corruption
  • 11 April 2011: Gbagbo detained by opposition forces and taken to meet Ouattara in Ivory Coast hotel
  • 9 April 2011: Gbagbo forces reported to have gained ground in Ivorian city of Abidjan
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Laurent Gbagbo in 2007.
Image: Voice of America.

Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo today appeared before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to hear charges against him. The ICC has charged him with four counts of crimes against humanity regarding events following last year’s Ivorian presidential election.

Following the election on November 28, Alassane Ouattara was internationally recognized as the winner, but Gbagbo maintained he had won. Subsequent violence killed about 3,000 people. Gbagbo was arrested in April.

Gbagbo is charged as an “indirect co-perpetrator” in “widespread and systematic” crimes “over an extended time period”. He was moved from Ivory Coast to The Hague last week, which his supporters called “political kidnapping”.

Human rights groups have also called for investigation of Ouattara’s supporters. ICC chief prosecutor Louis Moreno-Ocampo said “there is more to come”. UN high commissioner for human rights Navi Pillay noted that “In all of our reports, we made it clear there were violations of human rights on both sides”.

Since the ICC was established in 2002, this is the first time an ex-head of state has been brought before it. All the cases now being heard by the ICC are African, although some non-African preliminary investigations are underway. To date, the ICC has never successfully convicted anyone.



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  • “Gbagbo detained by opposition forces and taken to meet Ouattara in Ivory Coast hotel” — Wikinews, April 11, 2011

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July 10, 2011

South Sudan gains independence

South Sudan gains independence – Wikinews, the free news source

South Sudan gains independence

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South Sudan
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  • 22 December 2013: Rebels take over South Sudan oil regions
  • 26 January 2012: ‘Davos man’ versus ‘Camp Igloo’; 42nd World Economic Forum convenes in Swiss alps
  • 10 July 2011: South Sudan gains independence
  • 10 February 2011: South Sudan minister Milla shot, killed
  • 26 April 2010: Spokesman: At least 55 dead after violence in Darfur, Sudan
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Sunday, July 10, 2011

At 0000 EAT Saturday (2100 UTC Friday), the Republic of South Sudan achieved independent recognition, becoming the newest country on the planet. The parliament speaker for the new country recited a formal independence declaration. After independence was declared, the South Sudanese flag was lifted for all to see, with Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement secretary general Pagan Amum stating: “Today we shall raise the flag of South Sudan to join the nations of the world”.

Cquote1.svg Today we shall raise the flag of South Sudan to join the nations of the world Cquote2.svg

Pagan Amum, Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement secretary general

Thousands of jubilant people celebrated in the new country’s capital Juba. They danced in the streets, sang songs and waved flags. Churches rang their bells at midnight as independence arrived. People crowded to the official ceremonial site, held at the mausoleum of John Garang, leader of the rebellion who died several months after the peace deal was signed with Sudan, ending the bloody conflict. Many of the celebrants spoke emotionally of their family members who died in the long struggle with Sudan.

George Garang, an English teacher, said he lost his father, grandfather and eleven brothers. “My whole body feels happy,” he said. Valentino Achak Deng, who was a refugee during the war, said: “Really in my heart what makes me happiest is that from today, when people ask me where I am from, I do not have to say Sudan.”

Salva Kiir Mayardit has assumed the role as president of South Sudan. Kiir swore to pledge true alliance and faithfulness to South Sudan. In a speech, Kiir declared amnesty for any who have taken up arms against Sudan.

Kiir insisted that martyrs for the cause of the new country did not die in vain, although South Sudan waited 56 years to be free. The southern Sudanese had agitated for more rights, even before Sudan became free from its British colonizers in 1956. Sudan was divided into three separate demographic groups, with the southern part of the country home to Christians and animists and the northern part dominated by Arab populations and those of Muslim faith. Kiir said to people of Abyei, Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan, who remain part of Sudan, that “we have not forgotten you. When you cry, we cry. When you bleed, we bleed. I pledge to you today that we will find a just peace for all.”

Amongst those attending the event were Ban Ki-moon, the current Secretary-General of the United Nations and Omar al-Bashir, the current president of Sudan. The latter was the guest of honour, despite the fact that the International Criminal Court has a warrant out for his arrest based on offences of genocide and crimes against humanity in the Darfur region.

“We congratulate our brothers in the south for the establishment of their new state,” al-Bashir said at the event. “We share their joy and celebration. The will of the people of the south has to be respected.”

Two million individuals died in the civil war between the two territories of Sudan and Southern Sudan and four million more exiled, a war that was waged for decades. Control of south Sudan’s oil rich reserves was the primary reason for the fighting. An agreement of peace was signed in 2005, effectively bringing the war to an end, and Sudan became one of the first countries to recognise South Sudan. Under the regulations of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, Sudan held an independence referendum. In excess of 99% of those participating in the vote agreed to the concept of independence for South Sudan.

Meanwhile, the United Nations plans to make the independent state its 193rd recognised country and its 54th African U.N. member state. United States president Barack Obama formerly recognized the new nation on behalf of the US and acknowledged the enormous struggle of its people to achieve independence.

South Sudan remains a desperately poor country, with one in five of its inhabitants chronically hungry, only one third having access to safe drinking water and with the world’s highest rate of maternal death. The country lacks infrastructure such as roads and railways. It remains torn by ethnic and tribal rivalries and many problems with the north remain unresolved, including the exact boundary line. Important revenue for Sudan has come from the rich oilfields of the south, keeping the country afloat and essential now for both economies. A formula remains to be developed on how to split these revenues between the two areas.

U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said today that the peace process between Sudan and North Sudan could come apart if issues such as the division of the oil revenues and the border location are not solved soon.

Flag of South Sudan. Image: Public domain.

Flag of South Sudan.
Image: Public domain.

The location of South Sudan is highlighted in dark green on this map. Image: Spesh531.

The location of South Sudan is highlighted in dark green on this map.
Image: Spesh531.

File photo of Salva Kiir Mayardit, the president of South Sudan. Image: Jenny Rockett.

File photo of Salva Kiir Mayardit, the president of South Sudan.
Image: Jenny Rockett.

Flag of Sudan. Image: Public domain.

Flag of Sudan.
Image: Public domain.

The location of Sudan is highlighted in dark green on this map. Image: Dinamik.

The location of Sudan is highlighted in dark green on this map.
Image: Dinamik.

Sudan president Omar al-Bashir, seen here in January 2009, attended the independence ceremony. Image: U.S. Navy / Jesse B. Awalt.

Sudan president Omar al-Bashir, seen here in January 2009, attended the independence ceremony.
Image: U.S. Navy / Jesse B. Awalt.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, seen here in September 2010, was amongst those present in South Sudan upon the state's declaration of independence. Image: Gobierno de Chile.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, seen here in September 2010, was amongst those present in South Sudan upon the state’s declaration of independence.
Image: Gobierno de Chile.



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April 30, 2011

Egyptian politician ElBaradei says ousted President Mubarak must stand trial

Egyptian politician ElBaradei says ousted President Mubarak must stand trial

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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Egypt
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  • 16 February 2015: Islamic State execute 21 Coptic Christians held in Libya
  • 27 January 2015: Greek singer Demis Roussos dies aged 68
  • 23 December 2014: Egypt opens Rafah border crossing for additional day
  • 16 December 2014: Freighter hits fishing boat in Gulf of Suez; thirteen dead
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Hosni Mubarak in Rome in 2009.
Image: Presidenza della Repubblica.

Egyptian politician Mohamed ElBaradei said that ousted President Hosni Mubarak must stand trial. His statement follows the recent ratification by Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil El Araby of a statute that ensures Egypt will join the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). If ElBaradei assumes power in the coming October/November 2011 elections, Mubarak and other former high-ranking corrupt Egyptian officials could potentially be tried in The Hague.

In an interview with the Islam Times, ElBaradei cited reasons as to why the trial of Hosni Mubarak will be necessary to undertake if he chooses to run for Egypt’s top job. “Mubarak allegedly issued the order to shoot at the protesters. [That should] have been reason enough to arrest him immediately…The Military Council has no other option than to try Mubarak and bring everyone else to justice who is responsible for human rights violations or corruption,” he said.

ElBaradei’s previous statement to CNN during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution which began on the 25th of January, according to The Jerusalem Post, was that a trial was unnecessary and that what primarily needed to be done was for Mubarak to hand back money, speculated to be as much as $70 billion, which Mubarak illegally took over the course of his 30 year reign and now owes to the Egyptian people in order for economic progress to emerge.

ElBaradei has stated he believes Egypt should be run by ‘institutions’ rather than ‘individuals’ and has said, “I want to come up with a renaissance project for Egypt and not an electoral program for ElBaradei”.



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April 5, 2011

UN attacks Gbagbo military positions in Ivory Coast

UN attacks Gbagbo military positions in Ivory Coast

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

File photo of Laurent Gbagbo
Image: Zenman.

A spokesman for the United Nations has announced that UN helicopters attacked an encampment of President Laurent Gbagbo’s fighters in Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire) to stop the use of heavy weapons and shelling of civilians.

“We launched an operation to neutralise heavy weapons Gbagbo’s special forces have been using against the civilian population for the last three months. We destroyed them in four locations”, said spokesman Hamadoun Toure in an email. In concert with the UN, France has deployed an additional 350 peacekeepers to compliment its 7,500 troops already in the country. It was also reported that the French were in control of the airport in Abidjan.

The recent violence in Ivory Coast stems from Gbagbo’s refusal to accept his loss in the recent presidential elections. He has stated that he will not transfer power to his successor Alassane Ouattara, the declared winner. Gbagbo’s spokesman, Abdon George Bayeto, told the BBC the elections were rigged as an “international plot against the incumbent” and was going to continue fighting forces loyal to Ouattara.

Lieutenant Jean-Marc Tago of the Ivory Coast army announced the return of General Phillippe Mangou. Although it has been reported that the general’s family was being held hostage by Gbagbo forces, Tago claims this is untrue, saying, “The general is with us, and has always been with us. Our plan is to defend the institutions of the republic against all its enemies, against the rebels, against the mercenaries, against the [United Nations] and all those who are attacking the institutions of the republic commanded by President Laurent Gbagbo.”

British foreign secretary William Hague said in a statement, “We call for an end to the violence, for defeated former president Gbagbo to step down, for all human rights abuses to be investigated, and for the International Criminal Court to investigate the crimes which appear to have taken place.”

The crisis has created a humanitarian problem as one million of Abidjan’s four million people has been displaced.


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February 26, 2011

France calls on Libyan leader to step down

France calls on Libyan leader to step down

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Libya
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  • 16 February 2015: Islamic State execute 21 Coptic Christians held in Libya
  • 15 September 2014: Libya accuse Qatar of intervening on side of rebels
  • 7 September 2014: Libya accuse Sudan of arming ‘terrorist group’
  • 28 August 2014: US says Egypt and UAE responsible for air attacks on Tripoli
  • 24 August 2014: Renegade General’s forces claim responsibility for aerial attacks on Tripoli
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French president Nicolas Sarkozy

French president Nicolas Sarkozy has stated during a news conference that Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi “must leave,” calling the leader to step down. His comments were made during a press conference with the Turkish president Abdullah Gül in Ankara. Sarkozy also stated that military action to remove Gaddafi isn’t ruled out.

“Our stance is clear. Mr Gaddafi must go. The systematic violence against the Libyan people is unacceptable and will be the subject of investigations and sanctions. Regarding a military intervention … France would consider any initiative of this type with extreme caution and reserve,” said Sarkozy. The United Kingdom is also calling for an arms embargo along with an investigation into war crimes be conducted against Gaddafi.

Sarkozy’s call on Gaddafi to step down comes after violence on Friday alone has left at least five people dead in Tripoli, the capitol of Libya, when security personnel fired on demonstrators. At least 500 people are suspected to have been killed in Tripoli with over 2,000 injured. Gunshots were heard in several parts of the city on Friday. Navi Pillay, head of the human rights division of the United Nations says thousands in Libya could have been killed since the uprising began. Human Rights Watch puts the death toll at 300.

“We think this needs to be brought to the International Criminal Court. We also think that people who still cooperate with Gadhafi should be punished,” added Sarkozy.

Reports say security forces loyal to Gaddafi have used rocket propelled grenades, snipers, anti aircraft guns and foreign mercenaries to repel protesters. Gaddafi blames Osama bin Laden and people on hallucinogenic drugs for the mass protests in the country. “(The protesters’) ages are 17. They give them pills at night, they put hallucinatory pills in their drinks, their milk, their coffee, their Nescafe,” he said on Thursday.

In a speech that aired on Libyan State TV today, Gaddafi said to supporters in Green Square in Tripoli, “We can defeat any aggression if necessary and arm the people. Prepare to defend the nation and defend the oil. [We can] retaliate against them [the opposition]. You, the youth, be comfortable… dance, sing, stay up all night.”



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December 1, 2010

Latest \’CableGate\’ disclosures hint at US diplomatic tactics in Spain and beyond

Latest ‘CableGate’ disclosures hint at US diplomatic tactics in Spain and beyond

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

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The logo of whistleblowing website, Wikileaks

Yesterday’s release of more US diplomatic cables by Wikileaks covered pressure on governments, Spain’s judiciary, and buying foreign assistance with detentions at Guantanamo Bay. El Pais, one of five mainstream papers partnering with Wikileaks’ release of documents, examined key output from Madrid’s US embassy.

The latest cables focus on US–Spain relations, particularly during the George W. Bush presidency, with Eduardo Aguirre serving as ambassador in Madrid. He is cited as having “personally exerted” pressure on Spain’s government and judiciary; this leading to at least three investigations being dropped.

Of concern to the press is the death of José Couso in 2003. The Spanish cameraman was killed during the battle for Baghdad; the Spanish judiciary intended to prosecute three US servicemen over the fatality.

File photo of Eduardo Aguirre Jr, United States ambassador to Spain.

American use of Spanish air bases for ‘extraordinary rendition‘ was a second concern the US embassy in Madrid pressured the government on. Spanish prosecutors had been keen to pursue 13 CIA officers over the illegal flights.

Repeatedly, concern over Spain’s independent judiciary invoking ‘universal jurisdiction’ appears in leaked cables. Reports at the time showed magistrates considered actions at Guantanamo Bay torture, and seemed keen to pursue ex-US government officials on grounds of “criminal responsibility”.

Cable 06MADRID1914 highlights the cases of Hamed Abderrahaman Ahmed and Moroccan Lahcen Ikassrien; respectively transferred from Guantanamo Bay, to Spanish custody, in February 2004 and July 2005.

Describing conditions at the Cuban detention centre as “impossible to explain, much less justify”, Hamed — better known as the “Spanish Taliban” — saw a July 2006 ruling by the country’s Supreme Court annul his six-year prison sentence, granting him an immediate release. The ruling cast doubt on the reliability of evidence against Lahcen, who was released on bail.

Hamed and his family, at the time, announced their intent to sue the US government over his suffering in Guantanamo Bay.

File photo of Baltazar Garzón, former Spanish High Court judge.

Later cables illustrate how concerned the Bush administration were over possible prosecution by Baltasar Garzón. Citing an op-ed he penned for a Spanish paper in March 2007, and this subsequently being picked up by Socialist Party secretary José Blanco Lopéz. Pronouncements by the two, and others, on “criminal responsibility” were met with a diplomatically stern response; cable 07MADRID546 states that the government of Spain was “cautioned that continued statements on this issue by senior Spanish figures would be viewed negatively.”

Garzón, best-known for indicting former dictator Augusto Pinochet, seemed to still trouble US diplomats when planning high-level defence talks in March 2007. Mention is made to a possible investigation, and indictment of, Donald Rumsfeld. Spain had informed the US embassy in Madrid the judge in the case was working to dismiss it.

As recently as March last year, Garzón sought to prosecute officials from the Bush administration.

Cquote1.svg […]continued statements on this issue by senior Spanish figures would be viewed negatively. Cquote2.svg

—US embassy ‘caution’ to Spanish government.

Named as potential defendants in a Reuters report, John Ashcroft, John Yoo, William Haynes II, Jay Bybee, and, aide to Vice-President Dick Cheney, David Addington were all being investigated by Garzón.

Come April this year, Garzón himself faced prosecution. A probe into Franco-era war crimes saw him suspended, possibly to be tried for acting contrary to an amnesty extended to Franco supporters. It is alleged he “acted without jurisdiction”.

At present, the former Spanish Supreme Court judge is working at the International Criminal Court. Reports based on El Pais’ investigation around the leaked cables suggest the country’s judiciary has been politicised to suit American interests.

With a price of US$85,000 cited for each former Guantanamo Bay detainee that Spain was to take, recent reports assert other countries have been offered financial incentives to help empty the camp.

Belgium, alongside Spain, was supposedly offered more influence within the European Union in exchange for cooperating with US plans.

Kuwait’s interior minister is said to have refused to take any of their citizens from the camp. Describing inmates as “rotten”, DPA alleges he told the US to “get rid of” detainees in an Afghan war zone.

Yemen, in exchange for agreeing to take Guantanamo detainees, is said to have asked for US$11 million for the construction of a centre to rehabilitate Muslim extremists.

So far, only a tiny fraction of the documents in Wikileaks possession have been made public.



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May 27, 2010

Sudanese president sworn in to another term

Sudanese president sworn in to another term

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

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File photo of Omar al-Bashir
Image: Jesse B. Awalt.

Omar al-Bashir, the president of Sudan, has been sworn in to another term after winning the country’s recent polls, which were largely boycotted by the opposition.

The inauguration ceremony, attended by multiple African leaders and two diplomats from the United Nations, was held earlier today. A reporter for the Al Jazeera news agency described the event as being primarily “a gathering of African leaders”.

In his inauguration speech, al-Bashir said that there would be “no return to war” with southern Sudan, and said a referendum on southern independence would be held on time. Southern Sudan is to hold a ballot in January of next year on whether to secede from the rest of the country. The referendum is a key part of the 2005 peace deal that ended Sudan’s north-south civil war.

al-Bashir was re-elected in April with 68% of the vote. Many opposition parties boycotted the election, accusing the president’s party of having rigged the result.

The president is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes, including allegations that he ordered mass murder, rape and torture in Darfur, where rebels have frequently clashed with the government; al-Bashir strongly denies the claims.



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May 15, 2010

Spanish judge suspended over abuse of power charges

Spanish judge suspended over abuse of power charges

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón.

A prominent Spanish judge, Baltasar Garzón, has been suspended from his post by Spain’s General Council of the Judiciary.

The suspension comes after Spain’s Supreme Court ruled that an inquiry Garzón opened in 2008 into crimes committed during Spain’s civil war, which lasted from 1936 to 1939. The events are covered by an amnesty from 1977, and it is charged that Garzón abused his powers by opening the investigation.

Garzón appealed the ruling, claiming that had conducted a legitimate inquiry, as crimes against humanity had been conducted during the war, which were not valid under the amnesty. A date for his trial has not yet been set; if convicted, Garzón would not serve jail time, but would be suspended for as long as 20 years.

The Human Rights Watch was critical of Garzón’s suspension; a statement from the group said that “This is a sad day for the cause of human rights. Garzón was instrumental in delivering justice for victims of atrocities abroad and now he is being punished for trying to do the same at home.”

On Thursday, Garzón requested of the Spanish government to be allowed to serve as a consultant for the International Criminal Court, which offered him the post. Scheduled to last for seven months, the assignment has been seen as Garzón’s attempt to at least partially avoid the embarrassment of being suspended from his post in Spain.



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